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The Media Used To Do Abortion Stings, Not Slam Undercover Work


After the release of a shocking video by the Center for Medical Progress that shows an abortion doctor talking about harvesting and selling baby parts, the mainstream media refused to cover the story. No surprise there. They also blacked out the grisly realities of Kermit Gosnell, an abortion doctor who severed babies’ necks and drowned them in toilets.

What the media in our country used to do—investigate and expose the truth—has been left to groups like the nonprofit Center for Medical Progress (CMP). Through the Human Capital project, these citizen journalists are undergoing extensive sting operations to document how Planned Parenthood sells body parts of aborted babies—a worthy undertaking considering the seriousness of the practice, the ethical questions swirling around it, and the fact that taxpayer money helps fund it. These journalists have been the watchdogs the mainstream media used to be.

Instead of looking into the substance of the story, the media have gone after the journalists themselves—they’re the bad guys for posing as buyers in the research industry and “tricking” an abortion doctor to spill her guts, ironically, over salmon and wine.

Let’s Target the Truth-Tellers

Media Matters has attacked David Daleiden, who spearheaded CMP’s Human Capital investigation, accusing him of deceptively editing the video. The Huffington Post went after what they called the “heavily edited ‘sting’ video” instead of looking objectively at the substance of the story. The same happened with Newsweek’s Polly Mosendz, who spent the first half of her article attempting to discredit CMP. Actress Lena Dunham, that brilliant apologist for killing babies, jumped on the Planned Parenthood bandwagon and sent out this tweet:


Even Juan Williams went on a tirade on Fox News, going after the undercover investigation itself as if it was somehow beneath journalists to do such a thing.

Hardly. It’s the job of journalists to do exactly what CMP has done, and there was a time when The New York Times and other media did just that. Here’s a much-needed history lesson. Look at the startling contrast between how abortion was handled by the media in the nineteenth century to how it’s handled today with its blackouts and eager defense of the abortion industry.

The New York Times Goes Undercover

Back in 1871, a New York Times reporter, Augustus St. Clair, wrote a series of articles called “The Evil of the Age” about abortion in the city. He went undercover, posing as someone wanting to find out information for a “lady friend” in need of an abortion. Here is the opening of St. Clair’s series in August 1871:

The enormous amount of medical malpractice that exists and flourishes almost unchecked in the City of New York is a theme for most serious consideration. Thousands of human beings are thus murdered before they have seen the light of this world, and thousands upon thousands more of adults are irremediably ruined in constitution, health and happiness. So secretly are these crimes committed and so craftily do the perpetrators inveigh their victims, that it is next to impossible to obtain evidence and witnesses. Facts are so artfully concealed from the public mind, and appearances so carefully guarded, that very meagre outlines of the horrible truth have thus far been disclosed. But could even a portion of the facts that have been detected in frightful profusion, by the agents of the Times, be revealed in print, in their hideous truth, the reader would shrink from the appalling picture.

More than once, some of the fearless and eminent of the clergy have spoken upon this theme from their pulpits. They have declared the existence of these great evils in social life—alike denounced and forbidden by the law of God and man. The records of our criminal courts also occasionally afford indications of the horrible degree and amount of depravity already referred to. Indeed, language can scarcely exaggerate the actual facts. There is a systematic business in wholesale murder conducted by men and women in this City, that is seldom detected, rarely interfered with, and scarcely ever punished by law.

The same words could be applied to the abortion industry today and its selling of baby parts. And look at that—a New York Times reporter referencing the clergy with respect! That’s right, there was a time even journalists believed in the law of God.

In his series, St. Clair boldly listed names of abortion doctors and described their offices. Some were nice, and some looked more like Gosnell’s back rooms in 2013: “Human flesh, supposed to have been the remains of infants, was found in barrels of lime and acids, undergoing decomposition.”

In response to St. Clair’s question about getting his friend an abortion, the nurse could have been reading straight from Planned Parenthood’s talking points today: “‘My dear friend,’ she said. ‘We can do what you hint at. I understand the case. We have had hundreds of them. Poor unfortunate women! How little the world knows not to appreciate their trials. We think it our mission to take them and save them—a noble work it is too. But for some friendly hand like ours, how many, many blasted homes, scandalized churches and disorganized social circles there would be.'”

After St. Clair wrote his first article in the series, several letters to the editor were published—letters that would never be printed in The New York Times today:

It is the great crime of the age. Law affects but little, and is apparently futile to protect the unborn, much less the silly women who place themselves, or are placed by their paramours or seducers in the hands of that fiend or fiends, the abortionist—a curse to every civilized community … and a stench in the nostrils of all intelligent and thinking people….

The people have to be taught the enormity of the crime. The evil must be handled without gloves. The ministry, the law and the Press, and all intelligent men and women, must unite with the medical faculty in not simply abating, but crushing out this nefarious traffic in blood.

Alas! Poor women’s rights are not yet fully understood, [and won’t be] as this and kindred evils flourish….Let the Press turn its argus-eyes toward these slums of iniquity, and inform and warn the public of its dangers. Let the pen of its most accomplished writer depict feticide in its foul and criminal attitude toward God and man.

The story of abortion intensified when a girl was found dead as the result of an abortion the very week St. Clair was writing his series. She was discovered naked inside a trunk in a railway station baggage room. The killer was later arrested, and it was one of the abortion doctors St. Clair had interviewed in his undercover investigation, which turned violent at one point.

Fighting for the Victimized, Then and Now

Compare this 1871 account of an abortion story to that of Planned Parenthood caught on tape harvesting and selling baby parts. This was The New York Times’ lead about CMP’s undercover investigation:

Abortion opponents on Tuesday renewed their campaign against Planned Parenthood, with immediate impact among Republicans in Congress and the presidential race, after the release of a video that surreptitiously captured an official from the group explaining how it provides fetal parts to medical researchers.

The video, from a little-known activist group called the Center for Medical Progress, appeared to have been shot in a California restaurant in July 2014.

The New York Times has published no stories investigating Planned Parenthood’s practice of selling baby parts. No curiosity about possible medical malpractice today. No follow-up. No undercover investigations of its own.

It’s reminiscent of the Gosnell murders. The New York Times was silent in that case, as well, and when they finally did cover the story, their main goal was to continue to defend Planned Parenthood:

The Gosnell case does not really speak to the broader abortion debate…. Of course that won’t stop anti-abortion groups from drawing the connection for their own ideological purposes. They have already done so, using the case in their effort to move the commonly defined date of viability from 24 weeks to 20 weeks or even earlier.

The attempt to limit the abortion window is part of a larger push to prevent women from exercising their reproductive rights — unnecessary waiting periods, physically intrusive sonograms, onerous requirements for doctors who perform abortions, and so on. Some extremists have committed murder in their supposed campaign for life. Anti-abortion groups don’t seem to care that, in their struggle against Planned Parenthood, for instance, they are also cutting off poor women from basic health care services that have nothing to do with abortions — like cancer screening, pre-natal care and family planning.

In 1817, abortion was called “The Evil of the Age” and a “terrible reality” by the New York Times. It was a “horrible truth.” Now it’s good for women—a cherished right—and any attempt to expose illegalities around the practice is considered mere activism.

How far the media have fallen. Evil is no longer evil. It is now a good. They, no doubt, would call this progress, that we live in an enlightened age where crushing babies to harvest parts is considered good. But this isn’t progress. This isn’t noble. It’s what it has always been: evil. The New York Times and other media outlets haven’t evolved. They’ve simply switched sides. They’ve exchanged truth for lies and now call darkness light. What was once bitter is now so, so sweet. They are no longer journalists who speak for the voiceless; they are mouthpieces for the powerful. They are tools of evil.