David Daleiden Is Not A Journalist
Media Outlets Debunk CMP’s Fraudulent Claim That Its Work Is “Investigative Journalism”
Research ››› ››› SHARON KANN
Despite the indictment by a grand jury and numerous lawsuits over Center for Medical Progress (CMP) founder David Daleiden’s attempts to smear Planned Parenthood, right-wing media have claimed that CMP’s deceptively edited videos are “investigative journalism.” Other media outlets have rejected this claim, confirming that CMP’s videos are misleading, fraudulent, and, above all, not journalism.
As Authorities Raided Home Of CMP Founder, Right-Wing Media Insisted CMP’s Work Is Credible
California Department Of Justice Raided CMP Founder David Daleiden’s Home To Seize Full Footage Of Videos. On April 5, officials with the California Department of Justice raided the home of Center for Medical Progress (CMP) founder David Daleiden. According to The Washington Post, investigators “seized a laptop and multiple hard drives,” which are said to have “contained all of the video Daleiden had filmed” in the course of his smear campaign against Planned Parenthood, including previously unseen footage. The Washington Post also noted that officials with the National Abortion Federation (NAF) commented that the raid demonstrates further evidence that Daleiden and CMP “engaged in a long-running criminal conspiracy” to attack Planned Parenthood. [The Washington Post, 4/5/16]
Bill O'Reilly: If Daleiden Is Charged, “All Of 60 Minutes Would Be In Jail, Because They Did Stings All The Time.” During the April 6 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly speculated that the raid on Daleiden’s home was “a political thing.” According to O’Reilly, if authorities were to charge Daleiden for the use of false identification in “exposing” Planned Parenthood, then “all of 60 Minutes would be in jail, because they did stings all the time.” Fox contributor Eboni Williams affirmed O’Reilly’s comments about the credibility of CMP’s work, calling it “investigative”:
BILL O'REILLY (HOST): This comes from the California attorney general. Why? Why was his house raided?
EBONI WILLIAMS: Yeah. Ms. Kamala, the A.G. in Cali, she disposed of 11 agents, which was pretty aggressive for the nature of the crime.
O'REILLY: Eleven agents went into the guy's house.
WILLIAMS: Eleven California agents went into the home to confiscate -- primarily, they wanted evidence. They wanted hard drives, computers and information, and of course those IDs you talked about. Rather low level felonies, but felonies indeed. What was interesting to me, Bill, and I'm looking at the search warrant right here, and I went through it with a fine tooth comb. They were looking for very low level stuff, so the 11 agents seem as bit aggressive. Now, normally whenyou have got 11 agents, drugs, arms, millions of dollars worth of property.
O'REILLY: Sure, a big thing. So what are they after Daleiden for doing? Portraying himself --
WILLIAMS: -- Fraudulent, yeah fraudulent identifications, fake drivers licenses.
O'REILLY: But then if that were the case, all of 60 Minutes would be in jail, because they did stings all the time.
WILLIAMS: It's investigative.
O'REILLY: I did them. I’ve done them, so we’d all be in prison.
MONICA CROWLEY: The timing is very suspicious.
O'REILLY: This is a political thing. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 4/6/16]
Right-Wing Media Have History Of Defending Daleiden And Promoting His Work As “Investigatory Journalism”
Fox Co-Host Kimberly Guilfoyle: CMP Videos Are “Investigatory Journalism.” On the January 19 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, Fox News co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle lauded CMP’s deceptively edited footage of Planned Parenthood officials as “investigatory journalism.” During the segment, Guilfoyle and Fox legal analyst Lis Wiehl discussed Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against CMP for breaking “federal and state laws” concerning “privacy and recording.” Guilfoyle criticized the lawsuit, arguing that CMP was within its constitutional rights “and they were doing investigative journalism getting to the heart of the matter”:
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE (CO-HOST): So, they’re suing the Center for Medical Progress -- which did 11 videos, if you recall last year -- showing this abhorrent practice. So what they’ve done is file a lawsuit Thursday in San Francisco alleging that, under civil rights law, saying RICO [Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] violation -- that they used fraud -- to be able to get in and gain access and make these videos. That they should be stopped from doing so --
BILL O’REILLY (HOST): This is a federal lawsuit?
GUILFOYLE: Correct. That they should be stopped from doing so, that they should give the the true identity and therefore these videos should be banned, and they should -- and they’re requesting damages.
O’REILLY: So this is B.S. This is just B.S.
LIS WIEHL: Well, no. There’s --
O’REILLY: A RICO statute?
WIEHL: Well the RICO is definitely a stretch --
O’REILLY: But that’s what they’re bringing it under!
WIEHL: But also mail fraud, saying you sent these emails and interstate mail. Pretending to be something you’re not --
GUILFOYLE: But they’re saying that this is within their First Amendment rights -- I believe that it is -- they were doing investigatory journalism getting to the heart of the matter. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 1/19/16]
Fox’s Megyn Kelly and Andrew Napolitano Defended CMP “Sting,” Worrying Texas Indictment Was A “Political Hit Job” Against The “Journalists” Involved. On January 25, a Houston grand jury indicted Daleiden and a CMP associate and cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing. On that evening’s edition of Fox’s The Kelly File, Megyn Kelly hosted Fox senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano to discuss the indictment. Both Kelly and Napolitano defended CMP’s “sting” operation and speculated about the possibility of the indictment being a “political hit job” on the “journalists” involved. From the January 25 edition of The Kelly File:
JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO: So the prosecutor investigates this and she decides to present a case to a grand jury -- I haven’t seen a grand jury transcript yet, but we will -- not charging Planned Parenthood with selling body parts, but charging the journalists who were testing Planned Parenthood with participating in actual conspiracy to sell body parts.
MEGYN KELLY (HOST): Meanwhile, they didn’t actually want to buy any body parts at all. It was a sting --
NAPOLITANO: No, of course not. These are what we call crimes of intent -- you have to intend to commit this crime, you can’t just utter the words. So if a journalist says to Planned Parenthood, “Are you interested in selling body parts?” that journalist now has to worry about being indicted for suggesting a crime.
KELLY: So does this sound like a political hit job? Or what is this?
NAPOLITANO: Absolutely, this is a political hit job. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 1/25/16]
Steve Doocy Defends Deceptively Edited Videos By Claiming “Journalists Use These Techniques Every Day.” On the January 26 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, host Steve Doocy defended CMP after a Houston grand jury indicted founder Daleiden and an associate. Doocy also hosted Napolitano to discuss the “stunning turn in the investigation into Planned Parenthood.” Napolitano again floated accusations that Daleiden’s indictment could have been “a political hit job” on “bona fide journalists,” and warned that “this type of indict” would “deter journalists who want to have conversations with people.” Doocy agreed and argued that “journalists use these techniques every day,” giving the examples of “60 Minutes” and “20/20”:
STEVE DOOCY (HOST): A stunning turn in the investigation into Planned Parenthood. Activists from the anti-abortion group who documented these potentially illegal practices by Planned Parenthood, the activists are now facing charges. The group's founder was indicted last night by a grand jury for tampering with government records. Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano joins us live. So this grand jury was looking into whether or not Planned Parenthood had broken any laws. And rather than saying, yeah, they broke the laws, they said the people who did the investigating broke the laws.
ANDREW NAPOLITANO: This is really a head-scratcher. And I'm beginning to think that it is a political hit job on the people who did the investigating. So you have bona fide journalists assuming identities, pretending to be medical ethicists or people in the business of dealing with body parts going to Planned Parenthood saying, all these abortions, are you really selling the body parts? Well, yeah, we are. We do that with this. We do that with this. Are you interested in any further sale of the body parts? While they're having this conversation, pretending to be somebody that they're not, they're really, seriously pro-life people wanting to expose how government dollars are being used by Planned Parenthood, they are taping this. The tapes came out. There's a big uproar. The lieutenant governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, a fiercely pro-life person, asks this prosecutor to investigate. She investigates. Now, what does investigate mean? You empanel a grand jury of 23 people. You tell them who your target is.
DOOCY: Planned Parenthood.
NAPOLITANO: Right, and you produce evidence. The grand jury does not turn around and indict your witnesses, the people who brought you the case, without the prosecutor wanting this to happen. So why would this prosecutor appointed by Governor Perry, a former judge, a Republican woman, why would this prosecutor want to do this, other than to send a message like, I might be a Republican, but leave Planned Parenthood alone? Leave it alone -- they're using tax dollars to kill babies and sell their body parts.
DOOCY: Apparently one of the charges is purchasing human organs, all right. How can you be indicted for purchasing human organs without indicting the --
NAPOLITANO: The seller
DOOCY: -- the entity selling the human organs?
NAPOLITANO: You know, this type of indictment will chill, will deter journalists who want to have conversations with people. You have a conversation --
DOOCY: Journalists use these techniques every day. 60 Minutes, 20/20 --
NAPOLITANO: And so does the government use these techniques.
DOOCY: Of Course. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/26/16]
The Media Have Debunked The Claims That CMP Or Daleiden Are “Journalists”
Rewire: Amicus Brief Filed By Journalists “State[s] In Clear Terms Why David Daleiden’s Claims To Be An Investigative Reporter” Are Untrue And Harmful. Writing for Rewire, Sharona Coutts reviewed an amicus brief filed by “18 of the nation’s preeminent journalists and journalism scholars” supporting the National Abortion Federation’s case against Daleiden’s fraudulent work. According to Coutts, “The amicus brief provided an opportunity for journalists to state in clear terms why David Daleiden’s claims to be an investigative reporter endanger the profession and its goal: to safeguard democracy by holding the powerful to account and keeping the public informed.” In the brief, these experts argued that if Daleiden were considered a journalist, it “would be both wrong and damaging to the vital role that journalism serves in our society.” Coutts noted that their message couldn’t be more clear: “David Daleiden is not an investigative journalist, and what he did is, in fact, at odds with the fundamentals of our craft.” [Rewire, 6/16/16]
Columbia Journalism Review: Daleiden’s Work “Doesn’t Qualify As Journalism On Legal Or Ethical Grounds.” After a “close analysis” of CMP’s videos and methods, the Columbia Journalism Review reported that Daleiden’s work “doesn’t qualify as journalism on legal or ethical grounds.” In the report, Ted Andersen cited experts and case law to explain why Daleiden’s appeal to specialized First Amendment protections would be unpersuasive in court. He argued that based on legal precedent, CMP’s work was not an example of legitimate journalism and that Daleiden was merely “masquerading as an investigative journalist” in order to attack Planned Parenthood. For example, Daleiden didn’t describe CMP’s work as “investigative journalism” until after he posted the videos online. Andersen explained it was only after the deceptive videos went public that the term “suddenly appeared on the homepage” when Daleiden “altered the stated purpose of the organization.” According to Andersen, this means that during CMP’s so-called investigation it is unlikely that “Daleiden would have qualified as a journalist” or that he deserves subsequent protections for his work. Anderson also writes, “More problematic for Daleiden is that no privileges protect journalists who break the law to get the news.” [Columbia Journalism Review, 5/12/16]
Slate: CMP’s Work “Can Be Called Many Things, But ‘Journalism” Probably Isn’t One Of Them.” After a Houston grand jury indicted Daleiden, Slate’s law and courts writer Dahlia Lithwick argued that the distinction between Daleiden and real journalists is that “journalists seek truth” while Daleiden “allegedly falsified evidence” to bolster “a truth he cannot quite prove but wants us to believe anyhow.” Given that CMP's website was "only recently revised" to include any mention of being "citizen journalists," Lithwick noted that Daleiden's claim to a journalist's First Amendment protections is even more unconvincing and a "nihilistic and cynical view of the profession." Drawing on a wide variety of expert testimony and case law, she concluded Daleiden's smear campaign "can be called many things, but 'journalism' probably isn't one of them":
Is it so simple to say that what CMP was doing was truly journalism? Amanda Marcotte has argued at Salon that Daleiden "has no right to call himself a journalist," in part because when the hours of footage he shot failed to turn up any examples of criminal conduct on the part of Planned Parenthood, Daleiden didn't back off the story but doubled down on it. Indeed he allegedly falsified evidence, so the videos would show through trickery--including flawed transcripts and stock images--that which he could not prove. In an interview in On the Media this week, Jane Kirtley, professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota, similarly explained that American courts have almost always found that general criminal laws apply to the press, unless a story is so terrifically important it couldn't have been unearthed any other way. That might justify allowing journalists to be immune from prosecution, but only a small handful of such cases exist, and as Kirtley points out, it will be difficult for Daleiden to claim that his actions were critical to exposing vast criminal wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood, given that the grand jury's own investigation, and 11 independent state investigations, have unearthed no wrongdoing. The difference between journalism and what CMP did is that journalists seek truth, while Daleiden seeks to show that somewhere in between the edited seams and faked voiceovers of his films there lies a truth he cannot quite prove but wants us to believe anyhow. That can be called many things, but "journalism" probably isn't one of them.
[It]'s entirely possible that even while Daleiden attempts to argue that what he did--or at least what he now says he was doing--is genuine journalism, there are real risks to the rest of us in allowing him to make such broad claims. We aren't merely risking our privacy and our livelihoods by allowing anyone with a camera and an inextinguishable fantasy to call himself a reporter. We are courting the possibility that his nihilistic and cynical view of the profession could someday become the norm. [Slate, 2/2/16; Media Matters, 2/3/16]
Salon: Daleiden’s Videos Are A “Hoax” And He “Has No Right To Call Himself A Journalist.” According to Salon’s Amanda Marcotte, Daleiden’s defense that “his hoax videos are ‘journalism’ and therefore should enjoy enhanced legal protections” will hopefully be “throw[n] out of court with haste, because Daleiden has no right to call himself a journalist.” Marcotte explains that the problem isn’t that Daleiden has a “strong point of view,” it’s that he “has never shown anything but utter contempt for the truth,” which should be the cornerstone of investigative journalism in particular. She continued, “Whenever the truth and what he wishes were true collide, Daleiden has chosen to lie rather than tell the truth”:
In both the criminal and civil cases, however, it seems that Daleiden and CMP have landed on a legal defense: Arguing that his hoax videos are “journalism” and therefore should enjoy the enhanced legal protections that journalists get under the First Amendment. It’s an argument that judges will hopefully throw out of court with haste, because Daleiden has no right to call himself a journalist.
Daleiden is not a legitimate journalist, however, and he should not be allowed to pretend to be one in order to get special rights that other non-journalists don’t have.
This isn’t because Daleiden has a strong point of view. Plenty of legitimate journalists have strong opinions and use their journalism in order to get a wider hearing for those opinions. Investigative journalism in particular is often guided by a strong political viewpoint and a desire to unearth more information to support it.
No, the reason that Daleiden isn’t a journalist is because of his relationship to the truth. Regardless of your political views, the truth should always be the trump card for a journalist. Daleiden, however, has never shown anything but utter contempt for the truth in his work. Whenever the truth and what he wishes were true collide, Daleiden has chosen to lie rather than tell the truth. [Salon, 1/28/16]
The Guardian: Federal Judge’s Ruling Proves CMP Actors “Tailored Their Footage To Maximize Political Damage” And Have “No Evidence To Support” The Assertion They Were Acting As Journalists. On February 5, federal judge William H. Orrick issued a preliminary injunction against CMP barring the group from releasing further deceptively edited footage obtained under false pretenses during National Abortion Federation (NAF) events. As Guardian columnist Molly Redden wrote, Orrick’s decision highlighted that CMP’s fraudulent videos were not journalism and risked inciting anti-choice violence. According to Redden, Orrick explained there was “no evidence to support” the assertion that CMP “used widely accepted investigatory journalism techniques.” Instead, she explained, Orrick found that CMP’s members “tailored their footage to maximize political damage” with the hope of increasing “political pressure” on Planned Parenthood:
The ruling, by US district judge William Orrick, also details for the first time how members of the group, the Center for Medical Progress, pursued their targets and tailored their footage to maximize political damage. At the annual meeting, hosted by the National Abortion Federation, activists operated off a “mark list” and, in one case, waited to approach a particular doctor until after she had been drinking.
Before releasing its first videos of Planned Parenthood employees, the center circulated a press release with “messaging guidelines”, Orrick wrote. The goal, the release said, was to inspire “Congressional hearings/investigation and political consequences” for Planned Parenthood, and increase “political pressure”.
Orrick previously blocked the center from releasing any footage taken at the NAF meeting. On Friday, he rejected claims by the Center for Medical Progress and its founder, David Daleiden, that its activities were a form of investigative journalism protected by the first amendment.
Videos of the NAF meeting “thus far have not been pieces of journalistic integrity, but misleadingly edited videos and unfounded assertions of criminal misconduct”, Orrick wrote. “Defendants did not – as Daleiden repeatedly asserts – use widely accepted investigatory journalism techniques. Defendants provide no evidence to support that assertion and no cases on point.” [The Guardian, 2/8/16; Media Matters, 2/8/16]
NY Times: Federal Judge’s Injunction “A Sharp Rebuke” That Proves CMP’s Videos “Have Not Been Pieces Of Journalistic Integrity.” The New York Times explained that Judge Orrick’s ruling summarily dismantled CMP’s argument that its work was protected by the First Amendment. According to the Times, Orrick not only found that NAF’s desire “to have its members protected from unwarranted harassment was paramount,” but also concluded that CMP’s videos “thus far have not been pieces of journalistic integrity.” Instead, Orrick explained, CMP had merely produced “misleadingly edited videos and unfounded assertions”:
In his ruling, Judge Orrick said that his review of hundreds of hours of video secretly shot by the center at meetings of abortion providers found no evidence that any of them had violated the law. No one “admitted to engaging in, agreed to engage in, or expressed interest in engaging in potentially illegal sale of fetal tissue for profit,” he wrote.
Lawyers for the Center for Medical Progress argued in the case that the First Amendment protected the group because its members were informing the public about abortion providers — a defense that Mr. Daleiden has also raised against the recent criminal charges.
But Judge Orrick said that the desire of the National Abortion Federation to have its members protected from unwarranted harassment was paramount. And he questioned whether Mr. Daleiden and his colleagues were involved in journalism.
He wrote that the group’s projects “thus far have not been pieces of journalistic integrity, but misleadingly edited videos and unfounded assertions.” [The New York Times, 2/6/16]
Four Other Ways The Media Have Demonstrated That Daleiden And CMP Are Not Credible
1. Reporting That CMP’s Smear Videos Are Deceptively Edited
LA Times: Unseen Footage Proves CMP’s Work Was “Geared More Toward Political Provocation Than Journalism.” After gaining access to previously unseen footage, the Los Angeles Times published an investigative report calling out CMP’s fraudulent work as a smear campaign. According to the Times’ review of “unpublicized footage and court records,” the videos were “geared more toward political provocation than journalism.” To substantiate this claim, the Times pointed to one section of previously unseen footage where Daleiden can be heard coaching CMP’s star witness -- a former for-profit tissue research lab research technician named Holly O’Donnell -- through the “testimony” she gave over the course of three CMP videos. According to the Times, the new footage shows that “O’Donnell’s apparently spontaneous reflections were carefully rehearsed” and that off-camera, Daleiden can be heard “coaching O'Donnell through repeated takes, instructing her to repeat anecdotes, add details, speak 'fluidly' and be 'very natural'”:
Unreleased footage shows that over the source of successive takes, Daleiden asked O'Donnell to repeat anecdotes or add details such as the gender of an aborted fetus and whether she "said goodbye" to a dissected fetal cadaver before placing it in a bio-hazard container.
"So you want to make it really dramatic?" she asked.
At one point, she laughed and said to Daleiden: "You're all like, 'Say it like this! Let me possess your body and I'll say it for you.'"
Daleiden protested that he was not coaching her, but as he asked O'Donnell to recount her experiences, her telling grew more dramatic and emotional.
In an early take, she says into the camera: "I got into the medical field because I wanted to help people, not steal fetal tissues."
On the third try, she says: "I got into the medical field to help people, not to steal dead baby parts and sell them." [The Los Angeles Times, 3/30/16; Media Matters, 4/5/16]
NY Times Editorial Board Called Out CMP’s “Video Campaign” As A “Dishonest Attempt” To Cast Tissue Donations As “Nefarious And Illegal.” In a July 22 editorial, The New York Times concluded that CMP’s “campaign” of selectively edited videos attacking Planned Parenthood “is a dishonest attempt to make legal, voluntary and potentially lifesaving tissue donations appear nefarious and illegal.” The paper criticized conservatives' efforts to exploit the media frenzy stemming from CMP’s deceptively edited videos to defund the organization. The editors pointed to evidence of selective editing, writing that "clearly, the shorter version [of the video] was edited to eliminate statements" from a Planned Parenthood official explaining that the organization doesn't profit from fetal tissue donation:
The full video of the lunch meeting, over two hours long and released by the Center for Medical Progress after complaints by Planned Parenthood, shows something very different from what these critics claim. Clearly, the shorter version was edited to eliminate statements by Dr. Nucatola explaining that Planned Parenthood does not profit from tissue donation, which requires the clear consent of the patient. Planned Parenthood affiliates only accept money -- between $30 and $100 per specimen, according to Dr. Nucatola -- to cover costs associated with collecting and transporting the tissue. "This is not something with any revenue stream that affiliates are looking at," she said. Under federal law, facilities may be reimbursed for costs associated with fetal tissue donation, like transportation and storage.
The Center for Medical Progress video campaign is a dishonest attempt to make legal, voluntary and potentially lifesaving tissue donations appear nefarious and illegal. Lawmakers responding by promoting their own anti-choice agenda are rewarding deception and putting women's health and their constitutionally protected rights at risk. [The New York Times, 1/21/15; Media Matters, 1/22/15]
Rewire: Forensic Analysis Proved CMP Videos Were Deceptively Edited And “Do Not Present A Complete Or Accurate Record” Of Events. In an August 27 piece, Rewire staff reporter Teddy Wilson wrote that CMP’s videos -- even the footage they claimed was unedited -- were, in fact, deceptively edited. Wilson explained that a forensic analysis investigation of the tapes found they “do not present a complete or accurate record of the events they purport to depict.” According to this forensic analysis, although “there was no evidence CMP inserted dialogue into the videos,” there was ample evidence that “CMP edited content out of the alleged ‘full footage’ videos and heavily edited the short videos so as to misrepresent statements made by Planned Parenthood representatives.” From Rewire:
The Center for Medical Progress, the anti-choice front group behind a series of videos spreading misinformation about Planned Parenthood, deceptively edited footage in “undercover” videos to alter the meaning of dialogue and removed significant portions of footage the organization claimed were “full footage,” according to an analysis by an independent research company.
“A thorough review of these videos in consultation with qualified experts found that they do not present a complete or accurate record of the events they purport to depict,” Glenn Simpson, a partner at the research firm Fusion GPS, wrote in a report.
The report found that while there was no evidence CMP inserted dialogue into the videos, it concluded that CMP edited content out of the alleged “full footage” videos and heavily edited the short videos so as to misrepresent statements made by Planned Parenthood representatives.
“At this point, it is impossible to characterize the extent to which CMP’s undisclosed edits and cuts distort the meaning of the encounters the videos purport to document,” Simpson wrote. “However, the manipulation of the videos does mean they have no evidentiary value in a legal context and cannot be relied upon for any official inquiries unless supplemented by CMP’s original material and forensic authentication that this material is supplied in unaltered form.” [Rewire, 8/27/15]
Huffington Post: CMP’s Videos Are “So Heavily Edited That They Bear Little Resemblance To Reality.” In a September 18 article, Huffington Post senior politics reporter Laura Bassett wrote that CMP’s videos were “so heavily edited that they bear little resemblance to reality.” Bassett noted that entire “conversations are cut and spliced together to appear as if they are one line in the discussion” and that “entire chunks of time are missing from the footage -- even from the supposedly fully, ‘unedited’ videos.” She also explained that although forensic analysis found the videos were “so egregiously manipulated that they would never be accepted as evidence in a court of law,” anti-choice lawmakers were still attempting to utilize the deceptively edited videos to sustain an ideological campaign against Planned Parenthood. [Huffington Post, 9/18/15]
2. Exposing Daleiden’s And CMP’s Connections To “Radical” And “Extremist” Anti-Choice Groups
Rewire: CMP Has “Connections To Some Of The Anti-Choice Movement’s More Radical Members.” In a July 17 article, Rewire staff reporter Teddy Wilson reported that CMP has deep connections to both “right-wing activists” and “some of the anti-choice movement’s more radical members.” For example, citing the “initial registration form” CMP filed with the state of California, Wilson noted that Daleiden is listed alongside Troy Newman as a founding member. Newman “is one of the most prominent and radical activists in the anti-choice movement,” according to Wilson, and currently “serves as president of Operation Rescue,” the group credited with targeting and inspiring the assassination of Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. From Rewire:
Daleiden is also an associate of the right-wing activists James O’Keefe and Charles C. Johnson.
O’Keefe produced similar undercover videos of public figures with his organization Project Veritas, most notably undercover videos that purported to show wrongdoing by employees of Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in 2009. O’Keefe pled guilty in 2010 to charges stemming from an attempt to make undercover recordings at the office of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D), and was sentenced to three years’ probation.
Johnson, who shared the same academic advisor as Daleiden at Claremont McKenna College, wrote in a post on his website Got News that Daleiden worked “largely alone” on the Center for Medical Progress project.
Beyond Daleiden’s connections to these prominent conservative young activists, CMP includes connections to some of the anti-choice movement’s more radical members.
The “initial registration form” the organization filed with the Office of the California Attorney General in 2013 lists three people as the organization’s officers: Troy Newman, Albin Rhomberg, and Daleiden.
Newman, who is named as the organization’s secretary, is one of the most prominent and radical activists in the anti-choice movement, and serves as the president of Operation Rescue. After the 2003 execution of Paul Jennings Hill, who was convicted for the 1994 murder of abortion provider John Britton in Pensacola, Florida, Newman issued a press release defending Hill because the “court prevented him from presenting the legal defense that his conduct was justifiable defensive action.”
Newman and Operation Rescue targeted Wichita abortion provider Dr. George Tiller and clinic workers with protests for several years prior to Tiller’s murder by anti-choice terrorist Scott Roeder in 2009.
Life Legal Defense Foundation revealed its support of CMP this week, prompting Daleiden to praise the organization, reported the Christian News Wire. LLDF provides legal counsel to various anti-choice activists and organizations. It has been involved with litigation with clients including pro-life Mississippi anti-choice activists who were arrested due to protest activities outside the Jackson Women’s Health Center. LLDF also joined Alliance Defending Freedom in filing an amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit in support of HB 2 in Texas. “The Center for Medical Progress thanks Life Legal Defense Foundation for their initiative and foresight in consulting on and helping to develop this project,” said Daleiden. [Rewire, 7/17/15]
ThinkProgress: “There’s A Direct Connection Between … The Center For Medical Progress, And Some Of The Worst Characters In The Anti-Abortion Extremist Movement.” Quoting law professor David Cohen -- author of Living in the Crosshairs, a book documenting the history of anti-choice violence -- ThinkProgress senior editor Tara Culp-Ressler explained the “direct connection between” Daleiden, CMP, “and some of the worst characters in the anti-abortion extremist movement.” According to Cohen, although CMP as an organization wasn’t “bombing clinics or picketing doctor’s homes,” its targeted “professional harassment” tactics to smear individual abortion providers’ professional identities also negatively affect providers and patients. As Culp-Ressler explained, not only is CMP’s “narrative is being helped along by some of the most radical anti-abortion activists in the country,” but its allegations also mirror the rhetoric and legal challenges leveraged against Dr. George Tiller prior to his murder. [ThinkProgress, 7/21/15]
Daily Beast: CMP’s Videos Were “Part Of Lengthy And Expensive Project That Daleiden … Could Not Have Funded On His Own.” After the release of CMP’s second deceptively edited video, The Daily Beast wrote that the campaign was a “lengthy and expensive project that Daleiden … could not have funded on his own” -- making the case that CMP must necessarily be linked with other, more established anti-choice groups. In the July 21 article, Daily Beast health and technology writer Samantha Allen argued that “beyond Daleiden’s history with the anti-abortion group Live Action” he was also associated with anti-choice extremists and CMP board members Troy Newman and Albin Rhomberg. Although Newman’s anti-choice pedigree is more well-known, according to Allen, Rhomberg also “has a long and strident history of anti-abortion activism” that includes the stalking and harassment of clinic workers:
The videos appear to be part of a lengthy and expensive project that Daleiden, who is 26 and a relatively fresh face in the pro-life movement, could not have funded on his own.
Indeed, since the release of the first video, new details have emerged about the other individuals associated with the CMP’s undercover investigation—associations that go beyond Daleiden’s history with the anti-abortion group Live Action, which has also produced heavily edited sting videos in Planned Parenthood facilities.
A 2013 registration form obtained by The Nation last week revealed the names of Daleiden’s fellow board members at the CMP: Albin Rhomberg and Troy Newman.
Rhomberg has a long and strident history of anti-abortion activism—one California Planned Parenthood worker says that he once followed her “for an entire city block, barely 3 feet away, filming and shouting at me about my evil work with Planned Parenthood”—but it is Newman’s association with the CMP that has raised the most eyebrows.
In a three-word response to The Daily Beast’s request for comment, Newman said that Operation Rescue provides “advice, consulting, funds” to the CMP.
In his statement to The Daily Beast, PPFA spokesman Eric Ferrero explicitly referenced CMP’s relationship to other anti-abortion activists: “It’s important to know that the source of these videos is a group of extremists who have intimidated women and doctors for years in their agenda to ban abortion completely.” [The Daily Beast, 7/21/15]
3. Emphasizing CMP’s Indictment And The Multiple Investigations That Have Cleared Planned Parenthood Of Wrongdoing
NY Times Editorial Board: Daleiden’s Indictment Proves Continuing Investigations Of Planned Parenthood Are A “Purely Political Campaign Of Intimidation And Persecution.” Following a Houston grand jury’s decision to clear Planned Parenthood and instead indict Daleiden and his associates, the New York Times editorial board lambasted the decision of Texas Gov.Greg Abbott (R) to continue investigating Planned Parenthood as a “purely political campaign of intimidation and persecution.” In particular, the board explained, the continuing investigation of Planned Parenthood was baffling given that “neither the videos nor the many investigations that followed have found any evidence” of wrongdoing. As the board noted, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) -- the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee -- “admitted that the committee’s investigation of Planned Parenthood had found no evidence of misconduct":
One after the other, investigations of Planned Parenthood prompted by hidden-camera videos released last summer have found no evidence of wrongdoing. On Monday, a grand jury in Harris County, Tex., went a step further. Though it was convened to investigate Planned Parenthood, it indicted two members of the group that made the videos instead.
The Harris County prosecutor, Devon Anderson, a Republican who was asked by the lieutenant governor, a strident opponent of Planned Parenthood, to open the criminal investigation, said on Monday that the grand jurors had cleared Planned Parenthood of any misconduct.
Yet despite all the evidence, Texas’ Republican governor, Greg Abbott, said on Monday that the state attorney general’s office and the State Health and Human Services Commission would continue investigating Planned Parenthood. This is a purely political campaign of intimidation and persecution meant to destroy an organization whose mission to serve women’s health care needs the governor abhors.
Neither the videos nor the many investigations that followed have found any evidence that Planned Parenthood employees offered to sell fetal tissue for a profit. Texas is the 12th state in which investigations stemming from the videos have found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. In October, Representative Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, admitted that the committee’s investigation of Planned Parenthood had found no evidence of misconduct. [The New York Times, 1/26/16]
LA Times: Indictment Of “The Antiabortion Zealots” From CMP Is “Poetic Justice” For “Deceptive Efforts” To Attack Planned Parenthood. At the Los Angeles Times, reporter Robin Abcarian wrote that the indictment of “the antiabortion zealots” from CMP is “poetic justice” after their “deceptive efforts” to attack Planned Parenthood. Tracing the history of CMP’s deceptively edited video campaign against the organization, Abcarian noted that CMP’s videos “were as malicious as they were untrue.” She continued that the grand jury’s decision illustrated “what was clear to people who support the ability to rule their own reproductive fates: Planned Parenthood has done no wrong”:
I’ve said it all along and will say it again: The antiabortion “sting” videos purporting to trap Planned Parenthood into admitting it harvests and sells aborted fetal parts for profit were as malicious as they were untrue.
On Monday in Houston, a grand jury agreed.
Asked to investigate Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, a branch of one of the country’s most important healthcare providers for women, the grand jury found no wrongdoing on the part of the group, whose staffers were secretly videotaped talking about the cost of procuring fetal tissue for research. Instead, the grand jury handed down indictments against two of the antiabortion zealots involved in the “sting.”
If that’s not poetic justice, nothing is.
I’m thankful that a group of citizens with common sense were able to see what was clear to people who support the ability of women to rule their own reproductive fates: Planned Parenthood has done no wrong.
It’s the scheming antiabortion types who have crossed legal and ethical boundaries. They're the ones who should go to jail. [Los Angeles Times, 1/25/16]
Wash. Post Editorial Board: Prosecutors And Jurors Were "Adhering To The Facts," Putting Them "At Odds" With Anti-Choice Politicians' "Evidence-Free Crusade" Against Planned Parenthood. On January 26, the Washington Post editorial board condemned lawmakers for "seeking to defund Planned Parenthood" following the indictment of Daleiden and his associate in Houston. The board argued that "[b]y adhering to the facts, prosecutors and grand jurors set a model of behavior that puts them at odds” with many politicians’ “evidence-free crusade” against Planned Parenthood:
'We must go where the evidence leads us." So explained a Texas district attorney about why an investigation into alleged misconduct by Planned Parenthood ended instead with charges against Planned Parenthood's accusers. By adhering to the facts, prosecutors and grand jurors set a model of behavior that puts them at odds with the politicians -- in Congress, in statehouses and on the Republican presidential campaign trail -- who have tried to advance their agendas by falsely demonizing an organization that provides critical health care to women. In their evidence-free crusade, they have put vital health services at risk and wasted millions of taxpayer dollars.
A Houston grand jury on Monday returned indictments against two antiabortion activists involved in producing the explosive "sting" videos that purported to show Planned Parenthood personnel selling aborted fetal organs for profit. That the damaging but long-discredited videos showed nothing of the kind was underscored by Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson's statement that the grand jury had cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing. Instead, the head of the Center for Medical Progress and another employee were charged with felony counts of tampering with a government record, presenting fake driver's licenses with intent to harm or defraud. Center head David R. Daleiden was also charged with a misdemeanor count related to offering to buy human tissue. [The Washington Post, 1/26/16]
Des Moines Register Editorial Board: After Indictment, The Priority Should Be "Moving On" From Attacking Planned Parenthood. In a January 26 editorial, the Des Moines Register editorial board called on anti-choice politicians to start "[m]oving on" from attacking Planned Parenthood after CMP's indictment and to ignore "such deceptive ploys from anti-abortion zealots" in the future. The board also asked whether anti-choice politicians will "demand the same rigorous investigations into the Center for Medical Progress as they did into Planned Parenthood":
On Monday, a Houston grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing. Better yet, in a surprise twist, it indicted employees of the Center for Medical Progress, the organization that recorded the videos.
The question now: Will anti-choice politicians pay as much attention to this indictment as they did to the deceptive clips from video recordings? Will they demand the same rigorous investigations into the Center for Medical Progress as they did into Planned Parenthood?
After all, they cited these videotapes when calling to end the use of fetal tissue in medical research and ban abortions after 20 weeks. Members of Congress spent hours grandstanding in televised hearings on the issue. Republicans, including Sen. Joni Ernst, were willing to hold hostage the entire federal budget to avoid reimbursing Planned Parenthood for health services, including cancer screenings and birth control. Back in Iowa, some state lawmakers caught the fever. Just a few weeks ago, Sen. Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, said eliminating all state funding for Planned Parenthood in Iowa would be "at the top of the list" of legislative priorities this session.
What should be their priority today: Moving on.
What should be their priority in the future: Ignoring such deceptive ploys from anti-abortion zealots. [The Des Moines Register, 1/26/16]
New Jersey Star-Ledger Editorial Board: "Justice Was Finally Served" With Indictment Of Anti-Choice Activists "Who Perpetrated The Scam." On January 27, the New Jersey Star-Ledger editorial board wrote that "justice was finally served" by the Houston grand jury's clearing of Planned Parenthood and indictment of the CMP members. They noted that "the real scandal is how doctored videos were used to motivate demagogues" to attack women's health care. According to the board, the grand jury reviewed the facts, “saw a scam, and decided not only to vindicate Planned Parenthood but to file a felony charge against those who perpetrated the scam”:
A grand jury has found criminal behavior in that third-rate con known as the Planned Parenthood video sting operation, and it is worth noting the place where justice was finally served.
Remarkably, the decision to indict anti-abortion activists from the Center for Medical Progress – which contrived a horror film about human chop shops and illegal profits made from fetal tissue sales – was made by a grand jury convened by a Republican DA in Texas.
Consider: Eleven states had already concluded investigations, and none found evidence that parts were sold for profit. Yet places like Louisiana and Alabama – where Planned Parenthood is not licensed to perform abortions or donate fetal tissue - still broke Medicaid contracts in order to defund it. [The New Jersey Star-Ledger, 1/27/16]
4. Calling Out The Congressional Select Investigative Panel On Infant Lives’ Reliance On CMP’s Fraudulent Work As “Evidence”
NY Times Editorial Board: Select Panel Is "A Showcase For Fallacious Attacks" And Is "Continuing The Campaign Against ... Reproductive Rights That CMP Began." After the first hearing of Congress’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, the New York Times editorial board wrote that CMP attempted to "stir up opposition to abortion rights by concocting a controversy over fetal tissue research," and now "Republicans in the House are doing much the same thing." In particular, the editorial board called out the first hearing of the panel for operating as "a showcase for fallacious attacks on fetal tissue research" and using video and documents from CMP as evidence. The Times concluded that Republicans were "continuing the campaign against fetal tissue research and reproductive rights that the Center for Medical Progress began":
With its hidden-camera videos that took aim at Planned Parenthood, the Center for Medical Progress tried to stir up opposition to abortion rights by concocting a controversy over fetal tissue research. Now Republicans in the House are doing much the same thing.
Initially convened in response to the videos, the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, a part of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, pledges to "get the facts about medical practices of abortion service providers and the business practices of the procurement organizations who sell baby body parts."
Its first hearing last Wednesday was a showcase for fallacious attacks on fetal tissue research. In her opening statement, Representative Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican who heads the panel, talked about the Tuskegee syphilis experiment and the forced sterilization of people with intellectual disabilities as a prelude to discussing fetal tissue research. She went on to claim that the Center for Medical Progress's videos showed "something very troubling is going on related to fetal tissue and research," even though multiple investigations of Planned Parenthood have found no evidence of wrongdoing.
Since the panel's goals are so broad, its future direction is unclear. What is clear is that by pursuing their baseless investigation into "baby body parts," Republicans are continuing the campaign against fetal tissue research and reproductive rights that the Center for Medical Progress began. [The New York Times, 3/7/16]
Wash. Post Editorial Board: Despite A Lack Of Evidence, The Panel "Is Undeterred" In Continuing Its "Witch Hunt" Against Planned Parenthood. On February 20, the Washington Post editorial board lambasted the panel's efforts and warned of the "potential damage to health care and medical research" if "considerable time and money" were "wasted" on the investigation. They wrote that, in spite of a litany of evidence debunking the deceptive CMP videos and exonerating Planned Parenthood, the panel "is undeterred in conducting its own investigation, or more accurately, witch hunt." From the Post’s editorial board:
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), chair of the House panel, has defended the investigation as necessary because of lingering questions raised by secretly recorded videos of Planned Parenthood personnel released last year by the equally misnamed Center for Medical Progress. Those videos, supposedly showing Planned Parenthood illegally selling aborted fetal organs for profit, have been discredited. A grand jury empaneled in Houston to investigate Planned Parenthood ended up indicting the activists who produced the videos and, after reviewing the evidence for two months, cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing. U.S. District Court Judge William H. Orrick reached the same conclusion, granting a preliminary injunction prohibiting release of illegally obtained recordings and materials in a decision that laid bare the fraud against Planned Parenthood. Also noted by the judge was the alarming increase in incidents of harassment and violence directed against abortion providers since the videos were released last July. Among them: four incidents of arson and the attack on a Colorado clinic by a gunman in which three people were killed. [The Washington Post, 2/20/16]
Daily Beast: With Select Panel Investigation, "Planned Parenthood Is About To Get The Benghazi Treatment" From House Republicans. In an October 1 article for The Daily Beast, political reporter Betsy Woodruff argued that the creation of the panel indicated that "Planned Parenthood is about to get the Benghazi treatment." Woodruff drew a parallel to the House's long and controversial investigations into the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, which failed to uncover any evidence supporting baseless allegations that the attack and its aftermath were mishandled by the Obama administration. Woodruff noted that Republicans, "who have long bemoaned" Planned Parenthood's federal funding, are "determined not to squander this opportunity" to attack the organization. From The Daily Beast:
Planned Parenthood is about to get the Benghazi treatment.
House Republicans are gearing up to launch a committee dedicated solely to investigating—well, a lot of things having to do with abortion. But if you liked the Oversight and Government Reform committee hearing yesterday, when they grilled PP President Cecile Richards (reviews were mixed), you’ll love the new, quasi-permanent inquiry.
It’s all because of hidden-camera videos that the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress slowly released over the past few months. The videos have put Planned Parenthood and many of its Democrat supporters on defense, with eye-popping allegations that the group sells tissue from aborted fetuses for profit. Though Planned Parenthood vehemently disputes that any of its employees or clinics have profited from the provision of fetal tissue to researchers, the practice brought the squirm-inducing details of the abortion procedure into the mainstream and renewed the decades-old national debate on the subject. [The Daily Beast, 10/1/15]
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