Chris Cuomo Grills Producer of Planned Parenthood Videos in Rare Outbreak of Outstanding Cable Journalism

It's about time.
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Chez Pazienza
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It's about time.
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Let's be honest: Chris Cuomo's one-on-one with the creator of the Planned Parenthood videos that have been at the center of so much controversy lately won't make one bit of difference in the big picture. The people who most need to fully comprehend just how devastating Cuomo's attack was David Daleiden, the 26-year-old video producer for the anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress, won't even bother listening or watching. They'll simply dismiss Cuomo as being a liberal shill and CNN as the Communist News Network. That's how the people in the bubble are able to remain in the bubble these days, blissfully ignorant to the reality the rest of us call home every day: they just ignore anything that doesn't confirm their already tightly held biases.

It's a shame too, because Cuomo really hammered Daleiden and once and for all revealed his videos -- which he claims show Planned Parenthood employees copping to illegally harvesting and selling the organs of fetuses -- for the bullshit scam they are. Cuomo wasn't willing to give an inch to Daleiden, calling him out for supposedly being all about exposure but not being willing to let a court see everything his crew shot and all the notes they took. Cuomo also homed in on Carly Fiorina's ongoing claim that she's seen video, supposedly shot by Daleiden, that she couldn't possibly have seen because it apparently doesn't exist. He hit Daleiden hard about the clip Fiorina now claims she was talking about and how it still isn't what she says it was. (She says it was an aborted fetus when the clip shows a stillbirth.)

Bottom line here, what happened this morning on CNN's New Day was a rare display of truly adversarial journalism from an institution that far too often is unwilling to venture beyond the phony balance that's become its stock-in-trade. Networks like CNN betray their responsibility to us and operate to the detriment of the country when they refuse to really dig in and call out bullshit. The media's insistence on playing it safe at the risk of being pegged with a bias has allowed political hucksters to get away with murder recently and it's time it stopped. Chris Cuomo took at least a small step in the right direction this morning.

CHRIS CUOMO: I am a lawyer, as you well know. I'm raising it because it doesn't smell right. You are about exposing, but you don't want to expose everything. It makes it seem like there is something that you want to hide. It feeds the perception that you selectively edited. Do you understand that criticism?

DAVID DALEIDEN: You know, I understand the criticism. I don't think that that's accurate. And I don't think that's really a fair representation of what's going on in that court case. I'm sure you are familiar that sometimes discovery can often be used as the fishing expedition. You know there's often times there's multiple motives there. So, that -- I don't think that's an accurate representation of whats going on in that case right now.

CC: Did you edit the videotapes?

DD: You know, we create summary videos similar to the summary videos that you produce for a news broadcast, like this one. But the full footage of the conversations with Planned Parenthood directors and executives that's always been posted to our YouTube channel in addition to the summary videos.

CC: But it is not the same as the summary videos. I've had the pleasure or the mispleasure - displeasure, whatever you want to call it -- I've watched a lot of the raw, I've watched what you put out there. They are not the same. When you edit you make choices. Is it fair to say you did match certain questions with different parts of conversations and move things around to show what you think matters?

DD: No. Absolutely not. No. The edits that are made in the summary videos are just to serve as the highlights of those tapes. There is no changing in the ordering of the conversation whatsoever.

CC: But do you believe it changes the context of what the conversations were?

DD: No. Not at all. And for statements, you know, when you are talking about using ultrasound guidance to where to put your forceps on a late term fetus in order to harvest the brain or harvest the lung or harvest the heart, there is no context in which those statements become inoffensive or acceptable to most people.

CC: Well, not most people right? Because you have 65 percent of the American people don't want to defund Planned Parenthood. So what you are talking about is conservative Catholics like yourself and people who are pro-life.

(...)

CC: Here's what really created a flash point I want you do speak to. Carly Fiorina, very passionately in the debate, very cogently brings across this image of an aborted baby on the table, the heart beating, the legs moving. Look at that video and then tell me what you think. Let me ask you about that image. Is that an aborted fetus that is on that -- in that image?

DD: You know, I'm actually in the studio, I don't have a visual of what you're showing me.

CC: You know what I'm talking about David. It's a miscarriage. You know the mother was interviewed. You know you didn't ask her for permission for it but that is beside the point.

DD: That's not what Carly Fiorina was referencing. Carly Fiorina was referencing the sequence in our video that shows footage of a born alive infant from a late term abortion actually moving in a specimen pan while Holly O'Donnell -- who used to work at stem express -- is talking about the harvesting of a brain of an infant of the exactly same gestational age --

CC: So you think it's a different image than the one that was pointed out --

DD: Yeah, if you're showing the image of the Walter Fretz right now that is not the image.

CC: I don't know now the names. I don't own the material the way you do. I just know what I've seen. I know it comported with what Carly Fiorina was describing and that it seems like something that was certainly taken out of context by whoever put the video together. Because the mother says -- the mother says -- you know what I'm talking right? There was a mother who had a miscarriage, a stillborn, and you used that in the video right? --

DD: Yeah I've spoken with Lexi Fretz, the mother. And absolutely images where used to illustrate

CC: And what do you use it to show? To show what?

DD: Used to illustrate exactly -- exactly the kind of late second trimester baby, fetus, that we're talking about in these cases of organ harvesting.

CC: But if you're talking about organ harvesting and the abortions and how terrible they are, why would you use a stillborn fetus, which is not a function of an abortion?

DD: Do you think the fetuses are different somehow?

CC: I think it's...

[CROSSTALK]

DD: It is the same gestational age. It's the same baby whether it's born dead or alive. It's the same kind of infant.

CC: Absolutely. It is also completely irrelevant to the point you are trying to make, which is look what they do to these babies. It was born stillborn. It was not aborted. Doesn't that matter to you if you are talking about abortion?

DD: What -- What I think what matters is the fact that this -- that's an example of an 18 to 19 week fetus, which is the exact same gestational age that Planned Parenthood routinely aborts and harvests the organs from.

CC: Right but you used it as an example of look at the babies that they abort. Look how its a real person, look how it is, look what they do. But it wasn't aborted. Isn't that misleading?

DD: No. Because the subject, the creature that is being aborted is the same -- the same kind of thing. It is the same kind of fetus. That is not misrepresenting at all.

(CROSSTALK)

CC: It is not a creature. It is not a thing. It is a little person. And the point is, if you want to represent a little person, do it fairly, because this is such an emotional thing. It is so religious for people. It's so moral for people. That baby was not aborted. It matters in the context of your conversation.

(via Media Matters)