Anti-abortion videos: A partisan prosecution?
“A hidden-camera investigation reveals corporate wrongdoing. The managers are caught not only describing unconscionable acts but also joking about their victims.” In most cases, said the Washington Examiner in an editorial, such videos would raise “holy hell” and bring demands for prosecutions. But when that corporation is Planned Parenthood, count on Democrats to “crack down on the whistleblowers.” Last week, California prosecutors charged anti-abortion activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt with 15 felony counts for publishing undercover videos in 2015 that show Planned Parenthood executives flippantly discussing the harvesting of fetal tissue. The footage showed officials discussing how they “dismember” the unborn so as to harvest as many organs as possible. But prosecutors say the videos represented an invasion of the participants’ privacy. “To say that this is outrageous is an understatement,” said Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry in TheWeek.com. Yes, the activists’ actions were politically motivated, “but they are still being prosecuted for doing the work of journalism.”
This wasn’t journalism, said The Sacramento Bee. The videos were “far-right fake news” deceptively edited to make it look like Planned Parenthood illegally sells fetal tissue for profit. Several subsequent investigations have found no evidence that this is true. As a result of Daleiden and Merritt’s lies, Planned Parenthood clinics were firebombed, and at a Colorado clinic, three people were killed “by a gunman raving about ‘baby parts.’” The crusading filmmakers may have also violated a California criminal statute, said Mark Joseph Stern in Slate.com. They used hidden cameras in a state that prohibits recording “confidential” conversations without both participants’ permission.
That’s a ridiculous argument, said Noah Rothman in CommentaryMagazine.com. California prosecutors filed no charges when the animal rights group Mercy for Animals secretly recorded footage of poultry slaughterhouses in California in 2015. Or when the mistress of former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling illicitly recorded him making racist comments. Yet California’s Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra has thrown the book at Daleiden and Merritt. In recent months, liberals have been apoplectic about supposed threats to the First Amendment. Yet here “is a real, genuine example” of the government trying to “criminalize standard journalistic practice”—and they all look the other way.