To: Interested Parties
From: Eric Ferrero, Vice President, Communications, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Date: September 1, 2015
For the last seven weeks, a group of anti-abortion extremists calling themselves the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) have been releasing heavily edited, deceptive videos about fetal tissue donation. Five of the eight videos released have included secretly recorded footage of Planned Parenthood staff members. The videos have received constant and widespread coverage by mainstream media outlets. A report by forensic experts released last week found that the videos “significantly distort and misrepresent” actual events.
In the aftermath of expert forensic analysis showing that the videos are heavily edited and do not reflect actual events – and noting that full source footage has never been released – CMP has released additional content from two videos that raise even more questions about the group’s deceptive editing.
1. New, supposedly “full, unedited” footage, released Friday, Aug. 28, is heavily doctored.
On Friday, August 28 – the day after the expert report discredited the videos was released and hours after Planned Parenthood called on CMP to release all of its full source footage – two right-wing media outlets that have worked closely with CMP posted what they said was “full, unedited” footage that they received from CMP. The footage is from the eighth video CMP released, featuring the CEO of StemExpress, a medical tissue organization that used to work with Planned Parenthood affiliates in one state.
In fact, the footage released on August 28 is not source footage. But far beyond that, the footage and CMP-generated transcript are edited and altered. For example:
- Mismatched audio and video – a lengthy period on the video (about 25 minutes) includes audio that does not match the video; at the end of this period the audio then apparently seamlessly reconnects to the video. Here is ashort video illustrating the mismatched audio and video.
- Misattribution in the transcript, claiming that StemExpress asked a question about repealing federal legislation when in fact David Daleiden asked.
- Dropping content in the transcript, such as making it sound like StemExpress was donating generally to Planned Parenthood when in fact they donated to a memorial service for an employee that suddenly passed away.
- Inserting editorial comments into the transcript – at least 39 times in the latest version of the video released Friday – making it difficult to discern what is actual transcription and what is editorial commentary.
2. Additional footage released Monday, Aug. 31, is incomplete – but also disproves CMP claims that the only unreleased footage is “bathroom breaks” and “waiting periods between meetings.”
On August 31, CMP posted 28 minutes of what it called “supplemental” footage from its video at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, in Texas. The Texas video was initially released earlier this month, and the forensic experts who analyzed all of the videos said that this was “likely the most substantially manipulated” video that CMP has released so far featuring Planned Parenthood staff.
The so-called supplemental video is not source footage, and does not represent all of the video footage from Texas.
Last week, confronted with the expert analysis discrediting their videos, CMP said that unreleased video footage was from “bathroom breaks” and “waiting periods between meetings” between conversations. The new 28-minute footage from Texas shows that this is untrue. While the footage released August 31 shows no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood, it is certainly neither a bathroom break nor waiting periods, and there is no indication of such a break either before the missing footage or at the end.
3. CMP has not provided any explanation for at least 42 spliced conversations, and dozens of other edits, which distort the meaning of what Planned Parenthood staff actually said.
The five videos that have been released featuring Planned Parenthood staff include:
- At least 42 separate times, video footage was cut and spliced together to create the appearance of seamless conversations and, in some cases, to create false quotes that were then picked up by politicians or media.
- In one video, a Planned Parenthood staff member said 13 separate times that any arrangements needed to be reviewed by attorneys and needed to follow all laws; all 13 were edited out.
- In another video, a Planned Parenthood staff member said 9 separate times that Planned Parenthood does not “profit” from or “sell” fetal tissue; all 9 were edited out.
These widespread deceptions render the videos unreliable as a record of actual events or statements. CMP has not acknowledged these edits or explained them.
4. CMP has not released source footage, which is the only way to know the full extent of the editing.
No source footage has been released publicly. Videos have been broadcast extensively by media outlets, without any disclaimer that they were edited and that media has not seen source footage. Even Live Action, the discredited group that CMP’s leader used to help run, released source footage of heavily edited videos that it released over the last decade. (Those videos, which like CMP’s were designed to advance a political agenda to defund Planned Parenthood and ban abortion, made false claims that have been widely discredited.) In a statement on Aug. 31, CMP has now acknowledged that multiple recording devices were used, yet the doctored videos and transcripts represent only one recording. The videos cannot be authenticated without source footage.
5. Doctored video and falsified quotes from CMP’s videos have been repeated by mainstream media outlets as if they were true.
As CMP’s attacks unravel, and the extent of their deception becomes clearer, media organizations are realizing that they need to bring a more critical eye to what they air and repeat. In fact, somemembers of the media are coming to regret being tricked by the videos and trusting that the “unedited” versions presented a full and fair account of conversations with Planned Parenthood staff. As Sarah Kliff of Vox put it, “I thought I saw all the Planned Parenthood sting footage. Turns out the tapes were edited.”
- In several cases,media characterize the videos as showing Planned Parenthood staff discussing “selling” fetal tissue, which is simply not accurate. Indeed, we now know that 9 separate times the staff member said that absolutely was not the case, and all 9 were edited out.
- Media outletsquoted Planned Parenthood staff members on videos supposedly talking about changing the method of abortion for patients – when we now know that those “quotes” were fabricated by splicing separate statements together on videos.
- Somemedia have acknowledged relying on the longer videos that CMP released (which are not source footage and were also edited) and relying on CMP’s transcripts (which have extensive errors and omissions) to verify facts and quotes.
- The report from forensic experts, which finds that the videos are heavily edited and do not reflect actual events, and which Planned Parenthood submitted to congressional leadership last week
- A letter to congressional leadership, in which Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards provides extensive information and context about fetal tissue donation
- A short fact sheet on deceptive edits in the videos, including examples of splicing statements to fabricate quotes
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With approximately 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433
September 01, 2015