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Vox Changes Course, Supports Intrepid Video Making

Apparently it’s good to have mercy on animals being butchered, but not on children in the same situation. At least, according to Vox.


Nearly a month after Vox denounced the Center for Medical Progress videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s procurement of fetal organs, Vox reversed its position to now support intrepid video makers.

In a video it published yesterday, “What undercover videos tell us about meat in America,” editorial intern Christophe Haubursin praises the work of undercover filmmakers for exposing animal abuse and teaching America about legal, but sometimes gruesome, procedures in the meat production industry. The new Vox explainer on the meat production industry highlights its earlier effort to explain away Planned Parenthood’s wrongdoings through obfuscation and deceit.

Compare and Contrast the Treatment from Vox

Consider how Vox frames the two undercover filmmakers:

Introduction one: “In 2012 an undercover investigator filmed workers at a large Idaho dairy farm beating and jumping on cows and dragging one by a chain around its neck.”

Introduction two: “Over the past three weeks an anti-abortion group has been releasing a series of undercover sting videos on Planned Parenthood. An undercover video alleges that the organization sells body parts from abortions.”

Now consider if the manner in which Vox’s staff framed these two undercover activist filmmakers were flipped:

Introduction one: “In 2012 an anti-slaughter group released a series of undercover sting videos on a large Idaho dairy farm. The undercover videos allege that farm workers beat and jumped on cows, and dragged one by a chain around its neck.”

Introduction two: “Over the past three weeks an undercover investigator filmed Planned Parenthood officials admitting to the sale of body parts from abortions.”

Vox’s editorial staff selectively uses qualifiers to categorize the footage Center for Medical Progress (CMP) produced as a prejudiced attack on Planned Parenthood. By contrast, Vox presents the footage and conclusions of the animal-rights group Mercy for Animals without qualification. Although it may be subtle, the editorial decision paints the CMP footage as disputed and coming from an agenda-driven source while allowing the Mercy for Animals footage to speak for itself.

Explainers Must Mean Explaining Away

In Vox’s Planned Parenthood explainer, narrator Sarah Kliff is quick to point out, “I should mention, these are pretty heavily edited.” She concludes that the full footage CMP released exonerates Planned Parenthood from the “accusation” that it financially profited from the sale of fetal organs.

The investigation remains ongoing, yet Kliff uses it as an acquittal for any wrongdoing at Planned Parenthood.

These talking points are eerily similar to those used by Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards when she called them “highly doctored videos” and “highly selectively edited” during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos. Did Vox give credence to critics who called Mercy for Animals’s videos edited and unrepresentative of standard agricultural practices? No.

Kliff continues in her defense of the abortion provider, “There is a congressional investigation into the issue happening, but at this point they don’t seem to prove that Planned Parenthood makes a profit.” Kliff implies that somehow Planned Parenthood can be exonerated by a congressional investigation that was two weeks old at the time Kliff ’s video went live. At that point, the investigation into Planned Parenthood from the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee had progressed to the point of sending a single letter to Planned Parenthood that has gone unanswered, and is yet to hold a hearing. The investigation remains ongoing, yet Kliff uses it as an acquittal for any wrongdoing at Planned Parenthood.

With lots of explaining needed on behalf of Planned Parenthood as CMP continues slowly releasing its undercover videos, if Kliff and Haubursin can keep it up they’ll surely be in the running for a Margaret Sanger Award at Planned Parenthood’s annual tribute to the media.