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Report: Center for Medical Progress Videos Deceptively Edited, ‘Lack Credibility’

Teddy Wilson

The anti-choice front group behind a series of videos spreading misinformation about Planned Parenthood deceptively edited footage in "undercover" videos to alter the meaning of dialogue and removed portions of footage the organization claimed were “full footage."

See more of our coverage on the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.

The Center for Medical Progress, the anti-choice front group behind a series of videos spreading misinformation about Planned Parenthood, deceptively edited footage in “undercover” videos to alter the meaning of dialogue and removed significant portions of footage the organization claimed were “full footage,” according to an analysis by an independent research company.

“A thorough review of these videos in consultation with qualified experts found that they do not present a complete or accurate record of the events they purport to depict,” Glenn Simpson, a partner at the research firm Fusion GPS, wrote in a report.

Fusion GPS utilized experts in video forensics, production, and transcription to review five of the videos produced by CMP. The team analyzed both the highlight videos that have been widely circulated in the media, as well as the longer “full footage” versions of those videos that were released sometimes days later.

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The researchers analyzed videos that recorded conversations with Planned Parenthood officials and in Planned Parenthood clinics at locations in California, Colorado, and Texas.

The report found that while there was no evidence CMP inserted dialogue into the videos, it concluded that CMP edited content out of the alleged “full footage” videos and heavily edited the short videos so as to misrepresent statements made by Planned Parenthood representatives.

“At this point, it is impossible to characterize the extent to which CMP’s undisclosed edits and cuts distort the meaning of the encounters the videos purport to document,” Simpson wrote. “However, the manipulation of the videos does mean they have no evidentiary value in a legal context and cannot be relied upon for any official inquiries unless supplemented by CMP’s original material and forensic authentication that this material is supplied in unaltered form.”

“The videos also lack credibility as journalistic products,” Simpson added.

During a conference call with reporters, Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, said that the alteration of the videos and deceptive editing calls into question CMP’s agenda.

“It is very clear that this is not about their care or concern or actual belief that laws were violated in any way—which they were not—but it is completely about their agenda to take away safe and legal abortion in this country, to destroy reproductive health care in the country, and to destroy Planned Parenthood,” Laguens said.

Questions have been raised about CMP’s deceptive tactics, ideological agenda, and connections to radical and violent anti-choice activists. The front group is also the subject of two lawsuits.

Laguens said that the findings raise “additional questions” about the legality of CMP’s methods used in obtaining the video footage. “There’s nothing off the table at all,” Laguens said with regard to possible legal action by Planned Parenthood against the CMP.

The videos, which have been released in coordination with anti-choice Republican lawmakers, have sparked outrage directed at Planned Parenthood from Republican legislators and anti-choice activists. Anti-choicers across the country have compared Planned Parenthood to everything from drug dealers to Nazis.

Legislators have used the videos to justify a failed attempt by congressional Republicans to ban Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds for services unrelated to abortion.

Republican lawmakers in states around the country have called for investigations and hearings into the organization, but to date none have uncovered any evidence that Planned Parenthood affiliates have broken any laws with regard to fetal tissue.

There are four congressional committees conducting investigations into the CMP, Planned Parenthood, and fetal tissue donation and research.

Laguens said that Planned Parenthood is “being 100 percent cooperative with the committees” conducting investigations, but questioned the agenda of the lawmakers leading the charge. “These so-called investigations are based on false claims and graduated charges brought by CMP and seemingly coordinating with members of Congress,” Laguens said.

Planned Parenthood has submitted the reports to Senate and House leadership of both parties, as well as a letter authored by Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, that provides background and information about the organization’s history with fetal tissue research.

“While our involvement with fetal tissue research is a small component of Planned Parenthood, it offers the potential of life-saving research,” Richards wrote. “We stand behind our affiliates that contribute to these efforts to discover medical breakthroughs.”

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