When CNN recently hired Sarah Isgur, Jeff Sessions’ former spokeswoman, to be a political editor at its Washington bureau, the predictable backlash from left-dominated media types and activists followed. Even the allegedly unbiased CNN newsroom was reportedly “demoralized” at the mere thought of a Republican on staff. No word on how former Obama official, now CNN’s chief national security correspondent and co-anchor of “CNN Newsroom,” Jim Sciutto, felt about the development.
Isgur was accused of holding various right-of-center positions. And when a former political activist-turned-Vox writer claimed that Isgur “pushed Planned Parenthood conspiracy theories that were grounded in misleadingly edited videos,” the talking point quickly gained popularity with Isgur’ detractors.
The alleged proof of this conspiracy theorizing resides in a single retweet of a Federalist piece written by my colleague Mollie Hemingway, praising Isgur’s former boss Carly Fiorina for highlighting a series of undercover videos released in 2015, clearly catching Planned Parenthood executives and doctors admitting to illegally profiting from the sale of the fetal tissue of aborted babies.
The only conspiracy theory attached to the incident was spread by pro-abortion activists and Planned Parenthood apologists, which included CNN’s news division and other major media outlets, who either ignored the shocking videos or falsely and repeatedly claimed that videos of executives breezily discussing the harvesting and illegal selling of baby parts had been “heavily” and “deceptively” edited.
The fact was that Center for Medical Progress had edited the footage in the same manner news organizations always edit footage: they highlight the newsworthy parts of conversations. Unlike most of their media detractors, though, the Center for Medical Progress posted the entire raw footage of the tapes for anyone to watch.
Now, it’s bad enough that Democrats defaulted to their post-Trump posture of pretending inconvenient truths simply didn’t exist. But in 2017, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra decided to take it a step further, and use his power to intercede on behalf of Planned Parenthood–a multiple-time contributor to his campaign—by attacking free expression for political reasons. Becerra signed an arrest warrant and filed 15 felony charges against David Daleiden, the founder of Center for Medical Progress, in an effort to shut down what was, by any definition, a worthy investigative effort.
As far as I can tell, not a single self-styled firefighting, truth-telling, democracy-saving, mainstream journalist—folks who have never in their professional careers had to worry about retribution from the state for exposing wrongdoing—stood up to defend Daleiden. None of the people who are “demoralized” by the sight of a Republican in their organization or horrified by a “Fake News” T-shirt asked what sort of precedent was being set when a partisan attorney general transparently attacked free speech.
You could imagine what the reaction would have been had a red state AG had filed charges against a group that used traditional journalistic tools to expose major corporate malfeasance. Planned Parenthood is off limits, however, despite the fact that has total revenue of over $1.3 billion and despite the fact that the abortion mill’s operations are subsidized with $600 million of fungible taxpayer dollars every year.
In any event, when Texas stripped Planned Parenthood of $3.1 million in Medicaid funding due to video evidence of executives openly discussing profiting from the dismemberment of human beings—”If this is in the ballpark, it’s fine. If it’s still low, then we can bump it up. I want a Lamborghini,” is just one example of a Planned Parenthood exec haggling over the price of body parts—a district court issued an injunction preventing the state from doing so. The case worked its way to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down the injunction.
What’s important for this discussion, though, is that court’s opinion also noted that that independent forensic firm had concluded that “the video was authentic and not deceptively edited.” Has anyone in the mainstream media, which worked assiduously to debunk the Center for Medical Progress videos, admitted that their initial position is now, at least, in doubt? If a forensic firm found that the videos had not deceptively edited, what basis does California have for shutting down a journalistic venture? If the video wasn’t deceptively edited, why aren’t major media institutions investigating whether Planned Parenthood profited from the sale of fetal tissue, a felony on each and every count?
We know why. If anything, the kerfuffle over CNN’s hiring of Isgur, who may or may not be exceptionally conservative to begin with, exposes why the mainstream media could use more intellectual diversity to help break out of their embedded bias and narrow ideological focus. The farcical coverage of Planned Parenthood is just one example.