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?
Live Action's Lila Rose continues to misrepresent data in a desperate attempt to smear Planned Parenthood as a "friend" to sex traffickers.
Her latest "evidence" is an audio file of a short conversation that Live Action claims is between a woman who describes herself as a "sex worker" and a Planned Parenthood employee in Washington, D.C.
In a statement accompanying the release, Rose claims:
An institutional crisis has consumed Planned Parenthood at the highest levels. The reason their story has changed five times in reaction to our investigation is because they know they're guilty.
Sex trafficking in the U.S. has increased dramatically in recent years, and the pattern revealed by our investigation shows sex traffickers have no better friend than Planned Parenthood. Untold damage has already been done to countless girls and young women, whose safety and health are clearly at risk because organizations like Planned Parenthood provide confidentiality and safe haven for sex traffickers.
Yet again, she has utterly failed to show anything close to an "institutional crisis" in which Planned Parenthood is a "friend" to sex traffickers.
What this audio -- like all of the videos before it -- can't provide is anything to contradict the fact that Planned Parenthood contacted law enforcement and asked them to investigate potential sex trafficking before Lila Rose released any of her videos. Rose herself has even acknowledged this.
Lila Rose and Live Action's accusations against Planned Parenthood are wholly without merit, but that hasn't stopped the right-wing media machine from giving these intrepid "journalists" the full Woodward and Bernstein treatment.
The latest stop in Rose's press junket: an interview with the Breitbart media empire's token liberal, Lee Stranahan. Things went swimmingly for the first half of the interview, with Stranahan lobbing softballs and Rose bunting them back with ease -- but then Stranahan had to ask about the letter Planned Parenthood wrote to AG Eric Holder alerting him to the existence of a possible sex trafficking ring.
Since Rose's whole case rests on the demonstrably false claim that Planned Parenthood tried to cover up sex trafficking instead of reporting it to the authorities, surely this letter means she has no case?
Here's Rose's utterly nonsensical response:
ROSE: What Planned Parenthood has done is try to spike Live Action's story, and try to cover up their cover up by confusing and muddling the matter and getting the FBI in this absurd letter to look into Live Action, or to kind of implicate Live Action as somehow, you know, needing-- Live Action needing to be investigated. So what they're doing is what they do classically, what they've been doing over the past four years, which is instead of addressing the institutional cover up in their clinic, instead of addressing that, instead of-- instead of resolving that, they turn to us as the investigative team, or they turn against the, you know, the people that are trying to spread this message and get people aware, and they attack us. So this is just-- This is just another example of how Planned Parenthood's sexual abuse cover up and aiding and abetting of human trafficking is top down.
Parse that word stew and you'll discover an argument that doesn't even hold together when expressed in coherent sentences. Rose's position is this: Planned Parenthood did wrong by not reporting suspected sex trafficking, and the fact that they did report suspected sex trafficking just proves it.
Stranahan's response? Letting it slide and jumping to the next topic. Journalism at its finest!
From a February 8 press release from the Planned Parenthood media office:
Statement from Stuart Schear, vice president for communications, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, on Live Action's Latest Dishonest Videos
This morning Live Action, an organization opposed to legal abortion, released the latest of its secretly recorded videos, this time from Planned Parenthood health centers in New York City.
Planned Parenthood of New York City has reviewed this video carefully, and it is clear that the video cannot be trusted. The conversation as portrayed on this doctored videotape is not accurate.
These tapes are clearly doctored and cannot be trusted.
In an interview with the FBI, the two health center workers featured in the video said that they did not hear the words "sex work" or "sex worker," uttered by the actors on camera who were hired by Live Action to play the role of a "pimp" on the videotape in an effort to undermine the credibility of Planned Parenthood staff in Live Action's coordinated lobbying effort to support legislation that would bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds.
In addition, it is clear from the edited tape that there are two or more video sources, as well as an additional audio source, increasing the opportunity for manipulation and selective editing.
Unlike other publicized tapes, the hoax "patients" in New York were not able to get beyond the reception desk for a private consultation. Like other encounters that have been recently publicized in Virginia, our staff responded professionally to questions, discussed these encounters with management, and provided a report to the FBI.
We expect Live Action, a political operation, to continue publicizing a number of secretly recorded videotapes made at our health centers in an effort to undermine health center services and support federal legislation designed to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds.
The truth is that Live Action has a history of doctoring video, making false claims and has no credibility. This is a tactic similar to that of James O'Keefe, the discredited right-wing activist long associated with Live Action.
Several news organizations (below) have analyzed Live Action tapes, and found evidence of selective editing to create a false impression.
The public should view any Live Action video with wide-eyed skepticism, as they do not accurately portray what happened.
It is also important to remember that Planned Parenthood acted swiftly when the initial publicized video, taped at a New Jersey health center, showed a now former Planned Parenthood staff member engaging in behavior that is appalling, inconsistent with Planned Parenthood's practices, and in violation of Planned Parenthood's policies. Planned Parenthood has a zero tolerance policy for this behavior and the employee was immediately terminated for violating Planned Parenthood's high standards of health care and ethical conduct.
In addition, Planned Parenthood just announced an April 1, 2011, deadline for all health center staff and educators who have contact with patients and teens be retrained in understanding our policies and procedures for responding to situations that indicate that the welfare of a minor is endangered.
Live Action's latest undercover video of a Planned Parenthood health center is notable for one thing and one thing only: Lila Rose still cannot do away with the simple fact that Planned Parenthood reported potential sex trafficking to law enforcement officials.
Of course, that doesn't mean that Rose and her cohorts have backed down from their ludicrous accusations. Indeed, in a press release accompanying the new video, Rose insists that her organization's efforts have unveiled an "institutional crisis" within Planned Parenthood, an organization she claims is "willing to aid and abet the sexual exploitation of minors and young girls."
It's worth noting here that in at least one of the Live Action videos exposing this so-called "institutional crisis," a Planned Parenthood employee actively tells people who claim to be sex workers that clinics are required to report statutory rape. Planned Parenthood officials have fired the office manager in one of its New Jersey clinics who was featured in Rose's first video, and that the organization is reportedly launching a retraining initiative focusing on "rules for reporting possible danger to minors."
But more important, the new video doesn't show that Planned Parenthood is "willing to aid and abet" sexual exploitation, just like the old videos didn't. As usual, it has nothing to say about the crucial context.
In January - before Rose released a single video - AP reported that Planned Parenthood had asked federal law enforcement officials to investigate claims of sex trafficking that were made at health centers in several states:
The visits were made between Jan. 11 and Jan. 15 to health centers in Virginia, Indiana, New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Arizona.
This is just becoming sad for Lila Rose and Live Action. While there was never any real reason to pay attention to Live Action's hyperbolic accusations, now even their novelty has worn off. They tried to burn Planned Parenthood, and they failed. Time to let it go, guys.
From the February 3 article, "The Right-Wing Dough Supporting the Sicko 'Stings' at Planned Parenthood" on AlterNet.org:
In response to my question about Live Action's funding, Schear said that, Lila Rose's anti-choice activism began with a grant from Morton Blackwell's Leadership Institute, which has been training young right-wingers for leadership roles for more than 30 years. The grant funded Rose's newspaper, The Advocate, which she still publishes. I recently attended one of the Institute's breakfast meetings with news-makers; the speaker was Tim Phillips, president of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the astroturf group founded and chaired by David Koch. Phillips, you see, is a graduate of the Institute, as are many right-wing luminaries.
More recently, Rose has gained the support of the Gerard Health Foundation, which supports anti-choice groups, many of them Catholic. In 2008, Rose won one of the foundation's coveted "Life Prizes". That year, a total of $600,000 was divided between seven recipients. The foundation is funded by the trust of Raymond Ruddy, a former executive with Touche Ross and Maximus, on whose board of Maximus he still sits. Maximus describes itself as providing operational services to the U.S. government, and foreign governments. (Isn't government bad, bad, bad? Aren't foreigners bad, bad, bad? Guess not when you're making big bucks off of them.)
Schear also said that Rose receives in-kind contributions -- basically, free services -- from CRC Public Relations, the firm behind the media sensation known as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. You know -- the guys who sought to impugn the war-time record of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., when he ran for president. CRC is led by Greg Mueller, who worked on the presidential campaigns of Pat Buchanan and Steve Forbes. SourceWatch also lists among CRC's clients the Republican National Committee, the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Oh, and then there's the 2009 anti-health-care-reform effort by Rick Scott -- now the governor of Florida -- known as Conservatives for Patients' Rights.
When Live Action released a video yesterday showing a Planned Parenthood employee speaking with two people who identified themselves to her as a pimp and prostitute, I called it "seven minutes of nothing." Today's info dump on the Live Action website offers up something similar: a melange of more nothing, some repetition, and a couple minutes of conclusive self-refutation.
In the title of the post unveiling these most recent videos, Live Action blogger David Daleidan says that a "pattern emerges." But the pattern that actually emerges probably isn't the one he had in mind. The real one goes like this: Live Action unloads some innocuous footage, presents it as sinister, and hopes that no one bothers to check whether it reveals what they claim it does. (Guess what? It doesn't.)
But just because it's a pattern, doesn't mean it's not evolving. Now that Live Action has absolutely nothing to do but repeat themselves, they're just putting out as much content as they can in the hopes that no one will have time to actually check it all. Now that it's obvious they don't have anything remotely approaching quality, their only option is quantity.
When the anti-abortion rights propagandists at Live Action began releasing their Planned Parenthood smear videos earlier this week, we explained that their claim that Planned Parenthood was covering-up "child sex trafficking" was clearly a lie.
That's because way back on January 18, Planned Parenthood's president wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder about the incidents and requested an FBI investigation into the possibility that "an individual or individuals are engaged in activities that violate several federal criminal statutes relating to sex trafficking involving minors."
So Planned Parenthood obviously wasn't covering up anything; they were fulfilling their obligation to keep children safe.
We also warned that media should be skeptical about the heavily edited video footage released by Live Action.
As it turns out, we were right to raise concerns.
Yesterday, Live Action released a video that it claimed showed a Richmond, Virginia, Planned Parenthood's supposed "willingness to aid and abet sexual exploitation of minors."
In reality, it showed nothing of the sort. ABC News reported that the Planned Parenthood employee "appears to act professionally and appropriately" and that "[l]egal experts ... said the clinic worker's advice on how a minor could obtain an abortion without her parents' consent is consistent with state law." According to Planned Parenthood, the employee "immediately notified her supervisor, who subsequently notified members of Planned Parenthood's national security team, who are working with the FBI, which is investigating these visits."
But Live Action also appears to have doctored the audio of its Richmond "sting," moving audio from one portion of their video to a different portion.
Andrew Breitbart and his lackeys are crowing over Planned Parenthood's firing of Amy Woodruff, because it proves ... well, I'm not exactly sure what it proves. That they don't condone her behavior?
Here's Breitbart himself on Twitter arguing that the fact that Planned Parenthood fired the employee shown in Lila Rose's videos somehow supports Rose's hoax claiming that Planned Parenthood tried to cover up sex trafficking:
Lila Rose's James-O'Keefe-lite smear against Planned Parenthood has made its way onto daytime Fox News.
On today's edition of America Live, host Megyn Kelly hosted a debate over the video between the Family Research Council's Cathy Cleaver Ruse and syndicated talk show host Nancy Skinner. Before starting the debate, Kelly noted that Planned Parenthood did, in fact, alert the law enforcement about suspected sex trafficking. This, Ruse said, was entirely beside the point.
Here's the video:
KELLY: Cathy, let me start with you. Why does this pose a problem? Planned Parenthood has already come out and said, "We are the ones who caught on to the fact that something was amiss in these clinics and we are the ones who alerted the federal authorities to this problem."
RUSE: Well, Megyn, they're just trying to change the subject
Really? That's weird. Because I thought Planned Parenthood's response to suspected sex trafficking was the subject. Rose's whole thesis was that Planned Parenthood is willing to cover up child prostitution instead of reporting it to the proper authorities. Her hoax exposed, the fringe right-wing activist is now taking to Big Government to similarly brush aside the actual actions of Planned Parenthood.
If what Planned Parenthood did -- that is, alerting the FBI and quickly firing Woodruff -- doesn't satisfy Ruse, what will? It's almost like she'll take any excuse, no matter how tenuous, to slam the organization.
Yesterday, right wing website Live Action broke a story attacking Planned Parenthood after 22-year-old president of the organization, Lila Rose, released an undercover video seeking to demonstrate that Planned Parenthood engages in criminal activities.
Predictably, right-wing blogs have seized on the video to accuse Planned Parenthood of all sorts of atrocities. What these blogs failed to report, however, is that over two weeks ago and well before Live Action's video was released, Planned Parenthood reported this incident and other similar incidents to authorities.
In a so-called "sting" video professional hit artist Lila Rose claims to have uncovered evidence of systemic corruption within Planned Parenthood to cover up "child sex trafficking." Not only do Planned Parenthoods recent actions flatly contradict that claim -- so does the content of the video itself.
In fact, even if we were to assume that Rose's heavily edited smear job is accurate - and there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical - the video very clearly establishes that the alleged wrongdoing is counter to Planned Parenthood policy: the employee on Rose's tape makes it clear that the actions in question would have to be concealed from others at the organization.
Even before Rose released the edited tapes, Planned Parenthood had already reported the "potential sex trafficking" to law enforcement officials.
In the video released today, Amy Woodruff, the office manager at the Planned Parenthood in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, talks to two Live Action employees who were apparently disguised as a pimp and a prostitute. Here she is counseling them on Planned Parenthood's legal obligation to report possible statutory rape cases (2:24 in the video):
Today, anti-abortion rights propagandist Lila Rose released her latest in a series of heavily edited videos seeking to demonstrate that Planned Parenthood engages in criminal activities. Rose's organization, Live Action, claims their video exposes what they call "Planned Parenthood's cover-up of child sex trafficking."
Except that isn't what the video shows at all.
Rather, the Live Action video shows edited comments made by a single Planned Parenthood employee. Live Action has so far refused to publicly release the full video of the incident, instead posting what the organization itself admits is an "abridged 11-minute video." (Live Action claims they are "sending full footage" to law enforcement officials.) [UPDATE: Live Action subsequently released what they say is the full video.]
Is Live Action accurately portraying the Planned Parenthood employee's statements and actions? It's impossible to say for sure without the full video, but there is good reason for media to be skeptical. Lila Rose, after all, began infiltrating abortion clinics in collaboration with James O'Keefe -- a convicted criminal who repeatedly lied about his heavily edited ACORN videos. Rose herself has a history of smearing the subjects of her videos.
But even if Live Action's video doesn't take the employee out of context, the incident obviously doesn't show Planned Parenthood covering up child sex trafficking. That's because Planned Parenthood has already reported the "potential sex trafficking" to law enforcement officials.
On January 24, Planned Parenthood released the following statement, titled "Planned Parenthood Informs Federal Authorities of Potential Sex Trafficking" [emphasis in original]: