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Archive for July, 2015

Planned Parenthood’s PR Problem

Posted by prof e on July 28, 2015

You may have noticed that Planned Parenthood is in hot water. Now that a third undercover video has been released…this one featuring a PP official from Colorado discussing the selling of fetal organs…the crisis is moving from social media to front page news. But that is exactly what Planned Parenthood is trying to prevent by hiring a Public Relations firm. The firm is, according to Politico‘s website, attempting to keep media outlets from covering the story by claiming that the videos are a violation of patients’ privacy. That was the same tactic used to prevent the distribution of the Frederick Wiseman’s ground-breaking documentary Titicut Follies. That documentary was effectively banned for 24 years. Produced in 1967, the film eventually aired on PBS in 1992.

Another tactic being employed is to discredit the source of the leaked videos. According to a PR website,

Ferrero blasted the video publishers, the Center for Medical Progress, as a “well-funded group established for the purpose of damaging [PP’s] mission and services.” He said the video was heavily edited and falsely portrays the group’s participation in tissue donation programs.

This incident raises ethical questions about undercover reporting and agenda-driven journalism. Gotcha sound bites and crafty editing can be used to manipulate unsuspecting, or already convinced, audience members that this is an open and shut case. Perhaps it is…and time will tell if we can just sustain our focus and attention on the legitimate concerns.

Social media thrives on polarizing stories such as this one. With a catchy hashtag calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, i.e. #SToPP, social media will keep the debate front and center for at least a short time.


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