Planned Parenthood indictment: Punishing the pursuer instead of the perp
If all else fails, shoot the messenger.
On Monday, a grand jury in Houston indicted two journalists who made the explosive undercover videos that feature Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of aborted babies' body parts while sipping wine in a restaurant.
A felony charge of tampering with a government record was filed against Center for Medical Progress(CMP) founder David Daleiden and CMP employee Sandra Merritt. Mr. Daleiden also was charged with soliciting the purchase of human organs – as if he really intended to buy them.
The grand jury was initially formed to probe whether a Houston Planned Parenthood clinic was illegally selling unborn babies' body parts. Instead, it indicted the people behind the sting.
The videos feature CMP employees posing as prospective purchasers of aborted baby organs discussing pricing with Planned Parenthood officials, one of whom jokes about desiring a Lamborghini.
By the grand jury's reasoning, undercover police officers trying to bust drug dealers should be prosecuted for trying to buy drugs. Undercover reporters who get the goods on perps should be hauled in and charged with what the perps are doing.
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood, whose Houston clinic officials were featured in the video, and whose board of directors includes a prosecutor in the Harris County D.A.'s office, escaped any charges from the Harris County grand jury. It's a federal felony to profit from the sale of fetal body parts.
After the videos were released last year, triggering a nationwide outrage, Planned Parenthood claimed the videos had been "heavily edited" to misrepresent them. They based this on a report that they themselves solicited.
Fusion GPS, misdescribed repeatedly in the media as an "independent" outfit, is an opposition research firm tied to the Democratic Party with "a history of harassing socially conservative Republican donors," according to The Weekly Standard. On August 25, 2015, Fusion GPS released its 10-page report on the CMP videos.
The "analysis" was trumpeted high and low as proof that the videos are not worth viewing. Here's a snippet that speaks volumes about what they did not find:
Fusion GPS analysts reviewed all four of the 'full footage' videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, totaling more than 12 hours of tape. This analysis did not reveal widespread evidence ofsubstantive video manipulation but we did identify cuts, skips, missing tape, and changes in camera angle.
Changes in camera angle? Cuts? In other words, the undercover team used more than one camera and, as with any video product, edited the video to eliminate irrelevant material. Music was added, as in virtually any video product.
Here's another revealing portion of the analysis:
While these analysts found no evidence that CMP inserted dialogue not spoken by Planned Parenthood staff, their review did conclude that CMP edited content out of the alleged 'full footage' videos and heavily edited the short videos so as to misrepresent statements made by Planned Parenthood representatives.
They simply cannot get around the fact that segments of intact dialogue reveal PP reps calmly discussing body part prices. There is no defensible context, nor did they edit out any clips of them later saying, "Just kidding."
The whole thing is like someone capturing damning footage of a bunch of crooks sitting around planning a robbery. An analyst hired by the crooks finds that the final product, while accurate, was edited for effect and that therefore, there's nothing to see here, folks. Imagine if Sixty Minutes and every other investigative documentary maker were subjected to this kind of analysis, with only raw footage allowed.
"The Center for Medical Progress uses the same undercover techniques that investigative journalists have used for decades in exercising our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and of the press, and follows all applicable laws," Mr. Daleiden said Monday.
He noted that "buying fetal tissue requires a seller as well. Planned Parenthood still cannot deny the admissions from their leadership about fetal organ sales captured on video for all the world to see."
The indictment of the CMP videographers, who have been a thorn in the side of pro-abortionists in the Democratic Party (pardon the redundancy), is not the first time a video maker has been set up to absorb blame.
Following the deaths of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans on Sept. 11, 2012 at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, authorities arrested and jailed the man who made the anti-Muslim video that the Obama administration falsely blamed for the fatal attacks. Yes, it was all his fault, even though it was not.
In 1978, investigative reporters at the Chicago Sun-Times staged a massive sting operation by buying and operating the run-down Miracle Mirage bar and surreptitiously taping city officials taking bribes to ignore code violations.
Perhaps if the reporters had done this today, they'd find themselves arrested for the very crimes they were exposing.
Texas officials said that despite the grand jury's actions, they will continue to investigate Planned Parenthood.
But there is something really rotten going on in Houston. Someone should make a video about it.
Robert Knight is a senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a Washington Times contributor.