Let no one say he is concerned about attacks on the press if he is not worried about this attack on the press. As The Daily Wire reported this week, the case against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt is moving forward in California. Daleiden and Merritt are the heroic undercover journalists who infiltrated Planned Parenthood and exposed a vast conspiracy to traffick in the sale of human body parts. What they uncovered is absurdly unethical and obviously criminal, and the state of California wants to punish them — the journalists, not the criminals — for it.
It has been decided that the case can proceed, which means that Democratic California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Planned Parenthood supporter and grateful recipient of Planned Parenthood donations, will lead the prosecution against the people who embarrassed Planned Parenthood. Before Becerra, it was now-Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) who received money from the abortion giant and expressed support for the abortion giant, all while pursuing legal penalties against the abortion giant’s enemies. Nothing to see here, I suppose. Just explicit, in-your-face political corruption is all.
Also, an assault on journalism. Planned Parenthood complains that its “privacy” was violated because Daleiden deceived them and recorded them surreptitiously. But of course Daleiden recorded them surreptitiously — that’s the whole point of undercover journalism. If a secret is being kept from the public, and it is a secret that the public has a right to know (such as the secret that the organization we are funding to the tune of $500 million a year is also engaged in the most macabre form of human trafficking imaginable), then the only way to bring the truth to light is to get the secret-holders to spill the beans without realizing that they’re spilling the beans. That is the essence of all undercover journalism. If Daleiden and Merritt are successfully prosecuted for it, then the groundwork has been laid to criminalize all forms of undercover journalism.
Such a chilling campaign against the freedom of the press should attract the attention of the press itself. But, with a few exceptions, the press has no interest in speaking out against this. Partly because they might not recognize real journalism when they see it, but mostly because ideology comes first for our news media, and there is no ideological advantage in highlighting the plight of Daleiden and Merritt.
It will be argued that the Planned Parenthood videos were “deceptively edited” and thus not legitimate works of journalism. This is simply false. Abortion apologists shout “deceptively edited” as a reflex anytime this subject comes up, but there is absolutely no truth to the assertion. Indeed, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit conducted its own investigation and concluded that “the video was authentic and not deceptively edited.”
Even better, Planned Parenthood commissioned its own forensic analysis of the footage and also arrived, unhappily, at the conclusion that there was no “widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation.” Perhaps that is worth repeating in italics: Planned Parenthood’s own analysis disagrees with the claim that the videos were deceptively edited.
If, then, the videos were not deceptively edited, it seems we are left with the unavoidable fact that Planned Parenthood officials really did what they appear to be doing on video. That is, haggling over the price of baby limbs and organs. And if that is the case, then the organization is guilty of rampant criminal conduct. And if the organization is guilty of rampant criminal conduct, and Daleiden discovered it and reported his findings accurately, then he is a journalist doing exactly what journalists are meant to do. If he is not allowed to do journalism, that would have disastrous implications for all real journalists everywhere. Though I suppose that is a small and ever-dwindling group.