The Huffington Post reported on April 23 that Planned Parenthood has "reason to believe that anti-abortion activists are targeting it in a new organized sting operation" after a "string of suspicious incidents" at clinics across the country. According to the report, local clinics received "hoax visits" from women seeking "sex-selective abortions," putting Planned Parenthood officials on alert, especially after being the target of a deceptive smear campaign last year by anti-abortion activist group Live Action and its leader, Lila Rose.
While Live Action has not been connected to these recent incidents, in early 2011, Live Action released a video attempting to expose what the group described as "Planned Parenthood's cover-up of child sex trafficking." But that claim was quickly discredited after it was revealed that Planned Parenthood employees had already reported the "potential sex trafficking" incidents to law enforcement officials.
But despite Live Action's damaged reputation, conservative blog Big Government greeted the news of a possible new Live Action smear campaign by promoting the group's year-old, discredited charges, claiming the group "exposed victims" of "sex-trafficking."
From the April 24 Big Government post:
Planned Parenthood is worried that they may be targeted and outed again, this time for performing sex-selection abortions. They are accusing Lila Rose, the head of Live Action, the pro-life group that exposed victims of rape and sex-trafficking hiding their pregnancies by abortions through Planned Parenthood, of sending volunteers to various Planned parenthood clinics to ask about aborting a fetus because it's a girl.
Big Government's effort to promote a possible new Live Action smear campaign while hiding the group's past failures should come as no surprise. The blog heavily promoted similarly deceptive hidden-video campaigns by Rose's mentor, James O'Keefe, even after O'Keefe's accusations were debunked.
Live Action, the anti-abortion group headed by Lila Rose, has released a new video purporting to show a Planned Parenthood clinic in Austin, Texas "encouraging a woman to obtain a late-term abortion because she was purportedly carrying a girl and wanted to have a boy." In light of the new video, Media Matters reviews Rose and Live Action's previous videos smearing Planned Parenthood, Rose's conservative activism, and her history with discredited activist James O'Keefe.
From the February 3 edition of KFTK's The Dana Show:
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From the July 1 Fox News special What's Great About America with John Stossel:
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Appearing on Fox News to push her most recent attack on Planned Parenthood, Lila Rose claimed that abortions are how Planned Parenthood of Indiana "makes money." In fact, abortions account for only an estimated 16 percent of its total annual revenue in 2010.
While promoting her latest smear of Planned Parenthood, Lila Rose also dissembled about the organization's reaction to one of her previous hoaxes.
Rose appeared on tonight's episode of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor to promote her latest anti-Planned Parenthood hoax video. And while guest host Laura Ingraham threw the softest of softballs at Rose -- at one point applauding her for her "genius investigative reporting" -- at least Planned Parenthood supporter Sally Kohn was on hand to inject a little reality into the segment.
When Rose once again accused Planned Parenthood of "covering up sexual abuse" and "aiding and abetting trafficking," Kohn confronted Rose with the fact that, far from aiding and abetting sex trafficking, Planned Parenthood had actually responded to evidence of sex trafficking by contacting law enforcement.
In the past, Rose has gone on Fox to make the false accusation that Planned Parenthood had abetted sex trafficking with no one there to push back. This time, when confronted with the facts, Rose decided to tell untruths about what Planned Parenthood had done.
Here's video of Rose's and Kohn's appearance (with the relevant exchange starting around 4:35):
Lila Rose is back, accusing Planned Parenthood of lying about the effects a recent Indiana law would have on health-care access, without actually demonstrating anything of the sort.
Instead, Rose has demonstrated that Planned Parenthood's concerns - that women on Medicaid who rely on Planned Parenthood for preventive health care would lose that access under the Indiana law denying funds to Planned Parenthood - were accurate.
The video features Cecile Richards, CEO of Planned Parenthood, discussing Indiana's controversial law to withhold Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood during a June CNN interview. Richards explained that she has received letters from women saying, "I can't believe that the state legislature, or the U.S. Congress is going to tell me I can't get - where I've been going to Planned Parenthood for years for my preventive care, for my birth control - and they are telling me now that I can't go to the health provider that I trust for my health."
Immediately after airing those comments, Rose played what she says is a recorded phone call to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Terre Haute, Indiana, where a woman who claimed to be a Medicaid recipient tried to schedule a preventive health-care examination. A voice, identified as belonging to a Planned Parenthood clinic worker, responded:
Right now we can't see new Medicaid people, just with the new law that's going on right now.
She then directed the caller to contact a primary care physician.
To recap: Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards warned that women would not be able to go to Planned Parenthood for preventive care if they lost their funding. Rose claimed that she has "caught on tape" a Planned Parenthood worker in Indiana saying that because of the "new law," a Medicaid recipient cannot get preventive care at Planned Parenthood. She then presented this as evidence that Planned Parenthood has been lying.
This type of deception is par for the course with anti-abortion hoaxster Lila Rose. Of course, the usual cast of right-wing media characters are once again promoting Lila Rose's false smears of Planned Parenthood.
From the April 6 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Tonight, Bill O'Reilly decided to promote the latest Lila Rose Planned Parenthood hoax video that falsely claimed to have caught Planned Parenthood's CEO Cecile Richards lying when she said her organization provides patients with access to cancer screenings including mammograms. O'Reilly said: "Apparently Planned Parenthood doesn't provide mammograms" and "they called dozens, I guess, and none of them had mammograms."
However, this time Mr. O'Reilly was met with some (possibly unexpected) push back. His guests, Fox News host Gretchen Carlson and Fox News regular Margaret Hoover both disagreed with O'Reilly's arguments about Planned Parenthood. Carlson pointed out that Planned Parenthood "give[s] breast exams" and that Planned Parenthood "will refer you to a mammogram if necessary."
Hoover stated: "And what happens as a result of their screenings, they refer women to have mammograms." Hoover added that Richards "was not saying that Planned Parenthood offers mammograms." Carlson's and Hoover's case would have been even stronger if they had been aware that some Planned Parenthood affiliates do provide mammograms.
Amazingly, O'Reilly refused to be won over by the facts, and claimed that Richards statement was an "intentional attempt to mislead, and they caught her."
However, given how quick Fox News has been to run with Lila Rose's false smears against Planned Parenthood, it was astonishing to see Carlson and Hoover push back against O'Reilly.
In a blog post notable for its shocking simplemindedness, Breitbart blogger Lee Stranahan accused Media Matters of using "logically invalid, distorted, and deceptive argumentative techniques" to refute Lila Rose's latest video hoax.
The video, anxiously promoted by the right, shows Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards discussing how the organization provides millions of women with access to health care services, including cancer screenings and mammograms. Rose called a few Planned Parenthood centers, found out that they did not have mammogram equipment on site, and declared that this refuted Richards' comments.
As Media Matters showed, Planned Parenthood does, in fact, help make sure that millions of women have access to these services. This is, quite simply, not in dispute.
Enter Lee Stranahan and illogic.
From the March 30 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Why isn't Eric Holder's Justice Department investigating Planned Parenthood? Maybe because there's nothing to investigate.
A couple of weeks ago, Lila Rose penned a strange, thoroughly misleading letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to investigate Planned Parenthood's alleged complicity in the sex trafficking of minors. Of course, Rose's letter could cite only two pieces of "evidence." Exhibit A: A series of videos that do absolutely nothing to support her outlandish and irresponsible claims. Exhibit B: A letter from Planned Parenthood alerting law enforcement authorities of suspected sex trafficking. Whereas Exhibit A is completely irrelevant, Exhibit B completely undermines Rose's case. If Planned Parenthood were aiding and abetting sex trafficking, why would they report suspected sex trafficking to the FBI? Rose's response to that simple question was completely incoherent, and only underscored just how ludicrous her accusations her.
So in a development shocking to no sentient being, the Justice Department will not be prosecuting anyone based on Rose's little conspiracy theory. And Rose, rather than just letting it go, has decided to accuse the DoJ of "looking the other way."
But Rose isn't the only person who's mad that the DoJ for deciding to spend their time on actual law enforcement instead of right-wing witch hunts. Glenn Beck, who previously gave Rose a massive platform on which to lob hysterical falsehoods at Planned Parenthood, had this to say:
BECK: Let's take a look here at Lila Rose. Here she is exposing Planned Parenthood. And when she did this, US Attorney General Eric Holder -- who said he's not pursuing the voter intimidation case down in Philadelphia or the Defense of Marriage act, which is the law of the land -- also says the DOJ is not gonna pursue this one either. No, he's not going to.
If you want one last example of just how untethered from reality the right's Planned Parenthood smears have become, here's a doozy: Beck also said Planned Parenthood "doesn't mind helping a pimp impregnating a 13 year-old with taxpayer dollars." Good luck figuring out what that means -- not even Lila Rose has made any accusations like that.
Beck is furious with Eric Holder for opting to not play along with two fake scandals dreamed up by the conservative fringe: Live Action's attempted smear of Planned Parenthood and the manufactured New Black Panther case. He's even angrier because Holder won't enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, despite the fact that Holder actually will. But the actual facts in these cases are irrelevant. All that matters is that the Attorney General refuses to turn the Justice Department into the enforcement arm of the conservative movement.
Glenn Beck devoted the February 18 edition of his Fox News show to promoting the false claim that Live Action's undercover videos showed Planned Parenthood abetting the sex trafficking of underage girls. Beck did not mention once during his hour-long show that, before any of the hoax videos were released, Planned Parenthood contacted the FBI to report the possibility that sex trafficking was occurring.
From the February 18 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
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Lila Rose, having failed to produce results through her strategy of releasing innocuous videos and making stuff up about their contents, is now playing a different angle: she's dropped the whole pretense of "evidence" and is now just straight-up begging the Justice Department to investigate Planned Parenthood for reasons that make absolutely no sense.
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Rose finally responds directly to the facts laid out by Planned Parenthood CEO Cecil Richards almost a month ago. In a January letter to Holder, Richards wrote that Planned Parenthood health centers had been visited by either suspected sex traffickers or undercover anti-abortion hoaxsters in "Arizona, Indiana, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington, D.C." Richards asked the Justice Department to investigate potential sex trafficking based on those visits.
Rose replied (emphasis in the original), "Live Action did not visit any Planned Parenthood facility in Indiana. ... Since Ms. Richards' letter suggests that Planned Parenthood may have hosted actual sex traffickers at one or more of its Indiana facilities, and given that we have video and audio proof of its institutionalized willingness to aid and abet such sex traffickers, Live Action requests that your office begin an immediate and thorough investigation in Planned Parenthood of Indiana -- and elsewhere."
A few problems with Rose's letter. The most obvious one is this: Despite Rose's repeated claims to the contrary, she has never once provided "video and audio proof" of Planned Parenthood's "institutionalized willingness to aid and abet such sex traffickers." None of the videos she's released have even hinted that this is the case. In fact, the letter which Rose today finally responded to directly is the very same letter in which Richards reported suspected sex trafficking to the FBI. No matter how much Rose tries to confuse the issue, the fact of the matter is that reporting evidence of crimes to the authorities is pretty much the opposite of aiding and abetting.
But let's put Rose's prior crimes against logic aside and focus on the new information Rose presents in this letter. She claims that Live Action never visited any Planned Parenthood clinics in Indiana. All we know about those visits is that Planned Parenthood says they happened -- and that Planned Parenthood reported them to the FBI.
So Rose's case amounts to this: an organization discovered evidence of a possible crime and reported it to the authorities; therefore, that organization should be investigated for possibly aiding and abetting. On what planet does that make any sense at all?