The New York Times reports today on more evidence that there’s a meaningful gap between what the disingenuously-named Center for Medical Progress claims their Planned Parenthood “sting” videos show and what they actually reveal.
As the Times’ Jackie Calmes explains, Planned Parenthood has submitted a report to congress indicating that both the videos and transcripts provided by CMP were heavily modified. This report points to significant omissions in the longer, ostensibly unedited videos, as well as the shorter videos that have driven the controversy. In some cases, they claim, forensic video analysis suggests that as many as 30 minutes may be missing from supposedly unmodified recordings.
According to Calmes, Planned Parenthood contracted Fusion GPS, an independent research group, to conduct this investigation. While Fusion was unable to determine how and in what ways CMP had altered the videos, they contended that the modifications were meaningful enough to ensure that they “have no evidentiary value in a legal context and cannot be relied upon for any official inquiries.”
Further elaborating on Fusion’s analysis, MSNBC’s Irin Carmon writes that CMP may have actually manufactured quotations in their transcriptions of the videos. In one particularly telling case, they may have inserted the off-camera phrase “it’s a baby” during a sequence in which they are examining fetal tissue samples. Anti-abortion sites had seized on this remark as an admission by Planned Parenthood that abortion is murder.
Fusion’s investigators are not the first to study the videos and find that they come up wanting. In mid-August, Sarah Kliff—a medical reporter for Vox—watched all 12 hours of video that were then available. At the time, Kliff reported that the videos sometimes made Planned Parenthood look bad, but that they didn’t provide any real indication of wrongdoing. CMP was, she wrote, using the videos to “split the people who are actually comfortable with abortion from those who support it uncomfortably.”
Understood in this light, Fusion’s findings may not make much of a difference. Whether or not CMP can provide more—and more plainly admissible—evidence to support their allegations, congressional Republicans will continue to try to defund Planned Parenthood.