Media Bias in the News: Planned Parenthood, Center for Medical Progress, and Awards

Over the weekend we saw several stories about how Planned Parenthood had hired a firm to do a “forensic” study of a few of the Center for Medical Progress undercover videos. The national media, who had been mostly mute about the subject, suddenly found it newsworthy. I wrote about that on my political blog. Many national news organizations couldn’t wait to trumpet misleading headlines like, “Sting videos of Planned Parenthood were totally manipulated, forensic analysis finds.”

If anyone bothered to read the 10 page report, they could plainly see that headline (just one of many) was a serious overstatement, and implied a level of deceitfulness that was not proven in the report.

Center for Medical Progress released a detailed response. In it they highlighted the fact that even a partisan firm like Fusion GPS (who did the analysis) admitted:

This analysis did not reveal widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation” and that it “shows no evidence of audio manipulation.

And CMP went on to explain every issue the firm found in every video. You can read both sides of the story and form your own opinion.

But you will really have to search for this response by CMP.  Because it’s not on any major news sites.

Even though the news media reported on the Planned Parenthood analysis, they haven’t mention this response. Just like they didn’t report on the largest coordinated protest of Planned Parenthood facilities a few weekends ago. Hundreds of cities, thousands of people, barely made local news reports.If you’re keeping score at home: For most major news organizations, the videos from CMP are not newsworthy. An analysis done by the organization being investigated is newsworthy, a response from the group doing the investigating is not newsworthy.

I’m not the first to point out the blatant bias in the news for Planned Parenthood and against any who criticize them. Sean Davis at the federalist.com wrote a piece about it. Did you know that Planned Parenthood gives out awards for media excellence? Did you know that Journalists not only accept awards from an organization they report on (or should report on) but say they are honored to get them? In all 16 journalists received Maggie Awards for Media Excellence. These awards were started in the late 1970’s to “recognize exceptional contributions by the media and arts and entertainment industries that enhance the public’s understanding of reproductive rights and health care issues, including contraception, sex education, teen pregnancy, abortion, and international family planning.”

Does that strike you as odd?

Imagine a political party giving out awards for Media Excellence. Awards that recognize exceptional contributions by the media and arts and entertainment industries that enhance the public’s understanding of this political parties stance on issues and work in the community.  Would any self respecting journalist accept one?

It’s not a journalists job to help any organization enhance the public’s understanding on anything. They don’t report news in order to help an organization, they report news so that the public is aware of what it should be aware of. News media should report what is in the public interest, not an organization’s interest. What objective journalist would want any organization to even imply that they might have been trying to help an organization instead of fairly reporting things that are newsworthy?

But, then I forget that objective journalism in the USA is dead.

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Let’s Get Gut-Level Honest About Those Abortion Videos

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“So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.” James 4:17 HCSB

I want to try to explain why I’m writing so much about abortion recently, specifically about the videos from Center for Medical Progress. This is normally a blog about media from a biblical worldview. I talk about indie filmmaking. My controversial posts are normally limited. But not lately.

If I dig down and get gut-level honest about this. I’m not intellectually shocked by anything in those videos. I don’t think this is a new practice. I’ve heard about the possibility of fetal body parts being sold before. I’ve seen still pictures of babies in the womb. And even a couple of images of babies after abortion. They are pretty horrible. But they didn’t get this kind of reaction out of me. I never wrote a blog post, or posted to social media about abortion like this.

The only time I can remember feeling this way before was way back in 2003. I was doing a video for Sanctity of Life Sunday for a church. I found some footage of actual abortions taking place. They were not graphic like the current videos, but the sound of the machine… I was literally weeping as I listened to the sound of a human life being snuffed out, and sucked into a container. I remember crying when I showed the finished product to my pastor. I was heartbroken over what I had seen.

I think that’s why this is so raw for me. These videos ripped that scab off.

These videos pull an emotional reaction out of me. I intellectually understand abortion. But I hadn’t felt anything about it for a long time. It was something that I didn’t like, but It didn’t impact my daily life. These videos, showing the cavalier attitudes of the workers, showing them saying things like “It’s a baby” and “It’s another boy”… coupled with the gruesome pictures… negotiating the price of livers and so on… I couldn’t ignore this anymore.

Right now, these videos cause pain. I hurt when I watch them. But humanity is pretty good about scabbing over, dulling the pain.

When you get right down to it, these videos don’t resonate because of the controversy of potential law breaking. People react to them because they pull the veil back from abortion. Suddenly the gory details are on display. As is the casual, almost playful, tone of the staff as they talk about their grisly work. It’s this, not the legal aspects, that cause the emotional reaction. That’s why “#anotherboy” was trending on twitter. Not because Planned Parenthood may or may not have broken the law, but because another boy was killed and we couldn’t ignore it.

I know, I’ve said it myself. We should’t be so caught up in politics. The best way to change the world is to change hearts. But maybe, changing a heart requires ripping the covering off stuff we’ve buried and forgotten. This really isn’t political for me. I couldn’t care less which party or candidate is for or against abortion or whatever. So I am writing some posts about this right now.

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Previous Posts:

Former Planned Parenthood Director Confirms Her Affiliate Profited from Sale of Fetal Body Parts

Court Stops Release of Some Parts of Anti Abortion Videos

Are Americans Already Desensitized to Selling Aborted Babies?

Former Planned Parenthood Director Confirms Her Affiliate Profited from Sale of Fetal Body Parts

On Wednesday July 29, 2015 the Texas senate Committee of Health and Human Services began an investigation into the illegal selling of fetal body parts. Planned Parenthood chose not to attend the hearing.

About 2 and a half hours into the hearing you can hear testimony from Abby Johnson, former Director of the Gulf Shores Planned Parenthood affiliate.

Her testimony supports the videos from the Center for Medical Progress. In particular the portion at 3:18 and following, where she discusses the fees they charged to “recoup” their costs for tissue donation, and what it actually cost to donate specimens for research studies.

This is testimony from the former director. There is at least one Planned Parenthood clinic that charged more for the specimens than it cost. And the extra was, in her words, “sheer profit” for the clinic. She goes on to estimate what a Houston area clinic might make in a given month: $120,000 from the sale of fetal parts to research clinics.

This video is originally from the website of the Texas Senate. You can stream the whole hearing here:
The portion used in this Youtube clip is about 2:30:00 into the hearing.

More about Abby Johnson here.

Previous articles:

Court Stops Release of Some Parts of Anti Abortion Videos

Are Americans Already Desensitized to Selling Aborted Babies?

[I’m going to stop apologizing for posting about this instead of specifically media related topics. I have to write about this right now. I’ll post later about why this is important enough for me to spend so much time on it. But this is something I have to do right now.

Comments are disabled on this post because if you agree with me, great! And if you don’t, the only thing you can say is “she’s lying” so let’s assume that has already been said.]

Court Stops Release of Some Parts of Anti Abortion Videos

According to the Associated Press (via MSN), a CA court has blocked part of future videos released by the Center for Medical Progress.

“The Los Angeles Superior Court order issued Tuesday prohibits the Center for Medical Progress from releasing any video of three high-ranking StemExpress officials taken at a restaurant in May.”

A pro-life news site explains further:

The restraining order reportedly only pertains to the footage of the Stem Express employees, meaning that any other footage, including that featuring Planned Parenthood employees, can still be released as planned.

In an exclusive comment to LifeSiteNews after the release of the court order, Daleiden said that, at the end of the day, what happened in the courtroom may actually be a victory for the pro-life group.

“The ruling is very narrow, concerning only one specific meeting, and it is temporary and contingent pending further litigation,” he said. “The judge actually threw out completely the part of StemExpress’ case where they were asking to suppress the documents on their baby parts sales.”

“It was a much better day for us than it was for them and Planned Parenthood.”

The company claims that the videographers broke the law under California’s anti-wiretapping laws. The producers say they followed the law.

Here’s a statement from Center from Medical Progress:

StemExpress, a for-profit company partnered with over 30 abortion clinics, including Planned Parenthood, to harvest and sell aborted baby parts and provide a “financial benefit” to Planned Parenthood clinics, is attempting to use meritless litigation to cover-up this illegal baby parts trade, suppress free speech, and silence the citizen press reporting on issues of burning concern to the American public. They are not succeeding—their initial petition was rejected by the court, and their second petition was eviscerated to a narrow and contingent order about an alleged recording pending CMP’s opportunity to respond. The Center for Medical Progress follows all applicable laws in the course of our investigative journalism work and will contest all attempts from Planned Parenthood and their allies to silence our First Amendment rights and suppress investigative journalism.

Regardless of your feeling on these videos, any time a subject of a controversial documentary film project is able to get any sort of injunction from the court, restricting any part of the release of that project, filmmakers should pay attention.

In this case, while Planned Parenthood has repeatedly claimed the information in the videos is false and “deceptively edited” (even though the entire interviews have been released) this temporary restraining order is not about that. It only pertains to whether the act of recording these people secretly was against the law or not.

Of course Stem Express doesn’t want more damning information shown. So they are using every means at their disposal to stop it. Planned Parenthood has set the stage already in their letter to news outlets. Part of that letter says:

“CMP gained access to Planned Parenthood facilities under false pretenses and filmed without securing approval from the Planned Parenthood staff being filmed or the patients whose privacy is compromised by this secret videotaping. The material should not be aired.”

I suspect Planned Parenthood to try some sort of legal action in order to “protect the privacy” of their patients.

As a filmmaker, I hope every legal effort to bar this content fails. Unless someone can prove that they knowingly put out false information, there is no reason this should be blocked. It would be a bad precedent for documentary films. So I want the video available.

As someone who is pro life, I want people to realize just how horrible these actions are. So I want people to see these videos.

[UPDATE: Here’s a post on the Constitutionality of the court’s actions.]

Are Americans Already Desensitized to Selling Aborted Babies?

(This might seem like another political post, but really it’s about attention span in the USA for important issues. But it is about a very political issue I am passionate about, so be warned.)

A couple weeks ago my twitter feed blew up with this video: (Warning, not for the faint at heart.)

Over 2 million people watched it. Social media, the news, blogs, everyone was talking about this horrific practice. Even if you support abortion… actually selling the tissue of aborted fetuses is illegal. The woman in the video actually says that Planned Parenthood corporate doesn’t really want to get involved with this sort of thing on the local level. But it’s obvious they know it goes on and don’t care.

Planned Parenthood went on the offensive, claiming deceptive editing, fraud and more. So the people who made the video released the entire unedited interview. It was big news for several days.

Then another video comes out. Someone is negotiating the amount the local Planned Parenthood office will get for each specimen.

This one has been seen by over a million people. Again my social media feeds were lit up about this. Congress even briefly discussed taking away the $500 million in tax money Planned Parenthood gets every year.

I saw Planned Parenthood try to get ahead of the story by spinning footage that hasn’t even come out yet. Saying they think they were taped in certain places, and describing how that footage might be distorted, etc.

I saw an article about why the video makers went undercover to do this. Still pretty big news.

This week, the first episode of the web series was posted.

My news feed has been remarkably quiet.

I waited to watch all three videos until today. I read about them, saw the reactions online and in the news, but I didn’t actually go watch them until today. So, it’s fresh for me.

The first 2 videos disgusted me. To think that people sit in restaurants and talk about selling parts of children that were murdered. That’s disgusting. I know it’s worse because I believe abortion is murder. (and let’s be frank: How can you buy a heart, liver, brain, kidneys, whatever to do research of human health and not agree this is a little person??!!)

But this 3rd video? I will never get the image of these people discussing how good the collection of specimens were, and seeing toes and fingers, kidneys and even a spinal cord of a little person. I fought back tears and swallowed hard not to puke all over my desk. This is atrocious! 

Abortions happen over a million times each year. Here’s a clock that will turn your stomach: Number of Abortions in US and World.

Wait. Maybe it won’t turn your stomach because we’ve already become used to the number of abortions each year.

And now, it seems, barely 3 weeks into a series of expose’ videos, our attention has wavered. The third and most egregious video isn’t really that important to us. And the one next week will be less important. And the one after that… and so on.

It seemed like a good plan. Release a new video each week. Keep the issue in the forefront. But I’m not sure anyone will care a month from now.

I know we get used to things, and just glaze over horrible stuff each day. But fight it. Watch the videos. Contact your elected officials. Tell them what you think. Share this content. This is just wrong.

Dear Christians, The Culture War is Over, We Lost.

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{I don’t normally post on political topics, or even on solely spiritual ones. Mostly I write about filmmaking from a biblical worldview, or church tech, etc… but I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while. Regular posts will resume after this brief interruption.}
Dear Christians,
In a short time the Supreme Court will rule on marriage in America. But no matter what that ruling is, it won’t change this fact:
The culture war is over. We lost.
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We lost because it took 20 years for us to realize we were at war. This war of ideals started in the 1960s, but the Religious Right got going in the 80s. By then we were already on the defensive. We were most concerned about maintaining the power to enforce our rules. But legal authority alone does not engender revival.
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We lost because we decided to let school and church teach our kids the most important lessons. We shirked our responsibility as parents. We are supposed to “train up a child” and teach them what it means to live a righteous and holy life. Instead we left that education up to Sunday School teachers who saw kids for 1 hour a week. How can we be surprised when a college student leaves home and then drops out of religious practice? We didn’t teach them what was important. Someone else did. How can we be surprised when our children’s views differ from our own? We didn’t teach them.
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We lost because our own faith is little more than weekend window dressing. We go to church, and then go home and live like everyone else in the world. We don’t live as Christ did. Non Christians look at us and see little beyond a seemingly irrational, deeply-held belief that we are right and they are wrong. But if we are different and correct, why don’t we live differently? Why don’t we love differently?
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We lost because we were fighting the wrong war. By all means, vote and speak up about morality, injustice, and erosion of freedom. But those things are not the reason we live on this earth. God didn’t ask us to protect our way of life, he asked us to be ambassadors of the reconciliation. I fought in this political war. I wrote about it, I voted my values, and railed against changes. It’s easy to get riled up about things that erode your status quo, it’s hard to live a life that proves your claims are real and better. The war against sin is less about other people’s actions, and more about our own.
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We lost because we were fighting a political war when we should have been fighting a spiritual one. Do we believe our enemy is not flesh and blood? Do we really believe there is a spiritual aspect to this conflict of ideals and morals? It’s easier to rally the vote and cry about discrimination than it is to get on your knees and pray and trust that God hears and is in control. Want to change the world? Coercion through legal means doesn’t change anything but outside behavior, and that’s temporary at best. Change the world- truly change the world by changing hearts.
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We lost because we were more concerned with making sure everyone behaves correctly than we were with making sure everyone has a personal, life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. We were more concerned with proving America was founded on Christian principles than leading Americans to Christ. We were more concerned with telling people what was sinful than we were in helping people find the one person who could take that sin on himself.
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We lost the culture war.
 
Let the spiritual revolution begin!
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2 millennia ago a small group of believers was not in a position of political or legal authority. In fact, many were killed for their beliefs. They focused on one thing, making disciples. They didn’t shy away from speaking the truth, they called people to repentance. They lived lives that marked them as different.
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Let the spiritual revolution begin!
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Their lives were not easy, and they were often persecuted. But they were faithful. They made disciples. And that small group of believers grew to over 2 Billion today. Somewhere along the way we, in Western culture, lost the sense of urgency, lost the love for people and desire to see them in a reconciled relationship with God. We became satisfied. We became preoccupied with maintaining the status quo. I fear the only thing that will shake us from our steadfast satisfaction is the shattering of society as we know it.
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The culture war is over, and we lost. Let the spiritual revolution begin!
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Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think below. Normally I post about media from a biblical worldview, like these short films/shows.

Sanctity of Life Should Apply to All

Yesterday Dr. George Tiller, one of the few doctors in the U.S. who performed late-term abortions, was shot a killed while serving in his home church. He was apparently killed by a man that opposes abortion. At this time, authorities think he acted alone; not in conjunction with any organized pro-life group.

I am about as Pro-Life as it gets.

I believe that human life, ALL human life had intrinsic value. Genesis 1:27 says “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (NIV) That alone is enough to place a high value on the life of any person. For example, if we put a dollar amount on this worth- People pay millions of dollars for paintings (images) of landscapes and portraits, how much more is the living image of the creator of the universe worth? Plus, we have been created for a purpose, and God has a desire to have a relationship with each of us. Murdering a person is wrong. The loss of any human life is a horrible tragedy.

Therefore, I am against capital punishment. Inmates are not an imminent threat to anyone. Regardless of what they have done, their life is still worth something. And, if we kill them, they lose any chance to accept Christ.

Is there any time I could condone killing a person? If someone escapes from jail and breaks into my home, about to murder my family, I would end that person’s life to protect others. But if I saw the same escaped felon on the street, I would not pull up and shoot him in cold blood. The difference is the imminent threat.

If I think it’s wrong for us to kill a person that has done heinous crimes against others, how much more do you think I am against killing little babies who have done nothing to anyone? I believe life begins at conception. I once had a professor (Oddly, she was a deacon at a Southern Baptist Church in town) who claimed that God was the biggest abortionist in history, since so many zygotes did not achieve implantation in the uterine wall (or something like that). She said that if those were babies at conception, then God was killing them. I think she was off her rocker to compare a natural process of life and death to the intentional process of abortion.

I do not think we can make anyone give up their own life to save another person’s. If I am walking along a cliff and see someone hanging over the side about to fall I cannot force someone else to go over the side to try and save them. That would be the rescuer’s decision. Similarly, if the life of the mother is in imminent danger, and the choice is that one person lives, we cannot force the mother to die to protect the baby. That should be her choice.

However, a threat to someone’s lifestyle is not a threat to their life. And please don’t even start with the excuse that the baby’s life won’t be a good one so we should kill it. Go ask anyone born to a tough life, would they prefer to be alive or dead? That idea has nothing to do with the baby’s well-being, and everything to do with our desires.

What about the shooting? Besides ending a human life which is a horrible thing no matter who it is, there are a couple of other issues here. One, the murderer probably did this to prevent more abortions. The doctor’s clinic is shut down for a week. Then what? What has this really done to slow the number of abortions? It has actually hurt the pro-life cause because of the negative light pro-choice advocates will now cast on pro-life advocates.

Two, there was no imminent threat. How does the murderer know that something in yesterday’s sermon may not have changed the doctor’s mind about abortion? How does he know he would ever have done anything to harm another person again?

No, this doctor’s death was as horrible as any abortion he ever performed. Killing abortion doctor’s is abhorrent. There can be no justification for this.