Anti-Choicers Stop At Nothing – Fool Washington Post to Promote Their Agenda

“Anti-Abortion Sting Video Fools Washington Post, No One Else” (from Forbes.com)

“The conservative “gotcha” video* whose claims fall apart upon close inspection is fast becoming a well-established trope. So perhaps it’s a sign of learning that the latest entry in the genre, which “exposes” the lack of mammogram services at most Planned Parenthood clinics, only snookered one mainstream media outlet: the Washington Post.

The video is the work of the Live Action, an anti-abortion group that has been lobbying fervently in support of a Republican-led effort to defund Planned Parenthood. Live Action’s founder, Lila Rose, is an activist-provocateur in the mold of James O’Keefe, he of the ACORN and NPR stings.

In the video, Live Action’s agent calls various Planned Parenthood clinics and attempts to schedule a mammogram, only to be told time and again that they’re not available. “[C]ontrary to the claims of Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards and other supporters of the nation’s largest abortion chain, the organization does not provide mammograms for women,” declares the group — proof, it says, that Planned Parenthood’s claims to provide comprehensive reproductive health services are hollow.

The only problem is there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that anyone in an official capacity at Planned Parenthood has ever claimed the organization does provide mammograms at its clinics — only that it conducts breast cancer screenings and refers patients needing mammograms to facilities where they can get them.

Live Action’s video shows Richards, during an appearance on HLN’s “Joy Behar Show,” saying that a bill before congress, H.R. 1, would cause “millions of women” to lose their access to “basic family planning — you know, mammograms, cancer screenings, cervical cancer [screenings].” That’s a solid assertion: H.R. 1 would have defunded President Obama’s healthcare bill, which, among other things, provides insurance coverage for preventive care for women.

I searched through Factiva looking for examples of anyone from Planned Parenthood claiming its clinics offer mammograms and found nothing. I emailed and called Live Action to ask if it can cite any such instances; I’ve yet to hear back. So it’s a non-story: Party A proves Party B doesn’t provide thing Party B never claimed to provide. Doubtless that’s why The New York Times, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and other major outlets gave the whole thing a pass, leaving the usual right-wing outlets — Fox News’s Sean Hannity, the Washington Times, etc. — to crow about it to each other, and the liberal watchdog group Media Matters to pick it apart.

Yet somehow the Washington Post got pulled in sans skepticism, running a story on page A4 headlined “Planned Parenthood Challenged on Purported Mammogram Claim.” What, you may wonder, is a “purported” claim? Surely in this era of 360 degree media, any claim made in public must yield a digital paper trail? Why not, then, save the reader the work of figuring out whether that “purported” claim was ever made, and save the copy desk the extra headline space?

I asked the Post’s reporter, Rob Stein, those questions and whether, in effect, he’d been duped into treating a lazy piece of propaganda as news. “I’d prefer to let the story speak for itself,” he told me.

If only it did.”

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