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Burning down the house

February 21, 2011 - Jim Anderson
It's regrettable that undercover video smears are sometimes offered as journalism.

Let’s lay out the formula: a hidden camera, actors who set traps, selective editing of the results, and subsequent campaigns to smear the subjects.

How do you think your place of employment, or your church, or your club, or your business, or your family, would measure up against a hidden camera, skilled actors, selective editing and a smear campaign?

Perhaps they’d “pass” with flying colors. Or maybe they’d get burned.

Whatever the result, I can’t imagine a responsible newspaper publisher anywhere endorsing such tactics.

Glenn Beck spent an hour on Friday discussing undercover videos by the group Live Action, purportedly showing Planned Parenthood assisting the sex trafficking of underage girls. People from Planned Parenthood should go to jail, he said.

The videos, yes, are disturbing. Again, however, they should be viewed within the context of the formula described above: hidden camera, actors, selective editing.

Beck’s show gave only passing mention to the fact that Planned Parenthood, indeed, fired an employee who seemed to give business advice to the fake pimp.

More importantly, within his hour-long show, Beck failed to report this: Before Live Action released any of the smear videos, Planned Parenthood had already contacted the FBI to report the possibility of a sex trafficking ring.

Planned Parenthood contacted authorities, as they should, as any reasonable organization would. But that wasn’t worth mentioning.

Instead, Beck delivered the smear campaign, the final crucial step in the formula.

There are bound to be bad apples in any large organization. Maybe there are too many working for Planned Parenthood. I have no idea. But whether Planned Parenthood, or any other group, has a bad culture is a judgment that deserves a better hearing than a politically-motivated video sting.

In the meantime, while the FBI is called to sort out the fallout of a hoax, fewer resources are devoted to stopping real sex trafficking.

Live Action helped sweep out a lousy employee at Planned Parenthood. Maybe there will be more. That’s what this amounts to. The fact that Beck, and Live Action, chose to ignore Planned Parenthood's formal action of contacting the FBI is a clear indicator of the video producers’ overriding motivations.



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