When Carly maxtuples down: Last night, we watched a pitiful cable news event.
On CNN, John Berman was guest hosting for Anderson Cooper. On came a Fiorina spokesperson to support the greatness of Carly’s claims about the anti-Planned Parenthood videotape.
The story has advanced a step today. To set the stage for what has occurred, let’s review what Fiorina said at this month’s GOP debate, where this gong-show got its start:
FIORINA (9/16/15): As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape—I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.Fact-checkers quickly noted some problems with Fiorina’s statement. Let’s run through the problems step by step:
This is about the character of our nation, and if we will not stand up in and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.
What the technician said: The videotape in question turned out to be “file footage.” It had been spliced into a longer videotape in which a young technician, Holly O’Donnell, described a procedure she said she witnessed—a procedure which left her upset.
Let’s note again what we’ve noted before. As best we can tell, O’Donnell never says that the procedure in question was done by, or for, Planned Parenthood.
She tells her story at some length. As best we can tell, the name “Planned Parenthood” is never mentioned.
We’ve seen no fact-checker mention this extremely basic problem. We’ve seen no evidence that anyone has interviewed O’Donnell to ask her about this basic point.
What the candidate said: Along came a presidential candidate, saying she was horrified by what she saw on the videotape. Fact-checkers quickly noted that Fiorina’s description was inaccurate in certain basic respects—and that she was describing file footage, not actual video of the procedure O’Donnell said she had witnessed.
Fact-checkers correctly noted that Fiorina's description had been wrong. Fiorina kept insisting that her description was accurate.
By now, we already had a layer of problems. The young technician hadn’t said that the alleged procedure had anything to do with Planned Parenthood.
Beyond that, there was no videotape of the alleged procedure. Instead, file footage had been spliced into a longer videotape where the young technician told her story.
Fiorina had then come along and misdescribed that footage. When people noted her errors—errors about a piece of file footage which she ascribed to Planned Parenthood—she kept insisting that her descriptions (of file footage) had been correct all along.
What the supplier of the file footage has now said: Today, a new disconnect has occurred. The person who supplied the file footage has gone on the record refusing to connect the footage to Planned Parenthood. At Time magazine, Michael Scherer did the report:
SCHERER (9/29/15): Cunningham, an anti-abortion activist, declined to identify the date, location or authors of the video in an interview with TIME Monday night, saying his group makes agreements of confidentiality in an effort to acquire images of abortions. He also made no claim that the images shown in the video had anything to do with Planned Parenthood, the organization that Fiorina and others have targeted for federal defunding. “I am neither confirming or denying the affiliation of the clinic who did this abortion,” Cunningham said.Despite what Fiorina said, “there are no images on the full video of any attempt to harvest the brain of the fetus, and there is no sound.” Might we add the obvious point?
The full source video, which is extremely graphic, lasts about 13 minutes, and shows a fetus being extracted from the mother, placed in a metal bowl, prodded with medical instruments and handled by someone in the room. At times the fetus appears to move, and at other times it appears to have a pulse. There are no images on the full video of any attempt to harvest the brain of the fetus, and there is no sound.
Because there’s no sound, Fiorina couldn’t have heard “someone say[ing] we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”
In her usual state of rage, Fiorina misdescribed some footage. When her obvious errors were noted, she insisted that the news orgs in question were acting in bad faith.
The person who supplied the footage makes no claim that it came from a Planned Parenthood facility. On the longer videotape, the young technician who says she witnessed a procedure never seems to claim that the procedure was connected to Planned Parenthood.
What kinds of procedures does Planned Parenthood conduct? That’s a perfectly valid question.
Here’s another valid question. At what point does Fiorina stop emitting angry slanders against a wide array of people and orgs? At what point does she stop crazily lying to voters?
What the spokesperson said: Last night, Fiorina’s spokesperson showed up on CNN. Guest host Berman noted the obvious once again. Inspired by her fiery leader, the spokesperson kept misstating and attacking the people who got it right:
BERMAN (9/28/15): Joining me now, Sarah Isgur Flores, Carly Fiorina's deputy campaign manager. Thanks so much for being with us.Berman was pretending!
Sarah, as you know, it’s not just NBC or Meet the Press, it’s nonpartisan fact-checkers, other news organizations, including Fox News, which is hardly an enemy of many Republicans, they have all pointed out that Carly Fiorina is misrepresenting the videos. The clip she continues to reference doesn’t show what she says it shows. Wouldn’t it just be better to admit that she is getting it wrong about this clip?
FLORES: She’s not getting it wrong. It’s at the 5:56 mark. What’s so interesting is that Chuck Todd never showed the video. In fact, a lot of these folks have never showed the video. They don’t link to it. The Washington Post recently said that Carly wasn’t a secretary, either.
BERMAN: Let’s leave that aside for a second.
FLORES: My point is that non-partisan fact-checkers aren’t nearly as non-partisan as you pretend they are.
Flores’ misstatements and accusations continued from there. But uh-oh! As with Chuck Todd and Chris Wallace before him, there was no sign that Berman had ever watched the videotape in question. For that reason, he was left with little to say when Flores kept insisting—falsely, of course—that her boss’ description was perfectly accurate while everyone else had it wrong.
There was no sign that Berman had ever watched the tape. There was no sign that CNN had ever tried to contact O’Donnell, the young technician in question.
Increasingly, American “news” is simply a TV show! Except for issues of makeup and hair, our most famous “news orgs” seem to expend the smallest effort possible.
Oh what a tangled web we weave: Surprisingly, the famous quotation actually comes from Sir Walter Scott!
People often attribute the famous quotation to Shakespeare. When corrected, they sometimes acknowledge the fact that they were just hopelessly wrong.