Media outlets gave Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina glowing reviews for her answer to a question about defunding Planned Parenthood during the second GOP debate on September 16. But this praise ignores the fact that Fiorina's attack on Planned Parenthood was based on a fictitious scene from a series of deceptively-edited videos and no such footage exists.
In GOP Debate, Carly Fiorina Calls For Planned Parenthood To Be Defunded, Citing Non-Existent Footage In Deceptively-Edited Smear Videos
Carly Fiorina Calls For Defunding Of Planned Parenthood, Citing Videos That Show “A Fully Formed Fetus On The Table ... While Someone Says We Have To Keep It Alive To Harvest Its Brain.” Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina slammed Planned Parenthood in the second GOP debate on September 16, hosted by CNN. She called for Congress to pass a bill that would cut off federal funding for the organization, saying: “As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain. This is about the character of our nation, and if we will not stand up in and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.” [USA Today, 9/16/15]
Media Praised Her Debate Performance, Singling Out Her Planned Parenthood Attack
MSNBC's Morning Joe: Willie Geist Calls Fiorina's Attack On Planned Parenthood One Of The “Most Memorable Moments Of The Night.” Morning Joe's Willie Geist said one of the “most memorable moments of the night” was when Fiorina “looked at the camera and talked about the Planned Parenthood videos:”
WILLIE GEIST: I thought Carly Fiorina's first hour was among the best I've ever seen in a debate. She had a couple of -- probably the two most memorable moments of the night, when she responded to Donald Trump's comments about the looks and then when she looked at the camera and talked about the Planned Parenthood videos. [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 9/17/15]
Fox's John Roberts: Fiorina's Attack On Planned Parenthood Was “Perhaps ... The Moment Of The Night.” Fox News' senior national correspondent John Roberts said Fiorina “had perhaps what was the moment of the night when she took on the issue of Planned Parenthood” and that the moment “no doubt will really vault her in the polls”:
JOHN ROBERTS: You can talk about who won and who lost last night's debate, but I think really the performance of the night belonged to Carly Fiorina. She really had a lot riding on last night. She fought very hard, embarrassing CNN into changing the rules to get her on. She needed to hit a homerun. But, like Pedro Alvarez at PNC Park, she hit it all the way out of the park and into the alligator, showing broad command over all of the big issues -- foreign policy, the economy, social issues. And she had perhaps what was the moment of the night when she took on the issue of Planned Parenthood ... That is a moment that no doubt will really vault her in the polls. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/17/15]
The Washington Post's Chris Cilliza: Fiorina Was A “Winner” And Her Answer About Planned Parenthood “Was The Most Affecting Moment Of The Debate.” In his roundup of “winners and losers from the CNN debate,” The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza used his blog, The Fix, to praise Fiorina's “emotional call to a higher moral authority when talking about Planned Parenthood”:
* Carly Fiorina: The former HP executive won the so-called “kiddie-table” debate last month. She stepped up to the big stage on Wednesday night and won this debate too. Her emotional call to a higher moral authority when talking about Planned Parenthood was the most affecting moment of the debate. The second most affecting moment of the debate was when she talked about how she had buried a stepchild due to drug addiction. Fiorina's answer to Trump's comments about her looks was pitch-perfect and brought a huge roar from the crowd. She was poised, well versed -- particularly on foreign policy -- and beat back attacks on her time as CEO of HP relatively well. [The Washington Post, 9/16/15]
Fox's Charles Krauthammer: Fiorina Was “Extremely Strong” In Her Attack On Planned Parenthood. On the September 16 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said Fiorina's attack on Planned Parenthood was “a great moment,” “extremely strong,” and “the best ... sound bite that wasn't a joke of the evening”:
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: She gets an A, A-minus, I would give her. She had -- you know, these debates hinge on moments, and she had two great moments, the one where she countered the insult from Trump in a way that was short, surprising, and really electric. And then she had her little riff when she took on, interestingly, and improbably, Iran and Planned Parenthood at the same time. Extremely strong, carried it off very well. That was the best, sort of sound byte that wasn't a joke, of the evening. I give the minus slightly because she had a severe demeanor. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 9/16/15]
Yahoo Politics: Carly Fiorina's Attack On Planned Parenthood Was “Deft” And A “Flawless Delivery.” Yahoo Politics reported that Fiorina gave a “near flawless delivery” in the debate, noting that she “somehow managed to connect Planned Parenthood and Iran in a brief but deft moment in Wednesday's debate” and that “the crowd went wild”:
Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina somehow managed to connect Planned Parenthood and Iran in a brief but deft moment in Wednesday's debate.
Fiorina's near flawless delivery has stood out, as she's been able to fit more policy and personality in her answers than many of her competitors have. Fiorina interjected in the debate and said she would like to “link” two unlikely issues: Planned Parenthood and Iran.
Fiorina said she would put “the United States of America back in the leadership business” by cracking down on Iran, and then suddenly switched gears to the recent controversy over Planned Parenthood transferring fetal tissue to researchers. (The videos, which were heavily edited, have set off a congressional fight to defund Planned Parenthood.)
“I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes,” she said, and slowed down to a staccato tempo. “Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” The crowd went wild as Fiorina said, “If we do not stand up and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.” [Yahoo.com, 9/16/15]
Daily Mail: Carly Fiorina “Condemning [Planned Parenthood]” Was A “Mic Drop Moment.” The Daily Mail praised Fiorina's attack on Planned Parenthood in the CNN debate as a “mic drop moment.” The article focused on what it called her “full-throated condemnation of Planned Parenthood,” and called the smear videos she referred to “grisly” and “scandalous”:
Carly Fiorina called for defunding Planned Parenthood saying it's in 'defense of the character' of the nation
She condemned the group for the scandalous videos, describing one in great detail
'Shame on us' she tells fellow Republicans who are wishy-washy on pushing bill to Obama's desk
Carly Fiorina had a mic drop moment on the issue of abortion giving a full-throated condemnation of Planned Parenthood saying 'this is about the character of our nation.'
'I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, to watch these tapes,' Fiorina said. 'Watch a fully-formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain,' Fiorina said tonight on the Republican debate stage.
'This is about the character of our nation,' she continued. 'If you will not stand up and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.' [Daily Mail,9/16/15]
Wash. Examiner: Fiorina “Forcefully Called For Congress” To Vote To Defund Planned Parenthood, Citing “The 'Character Of This Nation.'” An article in the Washington Examiner said that “Carly Fiorina forcefully called for Congress to call President Obama's bluff and send him a bill that defunds Planned Parenthood, even if it means defunding the federal government,” and claimed that the smear videos “detail Planned Parenthood officials who discuss the compensation and donation of aborted fetal parts”:
Carly Fiorina forcefully called for Congress to call President Obama's bluff and send him a bill that defunds Planned Parenthood, even if it means defunding the federal government.
“If we don't force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us,” Fiorina said during the GOP presidential debate Wednesday at Ronald Reagan Library in California.
Obama threatened to do just that Wednesday night right as the GOP primary debate began, issuing a veto threat for a House bill that defunds the $500 million for the women's health and abortion provider.
Fiorina, who currently ranks fifth in the Washington Examiner's presidential power rankings, said the defunding fight goes to the “character of this nation.” She referenced the undercover videos that detail Planned Parenthood officials who discuss the compensation and donation of aborted fetal parts. [Washington Examiner, 9/16/15]
Breitbart News Highlights Fiorina “Dar[ing]” Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama To Watch CMP Videos. Breitbart News called attention to Fiorina's attack on Planned Parenthood, noting that she “dared Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama to watch the Planned Parenthood videos released by the Center for Medical Progress”:
Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina dared Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama to watch the Planned Parenthood videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, and declared, “if we will not stand up and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us” at Wednesday's primetime debate on CNN. [Breitbart News, 9/16/15]
Free Beacon Spotlights “An Emotional Fiorina” Saying “The Debate [About Planned Parenthood] Was About The 'Character Of Our Nation.'” The Washington Free Beacon reported that Fiorina “blasted Planned Parenthood for the videos showing officials discussing fetal organ harvesting” and added, “An emotional Fiorina said the debate was about the 'character of our nation.'” They noted she is a “strongly pro-life candidate [who] has already vowed to defund Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading provider of abortions, if she became president.” [Washington Free Beacon, 9/16/15]
Daily Caller Highlights Fiorina's Attack On Planned Parenthood. The Daily Caller highlighted Fiorina's Planned Parenthood comments, noting that she said “funding Planned Parenthood 'is about the character of our nation'” and that she “explain[ed]” that videos show “a fully formed fetus on the table, it's heart beating, it's legs kicking (sic) while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” [Daily Caller, 9/16/15]
The Blaze: “Crowd Erupts” After Fiorina Condemns Planned Parenthood. The Blaze reported that “crowd erupt[ed]” at the debate after Fiorina attacked Planned Parenthood and “issued a fiery dare to Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama during Wednesday's GOP debate, challenging the top Democrats to watch the undercover Planned Parenthood videos that purport to show officials at the abortion provider engaging in the sale of fetal tissue.” [The Blaze, 9/16/15]
National Review Online Praises Fiorina For “La[ying] Out The Harsh And Cold Truth About Planned Parenthood.” National Review Online said Fiorina “is worth quoting and heeding” after her comments about Planned Parenthood in the debate, and wrote that she “laid out the harsh and cold truth about Planned Parenthood in a way no other candidate has to date, amidst the media blackout -- and a CNN questioning panel that seemed indifferent, preferring to focus on trivialities.” [National Review Online, 9/16/15]
The Gateway Pundit: Fiorina “Hit A Home Run” With Her Planned Parenthood Attack. The Gateway Pundit wrote that Fiorina "[stole] the [s]how" with her attack on Planned Parenthood and that “Carly Fiorina just hit a home run! This was amazing....” [The Gateway Pundit, 9/16/15]
Fox News: “Carly Fiorina Took A Passionate Stand Against Funding Planned Parenthood.” FoxNews.com highlighted Fiorina's “passionate stand” against Planned Parenthood, “citing the issue of harvesting fetal tissue and the videos that first brought the issue to light.”
She spoke specifically of the cache of nine videos taken and released to the public by anti-abortion advocates of conversations with Planned Parenthood representatives and others over the transfer of fetal tissue to laboratories for research. The videos have caused an uproar regarding the moral and ethical implications of fetal tissue research and the harvesting of fetal organs during abortions.
Conservative Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood, which now receives federal tax dollars, and are willing to attach a provision to the continuing budget resolution. [FoxNews.com, 9/16/15]
IJ Review: Fiorina Gave A “Devastating Response On Planned Parenthood.” IJ Review reported that “Fiorina tore into Planned Parenthood and their role in abortion” in a "[d]evastating [r]esponse" about the health care provider. The article said the smear videos released by the CMP “expose[d] dark and at some times, legally murky practices”:
Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina entered an impassioned plea to preserve “the character” of the United States by taking on abortion during the second Republican primary debate.
In the debate, moderated by CNN's Jake Tapper, Fiorina tore into Planned Parenthood and their role in abortion.
Her remarks on Planned Parenthood and abortion stem from the series of undercover sting videos that aimed to expose dark and at some times, legally murky practices.
Fiorina earned her spot in the primetime debate after surging in the polls, following a rousing performance in the first debate. [IJ Review, 9/16/15]
The Hill: Fiorina's “Impassioned Attack Against Planned Parenthood” Received “Roaring Applause.” The Hill reported that "[f]ormer Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina delivered an impassioned attack against Planned Parenthood on Wednesday, comparing the women's health provider to the dangers of Iran" and that her attack received “roaring applause.” The article said the smear videos against Planned Parenthood “purposed (sic) to show officials discussing the sale and use of fetal tissue obtained from late-term and partial-birth abortions.” [The Hill, 9/16/15]
Business Insider: Fiorina's Criticism Of Planned Parenthood Drew “Raucous Applause” And “Raves From ... Observers.” Business Insider reported that “Fiorina drew raves from Republican and conservative observers Wednesday night with her answer to a question that dealt with the debate over funding for Planned Parenthood”:
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina drew raves from Republican and conservative observers Wednesday night with her answer to a question that dealt with the debate over funding for Planned Parenthood.
In the second prime-time Republican presidential debate, candidates sparred over whether Republicans in Congress should vote to defund the organization, even if it leads to a government shutdown. Planned Parenthood has come under intense scrutiny after the release of undercover videos that show Planned Parenthood executives discussing using aborted fetuses for research.
Some, including Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, argued that Republicans should wait until 2017 -- when a Republican president could take office.
But others, such as Fiorina, said Republicans should take action now -- and put the onus on President Barack Obama to veto a government-funding bill that defunds the organization. (The White House formally promised to do so on Wednesday.)
“I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, 'We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.' This is about the character of our nation. If we will not stand up and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us!” Fiorina said, drawing raucous applause. [Business Insider, 9/16/15]
But These Outlets Failed To Note That None Of The Smear Videos Feature Footage Showing What Fiorina Described
Vox: “The Things Fiorina Describes [About Planned Parenthood Smear Videos] ... Are Pure Fiction.” According to Vox, Fiorina's description of Planned Parenthood's activities as documented in smear videos released by the Center For Medical Progress (CMP) is “pure fiction.” Sarah Kliff wrote that “Fiorina is wrong” and "[e]ither Fiorina hasn't watched the Planned Parenthood videos or she is knowingly misrepresenting the footage. Because what she says happens in the Planned Parenthood videos simply does not exist":
Carly Fiorina gave a harrowing description of the Planned Parenthood sting videos at Wednesday's Republican debate. She challenged Barack Obama to watch “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”
Fiorina is wrong: Nobody watching the Planned Parenthood tapes would see those things. I know, because I recently watched all 12 hours of footage.
The videos were produced by the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group that argues Planned Parenthood has profited from procuring fetal tissue for researchers. The videos do show Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue, sometimes in ways that are callous and jarring. But there is no moment where Planned Parenthood discusses procuring fetal tissue for profit, nor is there the scene that Fiorina describes.
There are two Planned Parenthood sting videos that were shot inside Planned Parenthood clinics (other videos exist, taped at conferences and lunch meetings). One was taped in Louisiana and the other in Colorado. And in both videos, Planned Parenthood employees do work with the fetal tissue, showing the pro-life advocates posing as tissue buyers the different parts of the body.
But the things Fiorina describes -- the legs kicking, the intact “fully formed fetus,” the heart beating, the remarks about having to “harvest its brain” -- are pure fiction.
Either Fiorina hasn't watched the Planned Parenthood videos or she is knowingly misrepresenting the footage. Because what she says happens in the Planned Parenthood videos simply does not exist.
I've been trying to figure out where Fiorina got these vivid images, and Mollie Hemmingway suggests one answer: there is a mini-documentary series produced by CMP, the group that conducted the Planned Parenthood sting videos, called Human Capital. This series uses some footage from the tapes shot inside Planned Parenthood, as well as stock footage, clips of cable news shows, and an interview with a former fetal tissue procurement technician who worked with a company that worked with Planned Parenthood.
The third Human Capitol video has stock footage of a fetus kicking on a table -- though that footage isn't from inside a Planned Parenthood. It also has an interview with Holly O'Donnell, the former technician, who claims to have seen a fetus with a beating heart. O'Donnell says that, in her former job, she was once instructed to procure the brain tissue from the remains of an aborted fetus.
There is no video of the images that O'Donnell describes seeing, nor is there any mention of instructions to “keep it alive so we can harvest its brain,” so it's still not the footage Fiorina describes having watched. I've reached out to the Fiorina camp to see if they have a better answer. [Vox, 9/16/15]
Politico: Planned Parenthood Smear Videos “Don't Show What Fiorina Claims.” Politico's Rachana Pradhan factchecked Fiorina's claims about Planned Parenthood, writing "[t]he videos that have stirred up so much trouble for Planned Parenthood don't show what Fiorina claims" and that “at no point do they include footage of an entire aborted fetus”:
The videos that have stirred up so much trouble for Planned Parenthood don't show what Fiorina claims.
An anti-abortion group, the Center for Medical Progress, has released several videos alleging that the women's health organization illegally profits from fetal tissue sales. In one video, a former employee of the fetal tissue procurement company StemExpress -- which, until recently, worked with Planned Parenthood -- alleges that she saw an aborted fetus' heart beat after a clinician tapped its heart.
That video relies solely on the interview and does not include footage to support her claims.
The group's undercover videos do show specimens of fetal tissue in some Planned Parenthood clinics, but at no point do they include footage of an entire aborted fetus. [Politico, 9/17/15]
Wash. Post: “No Video Has Surfaced Showing The Scene Fiorina Describes Taking Place Inside A Planned Parenthood Facility.” The Washington Post's Fact Checker blog found that none of the videos released by CMP show what Fiorina described and said, “Fiorina might have trouble finding this video to show to Clinton. No video has surfaced showing the scene Fiorina describes taking place inside a Planned Parenthood facility”:
Fiorina might have trouble finding this video to show to Clinton. No video has surfaced showing the scene Fiorina describes taking place inside a Planned Parenthood facility.
But the third episode of secretly-taped videos by the Center for Medical Progress includes a disturbing interview with a technician at at biotechnology company that had partnered with Planned Parenthood affiliates in California to purchase aborted fetus parts.
Holly O'Donnell, the technician, said she witnessed a scene similar to Fiorina's description, but it is not actually shown. A supervisor “just taps the heart, and it starts beating. And I'm sitting here and I'm looking at this fetus, and its heart is beating, and I don't know what to think,” she says. “She gave me the scissors and told me that I had to cut down the middle of the face [to get to the brain]. I can't even describe what that feels like.”
There are images of an aborted fetus intercut with her narrative. [The Washington Post, 9/17/15]