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  • Three Ways 60 Minutes’ Undercover Investigation Is Nothing Like CMP’s Deceptively Edited, Ideologically Motivated Smear Campaign

    60 Minutes Producer:  “We Can Never Lie About Who We Are Or Why We’re Someplace” And Were “Prepared To Come Clean If Confronted”

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    Last summer, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a series of deceptively edited videos, baselessly alleging that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue-- earning CMP and its founder, David Daleiden, the title of Media Matters’ 2015 Misinformer of the Year. Although CMP’s work has been largely discredited, the Congressional Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives has consistently cited illegally obtained and entirely unauthenticated documents provided by CMP as evidence.

    This week, CBS News’ 60 Minutes released their report, “Dialing for Dollars,”  an undercover  investigation using hidden camera footage to report on the “relentless pressure on members of Congress to constantly raise money.” Although 60 Minutes conducted their investigation in a highly-transparent way -- releasing an accompanying video report about their methods called “60 Minutes’ Decision To Use A Hidden Camera This Week” -- right-wing media figures have already compared this investigatory journalism to CMP’s deceptive work.

    In a series of tweets, Federalist Senior Editor Mollie Hemingway wrote: “Good news everyone! OK for journalists to secretly film again” and noted that CBS “not only edited the video, but used B roll for context (like we allow for 100% of non-fetal market stories)":

    Hemingway’s comments were also picked up and tweeted by the anti-choice news site, LifeNews which said “so CBS News can use a hidden camera but pro-life people can’t?”:

    Daleiden also retweeted Hemingway:

    CMP and the right-wing media who carry water for its work have defended CMP’s deceptively edited videos as “investigatory journalism.” Notably, Fox News hosts Steve Doocy and Bill O’Reilly have both compared CMP’s work to that of 60 Minutes. During a January 26 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Doocy argued that “journalists use these [undercover] techniques everyday” and gave the examples of “60 Minutes” and “20/20.” Similarly, in a March 6 segment from The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly alleged that if Daleiden was indicted for using fraudulent IDs, “all of 60 Minutes would be in jail, because they did stings all the time.”

    The form and substance of 60 Minutes’ investigation, however, was radically different than CMP’s ideologically motivated smear campaign against Planned Parenthood. In the supplementary report explaining their methodology and rationale for going undercover, correspondent Norah O’Donnell and 60 Minutes producer Pat Shevlin explained that “the decision to use a hidden camera wasn’t taken lightly” and that they were “scrupulous” about the process.

    There are at least three key ways that 60 Minutes’ use of hidden cameras differs from CMP’s: 60 Minutes did not conceal their identities to gain access, did not identify people on camera without consent, and did not alter their material to fit an ideological goal.

    1. 60 Minutes Producer: “We Can Never Lie About Who We Are Or ... Give A False Reason For Why You’re There”

    Unlike CMP’s deceptively edited videos -- where Daleiden and his associates intentionally misled clinic staff about their identities and intentions, steps which included creating a fake company and fake identities -- 60 Minutes never portrayed themselves fraudulently or lied about who they were or what they were doing to the people they filmed. In the accompanying 60 Minutes Overtime video report Shevlin said 60 Minutes “can never lie about who we are or why we’re some place” and that if you’re “challenged, you can’t give a false reason for why you’re there.”

    60 Minutes representatives gained access to the congressional call center legally and without misrepresenting themselves. CMP, on the other hand, cannot make such a claim. On January 26 a Houston grand jury indicted David Daleiden and one of his associates for gaining access to a Planned Parenthood clinic under deceptive pretenses using false identification. Meanwhile, over 13 state investigations have consistently cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.

    2. 60 Minutes Did Not Identify People Filmed Without Their Consent

    In accordance with the advice from lawyers, 60 Minutes did not release footage with “identifiable faces” to the public.

    In CMP’s deceptively edited videos, however, Daleiden not only filmed providers without their consent he also provided additional identifying information including their names. These efforts to identify providers by name plays into a long history of anti-choice groups targeting abortion providers for harassment which has led to doctors who were later murdered or shot by anti-choice activists.

    More recently, the Congressional select panel has issued wide-ranging subpoenas targeting not only abortion providers but also "researchers, graduate students, laboratory technicians, and administrative staff who are in any way involved in fetal tissue research." Democrats and reproductive rights advocates have warned that by collecting these names "Congress could be putting lives in danger."

    3. 60 Minutes Did Not Alter Their Material To Fit An Ideological Goal

    In the 60 Minutes report, correspondent Norah O’Donnell investigates a congressional representatives being told their “first responsibility” is not to serve their constituents, but instead to “spend around 30 hours a week” in a call center soliciting donations. O’Donnell explained the purpose in seeing these call centers, as that’s how “lawmakers are spending a lot of their time … that they could be in their office on Capitol Hill doing the people’s business.”

    Although CMP has argued their intentions were to bring a matter of public interest to the attention of authorities -- including their claims that laws involving sale of fetal tissue were being broken -- a February 5 decision by federal judge William H. Orrick strongly rebuts this claim. Orrick issued a preliminary injunction barring CMP from releasing further videos utilizing footage of National Abortion Federation (NAF) employees. According to Orrick, this injunction was justified because CMP did not “-- as Daleiden repeatedly asserts -- use widely accepted investigatory journalism techniques” to reveal a matter of public interest.

    Instead, Orrick argued that CMP relied on “repeated instances of fraud, including the manufacture of fake documents, the creation and registration with the state of California a fake company, and repeated false statements to a numerous NAF representatives and NAF members in order to infiltrate NAF and implement their Human Capital Project.” Orrick concluded that because of these deceptive means, the resulting videos were not “pieces of journalistic integrity, but misleadingly edited videos and unfounded assertions … of criminal conduct.”

    CMP has removed material from their videos that would have disproven their allegations, inserted misleading images into their work, and coached testimony from a supposed witness to criminal activity.

    60 Minutes’ reporting -- and their effort to make clear why it meets common standards of journalistic integrity -- reaffirms the findings of many other journalists and media ethicists who argue that CMP’s work “can be called many things, but ‘journalism’ probably isn’t one of them.”

  • STUDY: Cable And Broadcast News Try To Cover The Economy Without Economists

    Economists Made Up 1 Percent Of Guests In The First Quarter Of 2016, While Shows Focused On Campaigns, Inequality

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEX MORASH

    Expertise from economists was almost completely absent from television news coverage of the economy in the first quarter of 2016, which focused largely on the tax and economic policy platforms of this year’s presidential candidates. Coverage of economic inequality spiked during the period -- tying an all-time high -- driven in part by messaging from candidates on both sides of the aisle, but gender diversity in guests during economic news segments remained low.

  • The O’Reilly Factor Peddles Racist Myths About High Incarceration Rate For Drug Violations 

    Eric Bolling: “Maybe More Blacks Are Committing More Of The Same Crimes”

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    During a segment on drug incarceration, Fox News’ Eric Bolling suggested the higher incarceration rates for African Americans are not about race, but instead because “blacks committed more of the same crimes.” From the April 22 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:

    BILL O’REILLY (HOST): I feel very strongly that if my children were addicted to heroin and I knew who was selling them the heroin, I would not consider it a nonviolent action. How about you?

    ERIC BOLLING: No, I think you have to go hard on the drug dealers, distributors.

    O’REILLY: Even the punks on the street?

    BOLLING: Even the punks on the street. I don’t think it has anything to do with race, it has to do with what they are doing. They are providing access for kids, people to hurt themselves.

    O’REILLY: Why does the left see it differently and is trying to diminish the harmfulness of their actions?

    BOLLING: Well Russell Simmons tried to make it about race. He said more blacks are incarcerated than whites therefore --  

    O’REILLY: Well it's a big issue.

    BOLLING: Because maybe more blacks are committing more of the same crimes. It's still illegal to sell heroin. It's still illegal to sell opiates.

    O’REILLY: May not be much longer, Colmes, the way the trends are going in this country.

    According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, prison sentences of African American men were almost 20 percent longer than white men for similar crimes. The Wall Street Journal attributed the gap to judicial discretion, restored by the Supreme Court in 2005. In a September 2014 article, the Washington Post reported that, while whites and blacks use drugs at about the same rate, and whites are more likely to sell, blacks are “far more likely” to be arrested for sale and possession.

    Fox’s Bill O’Reilly has a history of campaigning against drug sentencing reform, despite the evidence that current laws target minorities. O’Reilly has previously stated that drug sentencing reform sends a message that drugs aren’t dangerous.