The Problem: Eric Boehlert at Media Matters sums it up:
This act is getting tired.
In recent years, conservative activists, under the guise of renegade journalism, have been churning out undercover “sting” videos supposedly capturing reprehensible behavior by their mostly liberal targets. Those targets have included low-level workers at ACORN, a fundraiser at National Public Radio, and now officials at Planned Parenthood, among others.
The activists release a series of videos in an effort to build a big takedown story, and the press usually plays along. Meanwhile, activists coordinate with right-wing media players and members of Congress to generate simultaneous outrage over the clips.
The problem for the activists, and the problem for journalists who excitedly treat the clips as news, is that the videos invariably turn out to be doctored, filled with deceptive edits, and missing context in an effort to manufacture scandal.
The whole cycle has become a media cliché, but it’s one that conservative partisans cheer. And they’re cheering again this month as the Center for Medical Progress releases edited clips to claim Planned Parenthood officials have been caught discussing how the organization “sells the body parts of aborted fetuses” and “haggling” over prices for “baby parts.”
The Evidence: Both Planned Parenthood videos have been edited in order to offer a false narrative. If you want the details, take a look at one or more of the following sources: Media Matters, or FactCheck.org. Media Matters also links to and summarizes the responses of the media outlets that have pushed back against the dishonest videos.
The Experiment: So what do members of Missouri’s congressional delegation have to say about the situation? I searched their Webpages looking for formal statements on the topic. This is what I found on the pages of those who had prepared statements available:
From Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s (R-4) press release:
Last week and this morning, new videos were released detailing how Planned Parenthood harvests and sells the body parts of aborted children. For decades Planned Parenthood employees have tried to diminish the humanity of the unborn by belittling them to blobs of tissue. […] This is human life we’re talking about. We cannot stand by while aborted baby parts are being sold for profit [Emphasis added].
Rep. From Ann Wagner’s (R-2) press release:
[…] I rise today to express my continued outrage at now two abhorrent videos that have been released in the last week, in which two of Planned Parenthood’s senior doctors describe the process by which they and their coworkers kill unborn children and harvest their organs for sale. […] Yet here we stand on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, to discuss whether the sale of human body parts harvested from aborted children violates basic human dignity and perhaps even the law. [Emphasis added]
From Rep. Jason Smith’s (R-8) press release:
This week, Congressman Jason Smith cosponsored two bills to block all federal funding for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. The action comes after two disturbing videos were made public showing Planned Parenthood executives discussing selling body parts of unborn babies, potentially in violation of federal law. […] Smith went on to say, “I have never wavered from my firm belief that life is precious and must be protected. Americans deserve a full-scale investigation into Planned Parenthood’s immoral, potentially criminal conduct. Taxpayer money should be spent on taxpayer priorities, not unethical, unaccountable, unreasonable actions. I will continue to fight against Planned Parenthood and its affiliates until they shift their priorities and work to protect the miracle of life.” [Emphasis added]
From Rep. Sam Grave’s (R-6) press release:
… after the two gut-wrenching videos of Planned Parenthood executives discussing their tactics were released, it is clear that the organization is much more radical than we ever could have thought,” Rep. Graves continued. “The fight against Planned Parenthood and its affiliates will continue until they show they can respect the lives of all people – born or unborn.[Emphasis added]
1. Nobody at Planned Parenthood is “selling baby parts.”
2. Our Republican representatives, who have the same access to the evidence discrediting the videos that we all do, are blatantly lying every time they repeat their catchphrase “selling baby parts” or use other provocative language to gin up misplaced outrage.
3. Since “baby parts” are not being “harvested” for sale, they must justify congressional hearings based either on either or both of the following: (a) they don’t like the way that doctors talk about their everyday work, or (b) they disapprove of abortion – which, last I heard is still legal, a status that is supported by a large number of Americans.
4. Fetal tissue from abortions is being utilized to help find cures (pdf) for disease. Thank fetal tissue research for polio, rubella and varicella vaccines. It is also being used to explore cures for such diseases as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, Down’s Syndrome, SIDs, and heart disease.
5. Missouri’s congressional Republicans have so little real respect for the “unborn human life” they endlessly carry on about that they are willing to have it incinerated along with garbage rather than being utilized to save actual living “born” people.
Future Actions: First, Don’t let these liars waste legislative time and taxpayer dollars on another big propaganda circus that is clearly calculated to help provide immunity for an attack on women’s reproductive health during an election year. Second, if hearing go ahead, make sure they are as discredited as the videos that inspired them. Third, hold our Missouri politicians, the folks we sent to Washington, accountable for their lies.
Edited slightly post-publication, content added in last paragraph.