Right-Wing Media Won't Acknowledge That Anti-Planned Parenthood Videos Are Dishonest

A sign at a Planned Parenthood Clinic is pictured in Oklahoma City, Friday, July 24, 2015. U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla.,
A sign at a Planned Parenthood Clinic is pictured in Oklahoma City, Friday, July 24, 2015. U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., a Baptist minister and fierce abortion opponent, has introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would end all federal funding for Planned Parenthood unless the organization stops performing abortions. Recently released videos that show a Planned Parenthood official discussing the distribution of fetal body parts are being used by anti-abortion advocates in Oklahoma to seek political contributions and bolster support for legislation to further restrict abortion. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

What has the right-wing Media Research Center's "media research" been reduced to these days? Complaining that a story is accurately reported in the media.

As one might expect, the MRC has joined the rest of the right-wing media in being all over a video secretly recorded by anti-abortion activists at the "Center for Medical Progress" of a Planned Parenthood official allegedly talking about how it sells some fetal remains following an abortion for research with the permission of the woman -- even though they are so far highlighting the deceptively edited, out-of-context claims and ignoring the full story.

You'll find none of that deception mentioned at the MRC. Ken Shepherd, managing editor of the MRC's NewsBusters blog, devoted a post to bashing the Associated Press for reporting the story accurately:

We've long known that the Associated Press is loathe to refer to unborn children as unborn children, preferring the clinical term "fetus." But in covering a shocking new story about how Planned Parenthood sells fetal tissue from aborted babies for profit, the AP bent over backwards to use clinical euphemisms to soften the blow of the ghoulish practice.

Yes, Shepherd is attacking the AP for using a medically accurate term instead of the imprecise, emotionally charged one he would prefer. Strangely, Shepherd is mad about this but not the deceptively edited video first released by the anti-abortion activists who secretly taped the Planned Parenthood official.

Shepherd might want to look a little closer to home to vent his outrage over accurate reporting -- say, across the hall at MRC headquarters. At MRC "news" division CNSNews.com, its lead article when the story broke was an AP article that references "fetuses" -- in other words, a version of the one that Shepherd despised. But as in CNS tradition of putting biased headlines on AP articles, it rewrote the headline to refer to "baby body parts," which is just as inaccurate as Shepherd's insistence that the AP refer to "unborn children."

A July 15 NewsBusters item by Curtis Houck complained that TV newscasts accurately identified the Center for Medical Progress, which released the dishonestly edited video, as "anti-abortion activists," whining about "the media's long-standing refusal to use the 'pro-life' label for conservatives." But the CMP is unquestionably anti-abortion and they're unquestionably activists -- the organization and its board is stuffed with them, so it's absolutely accurate to describe them as "anti-abortion activists."

Shepherd followed up with more clueless anti-media ranting in the form of a July 16 post complaining that the Daily Beast accurately identified CMP leader David Daleiden as an "extremist," asserting that the goal was to "character-assassinate the messenger." At no point did Shepherd dispute the accuracy of anything the Daily Beast reported about Daleiden, including the "extremist" descriptor. One could say the real character assassin here is Daleiden himself with his deceptive videos -- a deception Shepherd does not acknowledge.

Needless to say, Shepherd doesn't mention that one of the anti-abortion groups behind Daleiden is Operation Rescue. As we documented last year when WorldNetDaily published a book by Operation Rescue leaders Troy Newman and Cheryl Sullenger, a phone number for Sullenger was found in the car of Scott Roeder upon his arrest for killing abortion doctor George Tiller in 2009. Roeder has also claimed he ate lunch with Newman and Sullenger several years before he murdered Tiller, where he claims Newman said that Tiller being murdered wouldn't upset him. Sullenger, meanwhile, was sentenced to three years in prison in 1988 for conspiring to bomb a California abortion clinic.

Yet Shepherd apparently believes these people aren't "extremists." (Sullenger now claims she "regrets" plotting to "damage" the abortion clinic, and Newman denied any connection between Roeder and Operation Rescue after Roeder's arrest.)

Numerous other MRC posts complain about coverage of the videos but won't acknowledge the indisputable fact that they were dishonestly edited. And it wouldn't be a full MRC party if the bigwigs didn't weigh in, so Brent Bozell and Tim Graham did just that in a July 17 column full of accusatory bluster ("The video will chill you to the bone. It cannot be described as anything but what it is: evil") and, like the writings of their subordinates, utterly devoid of any acknowledgment that the videos are dishonestly edited to tell a story that isn't true.

That river of denial continued in the face of a New York Times editorial pointing out the anti-abortion campaign to destroy Planned Parenthood using the deceptively edited videos as a centerpiece -- an editorial that so offended the MRC that three separate writers were dispatched to bash it.

Alan Moore took to the MRCTV blog, but not to address the facts outlined in the editorial. Instead, he declared it to be "hateful" and groused that "The article also paints the pro-life organization as 'dishonest' and guilty of 'deception' in their practices," but he never responds to the claim of deception -- perhaps because he knows it's true. So he tried to distract from the dishonesty by going into rant mode, asserting that the editorial is "reminiscent of the 'war on women' mantra used by the Left in the last presidential election cycle."

A July 22 NewsBusters post by Spencer Raley also attacking the Times editorial took exactly the same tack, raging over "the openly left-wing editors from the Times" and falsely claiming that the Times "failed to provide proof that the allegations made in the video are false" -- which he followed by quoting from the Times providing that proof.

Katie Yoder's July 23 NewsBusters post attacked the Times for pointing the dishonesty out, adding (italics in original): "Instead of addressing The Center for Medical Progress' horrific claims that a taxpayer-funded organization is harvesting aborted baby parts, the board focused on ripping apart The Center for Medical Progress' legitimacy." Yoder apparently can't even fathom the idea that the dishonest videos pose unavoidable questions about CMP's legitimacy. Yoder then tried to distract from the issue by changing the subject, asserting that "In the past, the Times has supported undercover work."

Just as the CMP's dishonesty has undermined its by-any-means-necessary campaign to destroy Planned Parenthood, the MRC's refusal to admit that dishonesty is undermining its argument that the "liberal media" is ignoring the story. The MRC is demanding that lies be presented as truth and that the truth must be buried -- the exact opposite of how journalism is supposed to work.

At the end of Yoder's post is a link to an MRC petition asking that readers "demand the media tell the truth about Planned Parenthood!" Actually, the media is telling the truth; it's the MRC that won't follow its own advice.

(An expanded version of this post is available at ConWebWatch.)