On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest parroted talking points from Planned Parenthood, telling reporters the gruesome videos showing PPFA officials speaking about the sale of fetal parts obtained from late-term abortions are “fraudulent.” Moreover, he admitted his statements merely reflected what Planned Parenthood has said.
“There’s ample reason to think that this is merely the tried-and-true tactic that we have seen from extremists on the right to edit this video and selectively release an edited version of the video that grossly distorts the position of the person who is actually speaking,” he told reporters. “Based on the essentially fraudulent way in which these videos have been released, there’s not a lot of evidence right now that Planned Parenthood hasn’t lived up to” its ethical standards,” he added.
Charlie Spiering, White House Correspondent for Breitbart News, didn’t let Earnest off the hook and asked if anyone at the White House had actually seen the videos. Earnest dodged the question, telling Spiering that he “suspected” someone has.
“Where are you getting your information, the fact that it’s fraudulent, or the fact that they’re distorted or edited unfairly,” Spiering asked in a follow-up. Earnest responded by telling reporters his comments were based on what Planned Parenthood has said publicly.
“Based on the public comments of Planned Parenthood who has indicated that the views that are represented in the video are entirely inconsistent with that organizations policies and the high ethical standard that they live up to,” he said. Spiering pressed the matter, asking Earnest: “Would it be unfair to say that you’re simply taking your talking points from Planned Parenthood?”
“I would suggest that you consult with Planned Parenthood for the details of their policies,” Earnest said in response. “I’m merely repeating what I’ve seen that they’ve said and has been reported publicly about what they said.”
On Wednesday, CBS said, Senate Republicans unveiled a measure to keep federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood in wake of the disturbing videos. Administration officials, the Washington Times said, fell short of saying that Obama would veto the bill should it reach his desk. Earnest, however, said Obama would not permit such a bill to pass into law.
“It’s an effort that we oppose,” he said. “I know there has been an effort on the part of some Republicans to try to play politics with some selectively edited videos. This is a tactic we have seen used before.”
The administration’s reaction to the videos, however, stands in stark contrast to actions taken in the case of Cecil the lion. On Thursday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it would launch an investigation into the matter.
“We’re investigating the killing of #CecilTheLion,” the agency said on Twitter. “Will go where facts lead. We ask Dr. Palmer or his rep to contact USFWS immediately.”