After a series of suspicious visits by individuals claiming to be sex traffickers, Planned Parenthood reported to Attorney General Eric Holder on what appeared to be an illegal undercover video operation targeting 12 of its clinics nationwide. It sought an FBI probe of those involved and any possible violations of interstate sex trafficking laws by the suspicious infiltrators.1
How ironic, then, that extremist anti-choice activists released an edited, distortion-filled video on Tuesday using footage from their undercover visit to a New Jersey clinic. In the video they had the impudence to accuse Planned Parenthood(!) of helping to cover up a sex ring trafficking in underage female prostitutes. And how utterly offensive to make up a story about child sex slaves—a real and heinous crime—in the service of their extreme political agenda.2
It’s outrageous that an organization where doctors, nurses and other workers dedicate their lives to helping women could be smeared in such a transparent fraud perpetrated for political reasons. What’s worse, by treating the video hoax as a credible story worthy of coverage, major news organizations are enabling a political smear promoted by extremists with a history of deceit.
This is not an isolated event, but part of a devastatingly effective strategy by the extremists on the right to destroy progressive institutions and bring down a succession of officials who have been forced to step down or had their nomination withdrawn when the Obama administration capitulated to rightwing propaganda.
Tell Democrats: It’s time to stop throwing innocent public servants under the bus—defend Planned Parenthood against false accusations from the rightwing noise machine.
The video was posted Tuesday on “Big Journalism” the web site run by Andrew Breitbart. You may recall that Breitbart is the serial race-baiter who released a heavily edited video of Shirley Sherrod, then an official with the USDA. Breitbart claimed this video was “evidence of racism coming from a federal appointee and NAACP Award recipient.”
The media breathlessly hyped Breitbart’s video before verifying the basic story. And Sherrod was publicly vilified, abandoned by the Obama administration, and fired from her job as a result. But the problem was, Breitbart lied. Multiple news organizations apologized but not before the damage was already done. 3
The maker of the Planned Parenthood video, Lila Rose, has a long history of similar hoaxes. In fact, she formerly worked on conservative propaganda videos with convicted criminal James O’Keefe. O’Keefe was the creator of the heavily edited and equally mendacious videos that ultimately led to the collapse of ACORN, an organization that helped register and turnout voters in poor communities and communities of color. O’Keefe’s ACORN smear videos, like Rose’s deceptive video attack on Planned Parenthood, were also launched to prominence on Breitbart’s site.