Analysis Calls BS On Anti-Planned Parenthood Videos, Calls Them A Hatchet Job

Planned Parenthood has spent most of this summer defending itself after an obscure anti-abortion group started rolling out videos purporting to show that its affiliates engage in criminal activity. Well, Planned Parenthood didn’t take this lying down–especially after the Republican-controlled House apparently found the videos disturbing enough to launch an investigation. Planned Parenthood asked a leading research and corporate intelligence firm to examine the videos. That analysis proved what most of us already know–these videos were heavily and deceptively edited.

Planned Parenthood Federation headquarters in Washington, DC (courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
Planned Parenthood Federation headquarters in Washington, DC (courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Planned Parenthood engaged the services of Fusion GPS, a firm co-founded by Glenn Simpson, a former investigative reporter for The Wall Street Journal. Fusion GPS peered into the guts of four videos released by the Center for Medical Progress with the help of a team that included forensic video analyst and longtime FBI National Academy instructor Grant Fredericks.

Their analysis of the videos was absolutely scathing. Fusion GPS found that the CMP videos had been so heavily edited that they have “no evidentiary value” and “cannot be relied upon” for investigative purposes. Even more damningly, it found that CMP had cut out portions of the supposed “full footage” videos.

Fredericks found that the first CMP video depicting an interview with Planned Parenthood had been “edited significantly” before it was released on July 14. We already know that this video was unadulterated BS. Remember, the short video made it look like Planned Parenthood medical services chief Deborah Nucatola was discussing the sale of fetal parts–but only after CMP chopped away eight minutes of footage that showed Nucatola was actually discussing the reimbursement costs for tissue donation.

But Fredericks also found evidence that this video contains footage shot from two different devices. He noticed that at one point, the timestamp skipped ahead four minutes and the timestamp changed from July 25, 2014 to July 25, 2013. A minute later, the timestamp skipped ahead another five minutes and the timestamp reverted to July 25, 2014. To Fredericks, this indicated that CMP switched from the original recording device to a second device, and then back to the original. Fusion GPS concluded that this tape was “useless” unless “supplemented by CMP’s original unedited material.”

According to Fusion GPS, CMP’s video of a supposed interview at a Planned Parenthood facility in Houston was “the most substantially manipulated” video that it reviewed. Fredericks noticed that eight minutes into the “full footage” video of this encounter, CMP cut out at least half an hour of video. He also noticed at least two instances where the video was edited in a way to indicate “human intervention in a post-production environment.” He also found several instances where the audio was out of sync, though he found no evidence of deliberate audio manipulation on CMP’s part.

Fredericks noticed similar discrepancies in a video taken at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic. Numerous edits cut out a total of 45 minutes of footage. He also found at least one instance where it appeared CMP manually stopped the camera, then removed footage taken immediately after it resumed filming–proof that this “full footage” video doesn’t accurately record the encounter, and was actually a hatchet job.

According to reality television producer Scott Goldie, it appeared that most of the dialogue about getting paid for selling fetal tissue actually came from CMP operatives posing as employees of a biopharmaceutical services company. An independent transcription agency, Transcription Wing, reviewed the CMP transcripts of the “full footage” videos and found significant discrepancies between the transcripts and the actual videos. In the Houston footage alone, Transcription Wing found that CMP’s transcript contained 4,000 words not in the actual video, including words that made it look like a Planned Parenthood employee was playing fast and loose with guidelines when she was actually following them to the letter.

In a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards hammered on the fact that Fusion GPS’ analysis has largely corroborated what a number of media outlets have already determined about these videos–they “do not present a complete and accurate record of the events they purport to depict.” She also pointed out that five states–including three red states–have already cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing.

Don’t be too optimistic that this will change the mind of anyone in the Republican leadership, though–especially in the House. Remember, these are the same people who are conducting a fishing expedition into the Benghazi attack. Today’s report proves that if Congress continues to investigate Planned Parenthood, it will be an equally egregious waste of our money.

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.