LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik asserted that “the news media haven't done enough to call out” the false claims Carly Fiorina made about Planned Parenthood during last week's Republican presidential debate, explaining that her statements about the women's healthcare provider are “a pure fabrication.”
Following CNN's Republican presidential debate, media praised Fiorina for calling to defund Planned Parenthood and falsely claiming that smear videos by the Center for Medical Progress showed “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 brains.” MSNBC's Joe Scarborough called the comment one of the “most memorable moments of the night,” and Fox News asserted it would “really vault her in the polls.”
In a September 18 column for The LA Times, Hiltzik asserted “the news media haven't done enough to call out Fiorina's claims,” explaining that although some in the media have fact-checked her false Planned Parenthood smear, she has repeatedly “doubled down on her misrepresentation” and noting that “Fiorina's history shows that one of her character flaws is an inability to admit when she's wrong and accept blame” :
Defunding Planned Parenthood has become a shibboleth for Republican presidential aspirants: As a legislator or governor, you can't stand as a credible candidate unless you've defunded the organization in your state or voted to do so.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and Chairman Carly Fiorina can't compete on this score, never having ever held political office. So at this week's GOP debate she raised the ante, making the most extreme statement about Planned Parenthood of anyone in the field.
“As regards Planned Parenthood,” she said, “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 a pure fabrication. Fiorina is referring to the surreptitious videotapes distributed by the inaptly named anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress. The tapes have been conclusively discredited as heavily edited misrepresentations, but not even the “full” versions (though also somewhat edited, according to a Planned Parenthood analysis) show the scene Fiorina describes. Sarah Kliff at Vox, who has viewed every tape in full, provides a helpful guide to finding the scenes shot inside Planned Parenthood clinical laboratories.
The news media haven't done enough to call out Fiorina's claims. By the nature of the format, CNN's debate moderator, Jake Tapper, was in no position to set the record straight, and Fiorina's rivals, jostling to take center stage as Planned Parenthood's leading nemesis, weren't about to do so. But Stephanopoulos countered her statement by citing unnamed “analysts who have watched all 12 plus hours” of the Center for Medical Progress tapes--doesn't “Good Morning America” have the staff to view the tapes themselves? In a typically pusillanimous ruling, fact-checking website PolitiFact rated Fiorina's statement “mostly false,” though its own report makes clear that there isn't a speck of truth in it. David Brooks of the New York Times praises her “genius for creating signature moments,” but doesn't give a moment's thought to how fact-challenged they are. Doesn't that matter?
Fiorina's history shows that one of her character flaws is an inability to admit when she's wrong and accept blame; in her telling, the responsibility for her abject failure as head of Hewlett-Packard belongs to everyone except herself.