Shocking: Fact Check Fail on Carly Fiorina

Carly FiorinaThis is why we can’t have nice things: our media and its heroic efforts to make the most extreme claims by conservatives sound reasonable. At Wednesday night’s debate, Carly Fiorina claimed that the recent undercover “sting” videos of Planned Parenthood showed “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 is false. But don’t tell that to the fact checkers! They exist for one thing only: to make sure that conservatives and liberals tell exactly the same number of “lies.”

Irin Carmon at MSNBC got to the bottom of the issue. In the video, there is “stock footage of a fetus outside the womb.” There is a video of a fetus outside the womb on a table with its legs moving slightly. There is just one problem: it is not from the sting operation or Planned Parenthood regardless. According to the group who made the video, it is from an abortion. But as Think Progress reported last month, Anti-Planned Parenthood Group Caught Passing Stillbirth Photo Off As Abortion. So who knows?

What about the person saying that they have to keep the fetus alive to harvest its brain? Well, that’s nowhere. There is an interview with a woman who says this happened. So I guess I would conclude that Fiorina is totally wrong, but not a liar. Let’s go through the main points:

  1. The video is not from the Planned Parenthood sting.
  2. There is a video of a fetus outside the womb, but we don’t know it is from an abortion.
  3. There is no footage of anyone talking about keeping a fetus alive so it can be harvested.

So on all issues, Fiorina was wrong. Thus it only makes sense that CNN’s crack team of fact checkers would decide that the claim was, “True, But Misleading.” But okay, people can be wrong. What is so annoying is that they don’t go by their own reasoning. This is how Tom Foreman at CNN put it:

Is there really something on these videotapes that looks like that? Yeah, there is actually a short portion in one of the videotapes that does show a fetus, looks kinda like that’s what’s going on… but, but it’s edited in, there is no proof nor any way to ascertain that this had anything to do with Planned Parenthood when it came to that piece of videotape.

In other words: it’s false, but I’m gonna say it’s true. Similarly, PolitiFact concluded:

One of the Center for Medical Progress’ videos attacking Planned Parenthood shows an interview with a woman identified as a former tissue procurement technician, who tells about an experience in a Planned Parenthood pathology lab where she sees a fetus outside the womb with its heart still beating. According to the woman, her supervisor said they would procure the fetus’ brain. The video’s creators added footage of an aborted [They don’t know this. -FM] fetus on what appears to be an examination table, and its legs are moving. But Fiorina makes it sound as if the footage shows what Planned Parenthood is alleged to have done. In fact, the stock footage was added to the video to dramatize its content.

Their rating: mostly false.

It’s so aggravating! I have no doubt whatsoever that if a liberal had said something like this, PolitiFact’s rating would have be false, if not “pants on fire.” Now it seems that other fact checkers are doing a better job. But given that the debate was on CNN, the CNN “fact check” is likely to get the most coverage. And second will be PolitiFact.

The whole idea of “fact checkers” is absurd. Reporters should be checking facts all the time. But at least for all of my lifetime, reporters are more interested in just “reporting” what this person said and what that person said. Actually finding out the facts would show “bias.” But it is better to have such fools and no one claiming to check facts if the results are going to be outrageous contradictions like we saw from CNN and PolitiFact.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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