The 4th Video: Is This Planned Parenthood’s Bill Cosby Moment?
The fourth and most horrifying video has appeared exposing Planned Parenthood and its profiteering off of the bodies of unborn children it kills. In the most appalling moment in recent American history, we can now see for ourselves as abortionists pull out the corpse of a newly killed child and announce, “It’s another boy.” Then they start talking prices.
Instead of forthrightly answering the profound moral questions these videos are raising, the billion-dollar organization is using its army of lawyers to try to abort the truth. According to Fox News, a Los Angeles court has imposed a restraining order on the Center for Medical Progress, preventing it from releasing any videos exposing StemExpress, one of Planned Parenthood’s most enthusiastic customers for unborn baby parts. It’s unclear if this legal gag order will be allowed to stand and dry up the stream of reporting at its source. Indeed, it wouldn’t be surprising if the courageous reporters at the Center for Medical Progress flouted it, knowing that the whole pro-life movement and leading presidential contenders would back them up.
The Bill Cosby Playbook
It hurts to lose a hero. When a person or organization has served for most of our lives as an icon of something good and important, we resist any suggestion that things might not be quite what they’ve seemed, that something is rotten in Denmark.
At first, we simply ignore the news, assuming that idle gossip or spiteful rumors are what’s at work. We might write off the first few reports as the work of “haters,” resentful rivals or fortune hunters. The icon’s defenders will round up other celebrities and leaders whom we trust to go on the record dismissing the allegations. Next, the attempt is made to kill the messenger, to discredit any accusers as venal, sleazy or extremist. Best of all is if the icon’s lawyers can find some compliant judge to issue a “gag” order and strangle the flow of information.
Given the public’s short attention span this tactic might prove effective. If we have really strong reasons for wanting to go on trusting the icon, then we will be relieved that the stories have stopped leaking out and assume that there was really no truth behind them.
This was the playbook that Bill Cosby and his damage control team were using, and it almost worked. Had there been a little less evidence and had his accusers been less courageous, his reputation might have survived. Best of all, from his perspective, would be if he could have found a judge willing to silence the women accusing him — to tie up in costly legal proceedings their right to tell their own stories.
Planned Parenthood is using the exact playbook in its attempts to spin, distort and silence the evidence collected through three years of in-depth, undercover reporting by the Center for Medical Progress. First, Planned Parenthood issued blank denials and claimed the three videos released so far had been deceptively edited: Move along, there’s nothing to see here. But the CMP calmly replied that it had already posted the raw, unedited footage online for journalists to check themselves.
Then, Planned Parenthood called on its closest allies, President Obama and candidate Clinton, who vouched for the group’s good will and moral probity. Who were these pro-life “nobodies,” compared to the president of the United States and the presumptive Democratic nominee? But courageous Republican lawmakers such as Ted Cruz and Rand Paul stepped forward in response, along with other candidates such as Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, dozens of Republican congressmen, and at least one Democratic politician, Ohio state representative Bill Patmon.
Then, Planned Parenthood tried to kill the messenger, falsely tying the Center for Medical Progress to assorted reckless cranks at the outermost fringes of the pro-life movement. (Every movement has such hangers-on; think of the brick-throwing anarchists who showed up at Occupy Wall Street.)
None of it worked. Now, Planned Parenthood is counting on sheer legal muscle — grabbing the coercive power of the state and using it to gag journalists and silence opposition. Beyond its efforts in court, Planned Parenthood’s crisis-management PR flacks have been sending ominous memos to TV producers warning them not to air further videos and implying that they might face legal action. These are not the actions of an innocent organization. They are the desperate flailing of a criminal caught in the act, yanking at every string of power still within reach.
And it all will probably backfire. However pro-choice they might be, most journalists don’t take kindly to censorship and threats. Neither do most Americans, who will start asking of Planned Parenthood, as they did of Bill Cosby: What are they trying to hide? We knew Bill Cosby was finished when his longtime defender Whoopi Goldberg abandoned him. Now pro-choice feminist icon Camille Paglia is criticizing the mainstream media for failing to cover the story about the Planned Parenthood videos. The giant abortuarium is nearing its “Bill Cosby moment.”
We Don’t Want to Believe It; We Don’t Want to Know
Remember how cool and reassuring Bill Cosby always was? Here was a man who grew up in the depths of a bigoted America. He would have been justified in taking refuge in righteous black anger — which the great comedian, Paul Mooney, has made a career out of channeling. But Bill Cosby rose above it. He modeled the character virtues required for success, and preached those virtues to young people who needed them. Remember how he used to rebuke gangster rappers for their violence and misogyny?
Bill Cosby represented for many of us the fruition of Martin Luther King’s dream that black people would attain the American vision of freedom that had been for so long denied them. That’s why we didn’t want to believe that he was drugging and exploiting women sexually, using the kind of force and fraud that our country had employed on his ancestors. When he fought to silence his accusers and quash the truth, we were silently rooting for him. We didn’t want it to be true. We had spent hundreds of hours watching Mr. Huxtable on TV being a model husband and father and that was the person we loved. He was good and admirable, and we wanted to believe in him.
Many of us also wanted to believe in Planned Parenthood. Americans have been barraged for decades with happy-clappy messages about the organization serving as a heroic apostolate on the front lines in America’s poorest neighborhoods, guaranteeing good health and sexual freedom to our nation’s neediest women. These messages hid the organization’s racist origins and airbrushed its founder, Margaret Sanger, and her ties to Nazi eugenics — remaking her as an icon of cheerful, free modern womanhood.
The Center for Medical Progress has shattered this fantasy, and shown us the cost of Margaret Sanger’s dream: It is quantified in prices for pieces of broken children. No judge, no PR flack, no government hack can now contain this story. The truth is running free.