The New York Times was conspicuously silent about the latest Planned Parenthood video, which charges the nation’s foremost abortion provider with the murder of a born-alive infant. But the Gray Lady is all over the Planned Parenthood-commissioned study that labels the Center for Medical Progress’s sting videos “unreliable for any official inquiry.”
Fusion GPS, a “Washington-based research and corporate intelligence company” with a reputation for Democrat-funded smear campaigns, analyzed the first four Planned Parenthood videos, released between July 14 and August 4: “A thorough review of these videos in consultation with qualified experts,” the organization writes, “found that they do not present a complete or accurate record of the events they purport to depict.” According to the study, experts were able to identity “cuts, skips, missing tape, and changes in camera angle,” and transcriptions of the video footage by the Center for Medical Progress were not identical with transcriptions conducted by an independent transcription agency.
But — contra the Times, National Public Radio, CNN, and the other outlets seizing on the study as a definitive “debunking” — these findings are far from damning. In fact, they arguably do more harm to Planned Parenthood.
Consider the extensive attention given to two bits of dialogue, recorded at a clinic in Colorado, that Planned Parenthood executives “deemed to be suspicious.” “The first segment, approximately an hour and 20 minutes into the video’s running time, depicts Planned Parenthood staff off-camera saying a phrase that CMP claims was, ‘It’s a baby.’” According to the Times, the analysis “supported Planned Parenthood’s objection” to this dialogue. But what does the report actually say? “Neither internal nor expert analysis found any artifacts of editing in or around this segment that would suggest the audio was inserted or manipulated using technical tools.”
The same was true about a similar line — “Another boy!” — later in the same video: “Again, neither internal nor external analysis found evidence that CMP inserted or manipulated this dialog post hoc. [Forensic expert Grant] Fredericks found the audio spectrum to be consistent and continuous before, during, and after this dialog.” Fredericks, who owns and operates Forensic Video Solutions, Inc., is a well-known digital forensics expert who consults with the FBI and law enforcement agencies nationally and internationally. If he could not find evidence of manipulation, it probably doesn’t exist.
The report confirms that Planned Parenthood’s butchers and profiteers are every bit as ghoulish as the videos first led us to believe.
So Fusion GPS defaults to speculation: The first remark is “unintelligible” “background chatter” that CMP transmuted into an incriminatory statement “either through transcription error or intentional fabrication.” Their evidence: “‘It’s a baby’ would be an incongruent statement for the lab tech to make in the context of a lengthy and technical examination of human fetus specimens” — which, recall, is exactly abortion opponents’ point. The second remark “lacks context” and was probably a response to CMP’s “elaborate efforts to bait Planned Parenthood personnel into using language that could be portrayed as incriminating or otherwise inappropriate.” How they might have baited the technician into saying it so enthusiastically is not addressed.
The above is representative. The study is little more than an effort to negate the value of the forest by noting a few wobbly trees. Take another example. Perhaps the most compelling finding in the report is about footage of a meeting with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast employee Melissa Farrell:
The Texas video is likely the most substantially manipulated of the four full footage videos reviewed in this report. Mr. Fredericks’ analysis reveals that “approximately 30 minutes” of the meeting are missing from the video shortly after the eighth minute of recording. The clock superimposed on the video skips from 07:46:47 to 08:15:15 from one frame to the next.
That’s a sizable chunk of time (even in a video that runs nearly six hours), and there is no good reason for its absence. At the 8:15:15 mark, Farrell is discussing budgeting for the shipment of fetal remains, so what comes before is almost certainly pertinent to the discussion. But — and here’s the crucial point — the gap does not change the fact that she’s talking about budgeting for the shipment of fetal remains.
The importance of the Fusion GPS report is in what it does not show: evidence of fabrication or of blatantly misrepresentative editing. Nothing was dubbed or (contra the Times’s headline, “altered”). Despite the cuts and skips, even Fusion GPS admits: “This analysis did not reveal widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation.” What Planned Parenthood representatives said, they said. Melissa Farrell still says Planned Parenthood can “get creative” about tissue procurement, Debbie Nucatola still talks about illegally altering abortion procedures to increase the likelihood of usable organs, and Mary Gatter still wants her Lamborghini. The report doesn’t even touch the latest Planned Parenthood videos, which culminate in charges of outright homicide.
In short, Planned Parenthood’s own technical analysis has shown that the Center for Medical Progress did not put words in any of its employees’ mouths, and there is no “context” in which tampering with abortion procedures to obtain usable organs could be justified. What do abortion advocates think is on those missing 30 minutes? Cecile Richards herself walking into the office with indisputable evidence that Planned Parenthood is not engaged in any unsavory practices? There is nothing that could excuse Farrell’s remarks, nothing in the “cut” during lunch with Nucatola that would make the notion of “less crunchy” abortion practices suddenly palatable. As a Facebook wag remarked in July: “Deceptively editing a video to make someone sound like she’ll sell you the organs of aborted fetuses is really easy. All you need is a video camera, some editing software, and for the woman to say, ‘I’ll sell you the organs of aborted fetuses.’”
#related#The Center for Medical Progress should fill in what gaps remain, certainly. Release the footage from bathroom breaks and waiting rooms and everything else, every spare second. Give Planned Parenthood no weapon to wield. But for Planned Parenthood and its defenders to fall back on this report as conclusive evidence of “deception” is simply absurd. In reality, the report confirms that Planned Parenthood’s butchers and profiteers are every bit as ghoulish as the videos first led us to believe.
The charges of illegality — and, of course, of inhumanity — still stand.
— Ian Tuttle is a William F. Buckley Jr. fellow in political journalism at the National Review Institute.