Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tactics Against Planned Parenthood Not “Citizen Journalism”

The perpetrators of what we now know was an illegal attempt to smear Planned Parenthood defend their behavior as “citizen journalism.”
It’s not. Trying to lure a hated target into an illegal act and depicting it in the worst light possible is not any kind of journalism. These are the tactics of  self-appointed moral/religious police on the right who are much more dangerous to American liberty than the supposed threat of Islamic Sharia Law. The now-indicted DavidDaleiden from the so-called “Center for Medical Progress” should not be allowed to get away with defending himself as some sort of journalist.
I was the sort of journalist at The New York Times and Newsday who did investigations of many subjects—dating services, transmission repair shops, pyramid schemes, pool and fence retailers, auto industry warranty practices, pricing by the oil and insurance industries, to name some. But in most cases it was readers who complained that set me off in pursuit, not my own burning desire to expose a hated target.  Sometimes I did literally put myself in the place of a customer, sitting in the audience to hear the revivalist-quality sales presentation of a pyramid scheme, for example. I used my real name but declined to say I was a reporter. At the New York Times, we had an expert set up a car with a simple transmission problem and took it to several shops to see whether they would give us an honest diagnosis and price. Before any of these stories were published, the subjects were given the opportunity to correct any errors I might have made, and to explain their actions. That is how good journalists work.
In contrast, Daleiden posed as a representative of a biotechnology company and tried to buy human organs from Planned Parenthood. Such a sale would have been illegal; Planned Parenthood never even responded to that effort. He apparently falsified his California driver’s license so he could assume a different identity, an act for which he has now been indicted on felony charges.
If there’s any comparison to make, it’s with law enforcement sting operations. So Delaiden is a sort of citizen police, but in his case he’s not trying to help enforce existing laws. No, he’s out to enforce his religious beliefs about abortion despite Supreme Court decisions, the desires of the American public or the needs of women.
The irony, of course, is that some of the people in the anti-abortion camp are also among those ranting about the threat of Islamic Sharialaw being imposed in the U.S. Amazing how easy it is to justify the exact behavior we abhor. ##