A day after House Republicans grilled Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards for hours over falsehoods perpetuated by a series of videos released by an anti-abortion group, CNN’s Chris Cuomo interviewed the head of that particular group and got him to admit that he edited the videos in a misleading way. Center for Medical Progress’s David Daleiden appeared on New Day Wednesday morning to speak with its hosts, and for the most part, he and his organization came away with a lot of egg on their collective faces.
Earlier this year, Daleiden got Christian conservatives all hot and bothered when his organization methodically released heavily edited videos that supposedly showed Planned Parenthood executives haggling over the price of fetal tissue and explaining how they can better procure samples from aborted fetuses. To drive CMP’s point home even further, footage of aborted fetuses were included, along with commentary from former workers of PP and other medical centers attesting to procurement methods.
Since then, some Republicans tried to make it a mission of theirs to defund and bring down Planned Parenthood, hoping the videos would be enough to sway public opinion in their favor. GOP Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina used her time at the second GOP debate to rail against the women’s health organization and bring up a particular scene in one of the videos that actually doesn’t exist. However, numerous state investigations have found no wrongdoing at Planned Parenthood regarding fetal tissue donation, and Republican leadership eventually relented and allowed PP funding to be part of the latest budget resolution. (But still allowed GOPers to grandstand and browbeat a woman with their dog and pony hearing.)
With all that as a backdrop, Daleiden showed up Wednesday morning and was pretty much put on the spot by Cuomo. Now, it should be noted that Cuomo appears to be truly disturbed by the videos and hasn’t exactly given the impression as a vocal Planned Parenthood defender, at least based on his coverage of this story. At the same time, it seems that he does not like it when a group is deceptive and distorts their message to push an agenda, which is how he feels regarding CMP.
Cuomo’s biggest issues with Daleiden’s videos are the purposeful editing and the misleading inclusion of footage of a stillborn baby to illustrate fetal tissue harvesting and push his message. In Cuomo’s mind, the use of that particular footage, as well as the heavy editing, is underhanded.
From the transcript, courtesy of Media Matters:
CUOMO: 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?
DALEIDEN: You know, I’m actually in the studio, I don’t have a visual of what you’re showing me.
CUOMO: 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.
DALEIDEN: 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 —
CUOMO: So you think it’s a different image than the one that was pointed out —
DALEIDEN: Yeah, if you’re showing the image of the Walter Fretz right now that is not the image.
CUOMO: 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? —
DALEIDEN: Yeah I’ve spoken with Lexi Fretz, the mother. And absolutely images where used to illustrate
CUOMO: And what do you use it to show? To show what?
DALEIDEN: Used to illustrate exactly — exactly the kind of late second trimester baby, fetus, that we’re talking about in these cases of organ harvesting.
CUOMO: 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?
DALEIDEN: Do you think the fetuses are different somehow? 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.
CUOMO: 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?
DALEIDEN: 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.
CUOMO: 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?
DALEIDEN: 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.
CUOMO: 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.
Below is video of the entire interview, courtesy of Media Matters:
You can say a lot of things about Cuomo. He can be insufferable. He comes from a very famous family and thus success has been easy for him. He can be very thin-skinned at times. However, he at times can be a tough interviewer, and when he locks into his target he’ll unload. We saw that Wednesday morning.
Of course, as one would expect, many on the right were none too happy with the segment and felt Cuomo showed his bias. They especially took issue with him defending the interview and responding on Twitter to criticism, specifically stating that the law is our “national religion,” not anyone’s personal faith.
my focus is law and fact. your’s is faith and morality. the law is the national religion not your faith https://t.co/vyLzR5sWJ9
— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) September 30, 2015
Once that tweet came out, the usual suspects started wailing.
This literally may be the dumbest series of words strung together in the history of mankind. Law is not a religion. https://t.co/HHXm1aiIeU
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) September 30, 2015
I was all “wait CNN host said what?” & got my angry tweet gloves. Then I saw it was Chris Cuomo & was like “oh I thought you meant a PERSON” — Caleb Howe (@CalebHowe) September 30, 2015
You also had some right-wing journos going all grammar Nazi on Cuomo. Over tweets.
Next time you want to pretend you’re better than someone, maybe don’t type like a 12-year-old. https://t.co/1ar3q8WXP9
— Eric Spencer (@JustEric) September 30, 2015
Is this supposed to be English? Negatives aren’t “pandered,” agendas aren’t “motivated” and “you” has three letters. https://t.co/ZlWo9dHjcF
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) September 30, 2015
When can you tell a journalist has done their job? When it makes a lot of people pissed off.