In the wake of the resignation on Feb. 7 of Komen vice-president for public policy Karen Handel, there has been much speculation on how the foundation blundered so badly — much of it centering on the role played by Handel, an anti-abortion former Republican gubernatorial candidate in Georgia. But what really happened is still largely a mystery, especially when the denial by Komen Chief Executive Officer Nancy Brinker that Handel played a significant role in the December decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood is juxtaposed against Handel’s statement when she resigned that, “I openly acknowledge my role in the matter.”
Who really was calling the shots? Which of Komen’s many corporate sponsors, if any, were consulted beforehand? Which, if any, applied pressure to cut off Planned Parenthood? And was that because anti-family-planning or anti-choice groups exerted pressure on them?
Did anyone at Komen think about the political consequences back in December when the decision was made? Maybe it’s my mainstream media bias showing, but what seems particularly curious to me is that a group whose support is based on its standing as a champion of women’s health really thought its credibility and fundraising would be enhanced by picking a fight with Planned Parenthood.
Who thought that the rationale of denying money to any organization that is under any kind of “investigation”—including the typically politicized “investigations” carried out by some congressional subcommittee chairmen—would survive more than a few hours before being discredited?
Who are the people who now run Komen? Who are the most powerful people on the board, and what are their political leanings? How much do the top executives get paid? Who are the biggest contributors? (Partial answers to the last two questions should be available in the foundation’s IRS Form 990 filing, which is public.) Does this fiasco say something about the dangers of small, idealistic charities becoming too rich and too big?
Finally, how was the social media tsunami that rose up monitored, and who led the push for Komen’s about-face in response to it?
3. The book on Foxconn:
Now that The New York Times has published a landmark article on working conditions at the Chinese companies, particularly the Foxconn manufacturing behemoth, in Apple’s supply chain (which followed a public radio This American Life report last month), I’m hoping there is a book editor out there thinking about The Jungle.
That’s Upton Sinclair’s 1906 opus about conditions in American meatpacking factories. Some envelope-pushing editor and publishing house should try to figure out how to get an undercover reporter-writer into Foxconn for at least a few months to give us the fuller story in a rich, detailed narrative. That’s a lot easier said than done. In fact, it could be an assignment where the reporter ends up in a Chinese prison, or worse. But whoever figures this out—and does it the right way, by reporting all the ups and downs of daily life producing iPhones and iPads through the eyes of his or her fellow workers—is going to have one of this age’s most successful and important books.