For reasons I can’t even explain to myself, Carly Fiorina’s big fib at the GOP debate last week truly surprised me. Fiorina claimed a video of a Planned Parenthood clinic showed this: “Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’ ”
The enormity of the fabrication surprised me; the fact that nobody had ever seen this extraordinary smoking gun before stunned me; the fact that not one of the journalists moderating the debate followed up on her claim surprised me. The fact that contemporaneous mainstream media reports of the debate—more theater criticism than journalism—failed to fact-check it surprised me. The people who did fact-check it all immediately agreed that it wasn’t true, and yet Fiorina’s word-picture was touted for days as the emotional zenith of the debate. This all surprised me: the notion that journalism and fact-finding are demonstrably unrelated enterprises.
I’m a chump that way.
Wallace: Do you acknowledge what every fact-checker has found, that as horrific as that scene is, it was only described on the video by someone who claimed to have seen it? There is no actual footage of the incident that you just mentioned.
Fiorina: No, I don’t accept that at all, I’ve seen the footage. And I find it amazing, actually, that all these supposed fact-checkers in the mainstream media claim this doesn’t exist. They’re trying to attack the authenticity of the videotape.
Indeed, even Fiorina’s super-PAC’s effort to manipulate the grossly manipulated and misleading Center for Medical Progress videos—videos that have been conclusively debunked—with its own YouTube version of the Fiorina claims surprised me. The video uses spliced footage from the Grantham Collection, an unsourced image of a stillborn, and a CMP image of a Pennsylvania woman’s stillborn baby, used without her permission.
Actually, the very meta nature of the enterprise stunned me—trying to doctor doctored videotapes and still failing to produce an image that corresponds to Fiorina’s narrative. It’s truthiness elevated to almost cosmic levels.