Justice & Civil Liberties

Issues ››› Justice & Civil Liberties
  • The Guardian: Firing Ailes “Can’t Turn Around The Mess Of Misogyny That Is Fox News”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Guardian highlighted the long and widespread sexism and misogyny of Fox News following the reported firing of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, amid charges of sexual harassment made by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson.

    On July 19 it was reported that Ailes was given until August 1 to resign or be fired. This ultimatum came as a result of a lawsuit filed by Carlson alleging sexual harassment against Ailes. Following the announcement of the lawsuit numerous other women have come forward with allegations of harassment by Ailes, including current Fox host Megyn Kelly.

    The Guardian’s Jessica Valenti highlighted Fox News’ history of sexist policy, including the no-pants policy for women and the repeated misogynistic rhetoric. And while removing Ailes is a step forward, Valenti explained that “removing one lascivious man can’t turn around the mess of misogyny that is Fox News.” From The Guardian:

    But removing one lascivious man can’t turn around the mess of misogyny that is Fox News. This is a network that bans its female on-air talent from wearing pants, where a host characterized a military operation against Isis led by a woman as “boobs on the ground” and the ethos of the coverage is shockingly antagonistic to women’s rights.

    There was the time, for example, that Fox contributor Erik Erickson said that men should be “dominant” over women in families. Or when an all-male panel bemoaned the rise of female breadwinners in the United States. Or when a host wondered if there was something about the female brain that was a “deterrent” to being a business executive. Or, my personal favorite, when Andrea Tantaros suggested that a female high school teacher who sexually abused a student did so because of … feminism.

    Oh, and these are just incidents from one year at the network.

    I have no doubt that the leadership of a man who may have told a woman “you might have to give a blowjob every once in a while” for him to help with her career would impact the tone of coverage on women at Fox News. But the disparagement of women at Fox, whether its employees or its viewers, isn’t just about Ailes. So long as the network is a mouthpiece for the right, it will continue to reflect outdated notions about women’s roles.

  • A Year Of Anti-Choice Deception: CMP’s Smear Campaign By The Numbers

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On July 14, 2015, the anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released the first of 14 deceptively edited videos smearing Planned Parenthood.

    To mark the one-year anniversary of its deceptive campaign, the anti-choice group released a “video overview of the past year” that purported to show “senior-level Planned Parenthood leadership negotiating the sale and haggling over the price of aborted baby body parts.”

    In the past year, CMP’s dishonest videos attacking Planned Parenthood have been consistently debunked while multiple states have cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.

    Despite the fraudulent nature of CMP’s claims, right-wing media seized on the opportunity to attack Planned Parenthood. CMP’s smear campaign served as the catalyst for a year of media-driven misinformation about Planned Parenthood, including efforts to defund the organization and ongoing congressional witch hunts against abortion providers and medical researchers.

    By the numbers, here’s what a year of anti-choice deception looks like:

    10: Fox News Devoted 10 Separate Segments To CMP In One Day Of Coverage

    After CMP published its first video in July 2015, right-wing media were among the first to consistently give a platform to the anti-choice group’s misinformation.

    Following the release of CMP’s second video on July 21, 2015, Fox News dedicated 10 segments across seven separate programs to hyping the deceptively edited footage in a single one day. According to a Media Matters count of Fox News programming on July 21, 2015, America’s Newsroom aired three segments on CMP’s smear videos, while both Special Report and The O’Reilly Factor discussed the allegations across two separate segments on each program. The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, and The Kelly File each devoted one segment to CMP.

    Another recent Media Matters study found that during a 14-month period from January 1, 2015, through March 6, 2016, Fox News’ evening news programs relied on extreme anti-choice figures and misinformation to help promote CMP’s smear campaign. For example, Fox host Bill O’Reilly called for an FBI investigation into Planned Parenthood while network correspondent Peter Doocy claimed that he “searched the Planned Parenthood website for fetal baby part prices” but didn’t get any results because the practice is a “well-kept secret.”

    9: Reported Harassment Of Abortion Providers Increased Ninefold Following CMP’s Baseless Attacks

    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” of abortion providers -- likely inspired by CMP’s incendiary allegations and rhetoric. NAF president and CEO Vicki Saporta noted that the ninefold increase in harassment and threats of abortion providers since the release of CMP videos was “unprecedented.”

    In September 2015, the FBI released an intelligence assessment that warned of an uptick in violence against abortion providers and clinics. This prediction was tragically borne out in November 2015 when suspected shooter Robert Dear killed three people and injured several more at a Colorado Planned Parenthood health care center.

    Planned Parenthood has not been the only target of this violence and harassment. In December 2015, Scott Anthony Orton was arrested for making death threats against employees of StemExpress, the biomedical company targeted in several of the discredited CMP videos. As reported by The News Tribune, Orton posted more than 18 different threatening messages that led to his arrest. In April 2016, Orton pleaded guilty to threatening StemExpress employees.

    8: CMP Has Targeted Eight Planned Parenthood Providers By Name In Smear Videos

    Since July 2015, Media Matters has extensively documented the deceptive edits and misleading information in CMP’s videos. Throughout the 14 videos, CMP has targeted eight Planned Parenthood providers by name. In a July 14 post announcing the release of its one-year anniversary video, CMP reiterated the names of these providers and provided links to each of their deceptive videos. By recording abortion providers without their consent and identifying them by name, CMP not only exposed the targeted providers to increased threats of violence, but also raised the spectre of anti-choice violence against all reproductive health care providers.

    For example, after Dear allegedly carried out his deadly attack on a Colorado Planned Parenthood, MedStar Washington Hospital Center barred abortion provider Dr. Diane J. Horvath-Cosper from publicly speaking about the need for great abortion access. The hospital’s medical director issued the gag order after the Planned Parenthood attack “out of concerns for security,” saying he didn’t want to draw attention to MedStar’s abortion and reproductive health care services.

    Nina Liss-Schultz reported for Mother Jones that the November Planned Parenthood attack “highlighted a fact of life that abortion providers and clinic staff have known for decades: Sophisticated and extensive security are necessary to protect both providers and patients.”

    7: Congressional Select Panel Included Seven Documents Sourced From CMP In One Letter

    The congressional Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives was formed in October 2015, several months after CMP began releasing deceptively edited videos in an attempt to smear Planned Parenthood.

    Since the select panel’s inception, the media have criticized its actions as a politically motivated “witch hunt” and a “Benghazi treatment” of Planned Parenthood. In its 10 months of operation, the select panel has found no substantiated evidence of wrongdoing, prompting numerous lawmakers to call for its disbandment. Although select panel Chairman Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has insisted Republicans are on a “fact finding mission,” Media Matters has sourced numerous documents used by the select panel as “evidence” to CMP’s website and deceptive videos.

    In a June 1 letter, the select panel sourced seven documents from CMP to allege Planned Parenthood had violated federal patient safety and privacy rules.

    6: Six Democrats On The Select Panel Have Called For An End To The “Witch Hunt”

    The Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives is comprised of eight Republican and six Democrat members. The Democrats on the select panel include: Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), and ranking member Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL).

    Since the panel’s inception, the Democrat members have consistently voiced their concerns about the methods and motivations of the Republican members. Commenting on the Republican member’s interim report, Schakowsky pointedly criticized the panel’s work, stating, “Never before have I witnessed such a disconnect between allegations and the facts.” Schakowsky previously called out the select panel as a “dangerous witch hunt” against abortion providers.

    The Democrats on the panel are part of a group of 181 other lawmakers who have called on Speaker Paul Ryan to disband the select panel.

    5: Five Supreme Court Justices Ruled Against Restrictive Anti-Choice Legislation Cheered By CMP And Others

    On June 27, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that Texas’ extreme anti-choice law HB 2 was unconstitutional because it imposed an “undue burden on abortion access.” Supporters of HB 2 argued that the law’s requirements were medically necessary to protect the health and safety of women during abortions. In reality, these restrictions were based on anti-choice myths about abortion, offered no medical benefits to patients, and substantially burdened women’s ability to access safe and legal abortion.

    In reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision, CMP’s founder David Daleiden issued a press release calling it a “nearly incoherent abortion ruling” that was “little more than a naked power grab that calls into question the Court’s continued adherence to the rule of law.” Daleiden maintained that CMP’s work would have convinced the Supreme Court otherwise if it were not under “a gag-order from the federal court in San Francisco.”

    4: Four Of CMP’s Videos Make Up Its So-Called “Documentary Web Series”

    Out of CMP’s 15 videos -- including the anniversary recap video -- four are labeled a “documentary web series” called the Human Capital Project. CMP described the four videos as a documentary-style expose that “integrates expert interviews, eyewitness accounts, and real-life undercover interactions to tell the story of Planned Parenthood’s commercial exploitation of aborted fetal tissue.”

    Throughout the four Human Capital Project videos, CMP relied heavily on the testimony of former StemExpress employee Holly O’Donnell to falsely allege that Planned Parenthood participated in the illegal sale of donated fetal tissue and to make other unproven allegations of improper conduct.

    In reality, the claims in the so-called “documentary” videos have been thoroughly debunked. Citing previously unseen footage, the Los Angeles Times released an investigative report in March that confirms “O’Donnell’s apparently spontaneous reflections were carefully rehearsed” and that off-camera, Daleiden can be heard “coaching O’Donnell through repeated takes.”

    3: Three Lawsuits Have Been Filed Against Daleiden And CMP

    Since CMP began its smear campaign against Planned Parenthood last July, there have been three lawsuits filed against the anti-choice group, its founder David Daleiden, and his various associates.

    In a comprehensive look at the impact of CMP’s campaign of deception, Rewire’s Jessica Mason Pieklo and Imani Gandy summarized the charges and timeline of each of the lawsuits filed against Daleiden and his co-conspirators. According to Peklo and Gandy, Daleiden and CMP face suits from StemExpress -- the biomedical tissue procurement company that previously partnered with Planned Parenthood and has been depicted in some of CMP’s videos -- the National Abortion Federation, and Planned Parenthood.

    2: Daleiden Was Indicted On Two Charges By A Grand Jury In Houston, Texas

    In addition to the lawsuits they face, Daleiden and one of his associates were indicted by a grand jury in Houston, Texas. In January 2015, a Harris County, Texas, grand jury indicted Daleiden on a felony charge of “Tampering with a Governmental Record” and a misdemeanor charge of “illegally offer[ing] to purchase human organs.” Although the misdemeanor charge was dismissed on a technicality in June, Daleiden still faces the felony charge for using a “fake driver's license during his efforts to investigate Planned Parenthood.”

    CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Melaney A. Linton told Mother Jones that as the indictment process has progressed, “It's become totally clear that the only people who engaged in wrongdoing are the criminals behind this fraud, and we will allow the court to hold them accountable.”

    1: One Year Later, Still No Evidence That Anyone Except CMP Broke The Law

    One year later, CMP’s deceptively edited videos have been repeatedly discredited while multiple state investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing. During this time CMP has earned the title of Media Matters’ 2015 Misinformer of the Year, been indicted for fraud by a grand jury in Houston, TX, been subject to lawsuits, and had its work soundly rejected by multiple judges and journalists alike.

    After a year CMP still has little to show in the way of evidence to substantiate their claims, while Planned Parenthood has emerged even stronger. In a statement to the Huffington Post, Planned Parenthood executive vice president Dawn Laguens explained that, despite the difficulties of the past year, the reproductive health organization remained confident about the future. She said, “We’re stronger today than we were a year ago … The extreme anti-abortion activists behind the videos are on a mission to ban abortion in this county -- they failed.”

  • Local Dallas News Reports Indisputable Evidence That Texas’ HB 2 Disproportionately Affected Latinas

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    In an analysis of Texas’ 2014 abortion statistics The Dallas Morning News found that as a result of the state’s anti-choice law HB 2, Hispanic women experienced the greatest drop in abortions of any demographic group.

    Hispanic media outlets previously warned that the law would disproportionately affect Latinas, listing “immigration status, lack of dependable transportation, inability to take time off work, and lack of child care” as some of the major barriers to family planning and health services. Other outlets also stressed the importance of reproductive rights as a path to economic mobility and empowerment for Hispanic women specifically.

    The July 18 article reported on Texas state data, which substantiated the Supreme Court’s 5-3 ruling that HB 2 constituted an undue burden on women’s access to abortion. According to The Dallas Morning News, the 2014 abortion data showed an 18 percent drop in the number of abortions among Hispanic women between 2013 and 2014, which was the year the law took effect. The Dallas Morning News noted that “no other demographic came close to seeing that impact,” reporting a 7.5 percent drop for black women and a 6.7 percent drop for white women. From The Dallas Morning News’ July 18 article:

    The Texas abortion law struck down last month by the Supreme Court appears to have curtailed access to the procedure for Hispanic women far more than any other group, a Dallas Morning News analysis of state data has found.

    In 2014 — the first full year since restrictions on abortion doctors, pills and clinics forced facilities to close — women in Texas had 9,000 fewer abortions than the year before. That's a 14 percent drop in abortions statewide, a much bigger drop than seen in previous years.

    But among Texas' Hispanic women, the drop in abortions was especially steep: The number dropped 18 percent from 2013 to 2014, data shows.

    That drop of about 4,400 abortions in one year is more than three times what Hispanic women were experiencing before the law took effect, an analysis of the last five available years of data shows. Most of that decline can be traced to abortion clinic closures in the Rio Grande Valley, which is predominantly Hispanic.

    No other demographic came close to seeing that impact.

    Before clinics closed en masse, abortions among black women were falling annually at a clip of about 5 percent, according to data published by the Texas Department of State Health Services. After the law took hold, the number of black women getting the procedure dropped by 7.5 percent in one year.

    White Texas women were having about 9 percent fewer abortions each year before 2014. After the law, their abortion numbers dropped only 6.7 percent.

    "The data shows not only that the drop in the number of safe, legal abortions provided was clearly linked to the elimination of access but also, and most especially, that the elimination of clinics disproportionately impacted Latinas," said Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health in New York.

    "The data shows exactly why the Supreme Court struck down the provisions" of the law, she added, "because they are harmful to women and their families."

  • Report: Fox News CEO Roger Ailes Is On His Way Out

    Media Matters' Brock: Fox News "Undisputed Champion Of Sexism," No Surprise It "Starts At The Top"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
    Ailes
     
    Rupert Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James, the heads of Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox, have decided to give embattled Fox CEO Roger Ailes the choice to resign or be fired, according to a report from New York’s Gabriel Sherman.

    Ailes, who has led the conservative network since its inception, has been under fire since July 6, when Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against him alleging sexual harassment and retaliation. As other women have come forward to levy similar accusations against Ailes, the network’s hosts and anchors -- along with Republican presidential  nominee Donald Trump -- have rallied around him.

    But the Murdochs have taken the charges more seriously, hiring the law firm Paul, Weiss to conduct an investigation of the allegations. According to Sherman, the investigation has expanded to cover Ailes’ “controversial management style,” and based on its initial findings the Murdochs have decided that "Ailes needs to go," with the only question being the timing. From New York:

    Roger Ailes's tenure as the head of Fox News may be coming to an end. Rupert Murdoch and sons Lachlan and James — co-chairmen and CEO, respectively, of parent company 21st Century Fox — have settled on removing the 76-year-old executive, say two sources briefed on a sexual harassment investigation of Ailes being conducted by New York law firm Paul, Weiss. After reviewing the initial findings of the probe, James Murdoch is said to be arguing that Ailes should be presented with a choice this week to resign or face being fired. Lachlan is more aligned with their father, who thinks that no action should be taken until after the GOP convention this week. Another source confirms that all three are in agreement that Ailes needs to go.

    While Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes sparked the investigation, sources say it has expanded into a wide-ranging inquiry into Ailes’s controversial management style. The interviews are now being conducted at Paul, Weiss’s midtown offices because of concerns that the Fox offices could be bugged, sources say. The lawyers are seeking to interview former female employees of Fox News in addition to current staff. They are also looking into the appropriateness of Ailes’s pressuring employees to speak out on his behalf, against his accusers.

    In response to the news, Media Matters chairman David Brock released the following statement:

    Fox News has been the undisputed champion of sexism and misogyny in the media and as the head of Fox News, it's not shocking that this culture of sexism -- on and off the air -- starts at the top with Roger Ailes.  If this report is accurate, there is a special irony in 21st Century Fox preparing to remove Ailes as the Republican National Convention gets ready to nominate known misogynist Donald Trump, the candidate that Fox News created.

    UPDATE: 21st Century Fox has released a statement that does not deny Sherman's report.

  • Why Is Reuters Avoiding The Facts About The Smear Campaign Against Planned Parenthood?

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    A Reuters article on a recent Planned Parenthood legal victory in Utah gave equal weight to both discredited claims by Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert that Planned Parenthood had violated fetal tissue laws and the truth: Planned Parenthood Association of Utah had not violated the law.

    Last August, Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert instructed the state’s Department of Health to stop distributing federal funds to Planned Parenthood Association of Utah (PPAU), citing videos produced by the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress (CMP) -- Media Matters’ 2015 Misinformer of the Year -- that used misleadingly edited footage to baselessly accuse Planned Parenthood of engaging in illegal activities. In September, PPAU sued the state for blocking its funding and argued that the governor’s attack was motivated by his position against abortion. On July 12, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s decision, allowing PPAU to continue to receive funding for STD testing and sex education programs.

    As reported by The Salt Lake Tribune, the 10th Circuit concluded that “the governor's personal opposition to abortion could likely be demonstrated as a motivation for blocking Planned Parenthood's funds.” The court determined it was “undisputed that at no time has [Utah’s Department of Health] complained about the services provided by PPAU” or alleged that PPAU was misusing the funding. The court also noted that none of the multiple state and federal investigations into Planned Parenthood yielded evidence of illegal activity and that “no evidence was found to support the CMP videos’ claim” of illegal actions. Moreover, the court explained that Gov. Herbert had already admitted that PPAU was not engaging in illegal behavior (citations removed):

    During the press conference on August 17, 2015, Herbert acknowledged that the events depicted in the video “may not have happened in Utah.” And in opposing PPAU’s motion for preliminary injunction in the district court, Herbert made more specific admissions. To begin with, he admitted that the CMP videos involved other affiliates of Planned Parenthood and not PPAU. Herbert further admitted that “there is no evidence, or even accusation, that PPAU has ‘colored outside’ of any lines, including because PPAU does not participate in any program that provides fetal tissue for scientific research.” … In addition, Herbert admitted that the accusations made by CMP in the videos regarding Planned Parenthood and its other affiliates had not been proven and indeed were false.

    Yet despite the court’s conclusion that claims in CMP’s videos were unproven and false, Reuters framed CMP’s claims as “he said/she said” rather than relying upon the facts found by the court:

    In ordering the cutoff, Herbert, an abortion opponent, cited secretly recorded videos provided by the Center for Medical Progress that allegedly showed out-of-state Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of aborted fetal tissue.

    Planned Parenthood has said it did nothing wrong and that the videos were heavily edited to distort their content.

    In contrast to Reuters, other media outlets directly described the falsity of CMP’s videos and claims. The Salt Lake Tribune wrote that “the videos … were determined to be inaccurate and misleading,” while The Associated Press noted both that multiple investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing and that a Texas grand jury indicted CMP’s founder and his associate. Even the local Fox affiliate in Salt Lake City, Fox 13, reported that “the videos have been widely discredited as noted by the court decision calling them ‘unproven and in fact false.’”

    Media Matters has extensively documented the deceptive edits and misleading claims made in all of CMP’s videos. In February, a federal judge also found the videos “misleadingly edited” and said they included “unfounded assertions.” And since CMP put out the first video nearly a year ago, numerous media outlets have repeatedly demonstrated their deceptive nature.

    In March, the Los Angeles Times published an investigative report showing that the unreleased footage from CMP revealed CMP’s founder “coaching” answers from a supposed “documentary” testimony and trying to “plant phrases” in the mouths of targeted individuals.In May, the Columbia Journalism Review wrote that CMP founder David “Daleiden’s video footage and commentary did not reveal any attempt to profiteer [from illegal activity], and his editing sensationalized the evidence that he actually had.” The Washington Post’s editorial board also concluded that “as we now know, those videos are bunk, neither accurate nor reliable” while The New York Times’ editorial board wrote that CMP’s “charges against Planned Parenthood were completely bogus.”

    Given that CMP’s allegations have been so thoroughly disproven it’s beyond time for all media outlets to stop relying on false balance and just use the actual facts: The videos were deceptively edited in order to lodge false allegations against Planned Parenthood.

  • Right-Wing Media Are Still Helping Anti-Choice Extremists Funnel Their Lies Straight To Congress

    Select Panel Uses Anniversary Of Anti-Choice Smear Videos To Preview The Next Act In The “Benghazi Treatment” of Planned Parenthood

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    Today, the Republican members of Congress’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives released an interim update to House leadership and held a press conference to update the media on its investigation of abortion providers and medical researchers across the country.

    In the interim update, the select panel alleged that its investigation had revealed potential violations of federal law by abortion providers and tissue procurement companies. At the press briefing, select panel Chairman Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said the mid-year report’s findings included “documentation that shows abortion clinics and middlemen who are exploiting women and selling baby body parts as part of business plan to make more money.”

    In reality, these allegations are actually recycled misinformation from anti-choice groups that right-wing media have spent the better part of the past year attempting to misrepresent as truth. With this latest release, the select panel Republicans have confirmed the long-held suspicion that they are also merely carrying water for the unfounded allegations of anti-choice extremists.

    Since the select panel’s inception, the media have criticized its actions as a politically motivated “witch hunt” -- a “Benghazi treatment” of Planned Parenthood. In its 10 months of operation, the select panel has found no substantiated evidence of wrongdoing, prompting one publication to call its efforts “a wild goose chase” and numerous lawmakers to call for its disbandment. Instead, the select panel has continued to function merely as a conduit through which anti-choice groups have consistently funneled information in order to give their otherwise baseless attacks a thin veneer of legitimacy.

    As the panel’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), explained, Blackburn and her colleagues have long been suspected of “relying on information from anti-abortion extremists” in order to substantiate their otherwise unfounded attacks. Media Matters has previously reported that numerous documents from the select panel’s submitted evidence could be sourced to the website of the anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP.) The panel’s interim update confirms this pattern -- including citations from numerous anti-choice groups such as CMP, Life News, the Charlotte Lozier Institute, and the Radiance Foundation.

    The select panel was formed in October 2015, several months after CMP began releasing deceptively edited videos in an attempt to smear Planned Parenthood. Although these videos purported to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the illicit sale of donated fetal tissue, they have been repeatedly discredited and multiple states investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing.

    Today marks exactly one year since CMP began its smear campaign against Planned Parenthood.

    Since then, CMP has earned the title of Media Matters’ 2015 Misinformer of the Year, been indicted for fraud by a grand jury in Houston, TX, been subject to lawsuits, and had its work soundly rejected by multiple judges and journalists alike. Undeterred, CMP founder David Daleiden has openly voiced his lack of concern about the severity of these charges:

     

     

    In contrast, for the abortion providers and researchers targeted by CMP and the select panel, the past year has been marked by increased harassment, threats, and violence.

    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” of abortion providers -- likely inspired by CMP’s incendiary allegations and rhetoric. Since the release of CMP’s first video in July 2015, at least five Planned Parenthood facilities have been attacked. 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 suspected shooter Robert Dear killed three people and injured several more at a Colorado Planned Parenthood health care center.

    Nevertheless, the select panel has recklessly issued countless subpoenas demanding the names not only of abortion providers, but also of the “researchers, graduate students, laboratory technicians and administrative personnel” who may have participated in fetal tissue research.

    Right-wing media have also spent the past year giving CMP a platform and capitalizing on the opportunity to push misinformation about Planned Parenthood and agitate for the organization to be defunded. In a recent study, Media Matters found that during a 14-month period from January 1, 2015, through March 6, 2016, Fox News’ evening news programs routinely relied on extreme anti-choice figures and information to help propagate CMP’s false allegations against Planned Parenthood.

    For example, in a single day Fox News devoted 10 segments to hyping CMP’s videos and false claims about Planned Parenthood. Similarly, Fox host Bill O'Reilly called for an FBI investigation into Planned Parenthood, while network correspondent Peter Doocy claimed that he “searched the Planned Parenthood website for fetal baby part prices” but didn’t get any results because the practice is a “well-kept secret.” Other conservative media figures used CMP's videos to compare Planned Parenthood to Nazis, and used the videos to call for completely defunding the women's health care provider -- even going so far as to demand a government shutdown to do so.

    These calls have made their way to anti-choice legislators across the United States and prompted 10 states to attempt to defund Planned Parenthood -- despite the detrimental impact this move would have on health care access in many communities.

    Since its creation, the select panel has cost taxpayers $790,000 -- with an additional $490,000 recently authorized by the House in order to sustain the investigation through the end of the year. The costs for abortion providers -- in terms of their loss of safety -- has already become incalculable. Ranking member Schakowsky has been resolute: “This has not been -- nor will it ever be -- a fact-based investigation.” In response to the Republicans’ July 14 report, Schakowsky reiterated the danger of allowing a congressional body to act as mouthpiece for anti-choice extremists:

    Once again Republicans are making inflammatory claims that they cannot substantiate and relying on manufactured documents and fraudulent videos that have been thoroughly discredited. Never before have I witnessed such a disconnect between allegations and the facts.

    If the Panel were just a waste of taxpayer money and congressional time, it would be bad enough. But this has serious and devastating effects on real people. If you rely on Planned Parenthood provided health care, they want to close women's clinics. If you think women should make their own health decisions, they want politicians to dictate your choices and limit your right to decide when and whether to have children based on your own situation. If you support medical research, their attacks on fetal tissue research are already stalling work on diseases like MS.

    And if you believe that congressional Republicans care about individual privacy and safety, you would have learned otherwise today. Despite public promises to “act responsibly with each and every name” that they are collecting -- Republicans today publicly named names without regard to the consequences.

    Their interim report, which Democrats learned about through a press advisory, proves that this Panel needs to be disbanded now, before more lives are put at risk.