Just in time for Planned Parenthood’s “Pink Out Day,” the networks are twisting the news surrounding California charges against pro-life activists.
On Tuesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced 15 criminal charges filed against two Center for Medical Progress (CMP) executives, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, for invasion of privacy. CMP first made headlines in 2015, when the self-described “group of citizen journalists” released undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s harvesting of aborted baby parts.
From the beginning, CMP claimed its project documented Planned Parenthood’s “sale of baby body parts.” But, during their morning news shows Wednesday, ABC and CBS reversed that argument. Instead, anchors said, the CMP videos “claim to show [Daleiden and Merritt’s] attempt to buy fetal tissue” and that they “videotaped themselves trying to buy human material.”
In other words – the networks’ words – the videos showed CMP representatives trying to purchase aborted baby parts (or "human material") instead of trying to expose Planned Parenthood for selling aborted baby parts.
For their news briefs, ABC and CBS identified Daleiden and Merritt as “anti-abortion activists” and “abortion opponents.” During Good Morning America, ABC anchor Amy Robach reported on the story – with just two sentences.
“Two anti-abortion activists now face felony charges for filming undercover videos that claim to show their attempt to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood in California,” Robach said. “Planned Parenthood says those videos were misleading and prosecutors say they were an invasion of privacy.”
And for This Morning, CBS co-anchor Norah O’Donnell informed in a similar style, with three sentences.
“USA Today reports that two California abortion opponents face felony charges in an invasion of privacy case,” she began. “Sandra Merritt and David Daleiden secretly videotaped themselves trying to buy human material from Planned Parenthood.”
“Similar charges against them in Texas were dropped eight months ago,” she concluded.
While ABC and CBS noted the story, the third broadcast network, NBC, said nothing during its morning news show, Today.
None of the networks mentioned the California attorney general boasts a 100% score from Planned Parenthood. Or that he received thousands in campaign donations from Planned Parenthood as a member of the House.
The networks would also do well to note that the press release from Becerra’s office stressed that Daleiden and Merritt “must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”
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Network History on CMP Video Coverage
Hundreds of media outlets, including the networks, boast a long, friendly history with Planned Parenthood.
Two months after the first video’s release, MRC Culture found that ABC, NBC and CBS had aired a mere 0.13% of the CMP footage during their news shows – or 1 minute, 13 seconds of more than 16 hours. And in early October 2015, MRC Culture discovered that the networks spent more time combined airing Cecile Richards’ defense of Planned Parenthood during a congressional hearing than showing the actual videos themselves.
From the beginning, liberal media news outlets raced to defend Planned Parenthood. In the first 9 hours and 30 minutes of news shows broadcast after the story broke, ABC, NBC and CBS, spent only 39 seconds on the first video. It took more than 24 hours before all three covered the story. In the week after the first video, the networks gave a mere 9 minutes and 11 seconds to the story (in contrast, the nets devoted more than three times that to the Susan G. Komen controversy, when the charity temporarily decided to defund the abortion giant).
ABC, NBC and CBS prioritized animals over aborted babies, by covering the shooting of Cecil the lion more in one day than they did these videos in two weeks and in their reporting on birth of the National Zoo’s panda cubs.
Not only that, but also they refused to cover the tens of thousands of Americans speaking out against Planned Parenthood during nationwide rallies held in late August – except as a side note when CBS tried to connect the event to arson.
While the networks covered rallies against Planned Parenthood in Jan. 2017, they omitted from their reports that abortion activists tried to disrupt pro-lifers and clashed with police.
Citing information from MRC studies, both Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and members of Congress led by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) have slammed the media for their lack of coverage on the videos.