I have to wonder, if Carly Fiorina had it to do over again, would she have made the bogus charge against Planned Parenthood in last week's debate? She's been caught telling an obvious falsehood, and her political operation keeps making it worse.
To briefly recap, during the more recent debate, the Republican presidential candidate described a Planned Parenthood video showing “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.’” That video does not exist
. The next day, Fiorina again said she saw
the video, which does not exist. Asked to substantiate the claim, Fiorina's campaign staff tried and failed
to bolster the candidate's false claim.
A few days later, even a Fox News host tried to get Fiorina to concede "there is no actual footage of the incident" she described. Fiorina nevertheless continued to insist
she's "seen the footage," which isn't possible, since there is no such footage.
The Washington Post reported
yesterday on the latest unfortunate development.
Other campaigns have climbed down from similar claims about the videos. Fiorina and her allies have done no such thing. Three days after the debate, CARLY for America -- the PAC that legally has to keep its distance from Fiorina's actual campaign -- put together a video that spliced the candidate's answer with different clips. The viewer, hearing about the controversy but unaware of the original videos, might think that Fiorina nailed it.
But she didn't. Splicing together different videos does not make a lie true. A report
from The Nation
went into more detail:
Since it’s not actually possible to watch the footage Fiorina described, the PAC supporting her recently tried to create it. A heavily-edited one-minute video posted to YouTube on Saturday and emailed to her supporters contains clips of Fiorina at the debate, interspersed with images and audio cobbled together from a variety of sources. There’s an image that seems to be a fetus with its limbs moving, but it’s not from Planned Parenthood; it’s from the Grantham Collection and Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, two anti-abortion groups known for creating misleading graphics. The audio, meanwhile, was taken from an unrelated clip from CMP. The video then cuts to an image of a stillborn baby that again has nothing to do with Planned Parenthood, and was used without the permission of the parent. On Wednesday, Planned Parenthood sent a letter to the Fiorina campaign and the PAC responsible for the clip (the two are legally distinct), arguing that the “fraudulent video is beneath a serious candidate for the presidency, and you should take it down immediately.”
As one might imagine, CARLY for America has not taken down the deceptive video.
There were a variety of easy ways that Fiorina could have tried to walk back the falsehood she made during the debate. She could have said she was exaggerating for effect. The candidate could have argued the scenario she described is theoretically possible, even if she hasn’t seen proof of it literally occurring.
Instead, however, Fiorina keeps pretending a fiction is real -- to the point that her allied super PAC is trying to make the deceptive claim appear true with yet another deception.
It has the unintended effect of making Planned Parenthood look slightly better. After all, if the health care organization's actions were really so outrageous, shouldn't a critical presidential candidate be able to stick to the truth to make her case?
Disclosure: My wife works for Planned Parenthood, but she played no role in this report, and her work is unrelated to the videos Fiorina has tried to describe.