GOP Chair: No Evidence Of Misconduct By Planned Parenthood

Author:Michael Stone

Emphasis Mine

The Republican case against Planned Parenthood has collapsed: Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, admits there is no evidence of wrongdoing by the family planning agency.

Rep. Chaffetz (R-UT) said Thursday that the GOP’s investigation into Planned Parenthood’s use of federal funds hasn’t turned up anything of significance.

Speaking during a Judiciary Committee meeting on Thursday, Chaffetz said:

Did I look at the finances and have a hearing specifically as to the revenue portion and how they spend? Yes.

Was there any wrongdoing? I didn’t find any.

Late last month Chaffetz grilled Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards during a five-hour hearing. During that hearing, Chaffetz was rude and belligerent, and repeatedly interrupted Richards as she tried to answer his questions in front of the House Oversight Committee.

However, in the end Richards had the last word, telling the belligerent congressman to “check your source” after Chaffetz was caught lying about a deceptive chart he was using in a failed attempt to discredit the women’s health organization.

Chaffetz, a candidate for House speaker, has been leading an expensive and misguided investigation into the business practices of Planned Parenthood after deceptive and misleading videos were released that allegedly showed company executives discussing the sale of fetal tissue.

Recently Planned Parenthood has been the victim of a well financed and cynical campaign to smear the organization dedicated to healthy family planning and women’s reproductive health.

The Center for Medical Progress, a front for radical, anti-abortion, forced-birth extremists, has been running a highly orchestrated campaign to discredit Planned Parenthood and ultimately undermine legal and safe abortion.

The group recently released heavily edited, deceptive and dishonest videos about Planned Parenthood designed to generate political support to defund the organization.



Clinton Emails, Planned Parenthood: How Press Keeps Enabling GOP’s Orchestrated Distractions

The press keeps rolling with whatever the right manufactures.

Source: AlterNet

Author:Eric Boehlert

Emphasis Mine

Within the span of just twelve hours this week, multiple Republican-sponsored political pursuits partially unraveled in plain sight.

The long-running investigations were the Benghazi select committee and the related probe into Hillary Clinton’s private emails, and Republicans’ crusade targeting Planned Parenthood. Journalists would be wise to take note of the pattern of plain deception and ask themselves if they want to keep sponsoring these planned distractions.

The first to crumble was the right-wing smear campaign against Planned Parenthood, which was launched this summer and sponsored by Fox News and the Republican Party. Creating a whirlwind of controversy and endless media attention, the undercover sting operation by anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress was even elevated by some to be pressing enough to shut down the federal government.

Tuesday’s Congressional hearing about defunding Planned Parenthood was to be the centerpiece of the right wing’s orchestrated attack campaign. The problem was that in recent weeks we’ve learned the gotcha videos at the center of the campaign were deceptively edited. And so far six statewide investigations have found no wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood. That meant the Congressional production was likely destined for failure.

“The entire hearing was premised on a series of mischaracterizations,” reported The New Yorker. Republicans were left with little but bouts of bullying in an effort to intimidate Planned Parenthood chief Cecile Richards as she testified.

It didn’t work. So after ten weeks, the sustained attack against Planned Parenthood produced no tangible evidence of wrongdoing and no serious damage to the organization. (Of course, despite their failures so far, Republicans are now reportedly considering creating “a special panel to investigate Planned Parenthood.”)

Then just hours after the hearing completed, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who’s now in line to become the next Republican Speaker of the House, brazenly bragged on Sean Hannity’s Fox program about how the Benghazi select committee was responsible for damaging Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. To which Hannity responded, “That’s something good, I give you credit for that.”

With one brief Fox appearance, McCarthy laid bare the facts about both the never-ending Benghazi investigation and the related, still-churning email witch hunt: They’re both built on politics, plain and simple. The Republicans created a Benghazi select committee in order to try to take out the Democratic frontrunner for president. Period. That’s the story.

Sadly, the busted Planned Parenthood, Benghazi and email diversions simply represent the latest creations from the GOP distraction model. Conservatives have been using it, on and off, for two decades — and the model works best when the Beltway press plays along. It works best if the Beltway press pretends virtually every other Republican-produced scandal pursuit hasn’t been a bust.

Many of the same Republicans who have spearheaded the dishonest Planned Parenthood probe are the same ones leading the charge on Benghazi and the email story. And the press continues to breathlessly quote them as they try to hype these supposed scandals.

So yes, much of the press has been culpable in the latest Republican distractions since day one. In fact, the press has been playing the same lapdog role for well over twenty years when it comes to endlessly hyping and even marketing orchestrated Republican distractions. These self-contained circus productions that suggest all kinds of Democratic wrongdoing are long on conspiracy theories but short on facts, and leave pundits and reporters breathlessly chronicling the possible downside for Democrats.

One reason these Groundhog Day scenes keeping play out, again and again and again, is due to the fact too many journalists are absolutely wed to the very simple definition of what constitutes news: What are conservatives angry about?

Given that kind of carte blanche to create news cycles, Republicans and conservatives in the media have taken full advantage and have settled into a predictable pattern: Manufacture distractions designed to make life miserable for Democratic leaders; force Democrats to use up energy and resources to swat down endless unproven allegations, and spawn waves of media “gotcha” hysteria fueled by disingenuous leaks.

But here’s the thing: it’s exhausting. It’s disheartening. And it’s a colossal waste of time and energy. But this is how the right wing plays politics in America and the D.C. press has shown an unbridled enthusiasm to want to play along; to want to abandon common sense in order to chase GOP-designated shiny objects for weeks, months or sometimes years on end. And then do it all over again when the current distraction disintegrates.

The pattern began in earnest during the 1990s when Republicans became obsessed with personally pursuing the Clintons. Remember the dubious Clinton pardon distraction, the parting gifts distraction, and of course Ken Starr’s $80 million Inspector Javert routine.

Charles Pierce at Esquire recently detailed that decade’s signature string of orchestrated GOP obfuscations:

To use a more relevant, example, TravelGate was a distraction. FileGate was a distraction. The disgusting use of Vince Foster’s suicide was a distraction. Castle Grande was a distraction. The cattle futures were a distraction. The billing records were a distraction. Webster Hubbell’s billing practices were a distraction. Hell, the entire Whitewater part of the Whitewater affair was basically a distraction, as was the pursuit of Bill Clinton’s extracurricular love life. Kathleen Willey was a distraction. The monkeywrenching of a settlement in the Paula Jones case was to make sure that the distraction that was that case survived. All of these were distractions created to make it difficult for a Democratic president to govern, and the reason I know that is because the people creating distractions were not shy about admitting what they were all about to each other.

Over time, the vast majority of those endless Clinton allegations were proven to be hollow. Yet aided by some regrettable journalism, the relentless scandal culture took hold and managed to damage to the Clinton administration. Indeed, the whole point of the GOP’s Clinton distraction model was to create the infrastructure to hound the Democrats.

With President Obama’s inauguration, the old model was unpacked, but this time with Fox News playing a much more aggressive role. The results have been an endless parade of diversions and hoaxes designed, in various shapes and sizes, to hamstring a Democratic administration and, more recently, to damage the leading Democratic candidate for 2016.

Here’s just a handful of manufactured distractions:


*Benghazi stand down order


*Clinton Cash

*Department of Education official Kevin Jennings

*Economist Jonathan Gruber’s Obamacare comment

*Food stamps

*Gibson Guitar raid

*New Black Panthers

*Shirley Sherrod

*Voter fraud

As Media Matters can attest, virtually none of the often-hysterical allegations attached to those distractions were ever proven to be true. Instead, the pursuits imploded under their own weight. Yet too often, these supposed scandals broke out of the Fox News bubble and became mainstream “news.”

So when’s the press going to get the message and stop enabling these charades?

Eric Boehlert is a senior fellow at Media Matters for America and the author of “Lapdogs: How The Press Rolled Over for Bush.” He can be reached


Anti-Planned Parenthood Group Caught Passing Stillbirth Photo Off As Abortion

Source: Think Progress

Author: Tara Culp-Ressler

Emphasis Mine

The latest video intended to cast Planned Parenthood in an unflattering light relies on images of fetuses that were not actually aborted at Planned Parenthood clinics.

The Center for Medical Progress, a right-wing group engaged in a long-term video strategy to discredit the national women’s health organization, released its seventh video on Wednesday. Likeseveral videos before it, the newest footage relies heavily on an interview with Holly O’Donnell, a procurement technician who briefly worked for a biological company that partners with some abortion clinics to collect fetal tissue donations.

At several points, O’Donnell discusses the process of procuring fetal organs — which can be used to help advance scientific research, if abortion patients choose to donate the material after their procedure — before the camera cuts to photographs of fetuses. Although the video insinuates those fetuses are connected to the collection process that O’Donnell is describing, they’re actually recycled photographs from other sources, as RH Reality Check reports.

One of the photos (displayed at the video’s nine-minute mark) isn’t an aborted fetus at all. It’s actually a stillborn fetus prematurely delivered at 19 weeks.

The woman who took that photo, Alexis (or “Lexi”) Fretz, initially published it on her blog — where she also shared the story of grieving her stillborn son, whom she named Walter Joshua. In a Facebook post, Fretz said that she did not give permission for the Center for Medical Progress to use Walter’s photo, though she does not plan to take legal action against the group.

By Thursday morning, the description for the Center for Medical Progress’ YouTube video included a note at the top clarifying that the “image of Walter Fretz at 19 weeks” comes from a 2014 Daily Mail article about Lexi Fretz’s photographs of her stillborn child.

RH Reality Check notes that another photo featured in the new video is sourced to the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, an anti-abortion group that specializes in graphic images of fetuses. The group has become infamous for its “Genocide Awareness Project,” an exhibit typically installed on college campuses that “juxtaposes images of aborted embryos and fetuses with images of victims of historical and contemporary genocides and other injustice.”

For years, abortion opponents have relied on graphic descriptions and bloody imagery to make their case against legal abortion. The Center for Medical Progress appears to be leaning in hard to this particular strategy, hoping that Americans will be compelled by photos of fetuses and disturbed by headlines proclaiming that “Planned Parenthood clinic cut through dead baby’s face to get his intact brain.”

It’s certainly true that the videos targeting Planned Parenthood are giving anti-abortion lawmakers more ammunition. States are rushing to cut funding for the national women’s health organization, even as investigations into the group have been unable to turn up any evidence of wrongdoing.

However, it’s not clear that the activists behind the footage are successfully changing hearts and minds on the topic of abortion itself — a medical procedure that Americans have nuanced opinions about. Planned Parenthood remains popular, while the Center for Medical Progress has gotten plenty of negative press thanks to its misleading editing tactics.

Plus, as illustrated by the fuzzy line between an aborted fetus and a miscarried fetus, these issues aren’t nearly as straightforward as abortion opponents make them out to be. It’s possible to be grossed out by the details of an abortion procedure yet believe it should remain legal. It’s possible to grieve for the end of a pregnancy yet choose to donate fetal tissue to science. It’s possible to believe you are carrying an unborn child yet decide to have an abortion anyway.

“The campaign, masterminded by 26-year-old anti-abortion crusader and ‘proud millennial’ David Daleiden, is meant to let us in on the fact that abortion is disgusting,” writer Rebecca Traisterargued in New York Magazine earlier this month, pointing out that women hardly need to be educated about the complex nature of life in reproductive bodies. “Planned Parenthood didn’t invent abortions, and David Daleiden isn’t going to explain them in terms so grisly as to reverse thousands of years’ of women’s needs, desires, and lived experiences.”


Feds: Planned Parenthood Did Nothing Wrong, Republicans Are Lying


Author: Vera

Emphasis Mine

Conservatives are currently sobbing over the recent announcement that contrary to what they’ve been trying to make people believe with their Planned Parenthood sting videos, the organization has been cleared of any inhumane practices.

In an investigation on Planned Parenthood by the Department of Health and Human Services, it was found that the women’s health clinics had not violated any fetal tissue laws “among government researchers or the companies that supply the tissue” or wrongdoing.

This investigation was sparked after anti-abortion, conservative group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a series of strategically edited videos that made it look like Planned Parenthood was selling the  body parts of aborted fetuses. These videos were debunked, and it was clear that the officials displayed in the video were merely discussing tissue donation and legal reimbursement, but CMP desperately continued release more videos.

Official clearance of Planned Parenthood was announced on August 16th in a report fromPolitico, which stated that every one of the CMP’s deceptive attempts to smear Planned Parenthood’s name were based on lies.

The HHS’ assistant secretary for legislation explained to Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) that the organization found “no violation of these laws in connection with research done at our agencies.” The letter read, in part:

“Furthermore … we have confirmed that HHS researchers working with fetal tissue obtained the tissue from non-profit organizations that provided assurances to us that they are in compliance with all applicable legal requirements.

Very little federal research is done with fetal tissue, but it has come under scrutiny since an anti-abortion group earlier this summer began releasing undercover videos alleging that Planned Parenthood was trafficking in fetal tissue and organs. Planned Parenthood has denied that, saying it facilitates legal tissue donation at a few of its locations.”

Nice try, conservatives. Anti-abortion CMP is going to have to do better than horrifically edited videos if they want to bring down a completely ethical organization that provides so many critical health services to women.  

In a hilarious twist, it turns out that CMP’s little smear campaign actually HELPED Planned Parenthood! Following CMP’s attempts to derail the women’s health organization, donations to Planned Parenthood increased and the organization doubled down by working with a PR firm to spread accurate information and debunk conservative fear-mongering lies. Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Dawn Laguens described this phenomenon best when she said:

“The benefit of having been a women’s health care provider for 99 years, and to being somebody who’s been there in the lives of 1 in 5 American women, is that when people come after Planned Parenthood, people tend to not like that, and it actually has the opposite effect. More people send money, more people ask what they can do to help, more people come to us for health care.”

Obama is also doubling down on halting the efforts to defund Planned Parenthood since CMP’s dirty video campaign. Recently, the Obama administration has threatened states attempting to cut off Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood with potential violation of federal law and promises to ultimately stop Medicaid funds to those particular states.

Currently, states that have canceled their Medicaid contracts to the women’s health provider are Alabama, Louisiana and New Hampshire, but more states intend to follow. Obama isn’t having any of it, and is reminding these states that they are not allowed to exclude health providers from Medicaid just because of certain services they offer. The Obama administration threatened to do this a few years ago, when Texas’ former Gov. Rick Perry stopped funding for low-income women’s health centers from reaching the state’s Planned Parenthood clinics. This forced Perry to fund his ill-advised plan with his state’s own money. 

From the beginning of his first term, President Obama has been a tremendous advocate and champion for Planned Parenthood, and has proven time and time again that he cares for women’s rights and women’s access to safe and affordable healthcare.