Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Saturday, February 5th, 2011.

Planned Parenthood and the Propaganda Game


The anti-human rights organization Live Action has released more Lila Rose videos of their Planned Parenthood “sting” operation. Media Matters documents that the videos are doctored, and says the videos have ended Lisa Rose’s credibility.

If only that were so. If you were getting all of your information about the hoax from mainstream media, you’d probably have a strong impression that Planned Parenthood got caught doing something wrong.

I’ve been checking it out. This Christian Science Monitor story is pretty typical. The headline says “Planned Parenthood Under Fire,” and it’s followed by a blurb saying “Antiabortion activists have released videos showing Planned Parenthood workers allegedly colluding with a man posing as a pimp to exploit underage sex workers.”

How many people really pay attention to “allegedlys”?

The allegations are repeated and elaborated on in the first several paragraphs of the story. However, Christian Science Monitor readers are not told the videos were doctored or that Planned Parenthood notified authorities of a possible sex trafficking ring after the visit by the hoaxers.

In many other newspapers, Planned Parenthood’s side of the story is presented, but you have to read several paragraphs into the story to find it. If you read only the headline and the first paragraph or two, you only hear Live Action’s side. This is sloppy news writing, IMO, but it’s how most news stories are written.

Radio news is even worse; a lot of radio stations are just reporting verbatim what Live Action says.

But there’s something else about the videos that needs to be said. In one of the more recently released videos, the Planned Parenthood employee can be heard telling the “pimp” that what he’s doing is illegal and would have to be reported. Doesn’t that mean Live Action’s own video disproves that Planned Parenthood supports child prostitution? Apparently not; people are linking to the video as “proof” that Planned Parenthood is evil and must be vanquished.

The disconnect, I think, comes from the fact that the woman in the video is not expressing shock or screaming or rending her hair or otherwise reacting to the faux pimp with anything but matter-of-fact calm. She’s just rattling off information, in other words. And when he left, Planned Parenthood says, she reported the hoax visit to her supervisor, who called the police.

What else was she supposed to do? If I’m a woman in a room alone with a man who presents himself to be a dangerous criminal, I would do the same thing. I would stay very calm, tell the guy whatever I think he wants to hear, and then call the police after he has left. If he had been a real criminal, and the woman started screaming at him, he might have reacted violently.

As Gail Collins writes, “there is no way to look good while providing useful information to a self-proclaimed child molester, even if the cops get called. That, presumably, is why Live Action chose the scenario.”

Exactly. What else was she supposed to do? Under that circumstance, unless there happens to be a cop in the next room, when put in that position there is not much else one can do but humor the guy and hope he leaves without hurting anyone. But the people who believe the videos incriminate Planned Parenthood don’t consider that.

Gail Collins also reports on efforts in Congress to de-fund Planned Parenthood, and adds,

The people trying to put Planned Parenthood out of business do not seem concerned about what would happen to the 1.85 million low-income women who get family-planning help and medical care at the clinics each year. It just doesn’t come up. There’s not even a vague contingency plan.

There is no comparable organization to Planned Parenthood, providing the same kind of services on a national basis. If there were, most of the women eligible for Medicaid-financed family-planning assistance wouldn’t have to go without it. In Texas, which has one of the highest teenage birthrates in the country, only about 20 percent of low-income women get that kind of help. Yet Planned Parenthood is under attack, and the State Legislature has diverted some of its funding to crisis pregnancy centers, which provide no medical care and tend to be staffed by volunteers dedicated to dissuading women from having abortions.

It’s all about priorities.

In Washington, the new Republican majority that promised to do great things about jobs, jobs, jobs is preparing for hearings on a bill to make it economically impossible for insurance companies to offer policies that cover abortions. And in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry, faced with an epic budget crisis that’s left the state’s schools and health care services in crisis, has brought out emergency legislation — requiring mandatory sonograms for women considering abortion.

So in Wingnut World, puppy mills are good and women’s health services are bad. Unreal.

Update: I forgot to mention — this past week Media Matters had a telephone conference for progressive bloggers and media on the Planned Parenthood sting issue. This is a common thing; it’s like a press conference, only cheaper. Usually somebody makes a statement and then takes questions. I get lots of invitations to phone conferences, although I rarely listen in because they eat time and I’d just as soon get the same information in a press release. I suspect the Right does the same thing with its bloggers now and then.

But Breitbart Media is trying to blow up the phone conference into something sinister, implying that those who took part are somehow taking money to promote child prostitution. Weird.

Update: New GOP Bill Would Allow Hospitals To Let Women Die Instead Of Having An Abortion

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