Accuracy in Media

As the Center for Medical Progress continues its drip-drip-drip release of undercover videos that incriminate Planned Parenthood, The New York Times has pronounced the videos to be cruel tricks perpetrated by opponents of “women’s reproductive rights.”
The editorial board of The New York Times is not amused. They complain that the video was “edited” to the point of taking quotes out of context.

Wrong. Nothing was taken out of context. Prominent officials at Planned Parenthood really did haggle over prices, joke about buying a Lamborghini, and identify the organs of a dead child in a petri dish. They talked about how to alter the abortion procedure for the best harvest and how to maximize profits through the piecemeal sale of parts. One video even showed an official admitting that some children were delivered alive before an abortionist could get to the “patients,” and were therefore human beings even under our demented laws.

Nor were the videos “edited.” They were excerpted of course, much the same way ESPN extracts the highlights of a football game in order to summarize the big plays. That does not mean that the highlight reel is somehow illegitimate, as if it has something to hide. The Times at first published the falsehood that the Center for Medical Progress only released the entire first video (2 hours and 43 minutes) after Planned Parenthood complained, seemingly to imply that the Center for Medical Progress was trying to hide exculpatory evidence. The Times was later forced to issue a correction—the full length video was released simultaneously with its condensed version. My guess is that Jackie Calmes, author of the original piece, unquestioningly accepted Planned Parenthood’s side of the story. We know at least that she didn’t visit the Center for Medical Progress’s website to check this most basic fact.

All of this wailing and gnashing of teeth is getting tiresome. Every time some leftist gets caught on tape saying what leftists really believe, they resort to the same defensive strategy—claiming to have been taken “out of context,” and alleging that undercover videos are somehow deceitful. They try to portray themselves as victims and the media are glad to assist them. Undercover videos are dirty pool!

No, actually they’re pretty much the greatest thing since sliced bread. No one should apologize for exposing lying dirtbags wherever they may be found. Can’t we all agree on that? I think most people would—until they discover that it’s their own lies, or the lies of a confidant that are being exposed to sunlight. They can think of a hundred reasons why their lies shouldn’t be compared to someone else’s, but the simplest explanation remains the best—that it’s their lies.

I don’t mean to imply that lying is restricted to those on the political Left, but leftists do more of it because they’ve got more to hide, and are thus much more practiced. Don’t believe what they say when they’re answering reporters’ questions with poll-tested talking points. Listen to what they say when they think no one else is listening. That’s when the truth comes out.

Allow me to provide one telling example from the fourth video. Dr. Savita Ginde, vice president and medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, mutters “It’s a baby,” as she parses identifiable organs in a petri dish. Yes, it is a baby, which is what pro-lifers have been saying for years, while Planned Parenthood has taken great pains to avoid using the B-word. The correct medical term is a fetus, they insist—and a fetus is not a baby. Thanks to a hidden camera, we now know that even a regional media director for Planned Parenthood refers to a baby as “a baby” when the doors are closed. You need a hidden camera to capture that kind of honesty on tape. There’s no other way.

Hidden cameras are, of course, fair game when they catch other people—truly bad people—in their own malfeasance. The New York Times won’t form a defensive perimeter around those people, and they won’t mimic their press releases, a service they gladly provide to Planned Parenthood. For example, when Texaco executives were caught on tape in 1996 making racist remarks about blacks, The New York Times didn’t make the preposterous claim that their words had been taken out of context or that the recording was highly edited. In fact, the Times’ reaction to the Texaco scandal was to publish an editorial supporting affirmative action in perpetuity.

Nor did The New York Times feel compelled to protect meat producers from animal rights activists and their hidden cameras. A number of states, for example, have so-called “ag gag” laws, designed to prohibit animal rights activists from filming incidents of animal cruelty on farms. One such law in Idaho was recently found unconstitutional, though there are plenty of similar laws on the books in such states as Utah and Iowa.

Ironically, the term “ag gag” was coined by columnist Mark Bittman…of The New York Times! Bittman penned a column in 2011 about systemic animal cruelty and the industry’s attempt to shield itself from exposé coverage. Bittman didn’t shy away from using words like “gag”—which implies censorship, or even comparing videotaped examples of animal cruelty to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. He also called the videographers “heroic” and worried about the “chilling effect” of ag gag laws. Bittman wrote: “Yet if some state legislators have their way, horrific but valuable videos…will never be made.”

An industry that abuses and slaughters livestock gets very different media treatment than an industry that abuses and slaughters unborn children.

Dare I say that the Times is now in the news suppression business? What they’re doing can’t properly be called journalism. As the English novelist George Orwell once said, “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is just public relations.” That adage apparently no longer applies, or at least it doesn’t apply to people and organizations that the mainstream media want to protect. In order to save Planned Parenthood’s hide, reporters will gladly lend themselves without reservation to a public relations campaign.

Hidden cameras catch liars in their lies, and that’s a wonderful thing. The mainstream media, a conglomeration of news outlets of which The New York Times is arguably the most eminent, seem to believe that lies are a bad thing when the liars in question are people they’d like to bring down. They do not, however, like to see their friends exposed as they chat blithely about the market price of baby livers, so they pretend to have some moral compunction about infiltrating facilities under false pretenses, recording people without their knowledge, or “editing” (excerpting) the tapes. The institutional media can truly turn on a dime, and without the least bit of shame, from praising undercover exposés to excoriating them.

Guest columns do not necessarily reflect the views of Accuracy in Media or its staff.

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