Vox’s Sarah Kliff Is Wrong about the Planned Parenthood Tapes. She Didn’t Watch All of Them.

September 18th, 2015 1:18 PM

National news outlets bowed down to Vox writer Sarah Kliff as an authority on the Planned Parenthood videos because she has watched “all 12 hours.” The problem is, there are really “all 17 hours” of them.

Following Carly Fiorina’s description of the Planned Parenthood videos during Wednesday’s debate, Sarah Kliff wrote for Vox, “Carly Fiorina is wrong about the Planned Parenthood tapes. I know because I watched them.” Her Sept. 17 article spurred a national discussion resulting in conservative journalists rushing to defend Fiorina against the writer who watched “all 12 hours” of the videos. But here’s the thing: she didn’t.

Kliff didn’t watch “all 12 hours,” because CMP has released far more than 12 hours of footage.

Since July 14, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) has released 17 hours, 39 minutes and 23 seconds of footage exposing Planned Parenthood’s practice of harvesting aborted baby parts.*

To be fair, Kliff first claimed she “watched all 12 hours of the unedited Planned Parenthood videos” on Sept. 9, before CMP released its last video. But even by Sept. 9, CMP had still released 16 hours, 11 minutes and 35 seconds.

If by “unedited Planned Parenthood videos,” Kliff meant she only watched videos explicitly labeled “full footage” on CMP’s YouTube channel, the total still comes to 15 hours, 38 minutes and 40 seconds through Sept. 9.

(To date, the video labeled as “full footage” adds up to 17 hours, 6 minutes, 28 seconds.)

During the recent GOP debate hosted by CNN, presidential candidate Carly Fiorina detailed the videos exposing Planned Parenthood:

“As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these videos these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain."

Kliff called Fiorina’s description “pure fiction” that “simply does not exist.”

“Fiorina is wrong: Nobody watching the Planned Parenthood tapes would see those things,” she wrote. “I know, because I recently watched all 12 hours of footage.”

Kliff’s story went viral to the point where ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos interrogated Fiorina about her statements.

Going full attack-mode, Kliff charged that “Either Fiorina hasn't watched the Planned Parenthood videos or she is knowingly misrepresenting the footage.”

But it was Kliff misrepresenting the footage according to The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway. Hemingway wrote in Fiorina’s defense:

“[Fiorina] is likely referring to the entirety of the 10 videos, including the seventh video released by the Center for Medical Progress. Watch the full video for yourself. It does, in fact, show a fully formed fetus, heart beating and legs kicking. And it shows this while Holly O’Donnell, a former organ harvester who worked for StemExpress at a Planned Parenthood affiliate, graphically discuss the harvesting of a brain from a baby whose heart was beating.”

In a breakdown of the controversy, The Blaze’s Billy Hallowell wrote that “Fiorina was not concocting the story out of thin air.”

“No images from the incident O’Donnell described were shown,” he clarified, “however, there are other photos and clips interspersed throughout the video that feature late-term and stillborn fetuses.”

In a story update, Kliff acknowledged Hemingway’s argument:

“I've been trying to figure out where Fiorina got these vivid images, and Mollie Hemmingway suggests one answer: there is a mini-documentary series produced by CMP, the group that conducted the Planned Parenthood sting videos, called Human Capital. This series uses some footage from the tapes shot inside Planned Parenthood, as well as stock footage, clips of cable news shows, and an interview with a former fetal tissue procurement technician who worked with a company that worked with Planned Parenthood.”

Kliff admitted that one of the CMP videos did include “stock footage of a fetus kicking on a table” from an abortion clinic – and that CMP never claimed to “have taped those images themselves.” She also agreed that Holly O’Donnell described an aborted baby’s beating heart and harvesting brain tissue in the videos.

However, Kliff concluded that she was still right and Fiorina was still wrong.

“There is no video of the images that O'Donnell describes seeing, nor is there any mention of instructions to ‘keep it alive so we can harvest its brain,’” she wrote, “so it's still not the footage Fiorina describes having watched.” 

Earlier in her story, Kliff remarked in her argument over Fiorina’s “fiction” that “You don't have to take my word for it; You can watch the footage right here.”

Her best point so far.

*Note: MRC Culture did not include the shorter, edited videos or the trailer in this number – content that relied on recycled footage.

MRC Culture’s Tally of CMP Video Footage:

“Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts” – Video 1

7/14/15 – Short Video: 8:51

7/14/15 – Full Video: 2:42:22

“Planned Parenthood Senior Executive Haggles Over Baby Parts Prices” – Video 2

7/21/15 – Short Video: 8:24

7/21/15 – Full Video: 1:13:37

Human Capital Episode 1 – Video 3

7/28/15 – Total: 11:49

“Planned Parenthood VP Says Fetuses May Come Out Intact” – Video 4

7/30/15 – Short Video: 11:29

7/30/15 – Full Video: 2:40:53

“Intact Fetuses ‘Just a Matter of Line Items’” – Video 5

8/4/15 – Short Video: 15:44

8/6/15 – Full Video: 5:45:12

8/30/15 – Supplement Full Video: 28:25

Human Capital Episode 2 – Video 6

8/12/15 – Total: 10:29

Human Capital Episode 3 – Video 7

8/19/15 – Total: 10:37

“Buyer StemExpress Wants ‘Another 50 Livers/Week’” – Video 8

8/25/15 – Short Video: 9:42

8/27/15 – Full Video: 2:17: 43

“ABR Pays Off Clinics, Intact Fetuses “Just Fell Out’” – Video 9

9/1/15 – Short Video: 9:10

9/1/15 – Full Video: 24:57 + 5:31 = 30:28

Sept. 9 TOTAL: 16 hours, 11 minutes, 35 seconds

“Planned Parenthood Exec: Baby Parts Sales ‘A Valid Exchange’” – Video 10

9/15/15 – Short Video: 12:07

9/15/15 – Full Video: 24:38 + 9:01 + 33:25 + 7:08 + 13:36 = 1:27:48

Sept. 17 TOTAL: 17 hours, 39 minutes, 23 seconds