NPR Admits Errors in Planned Parenthood Sex Trafficking Video Report

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 3, 2011   |   4:13PM   |   Washington, DC

In a surprising turn, NPR admitted some of its errors in reporting on the video Live Action released showing Planned Parenthood assisting sexual traffickers to get STD testing and abortions for underage girls.

In a visit taped on January 11, an office manager at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Perth Amboy, New Jersey greets a man and woman posing as a pimp and a prostitute by carefully explaining they want “as little information as possible” as they offer their contraceptive and abortion services, even as this pimp described bringing in underage girls as illegal aliens to be his sex workers.

At NPR’s blog The Two-Way, reporter Eyder Peralta picked this up and promptly mangled the facts.

The headline was “Group Behind ACORN Undercover Videos Sets Up Planned Parenthood ‘Sting.’” Yes, “sting” may be what you call it when liberal journalists take a hidden camera to expose malfeasance, but if the videographers are pro-life, the word goes into quotes. Peralta began: “The same group that went undercover at ACORN offices back in 2009 is now going after Planned Parenthood.” Wrong.

NPR was forced to correct: “An earlier version of this post stated Live Action was associated with James O’Keefe. They are not, and O’Keefe was not a part of this undercover video.”

But Live Action is still upset at the new headline: “Conservative Group Sets Up Planned Parenthood ‘Sting,'” because the group is neither conservative nor liberal.

Here’s what NPR has to say now:

We’ve heard from people with a range of views in response to an erroneous blog post published here Tuesday. The post, which was corrected and updated, was about a widely circulated online video that subsequently led to the firing of a Planned Parenthood employee in New Jersey.

Meanwhile, the network of conservative websites run by online publisher Andrew Breitbart — which was among the primary distribution channels for the video — took us to task for incorrectly attributing the video to activist James O’Keefe.

Live Action, the anti-abortion group that actually produced the video, took issue with our mistake, too — as well as our use of the term “conservative” to characterize the organization. “[P]lease stop arrogantly imposing your labels upon us,” Live Action said on its blog. You can see what they had to say in their own words.

Here’s how the story, including our error, unfolded.

As we noted in the correction on Tuesday’s posting (linked above), the first version of the item incorrectly stated that Live Action was the same group that previously circulated a similar undercover video targeting the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN. It was not. The “undercover” ACORN video was produced by James O’Keefe. Like the Live Action video, O’Keefe’s video targeting ACORN involved activists posing as pimps asking for advice.

A Live Action media representative, Colleen O’Boyle, immediately notified NPR’s blogger that O’Keefe was not formally affiliated with their organization. Our blogger quickly corrected headline and text of the posting. A correction note was added to the post and also appeared on NPR’s corrections page. (Lila Rose, Live Action’s founder, told the Washington Post on Wednesday that her group has not worked with O’Keefe for three years. Rose’s past connection with O’Keefe was detailed in a Los Angles Times report in 2009.)

Our original error was repeated in the Web address, or URL, of Tuesday’s posting (the address read, in part, “group-behind-acorn-undercover-videos-sets-up-planned-parenthood-sting”). Since a correction appeared prominently at the top of the item, we delayed revising that address until Wednesday, when we were certain the change would not make the posting inaccessible to the numerous sites and users — especially any critics — that had already linked to it.