MAINSTREAM MEDIA FINDS LIVE ACTION UNRELIABLE

Mainstream news organizations have reported extensively that Live Action alters video and promotes heavily edited tapes that fall far short of accepted journalistic standards. These propaganda videos, pieced together from secretly obtained video footage, are intended to create misimpressions about Planned Parenthood. This is nearly identical to the tactic that James O'Keefe, the discredited conservative activist, used in his campaign to destroy ACORN, the community organizing group.

Several news organizations have analyzed Live Action tapes, and found evidence of selective editing to create a false impression.

2011: Roanoke Times Editorial: Scam video. An editorial in the Roanoke Times rebutted Live Action's edited tape, saying: "Live Action's scurrilous attempts to portray Virginia Planned Parenthood clinics, including the one in Roanoke, as willing facilitators of the sexual exploitation of girls must be denounced for what they are: lies…. What Live Action's surreptitious taping does not — indeed, could not possibly — show is the clinic staff's real response to their strange, disturbing visitor." (Roanoke Times editorial, 2/8/11) www.roanoke.com/editorials/wb/276293.

2010: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Rebuts Live Action's edited tape in Wisconsin. An editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel exposed Live Action's edited tape, saying: "Live Action says there were conflicting statements in the video about fetal viability, when it's a baby and heart tones vs. heartbeats. But a viewing of the fullest tape available reveals that the clinician and doctor go to lengths to tell the woman about embryonic and fetal development. She leaves before she can be examined." (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8/2/2010) www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/99791324.html

2009: Los Angeles Times Rebuts Live Action's edited tape in Indianapolis. The Los Angeles Times analyzed a videotape Live Action made inside an Indianapolis Planned Parenthood health center and said, "The conversation in the uncut version is more nuanced than the edited five-minute version, and includes a staffer stating emphatically, ‘We have to follow the laws,' and another urging Rose to tell her mother about the pregnancy." (Los Angeles Times; 4/26/09) articles.latimes.com/print/2009/apr/26/nation/na-abortion26

CNN: Live Action videos reminiscent of edited O'Keefe videos. CNN reports, "the Live Action videos are reminiscent of those by right-wing videographer James O'Keefe…. O'Keefe's videos were found in at least two investigations to be so heavily edited as to be an unreliable record of what happened, showing no evidence of any wrongdoing by ACORN staff members... The Live Action videos also appear to be heavily edited." (edition.cnn.com/2011/US/02/08/abortion.video.retraining/)

Media Matters: Live Action Doctors and Manipulates Video. According to an analysis by Media Matters, "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." (Media Matters: "Why Is Live Action Doctoring Its Planned Parenthood Audio?" 2/4/11) (mediamatters.org/blog/201102040026)

Analysis on other Live Action videos (when longer footage can be compared to the initial propaganda video) has found numerous examples of dubious editing, including:

  • Omitting footage from a conversation that casts Planned Parenthood in a favorable way. There are dozens of cases where footage is altered but conversations on the video appear to be seamless.
  • Taking pieces of conversation out of context.
  • Re-ordering conversations but on video creating the appearance of a seamless conversation.
  • Providing only heavily edited and dubious tapes for public inspection during media blitzes.
  • Including footage of other patients in the waiting room.
  • Using subtitles to create misimpressions.

DUBIOUS MEDICAL CLAIMS

Live Action Promotes Misleading Medical Information and Accesses Planned Parenthood of Providing False Health Information.

Another deceptive tactic that Live Action uses is promoting misleading medical claims in their attacks on Planned Parenthood. As an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put it:

"Live Action contended that a clinician and physician in a December video gave medically inaccurate information to a woman feigning both pregnancy and a desire for an abortion in Appleton. The group asked both the state attorney general and the Outagamie district attorney to investigate.

"The reality: What's depicted is mostly an exercise by professionals in walking a woman with many questions through a procedure she said she wanted."

Live Action has made numerous medically inaccurate medical statements and misleading accusations. Some examples:

Falsely linking abortion to premature birth in subsequent pregnancy.

In a July 20, 2010 press release Live Action accused Planned Parenthood of using "medically inaccurate counseling to convince a young woman to have an abortion" after the counselor tells a patient that the abortion would not impact the ability to have children in the future. Live Action claims that "a previous abortion increased a woman's risk of pre-term birth by 20%."

FACT: According to the Mayo Institute, "only rarely would an abortion cause problems in a subsequent pregnancy", which is a conclusion echoed by every major medical establishment that addresses pregnancy risk.

Misinformation about Birth Control and Cancer.

Lila Rose made medically incorrect statements about birth control and potential links to cancer in her Values Advocacy Council November 2010 speech.

Lila Rose: "...This isn't well known, but birth control causes a lot of physical health problems for women. And this information is being suppressed by the very organizations that pretend to help women. Susan B. Komen, this pro-women, anti-breast cancer organization, gives some of its money to Planned Parenthood which is making more breast cancer by pushing more abortions and birth control — hormonal birth control, on to women."

FACT: According to the National Cancer Institute, studies of a possible link between oral contraceptives and breast cancer have yielded mixed results. A 1998 study by the Women's Contraceptive and Reproductive Experiences (Women's CARE) found that the use of oral contraceptives did not significantly increase a woman's risk for breast cancer. Also, oral contraceptives have been proven to decrease the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers in women who use oral contraceptives; women also continue to receive this cancer-fighting benefit for years after they stop taking the pill. (Source: National Cancer Institute)

Misinformation about Abortion and Cancer.

Lila Rose made medically incorrect statements about abortion and potential links to cancer in her Values Advocacy Council November 2010 speech:

Question: "...is there a link between women who have had abortions and who have breast cancer?"

Lila Rose: "...There's definitely a link, that's been established and peer-reviewed, but the information is being squelched...When you abort your first pregnancy I think it can triple — or, it can just hugely increase your risk because your body's preparing for the baby and then it's cut off unnaturally."

FACT: The National Cancer Institute reported in their 2003 Summary Report: Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer Workshop, that it is "well established" that induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk. (Source: National Cancer Institute)

Misinformation about Fetal Development.

An editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel rebutted Live Action's edited tape, saying: "Live Action says there were conflicting statements in the video about fetal viability, when it's a baby and heart tones vs. heartbeats. But a viewing of the fullest tape available reveals that the clinician and doctor go to lengths to tell the woman about embryonic and fetal development. She leaves before she can be examined." (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8/2/2010; www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/99791324.html)


CRITICISM FROM THE MEDIA

Rose's Credibility in Doubt. As the Huffington Post writes, "Unless (Rose) can produce evidence that someone failed to comply with a legal requirement, Rose's crusade is dubious at best. Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization with 30,000 employees and volunteers at over 800 clinics, has never been convicted of violating any law…. (Rose's) unsubstantiated accusations about the Memphis clinic have cast significant doubt on her credibility. So has the fact she spent almost ten months calling for a criminal prosecution before she bothered to contact prosecutors. If I were the sole witness to a crime, I wouldn't tell everybody except the authorities about it, and then complain the alleged culprit had escaped punishment." (www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-norman/antiabortion-activist-tak_b_196535.html)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Rebuts Live Action's Claims. An editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel rebutted Live Action's edited tape, saying: "Live Action says there were conflicting statements in the video about fetal viability, when it's a baby and heart tones vs. heartbeats. But a viewing of the fullest tape available reveals that the clinician and doctor go to lengths to tell the woman about embryonic and fetal development. She leaves before she can be examined." (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8/2/2010; www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/99791324.html)

LA Times Rebuts Live Action's Claims. The LA Times analyzed a Live Action video taped inside an Indianapolis Planned Parenthood health center and said, "The conversation in the uncut version is more nuanced than the edited five-minute version, and includes a staffer stating emphatically, ‘We have to follow the laws,' and another urging Rose to tell her mother about the pregnancy." (LA Times; articles.latimes.com/print/2009/apr/26/nation/na-abortion26)

The New York Times Challenges Lila Rose's Hoax. Gail Collins from the New York Times writes, "Still, there is no way to look good while providing useful information to a self-proclaimed child molester, even if the cops get called. That, presumably, is why Live Action chose the scenario…. But here's the most notable thing about this whole debate: The people trying to put Planned Parenthood out of business do not seem concerned about what would happen to the 1.85 million low-income women who get family-planning help and medical care at the clinics each year. It just doesn't come up. There's not even a vague contingency plan." (www.nytimes.com/2011/02/05/opinion/05collins.html)

Star Ledger Editorial Criticizes Live Action. An editorial in the New Jersey Star Ledger says, "Ambush journalism makes entertaining YouTube moments, but rarely proves a larger point. ACORN was exonerated. A video targeting the teachers union in New Jersey relied heavily on the words of one tipsy teacher. And Live Action actors found a lousy employee, that's all." (blog.nj.com/njv_editorial_page/2011/02/planned_parenthood_video_just.html)

Pro-Life Columnist Criticizes Live Action. Alfred Doblin, editorial page editor at the New Jersey Record writes, "As a pro-lifer, I'm not advocating for abortion. But eliminating Planned Parenthood does not advance any pro-lifer's goals. Poor and low-income women need access to health care, need information about contraception, and need to be screened for sexually transmitted diseases. Eliminate Planned Parenthood and all these issues remain. And guess what? So does abortion. I would rather Live Action and other like-minded organizations look at the reasons women find themselves in need of such services in the first place." (www.northjersey.com/columnists/doblin/doblin_020411.html)

Salon.com Sums it Up. Between Jan. 11 and Jan. 15, five separate Planned Parenthood clinics received mysterious visits from men who claimed to be involved in underage sex-trafficking. This meant, obviously, that someone was trying to pull a James O'Keefe-style "sting," in which deceptively edited Internet videos would prove that some organization dedicated to providing services to the poor or otherwise non-privileged was in fact engaged in high crimes and conspiracy against freedom. It didn't really work, because Planned Parenthood quickly caught on and alerted the FBI. (Salon.com; www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/02/01/planned_parenthood_sting/index.html)


CRITICISM FROM THE FAITH COMMUNITY

Speaking about Live Action's hoax videos: "Catholics should regard such activity as morally and legally unacceptable," he told CNA in a written statement on Feb. 11. "From a moral point of view, I would call it scandal in the strict sense — that is, leading another to commit a sin. From a legal point of view, I would call it suborning agreement to cooperate in criminal activities" (Germain Grisez, Professor of Christian Ethics at Mt St. Mary's University (1979-2009).

Despite the clarity of Catholic teaching against lying under any circumstances (without even an exception for undercover lawmen to deny their true identities), many pro-lifers are reluctant to give up what they see as a highly effective tactic. Building a Culture of Life, the exorcist and Lila Rose, February 11, 2011, Busted Halo, by Dawn Eden and William Doino. Dawn Eden is author of The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On (Thomas Nelson, 2006) and holds an M.A. in Theology from the Dominican House of Studies. Jr. William Doino is a contributor to Inside the Vatican and other publications, writes often about history, religion and politics.

In interviews and speeches, she often cites Martin Luther King's promotion of "creative extremists" in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" as an inspiration for her undercover work. We laud her desire to use her gifts to defend the unborn — but would invite her and her supporters to delve deeper into the quotation's context. Before using the term "creative extremists," King specifies that he is not referring to extreme sin, but, rather, extreme goodness: "So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?" Building a Culture of Life, the Exorcist and Lila Rose," February 11, 2011, Busted Halo, by Dawn Eden and William Doino. Dawn Eden is author of The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On (Thomas Nelson, 2006) and holds an M.A. in Theology from the Dominican House of Studies Jr.,William Doino is a contributor to Inside the Vatican and other publications, writes often about history, religion and politics.

Mrs. Till said I want the whole world to see what is happening to my little Emmett, what happened to my little Emmett. And likewise, we want the whole world to see what is happening to those little babies (Lila Rose speaking at the Massachusetts Citizens for Life Youth Convention — part one).


CRITICISM FROM ACADEMIA

Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary and an expert on gender issues, said Planned Parenthood deserved credit for directly addressing the complexities of human sexuality. "It would be wonderful if we lived in a world where we didn't need Planned Parenthood, where women had all the information and resources they needed regarding their own sexual health," she said. "But given we don't have that, it fills a very important role" (Associated Press, Foes Seek to Defund Planned Parenthood, David Crary, February 13, 2011).


CRITICISM FROM THE RIGHT

Lila Rose and a number of Live Action's employees are Catholic. Many Catholics, although supportive of the pro-life campaign, take issue with Live Action's practice of lying about who they are to try to incriminate Planned Parenthood employees. The post below summarizes some of the debate that has taken place on religious websites:

Not surprisingly, though, a lot of the people who are most particular about Catholic teaching — people otherwise likely to be sympathetic to Rose's goals — aren't convinced that's what's going on here. And these folks clash, from time to time, with Rose's fanboys and fangirls.

It happened in 2008 at California Catholic where commenters got into a dust-up after a commenter named Sue wrote: "According to the article, she ‘posed.' How is that different from lying? If one day she tells people she's 15 and pregnant by a 23-year-old, and another day she tells people she's 13 and pregnant by a 31-year-old, how is that not lying?" (Arguably, Rose's most creative defender in that thread was JLS, who speculated that "perhaps Lila Rose was speaking in parables.")

It happened here, a year earlier, at Rebelution — which is evangelical in flavor, affiliated with the Household of Faith Community Church. Within the first three comments someone ("Bryan") asked, "Does the end justify the means? Is it all right to lie in order to (at least potentially) incriminate someone else?" Perhaps because of The Rebelution's readership, Lila Rose's supporters appealed not to "mental reservation" but to the Bible — likening her to Joseph, who also concealed his identity; or to Daniel, who had to break a law in order to be faithful.

And it happened more recently, and with particular vitriol, at Busted Halo and Renew America. Short version, to save you the clicking: Dawn Eden (author of The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On) and William Doino Jr. wrote a post criticizing young conservative activists for their adoption of Saul Alinsky's tactics. The discussion then moved to Renew America, where Dawn Eden first suggested that maybe Lila Rose wasn't as bad as James O'Keefe because Rose (unlike O'Keefe's accomplice) wasn't "tart(ed) up" in the videos. Eden then seemed to back away from this perspective in some follow-up remarks. (www.religiondispatches.org/archive/atheologies/4196/lila_rose_targets_planned_parenthood_with_lies)


KEY BACKGROUND ARTICLES

Link to letter PP sent to AG Holder
www.plannedparenthood.org/files/PPFA/fact_AG_Holder_011811.pdf

AP Exclusive: Planned Parenthood seeks FBI probe
www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/24/AR2011012404462.html

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial: Was It Just Theater (Lila Rose)
www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/99791324.html

Huffington Post: Antiabortion Activist Takes on Planned Parenthood with Hidden Camera
www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-norman/antiabortion-activist-tak_b_196535.html

New York Times: The Siege of Planned Parenthood
www.nytimes.com/2011/02/05/opinion/05collins.html

Media Matters: Who is Lila Rose?
mediamatters.org/research/201102010048

Media Matters: Why Is Live Action Doctoring Its Planned Parenthood Audio?
mediamatters.org/blog/201102040026

New York Times: Planned Parenthood to Retrain Staff on Reporting Requirements
www.nytimes.com/2011/02/08/us/08parenthood.html?_r=1&hpw