Carly Fiorina is "either a liar, or she's delusional" regarding the Planned Parenthood sting videos, Salon editor-at-large Joan Walsh snarled on tonight's edition of Hardball.
At issue was this statement Fiorina made during Wednesday's debate:
As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes,” she said. “Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, it’s heart beating, it’s legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.
MSNBC's Chris Matthews brought up how the Wall Street Journal reviewed the videos in question and determined that no such footage was shown on any of them. Matthews and Walsh jumped on this as evidence that Fiorina had made a misleading statement, possibly deliberately so, during the debate. For his part, Matthews likened it to an incident where Ronald Reagan claimed to have walked around in concentration camps after they have been liberated, when in fact he had only seen filmed footage thereof.
Of course, for his citation of the Journal, Matthews left out this excerpt which puts a rather charitable explanation for Fiorina's claim:
The video that most closely resembles what Ms. Fiorina described (starting around 3:42 until 6:25, with graphic medical images) features Holly O’Donnell, a former procurement technician at Placerville, Calif.-based StemExpress LLC, saying there was a fully intact fetus after an abortion at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas. She said the fetus was in a jar and taken to a lab, where it was prepared and rinsed and put in a strainer. She asserted that a technician called her over, tapped the heart with an instrument and it started beating because electrical currents were still firing.
The woman says she doesn’t know if it was technically dead or alive. The video cuts to an image of a different fetus that came from other antiabortion groups, the Grantham Collection and Center for Bio-Ethical Reform. The former employee said a technician then used scissors to cut the head open to procure the brain.
Asked about Mrs. Fiorina’s statement, a spokeswoman for the Fiorina campaign pointed to a Youtube video that uses some of the same audio from the StemExpress technician as well as the same fetus imagery from the undercover videos and fetus imagery from other sources.
In other words, the most charitable and rather likely explanation is that Fiorina conflated the imagery and the testimony of the procurement technician and essentially mis-remembered it as seeing actual footage of a live aborted baby. At any rate, it's undeniable that abortion itself is a grisly and violent taking of a human life, and if coupled with the deliberate harvesting of organs for profit, well, it just heightens the heinous nature of the act.
That liberals like Matthews and Walsh hope to glom on to this as a cudgel to bash Ms. Fiorina as lacking "character" is quite telling. Here's the relevant transcript:
September 17, 2015
7:46 p.m. Eastern
CHRIS MATTHEWS: She says she has seen images of what we're talking about here.
JOAN WALSH: Something horrible, horrible.
MATTHEWS: And, in fact, there were no images on the screen in the video.
MATTHEWS: The Wall Street Journal says that tonight, reporting that tonight. It reminded me of Ronald Reagan saying he had been over there in the death camps. It turns out he had seen some footage on screen. She didn't even see some footage. So I don't even know what she's talking about.
WALSH: Right, because what Ronald Reagan talked about actually had happened in history. What she's talking about, I mean, I want to talk about character here. She's talking about character. This raises questions about her character. She's either a liar or she's delusional. She remembers something that didn't happen, but everybody who's looked at these, the long, long tapes. We try to say we hope we're seeing what's unedited, but we still don't know...
And here's where Walsh could use a fact checker. The Center for Medical Progress has, for every video they've put out, released both short, edited pieces which rather cut to the chase about the point they're making AND raw video which run much longer.
Left-wing critics of CMP have sought refuge in the claim that the shorter videos are deceptively edited, yet they have the full videos for comparison and, if they were in fact deceptively edited, they could easily build their case for why by contrasting exculpatory footage that was edited out of the shorter pieces. That no one has done so, it seems to me, is a case of the dog that didn't bark.
Update (8:45 p.m. Eastern): As my colleague Brent Baker noted on Twitter, shortly after this there was a bit of an awkward moment with the liberal Ron Reagan comparing Fiorina to noted fabulist and returning MSNBC anchor Brian Williams: