Right-wing anti-abortion zealots who fancy themselves investigative journalists have carved out a niche in Republican politics by surreptitiously videotaping their pro-choice enemies under false pretense, deceptively editing the material and coordinating its release with GOP allies.
The latest sting was aimed at Planned Parenthood in Placerville and concerned the availability of fetal and stem cell tissue. Two activists posing as biotech representatives secretly recorded a meeting with a Planned Parenthood executive about the system that facilitates research on fetal tissue and edited it into two videos, released a week apart, to sound like her agency sells fetal parts for profit.
That’s illegal and, in this case, not true.
But it was the immediate Fox News spin when the video was released, and a day later Republicans in the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced they would launch an investigation of Planned Parenthood. Republican governors in Texas and Louisiana ordered probes and most of the GOP’s 16 presidential candidates stuck their head out of the clown car to scream denunciations at the organization.
The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate is currently considering legislation to defund Planned Parenthood.
Four Democratic congressional members who won’t be voting for that legislation asked Harris and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a letter to investigate the videographers to see if they broke any laws. Harris, a candidate for U.S. Senate, said she would.
The group, which the New York Times said appeared to be relatively new, was created by David Daleiden. He used to work for Live Action, another anti-abortion group fond of producing questionably-edited recordings of unsuspecting victims.
The lawmakers asked for Harris to look at a few things:
“Whether the address listed ever hosted any legitimate business concern, the extent to which this group may have submitted false statements to governmental entities, whether the group transmitted fraudulent information through the mail or electronic communications, or whether this fake company filed tax returns or other documents with the Internal Revenue Service or other federal agencies.”
Daleiden responded that he was being made a victim by Planned Parenthood, which is “trying to use the power of their political cronies to shut down free speech” and to “silence the freedom of the press.”