Fact Checking The Sunday Shows - February 6, 2011

February 07, 2011 9:12 am ET

Nearly all the major Sunday morning political shows dedicated their airtime to the ongoing mass protests in Egypt, save for Fox News Sunday. The network, apparently worried that Americans might forget it was Super Bowl Sunday, dedicated the entire hour of its flagship news program to host Chris Wallace yukking it up with Terry Bradshaw, Joe Buck, Roger Goodell, Lynn Swan, and other newsworthy NFL personalities. So it was not until afternoon that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) appeared on Fox News to flat-out lie about the recent right-wing attempt to smear Planned Parenthood. Cuccinelli's claim that Planned Parenthood is "happily willing to aid and abet" the "sex trafficking of minors" is utterly false; weeks before these heavily-edited videos surfaced, the organization actually contacted the FBI about the conservative pranksters who told clinic staffers they were running a child sex ring.

CLAIM: Attorney General Cuccinelli (R-VA) Claimed That "Planned Parenthood...Are Happily Willing To Aid And Abet" The "Sex Trafficking Of Minors"

A.G. KEN CUCCINELLI (R-VA): Well certainly we take an interest in any time you see an expression like you do in these tapes of a willingness to support sex trafficking of minors. What you don't have is an actual case of it on film. But what you do have is clearly an open willingness of several organizations meaning subsidiaries of Planned Parenthood nationally, in the same category: sex trafficking of minors, and an open willingness to participate in this. This is at a time when we're dealing with human trafficking, have been for a few years, trying to figure out how to get at it, and when we see something like this, y'know you see how it can flourish. Because there are institutions already in place in Virginia and across America, Planned Parenthood in this case, who are happily willing to aid and abet that sort of effort.

FACT: Far From 'Aiding And Abetting,' Planned Parenthood Reported The Sexual Exploitation Of Minors To The FBI

AP: Planned Parenthood "Notified The FBI That At Least 12 Of Its Health Centers Were Visited Recently By A Man Purporting To Be A Sex Trafficker." As reported by the Associated Press: "Planned Parenthood, a perennial protest target because of its role in providing abortions, has notified the FBI that at least 12 of its health centers were visited recently by a man purporting to be a sex trafficker but who may instead be part of an attempted ruse to entrap clinic employees. In each case, according to Planned Parenthood, the man sought to speak privately with a clinic employee and then requested information about health services for sex workers, including some who he said were minors and in the U.S. illegally. Planned Parenthood's vice president for communications, Stuart Schear, said the organization has requested an FBI probe of the man's claims and has already fielded some initial FBI inquiries." [Associated Press via Washington Post, 1/24/11]

January 18: Planned Parenthood Reported Apparent Sex Trafficking To FBI And Attorney General Eric Holder. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood Federation of America wrote:

[Planned Parenthood Letter, 1/18/11]

  • Live Action Did Not Release Video Of Their Sex Trafficking Hoax Until February 1. From the Live Action press release announcing the video: "NEW JERSEY - February 1, 2011- A Planned Parenthood manager in New Jersey coaches a man and a woman posing as sex traffickers how to secure secret abortions, STD testing, and contraception for their female underage sex slaves, and make their whole operation 'look as legit as possible' in an undercover video released this morning." [LiveAction.org, 2/1/11, emphasis original]

Planned Parenthood Leader Alerted Attorney General Holder Of "Possible...Interstate Sex Trafficking Of Minors." As reported by the Associated Press: "Last week, Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder summarizing the visits and requesting an FBI investigation. If the man's assertions were true, she wrote, they would indicate possible violations of federal laws dealing with interstate sex trafficking of minors." [Associated Press via Washington Post, 1/24/11]

  • Planned Parenthood Letter To A.G. Holder Listed Federal Crimes The Hoaxsters Were Purporting To Commit. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood Federation of America wrote: 

[Planned Parenthood Letter, 1/18/11]

Planned Parenthood: Employees At New Jersey Clinic Called Local Law Enforcement. As reported by Talking Points Memo: "In a statement, Planned Parenthood said Live Action visited two Central New Jersey clinics on Jan. 13, including the one in the video. A spokesman for Planned Parenthood said that, immediately after the visits, clinic employees told their managers and called local law enforcement. It was not immediately clear, however, whether the woman in the video notified management or police." [Talking Points Memo, 2/1/11]

ABC News: Legal Experts Say Virginia Clinic Worker's Actions Were "Consistent With State Law." As reported by ABC News: "Legal experts reached by ABC News also said the clinic worker's advice on how a minor could obtain an abortion without her parents' consent is consistent with state law. 'It would be ethically required of a health worker to notify a minor seeking an abortion of her right to a process known as 'judicial bypass,'' said Lois Shepherd, a lawyer and professor at the University of Virginia Center for Biomedical Ethics. That process allows minors who may choose to do so to contact a judge for permission to receive an abortion instead of their parents. 'It's not just permissible under Virginia law, it's a clearly recognized constitutional right of minors to seek a judge's approval without their parents knowing,' she said." [ABCNews.Go.com, 2/4/11, emphasis added]

FACT: Far From "Happily Willing" To Sexually Exploit Underage Girls, Planned Parenthood Actively Reports Suspected Exploitation To Law Enforcement

PPFA Vice President: When We Suspect Exploitation Of "Young Women, We Vigilantly Work With Law Enforcement Authorities To Uncover And Stop This Abhorrent Activity." In a statement, Planned Parenthood Federation of America vice president Stuart Schear said: "When Planned Parenthood learns of an operation that exploits young women, we vigilantly work with law enforcement authorities to uncover and stop this abhorrent activity. Planned Parenthood's top priority is the health and safety of our patients and the health and well-being of women and teens across the country, and we have been in contact with federal and local authorities to identify the persons involved in these visits.[...] If a multistate sex trafficking operation is in place, those responsible must be pursued to stop the exploitation of girls and young women." [PlannedParenthood.org, 1/24/11]

  • Planned Parenthood Letter To A.G. Holder: We Report Conduct That We Believe "Endangers The Welfare Of Minors." In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood Federation of America wrote: "Members of our staff have made it clear to this man that Planned Parenthood's first priority is the welfare of our patients, including minors seeking medical testing and treatment, and that we are obligated to comply and will comply with applicable state laws relating to reporting of suspected instances of conduct that endangers the welfare of minors." [Planned Parenthood Letter, 1/18/11]

For more on the heavily edited Live Action video hoax and the right-wing media's eager repetition of the smear, read Media Matters for America's previous items debunking the two videos:

The "Sting" That Wasn't: Right-wing Media Hype Bogus Version Of Planned Parenthood Video Story

Right-Wing Media Attack Planned Parenthood For VA Video Showing No Wrongdoing