Media Reached a Verdict on Day One of Planned Parenthood Investigation

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When undercover videos first exposed the abortion industry’s trafficking of baby parts, the liberal media raced to defend Planned Parenthood. And now, more than two years later, they’re doing the same. Again.

On December 7, the news broke that the Department of Justice (DOJ) was investigating Planned Parenthood for its practices with aborted baby parts.

In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Justice Department Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Stephen Boyd requested “unredacted copies of records” following the committee’s own scrutiny of the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, and others.

Signaling a federal investigation, Boyd asked for the copies to “further the Department’s ability to conduct a thorough and comprehensive assessment of” the committee’s 2016 Majority Staff Report on “Human Fetal Tissue Research.”

The Hill reported last month that the FBI sought unredacted documents from the committee after its chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), “referred Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to the FBI for investigation” last December.

But while the Justice Department is examining Planned Parenthood, many in the media have already reached their verdict: The abortion giant can do no wrong.

Boyd’s letter made headlines online, but the three broadcast networks ignored the investigation into the taxpayer-funded organization in the news shows during the following days. That’s not surprising. As with this letter, the networks have a long history of skipping past anything to do with the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) videos.

Beginning in 2015, CMP released undercover videos revealing the trafficking of aborted baby parts by Planned Parenthood and others in the name of research. Those videos challenged the abortion industry because, according to CMP, federal law “strongly prohibits the sale or purchase of aborted fetal tissue.”

Then, as now, media outlets played defense for Planned Parenthood.

In response to the DOJ’s new investigation into what it called “debunked conspiracy theories,” Nylon magazine sarcastically tweeted, “Cool use of gov’t resources!”

Similarly, Splinter slammed the “fake right-wing conspiracy about Planned Parenthood,” while Rewire bashed what they consider to be an investigation based on an “anti-choice smear campaign.” That’s because the videos and allegations were already “discredited,” according to Think Progress and Jezebel.

Taking to Twitter, individual writers and editors also went on the attack.

Shareblue Media editor Kaili Joy Gray called the investigation a “political and baseless witch hunt” and “political terrorism.” Snopes editor Brooke Binkowski accused the investigation of “wasting money on a freaking jumped-up story” that “we ourselves debunked.”

Targeting the Justice Department, Rewire writer Jessica Mason Pieklo added that Attorney General Jeff Sessions “is going to have DOJ investigate Planned Parenthood because he has not a goddamn better thing to do.” For his part, The Nation contributor Joshua Holland called the Justice Department “clowns.”

But here’s something their reports missed. While many in the media have “discredited” the videos because they were edited, the Center for Medical Progress has published its unedited footage in addition to the shortened, edited versions.

And forensic analysis, like that commissioned by Alliance Defending Freedom through Coalfire, a digital forensics firm, found that the additional footage only showed commuting, camera adjustments, bathroom breaks, meals, and waiting.

There’s something else the reports overlooked: The content of the videos themselves. That content includes abortion workers laughing about “striving for” baby brains and “cute” baby hearts, describing babies “all mixed up together in a bag,” and trying not to “smush” “five-star” baby parts.

There’s also the procurement technician who describes cutting open a baby with a “beating heart,” and the “picking” apart of a baby with tweezers.

These outlets glossed over all that content.

It’s content showing Americans that the unborn baby isn’t so different from the born baby. It’s content revealing the horror that, to the abortion industry, baby body parts are disposable commodities – when really, they’re human persons with intrinsic value.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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About Author

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Katie Yoder serves as the associate culture editor at NewsBusters and is a columnist for CatholicVote.org. She is also the Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow for the Media Research Center’s culture division. Follow her on Twitter @k_yoder.

5 Comments

  1. I think broadcast (and cable) media have a legitimate claim to not providing airtime to Center for Medical Progress video productions; namely, CMP produced a heavily-edited video and only later released a full, unedited video.
    Factcheck.org’s analysis of the full, unedited video did not corroborate the claims that the Center for Medical Progress was making.
    http://www.factcheck.org/2015/07/unspinning-the-planned-parenthood-video/
    Much like James O’Keefe’s slippery work with media, I don’t blame news organizations for taking Center for Medical Progress content with a grain of salt. Heavy editing and redaction aren’t in the pursuit of journalistic truth.

    • I do think that if facts warrant, do the investigation.

      I have not heard to date if the DOJ investigation is predicated upon any of these CMP videos. Is it?

      • Hi Ram:

        Yes, I have no problem with an investigation as facts warrant. I don’t know if the DOJ investigation is in response to the videos; I haven’t read up that much on this piece of news.
        My comment was in response to the author’s claim that “The networks have a long history of skipping past anything to do with the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) videos.” As a former journalist, I disagree based on the reasons outlined above. Organizations and persons who refuse to present primary, unadulterated sources should be treated with wariness. I think that’s a very fair way to conduct business.

        • mm
          Stephen Herreid on

          1. The Center for Medical Progress was within its rights and within journalistic norms when it released condensed videos showing highlights.
          There is no such thing as video journalism that does not involve such editing, and to argue otherwise in CMP’s case is to apply a selectively heightened standard that smacks of bias against the filmmakers.

          2. From the very start, CMP produced unedited footage *simultaneously* along with its edited videos.

          • Hi Stephen:
            It looks like I was in error. The videos were published at the same time. However, from a journalistic perspective, I’m not sure about the media blame still. CMP has a clear editorial bent, and edited their video to represent it. That’s fine. That’s not really par for the course for a journalistic organization.
            For example, the transcripts of the unedited video show one of the Planned Parenthood representatives saying, “Affiliates are not looking to make money by doing this. They’re looking to serve their patients and just make it not impact their bottom line. No one’s going to see this as a money making thing.”
            and
            “Our goal, like I said, is to give patients the option without impacting our bottom line. The messaging is this should not be seen as a new revenue stream, because that’s not what it is.”
            So I guess the question would be asked, why was this edited out of the condensed video? Perhaps there is a very good editorial reason – I can’t speak for the editors. I can only speak from the few years I worked in media to say that this exact situation is good reason to be leery of productions that don’t provide all the exculpatory evidence. Appreciate your dialogue on this.

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