Selective, Biased, Intentional Editing That Didn't Change The Truth One Tiny, Fractional, Slight Little Bit


Twelve hours. That’s how much footage is currently available online from the Center for Medical Progress in their comprehensive undercover exposé of potentially criminal and certainly despicable practices taking place at the group beloved by liberals and Donald Trump alike: Planned Parenthood. Twelve. Hours.

It is half a day’s worth of horror and misery and depression and appalling behavior. Over 720 minutes of callousness, dead eyes, dead souls, and dead babies. Twelve hours.

Each day we hear the left offer up their favorite words, indeed in many cases their only words, on the subject of the videos: selective biased editing. The videos have been edited, you see, and are therefore misleading. They must be untrue because they were “selectively’ edited. The biased editors of the videos editing them biasedly and biased the biased output of the edited editing, so you should just ignore them.

Please PLEASE just ignore them. Move along.

Only people aren’t ignoring them. It doesn’t take an expert in video editing to know when a conversation has and hasn’t been affected by editing. As a simplistic example, imagine for a moment that you have been the victim of malicious or unconstitutional actions on the part of a police officer. Imagine that the officer has a camera running on his dashboard. Let’s say the raw video is, I don’t know, 12 hours in length. But you, well your moment of injustice lasted only 50 seconds. You obtain the video and show the relevant portion, say a minute or two, to tell your story. People will share it, publish it, write news about it, and even consider it as evidence. But wait! The video was 12 hours long, how come you are only showing 30 seconds???

Has your story ceased to be true because you cut a few hours of unrelated footage? No.

That is a very simplistic example only to illustrate the point: the fact that something has been edited isn’t evidence it has been tampered with.

In the case of the 12 hours of footage taken showing the bad behavior on the part of Planned Parenthood and StemExpress, the clipped footage isn’t nearly so unrelated as in our hypothetical. In fact, it’s fair to say that showing the full twelve hours from CMP is even more damaging, even harder for Planned Parenthood to explain, than are the shorter but more easily digestible edited versions. How fair? Fair enough that even a Vox writer can admit it.

“If anything, the biased editing is making them too easy for Planned Parenthood’s supporters to ignore.”

That is from an article by Sarah Kliff, writing for leftist website Vox. That is not a typo. Vox.

Kliff actually watched and wrote about the full videos from the Center for Medical Progress. Here is an excerpt:

But there are also moments that should give supporters of the women’s health provider pause — moments when officials with the group seem to haggle over fetal tissue compensation and appear to make women’s health a secondary priority.

These are moments that do not appear any less troublesome when watched in the full video. They are not simply a product of biased editing — and, if anything, the biased editing is making them too easy for Planned Parenthood’s supporters to ignore.

And another:

The Center for Medical Progress spent a lot of time with Planned Parenthood officials, at least 12 hours released on video so far. And during most of it, there really isn’t a suggestion that Planned Parenthood intends to make money.

At the same time, there are specific moments that suggest Planned Parenthood is operating in an ethically gray area — one that really should raise questions for the organization and its supporters.

And another:

But the way Gatter, from California, talks about fetal tissue procurement is quite different. She engages in what I think can fairly be called a negotiation, discussing price points ranging from $50 to $100 without any discussion of the actual costs involved in procurement. This is a discussion that should, at the very least, raise questions for Planned Parenthood supporters about how the organization handles these types of situations.

To be sure, Kliff is in no way endorsing the Center for Medical Progress’s claim that the videos prove illegal sale of fetal tissue for profit. But she is taking two steps no one on the left, at the White House, or at Planned Parenthood will admit to taking: She has actually watched the videos, and she has realized they raise serious questions. It is probably tempting to see this is a small victory but, in fact, from the other side of the aisle this is a virtual heresy and a sea change.

Kliff found one thing particularly troubling, and that is the question of whether or not Planned Parenthood is putting the health of the woman who is their client ahead of the interests of the tissue procurement company that is their customer, as they should be and are obligated to do. It is a question all the more important after the release of the sixth video that features a witness describing casual, callous, and frequent disregard for the mother’s interests. Here is a rather generously clipped excerpt from Vox, but necessary for the point.

But there’s another issue the videos touch on, and it’s arguably more damaging than the discussions around tissue donation: the ethics of changing the abortion procedure to procure better tissue.

This is something Planned Parenthood officials talk about more openly than cost, and it’s a difficult ethical issue to think through, even for supporters of abortion rights. Is it okay to change a medical procedure in service of something other than the patient’s health? What about changes that don’t alter the odds of success? What about those that make the procedure last a few seconds, maybe a minute, longer?

These are tough ethical issues, and they present serious dilemmas for providers who both believe in the promise of fetal tissue research and the integrity of the services they offer patients.

This is what made Gatter’s comments on the issue, to me, the most disturbing part of the video. She dismisses these types of concerns about altering the procedure as a “specious little argument.”

Kliff is correct that altering the procedure for the purposes of obtaining tissue is an ethical problem. I should further note that it is a legal problem, as you are not permitted to do so under U.S. law.

Notice also that Kliff is bothered by the attitude, the dismissiveness of the Planned Parenthood doctor’s tone. That is a tone that pro-lifers are all too familiar with. You must be ignorant, backward, and uneducated. You must be unsophisticated and barbaric and not modern. How else could you be pro-life?

But these are in fact real issues. These are things that serious people consider with some moral conviction and often quandary. Yet on the left, in the sneering tweets of Sally Kohn or the despicable video from “Funny or Die”, there is nothing so common as total dismissiveness and lack of moral, ethical, or legal consideration.

Women who are facing tough life situations and financial hardships, or personal issues or mental health issues, or even suffering from the aftermath of a trauma like rape or incest walk into those clinics. Those women have real concerns and probably do not take the issue of an abortion lightly. Why won’t our liberal friends consider their feelings, and consequently consider the serious issues raised by this devastating exposé?

Whistleblower Holly O’Donnell said in the most recent video, “imagine if you were an abortion patient, and someone was going in and stealing your baby’s parts.” This should be of concern to those who would blindly support Planned Parenthood on the grounds of their being “pro-women.”Deceit and exploitation are not, in fact, feminist values. Or should not be at any rate.

Kliff illustrates something that is important for all sides to remember in this polarizing situation. These videos are of course about Planned Parenthood and StemExpress, illegal practices and unethical behavior. They are certainly about abortion.

But they are also about the women who walk into those clinics every day, and the manner of care that is being provided to them. If the left can find any spare moments of intellectual honesty or even bare curiosity, as it appears at least one writer has, they should stop yelling “edited” into their microphones, sit down in front of a screen, and watch these videos. Don’t just do it for politics. Do it for that reason you on the left love to give for every little thing you do.

Do it for the women. And the children. Watch the videos.

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