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Newman And His Associates Have A Long History Of Spouting Violent Rhetoric And Harassing Abortion Providers
On May 10, PBS will air the documentary “The Armor of Light” and host an accompanying town hall encouraging audiences to examine “the relationship between guns and faith in America.” Notably, PBS’ town hall participants include Troy Newman, best known for harassing abortion providers and serving on Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s pro-life coalition.
“The Armor of Light” is an anti-gun-violence documentary that “profiles the faith journeys of two Christians as they fight gun violence.” One of these Christians is the Rev. Rob Schenck, an anti-choice minister trying to “preach about the growing toll of gun violence in America” to communities that largely favor gun ownership.
Newman appears in a single scene of “The Armor of Light” as a contrast to Schenck’s pro-gun-safety views. In this scene, Newman parrots NRA talking points, such as leader Wayne LaPierre’s statement that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Despite this minor role in the film, PBS invited Newman to appear in a post-screening discussion.
Membership in Cruz’s pro-life coalition is only Newman’s most recent credential. He has long served as the president of Operation Rescue -- an anti-choice group with a history of spouting violent rhetoric, and harassing abortion providers.
For example, Operation Rescue vice president Cheryl Sullenger was sentenced to prison in 1987 for conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic. Sullenger also communicated with Scott Roeder, the convicted assassin of Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, providing him information about Tiller's schedule and location. A Rolling Stone profile of Operation Rescue described the organization’s strategy as a “smear campaign … to shut down abortion clinics by systematically harassing their employees into quitting.” The article said Operation Rescue members “rummage through employees’ garbage … tail them around town as they run errands … picket clinic staffers at restaurants while they’re inside having dinner and castigate them while they’re in line at Starbucks.” Newman’s explanation for this harassment was that he wanted providers and clinic employees to know that “they can’t live a normal life.”
To further this strategy, Newman has trained others and supported the development of spin-off groups that continue Operation Rescue’s work across the country. Newman previously served as a board member for the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), the organization responsible for propagating a smear campaign against Planned Parenthood so fraudulent that CMP earned the title of Media Matters' 2015 Misinformer of the Year. CMP’s deceptively edited videos purporting to show the illegal sale of fetal tissue have been repeatedly discredited, while numerous state investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing.
Newman claims that Operation Rescue has never endorsed violence yet in his book Their Blood Cries Out, Newman wrote that U.S. government had “abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty,” which would involve “executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes.” Similarly, when Paul Jennings Hill was executed for the murder of an abortion provider and a clinic escort, Newman argued that Hill should have been able to mount the defense that it was “necessary” to kill the providers in order to save "the lives of pre-born babies."
Beyond his work with Operation Rescue, Newman also has a personal history of harassing providers -- a reputation that caused Australia to deport him out of concern that his “presence would be ‘a threat to good order’” and that he would “compromise the safety and wellbeing” of abortion providers and those seeking care.
Harassment, violence, and threats against abortion providers and clinics have all been increasing. According to the National Abortion Federation, in 2015 there was a “dramatic increase in hate speech and internet harassment, death threats, attempted murder, and murder” against abortion providers. In September 2015, the FBI released an intelligence assessment that warned of an uptick in violence against abortion providers and clinics. This prediction was borne out tragically in November 2015 when Robert Dear killed three people and injured several more at a Colorado Planned Parenthood health care center.
Given this alarming trend of anti-choice violence, PBS’ decision to invite Newman’s participation while also failing to disclose his long history of harassment is as puzzling as it is troubling.
A Politico article on President Obama’s reported upcoming plan to “push” for smart gun technology quoted Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) executive director Jim Pasco attacking the technology without disclosing the FOP has received funding from the gun industry. Many of Pasco’s attacks on smart guns echoed the National Rifle Association and the gun industry.
Politico’s article also credulously repeated the NRA’s misleading claim that it merely opposes laws that mandate the adoption of smart gun technology and not the development of smart gun technology in general.
In an April 28 article, Politico reported President Obama “is opening a new front in the gun control debate, readying a big push for so-called smart gun technology -- an initiative that the gun lobby and law enforcement rank and file is already mobilizing against.” According to the report, “As early as Friday, Obama is set to formally release findings from the Defense, Justice and Homeland Security Departments on ways to spur the development of guns that can be fired only by their owner.”
The article extensively quoted Pasco, who offered various attacks on smart gun technology, claiming that law enforcement officers would be used as “guinea pigs” to test the technology; that Obama’s move placed politics over officer safety; that police officers oppose the technology; and suggesting the technology could put officers in greater danger:
“Police officers in general, federal officers in particular, shouldn’t be asked to be the guinea pigs in evaluating a firearm that nobody’s even seen yet,” said James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police. “We have some very, very serious questions.
But at this point, the Obama administration already has frayed ties with rank-and-file cops, many of whom didn’t think the president took their side in his reactions to police violence and protests like those in Ferguson, Missouri. Pasco compared the push for smart guns to the decision to limit local departments’ access to surplus military equipment.
“They sit down among themselves and decide what is best for law enforcement, but from a political standpoint, and then tell officers they’re doing it for their benefit,” Pasco said.
Of the 330,000 officers in his union, Pasco said, “I have never heard a single member say what we need are guns that only we can fire,” noting that there might be moments in close combat when an officer would need to use a partner’s weapon or even the suspect’s.
Politico did not disclose that FOP's charity has received money from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the gun industry’s trade group. According to a 2010 Washington Post investigation, NSSF gave FOP Foundation $100,000 in 2010. In 2015, NSSF announced a $25,000 contribution to FOP Foundation. NSSF senior vice president Larry Keane has attacked smart gun technology. In 2014 he published a factually inaccurate and unfounded column arguing that two Massachusetts political candidates lost their races because of support for the technology.
The Politico article twice referenced FOP’s representation of “rank and file” police officers as explanation for FOP’s opposition to Obama’s reported proposal. But FOP has also been accused of representing corporate interests. The 2010 Washington Post profile -- which delved into Pasco’s other work as a lobbyist -- described him as “a product of the capital's revolving-door culture” with an “unusual” role as a lobbyist representing beer, cigarette, and entertainment companies that "raises questions about possible conflicts of interest," according to tax law specialists.
According to the Post's reporting, under Pasco's leadership FOP has accepted donations from the gun industry lobby after taking positions favorable to that group, and the organization's positions have repeatedly aligned with the priorities of lobbying clients of Pasco and his wife.
Washington Post pointed to several specific instances of apparent conflict:
The Politico article also repeated the NRA’s misleading claim about the gun organization’s position on smart guns, noting, “Gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, are not against funding research for smart guns or putting them on shelves. But the NRA does oppose any law that would prohibit people from buying a gun that doesn’t have personalized technology.”
The NRA’s attacks on smart gun technology go far beyond the group’s opposition to laws that mandate the adoption of the technology. While purporting to not oppose research into smart guns in a statement on its website, the NRA’s media arm routinely attacks the technology, often pushing either falsehoods about the reliability smart guns or by connecting the developing technology to conspiracy theories about the federal government.
Anti-Choice Legislators Reject $8.3 Million And Opt To Pay Out Of Pocket To Attack Planned Parenthood
On April 19, the Obama administration issued an unprecedented warning to officials in all 50 states that “actions to end Medicaid funding of Planned Parenthood may be out of compliance with federal law,” following actions by 24 states against the women’s health provider since July. Missouri lawmakers responded by approving a new budget that rejects millions in federal Medicaid funds for family planning and reproductive health exams -- all in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood.
The Missouri budget decision comes amid a larger battle in which anti-choice lawmakers have threatened Mary Kogut -- the president of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri -- with jail time for refusing to turn over records of patients who have received abortion care at a St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic.
The Associated Press wrote that the approved budget not only “rejected more than $8.3 million in federal Medicaid funding” -- money that was allocated for “family planning, sexually transmitted disease testing and pelvic exams” -- it also “replaced it with money from Missouri’s general revenues … and stipulated that none of it could go to organizations that provide abortions.” In other words, the budget will force Missouri taxpayers to foot the bill for approximately $10.8 million in necessary family planning and reproductive health resources, even though “budget staffers estimated less than $400,000 in Medicaid payments go to Missouri’s 13 Planned Parenthood clinics.”
Since the release of deceptively edited videos from the discredited group Center for Medical Progress (CMP), Media Matters' 2015 Misinformer of the Year, anti-choice legislators have repeated right-wing media misinformation about Planned Parenthood in an ongoing attempt to defund the organization. They have often justified these efforts by falsely claiming that community health clinics can effectively fill the gap left by barring Planned Parenthood from state and federal health care programs, an allegation echoed in Missouri.
According to the Associated Press, state Sen. Kurt Shaefer, the Republican chair of the legislature’s appropriations committee, commented that “Medicaid patients can still go to county health departments, rural health clinics and federally qualified centers.” He said: "'If someone wants to go to Planned Parenthood, they’re free to do that ... Taxpayers in Missouri just aren’t going to pay for it anymore.'”
His claim echoes those made by right-wing media that community clinics can completely fulfill the needs served by state health care programs. In reality, there is ample evidence that removing Planned Parenthood from such programs has a detrimental impact. In fact, experts have explained that the idea of community health clinics filling in for Planned Parenthood is “a gross misrepresentation of what even the best community health centers in the country would be able to do."
Recent studies show that defunding Planned Parenthood can lead to decreased access to contraception, particular for low-income women. In February, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that when Texas similarly eliminated Planned Parenthood from its family planning program, there were “over 30 percent fewer claims for long-acting and injectable contraceptives among low-income patients using the Women’s Health Program.”
According to earlier research from the Guttmacher Institute, in 103 U.S. counties, Planned Parenthood is the only "safety-net health center" accessible for women seeking contraceptive services. Guttmacher noted that Planned Parenthood is the only provider of publicly subsidized contraceptive services and typically can see more patients annually for these services than "other types of safety-net providers." Furthermore, access to contraception is critical for “women’s social and economic advancement” and “has a positive impact on their education and workforce participation, as well as on subsequent outcomes reality related to income, family stability, mental health and happiness, and children’s well-being.”
Contraception is not the only service patients lose access to when states defund Planned Parenthood. For example, in 2011 Indiana cut funding to Planned Parenthood, which left one rural county without an HIV testing center as it experienced growth in HIV infections.
Sarah Felts, a Planned Parenthood spokesperson in Missouri, told the Associated Press that in spite of the new state budget, their commitment to the community had not changed: “Planned Parenthood will continue accepting new Medicaid patients ‘no matter what.’”
*Photo courtesy of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
The American Family Association Has Been Designated An Anti-LGBT “Hate Group” By The SPLC
Major news outlets have largely failed to identify the American Family Association (AFA) -- the group organizing a boycott of Target over its transgender inclusive restroom policy -- as an anti-LGBT "hate group," often only referring to the group as a "Christian" or "conservative" organization.
Conservative media and Politico are citing new polling that purports to show voters oppose Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s call to repeal a federal immunity law which largely shields negligent gun sellers from legal liability when they sell guns to people they know or should know are dangerous. The poll question -- which was commissioned by the gun industry’s trade group and conducted by a Republican polling firm -- is dishonest because it misrepresents Clinton’s position on the law, suggesting that it was designed as a push poll rather than an accurate snapshot of public opinion.
60 Minutes Producer: “We Can Never Lie About Who We Are Or Why We’re Someplace” And Were “Prepared To Come Clean If Confronted”
Last summer, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a series of deceptively edited videos, baselessly alleging that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue-- earning CMP and its founder, David Daleiden, the title of Media Matters’ 2015 Misinformer of the Year. Although CMP’s work has been largely discredited, the Congressional Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives has consistently cited illegally obtained and entirely unauthenticated documents provided by CMP as evidence.
This week, CBS News’ 60 Minutes released their report, “Dialing for Dollars,” an undercover investigation using hidden camera footage to report on the “relentless pressure on members of Congress to constantly raise money.” Although 60 Minutes conducted their investigation in a highly-transparent way -- releasing an accompanying video report about their methods called “60 Minutes’ Decision To Use A Hidden Camera This Week” -- right-wing media figures have already compared this investigatory journalism to CMP’s deceptive work.
In a series of tweets, Federalist Senior Editor Mollie Hemingway wrote: “Good news everyone! OK for journalists to secretly film again” and noted that CBS “not only edited the video, but used B roll for context (like we allow for 100% of non-fetal market stories)":
Good news everyone! OK for journalists to secretly film again.* https://t.co/zG4oVCqb6P *offer not applicable to one side of abortion issue
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) April 25, 2016
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) April 25, 2016
Yep! And use B-roll and everything!* *so long as you’re not exposing the abortion industry https://t.co/tIbTwzqndt
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) April 25, 2016
— LifeNews.com (@LifeNewsHQ) April 25, 2016
Daleiden also retweeted Hemingway:
— David Daleiden (@daviddaleiden) April 25, 2016
CMP and the right-wing media who carry water for its work have defended CMP’s deceptively edited videos as “investigatory journalism.” Notably, Fox News hosts Steve Doocy and Bill O’Reilly have both compared CMP’s work to that of 60 Minutes. During a January 26 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Doocy argued that “journalists use these [undercover] techniques everyday” and gave the examples of “60 Minutes” and “20/20.” Similarly, in a March 6 segment from The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly alleged that if Daleiden was indicted for using fraudulent IDs, “all of 60 Minutes would be in jail, because they did stings all the time.”
The form and substance of 60 Minutes’ investigation, however, was radically different than CMP’s ideologically motivated smear campaign against Planned Parenthood. In the supplementary report explaining their methodology and rationale for going undercover, correspondent Norah O’Donnell and 60 Minutes producer Pat Shevlin explained that “the decision to use a hidden camera wasn’t taken lightly” and that they were “scrupulous” about the process.
There are at least three key ways that 60 Minutes’ use of hidden cameras differs from CMP’s: 60 Minutes did not conceal their identities to gain access, did not identify people on camera without consent, and did not alter their material to fit an ideological goal.
Unlike CMP’s deceptively edited videos -- where Daleiden and his associates intentionally misled clinic staff about their identities and intentions, steps which included creating a fake company and fake identities -- 60 Minutes never portrayed themselves fraudulently or lied about who they were or what they were doing to the people they filmed. In the accompanying 60 Minutes Overtime video report Shevlin said 60 Minutes “can never lie about who we are or why we’re some place” and that if you’re “challenged, you can’t give a false reason for why you’re there.”
60 Minutes representatives gained access to the congressional call center legally and without misrepresenting themselves. CMP, on the other hand, cannot make such a claim. On January 26 a Houston grand jury indicted David Daleiden and one of his associates for gaining access to a Planned Parenthood clinic under deceptive pretenses using false identification. Meanwhile, over 13 state investigations have consistently cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.
In accordance with the advice from lawyers, 60 Minutes did not release footage with “identifiable faces” to the public.
In CMP’s deceptively edited videos, however, Daleiden not only filmed providers without their consent he also provided additional identifying information. These efforts to identify providers plays into a long history of anti-choice violence against abortion providers.
In CMP’s deceptively edited videos, however, Daleiden not only filmed providers without their consent he also provided additional identifying information including their names. These efforts to identify providers by name plays into a long history of anti-choice groups targeting abortion providers for harassment which has led to doctors who were later murdered or shot by anti-choice activists.
More recently, the Congressional select panel has issued wide-ranging subpoenas targeting not only abortion providers but also "researchers, graduate students, laboratory technicians, and administrative staff who are in any way involved in fetal tissue research." Democrats and reproductive rights advocates have warned that by collecting these names "Congress could be putting lives in danger."
In the 60 Minutes report, correspondent Norah O’Donnell investigates a congressional representatives being told their “first responsibility” is not to serve their constituents, but instead to “spend around 30 hours a week” in a call center soliciting donations. O’Donnell explained the purpose in seeing these call centers, as that’s how “lawmakers are spending a lot of their time … that they could be in their office on Capitol Hill doing the people’s business.”
Although CMP has argued their intentions were to bring a matter of public interest to the attention of authorities -- including their claims that laws involving sale of fetal tissue were being broken -- a February 5 decision by federal judge William H. Orrick strongly rebuts this claim. Orrick issued a preliminary injunction barring CMP from releasing further videos utilizing footage of National Abortion Federation (NAF) employees. According to Orrick, this injunction was justified because CMP did not “-- as Daleiden repeatedly asserts -- use widely accepted investigatory journalism techniques” to reveal a matter of public interest.
Instead, Orrick argued that CMP relied on “repeated instances of fraud, including the manufacture of fake documents, the creation and registration with the state of California a fake company, and repeated false statements to a numerous NAF representatives and NAF members in order to infiltrate NAF and implement their Human Capital Project.” Orrick concluded that because of these deceptive means, the resulting videos were not “pieces of journalistic integrity, but misleadingly edited videos and unfounded assertions … of criminal conduct.”
60 Minutes’ reporting -- and their effort to make clear why it meets common standards of journalistic integrity -- reaffirms the findings of many other journalists and media ethicists who argue that CMP’s work “can be called many things, but ‘journalism’ probably isn’t one of them.”
The Washington Post credulously called the efforts by the discredited conservative group Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) to prevent the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland "remarkably successful." But polls show the general public is increasingly at odds with JCN's position. Indeed, just last week the Post reported that the results of a new poll was evidence that "Democrats are winning the message war over Garland." The Post promoted the notion of JCN's success in an interview with chief counsel Carrie Severino, who was given a platform to rehash debunked smears about Garland's judicial record on guns and government regulations.
Second Select Panel Hearing Was Just Like “A Bad House Of Cards Plotline”
Following the Congressional Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives’ second hearing, multiple media outlets heavily criticized the Republican members’ continued lack of objectivity. The select panel was established by Republicans in October 2015 based on discredited allegations against Planned Parenthood from the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress (CMP). Despite claiming to be “impartial,” Republican members during both hearings have relied on CMP’s deceptive work as evidence.
LaPierre Cites Interview In Which Ginsburg Actually Praised The “Wonderful Words” Of The “Genius” U.S. Constitution
National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre distorted past comments by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a column warning that “our guns and our culture would be a favored target for eradication” if Hillary Clinton and other Democrats are successful in the 2016 elections.
In order to attack the possibility of Clinton being elected president and filling multiple vacancies on the Supreme Court with nominees like Justice Ginsburg, LaPierre smeared Justice Ginsburg by distorting her past comments about what new democracies should consider when adopting a constitution.
In 2012, Ginsburg traveled to Egypt to offer advice to the country as it began the process of adopting a constitution. In an interview, Ginsburg said she advised Egypt to look at “all the constitution-writing that has gone on since the end of World War II” and that she “would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.” Ginsburg then singled out the South African constitution, Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the European Convention on Human Rights as modern examples for drafting constitutions.
During the interview, Ginsburg also praised the U.S. Constitution, saying, “The United States in comparison to Egypt is a very new nation, and yet we have the oldest written Constitution still enforced in the world. And it's a Constitution that starts out with three wonderful words: It's we the people.” Ginsburg praised the U.S. Constitution several other times during the interview, calling the document “an instrument that endured” and referencing “the genius of the Constitution.”
But in his monthly “Standing Guard” column in the May 2016 edition of America’s 1st Freedom, LaPierre smeared Ginsburg as part of his rallying cry that the NRA "must defeat Hillary Clinton."
LaPierre wrote of Ginsburg, “In an Egyptian television interview in January 2011 [sic], she disavowed the U.S. Constitution.” Distorting Ginsburg’s remarks, LaPierre added, “You might ask, why would a U.S. Supreme Court justice prefer another constitution to that which was forged in Philadelphia more than 200 years ago? What makes the South African Constitution so superior?”
LaPierre went on to claim that the South African Constitution encourages “civil disarmament,” writing, “It’s senseless, but here we have a U.S. Supreme Court justice who might find herself in the majority embracing the very essence of undefined and unknown ‘social justice.’”
LaPierre’s smear of Ginsburg is recycled from claims the NRA made about the 2012 elections and the prospect of President Obama’s reelection. The NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, released an article that distorted the Egypt comments to argue “most troubling of all is the possibility that if elected to a second term, President Obama could appoint even more justices who share Justice Ginsburg's views.”
During the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference, LaPierre also attacked Ginsburg in a speech, calling her a “giddy school girl” for hugging Obama at the State of the Union and again distorting her Egypt comments.
Eric Bolling: “Maybe More Blacks Are Committing More Of The Same Crimes”
During a segment on drug incarceration, Fox News’ Eric Bolling suggested the higher incarceration rates for African Americans are not about race, but instead because “blacks committed more of the same crimes.” From the April 22 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:
BILL O’REILLY (HOST): I feel very strongly that if my children were addicted to heroin and I knew who was selling them the heroin, I would not consider it a nonviolent action. How about you?
ERIC BOLLING: No, I think you have to go hard on the drug dealers, distributors.
O’REILLY: Even the punks on the street?
BOLLING: Even the punks on the street. I don’t think it has anything to do with race, it has to do with what they are doing. They are providing access for kids, people to hurt themselves.
O’REILLY: Why does the left see it differently and is trying to diminish the harmfulness of their actions?
BOLLING: Well Russell Simmons tried to make it about race. He said more blacks are incarcerated than whites therefore --
O’REILLY: Well it's a big issue.
BOLLING: Because maybe more blacks are committing more of the same crimes. It's still illegal to sell heroin. It's still illegal to sell opiates.
O’REILLY: May not be much longer, Colmes, the way the trends are going in this country.
According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, prison sentences of African American men were almost 20 percent longer than white men for similar crimes. The Wall Street Journal attributed the gap to judicial discretion, restored by the Supreme Court in 2005. In a September 2014 article, the Washington Post reported that, while whites and blacks use drugs at about the same rate, and whites are more likely to sell, blacks are “far more likely” to be arrested for sale and possession.
Fox’s Bill O’Reilly has a history of campaigning against drug sentencing reform, despite the evidence that current laws target minorities. O’Reilly has previously stated that drug sentencing reform sends a message that drugs aren’t dangerous.
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How The Select Investigative Panel Recycled More Of CMP’s Deceptive Work To Attack Planned Parenthood
On April 20, Congress’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives held its second hearing: “The Pricing of Fetal Tissue.” Republicans in Congress established the panel following baseless allegations from the discredited anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) against Planned Parenthood. During the second hearing, the panel again relied on evidence taken directly from CMP’s videos and website to attack abortion providers and fetal tissue research.
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