Un­der­cover jour­nal­ism praised — but only for lib­er­als

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Michelle Malkin

Here is a tale of two breeds of un­der­cover jour­nal­ists. One has been cel­e­brated by the na­tional me­dia and jour­nal­ism or­ga­ni­za­tions. The other has been shunned. One has cham­pi­ons in Congress. The other is fac­ing lit­i­ga­tion.

Both en­gaged in sting op­er­a­tions with se­cret cam­eras catch­ing their tar­gets on video­tape. Both were de­cep­tive about their true iden­ti­ties and life cir­cum­stances. Both ex­posed their tar­gets’ ag­gres­sive meth­ods and law­sub­vert­ing re­cruit­ment tac­tics. But you’ve prob­a­bly only heard of the ef­forts of one of th­ese breeds. You’ll know why in a mo­ment.

Over the past sev­eral years, lo­cal and na­tional news out­lets have con­ducted stings on mil­i­tary re­cruiters. Last week, a Ten­nessee sta­tion in Nashville set up hid­den cam­eras and re­ported that it had caught Army re­cruiters telling an un­der­cover pro­ducer pos­ing as a re­cruit that tak­ing med­i­ca­tion for de­pres­sion would not dis­qual­ify a re­cruit from serv­ing. The Demo­crat chair­man of a House Armed Ser­vices sub­com­mit­tee is now urg­ing an Army probe of re­cruit­ing prac­tices and the men­tally ill based on the TV sta­tion’s re­port.

Last fall, ABC News and New York af­fil­i­ate WABC en­listed stu­dents to help them in a sim­i­lar gotcha game with re­cruiters. They armed the kids with hid­den video cam­eras for vis­its to 10 Army re­cruit­ment of­fices in New York, New Jer­sey and Con­necti­cut. The jour­nal­ists ac­cused the re­cruiters of mis­lead­ing the stu­dents to get them to en­list. The ABC News sting came on the heels of a Colorado stu­dent’s un­der­cover op­er­a­tion in Den­ver in 2005. David McSwane, a high school hon­ors stu­dent, posed as a dropout and drug­gie. “I wanted to do some­thing cool, go un­der­cover and do some­thing un­usual,” he told the Rocky Moun­tain News. Mr. Mc- Swane de­lib­er­ately failed a high school equiv­a­lency test, caught re­cruiters on tape driv­ing him to pur­chase a detox kit, and re­ported that they urged him to ob­tain a phony diploma. A lo­cal CBS sta­tion picked up the story — prompt­ing the Army to shut down its re­cruit­ing sta­tions na­tion­wide for ethics train­ing.

Mr. McSwane earned a “lau­rel” from the pres­ti­gious Columbia Jour­nal­ism Re­view “for con­duct most be­com­ing” and an­nounced he was headed to jour­nal­ism school. His re­port­ing gar­nered at­ten­tion from the New York Times to Ed­i­tor and Pub­lisher — and spawned copy­cats like those at ABC News.

No such lau­rels have been awarded to Lila Rose, how­ever. And none will be forth­com­ing, I pre­dict. Miss Rose is an 18-yearold stu­dent jour­nal­ist at UCLA. Like Mr. McSwane and his breed of un­der­cover re­porters, she sur­rep­ti­tiously in­fil­trated a mas­sive or­ga­ni­za­tion that en­lists young peo­ple. Like Mr. McSwane and his breed of un­der­cover re­porters, Miss Rose ex­posed de­cep­tive prac­tices. Miss Rose posed as a 15-year-old seek­ing the ser­vices and ad­vice of her tar­get. Like Mr. McSwane and his breed of un­der­cover re­porters, she caught her tar­gets urg­ing her to lie and evade the law in or­der to sign her up.

But Miss Rose’s tar­get was the Left’s beloved Planned Par­ent­hood, not the mil­i­tary. And that has made all the dif­fer­ence in the nonex­is­tent na­tional cov­er­age of her un­der­cover jour­nal­ism. Miss Rose ed­its The Ad­vo­cate, a pro­life cam­pus pub­li­ca­tion of the stu­dent group Live Ac­tion. She posed as a mi­nor im­preg­nated by a 23year-old boyfriend and caught a Planned Par­ent­hood em­ployee ad­vis­ing her to lie about her age to re­lieve the abor­tion provider from a le­gal obli­ga­tion to re­port statu­tory rape to the po­lice.

“If you’re 15, we have to re­port it,” the staffer told Miss Rose in a se­cretly taped video. “If you’re not, if you’re older than that, then we don’t need to.”

“OK, but if I just say I’m not 15, then it’s dif­fer­ent?” Miss Rose queried.

“You could say 16,” the worker help­fully sug­gested. “Just fig­ure out a birth date that works. And I don’t know any­thing.”

Other than cov­er­age from a few pro-life groups and con­ser­va­tive web­sites, Miss Rose’s stun­ning rev­e­la­tions have re­ceived vir­tu­ally no main­stream me­dia at­ten­tion. And no calls from law­mak­ers for in­ves­ti­ga­tions of Planned Par­ent­hood’s preda­tory tac­tics and prac­tices — which have been also caught on tape in other states by un­der­cover cit­i­zen in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

In­stead, Miss Rose faces threats of a law­suit by Planned Par­ent­hood, which sent her a cease-and-de­sist let­ter and had the ap­palling nerve this week to lec­ture Miss Rose about the need “to be more re­spect­ful of Cal­i­for­nia laws,” ac­cord­ing to the con­ser­va­tive Cy­ber­cast News Ser­vice.

Where are the muck­rak­ing cham­pi­ons when you need them? In­trepid Lila Rose has learned the hard way: Not all un­der­cover jour­nal­ists are equal.

Michelle Malkin is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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