The undercover investigation into Planned Parenthood's involvement in the trafficking of aborted baby organs has gained so much attention in the press that Planned Parenthood's president, Cecile Richards, felt compelled to appear on ABC's This Week on Sunday to address the scandal. 

As a crisis communications response, the interview didn't go well. Richards's demeanor was composed, but her statements gave the distinct impression that Planned Parenthood is panicking. Mollie Hemingway points out over at The Federalist that Richards relied on a few weak, miselading, or false talking points to get through her interview on Sunday.

Richards repeatedly claimed that the videos were heavily edited, but the full versions were released at the same time the condensed videos were released.

Richards also claimed that Planned Parenthood doesn't receive any financial benefit for "donating" fetal human organs to biotech companies: 

Stephanopoulos: The Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson has pointed out charging a fee for this material -- Richards: It's not a fee. It's not a fee. It's actually just a cost of transmitting this material to research institutions. Stephanopoulos: But that does improve the finances of the clinic, doesn't it. Richards: Absolutely not. Absolutely not.

The simple fact is that after Planned Parenthood performs an abortion, it can either pay a medical waste company to dispose of the baby's remains or it can receive $30 to $100 or more "per specimen" to have the baby's body parts taken by a biotech company. The latter practice certainly leaves Planned Parenthood better off financially. As a top Planned Parenthood official said in the first undercover video, they "want to break even. And if they can do a little better than break even, and do so in a way that seems reasonable, they’re happy to do that.”

But the talking point that conveyed just how panicked Richards and Planned Parenthood are was her incredibly dishonest claim that "the folks behind this [video], in fact, are part of the most militant wing of the anti-abortion movement that has been behind the bombing of clinics, the murder of doctors in their homes, and in their churches. And that's what actually needs to be looked at."

David Daleiden, the person behind the video, is a 26-year-old pro-life activist. You can read Planned Parenthood's dossier on him here. Planned Parenthood's public relations firm suggests Daleiden should not be trusted because he once co-wrote an article with a college professor for "opposition outlet The Weekly Standard." As scary as that might be, no one has accused Daleiden of ever committing or condoning violence against abortionists.

So how does Richards back up the accusation that "the folks" behind the video are involved in murdering abortion doctors? She didn't say in the interview, and George Stephanoulos didn't ask her to substantiate her claim. But several liberal websites have pointed out that Troy Newman of Operation Rescue is listed as the secretary of Daleiden's organization. Newman has never committed an act of violence, but he has been accused of condoning anti-abortion violence, something that Newman denies.

In 2009, after late-term abortionist George Tiller was murdered in Kansas, Newman immediately condemned the killing. "We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning," Newman said in a statement. A 2003 statement from Operation Rescue, however, seemed to condone the actions of a man named Paul Hill, who had murdered an abortionist. "[T]here was no justice because the court prevented him from presenting the legal defense that his conduct was justifiable defensive action," the Operation Rescue statement claimed.

Reached by phone Monday afternoon, Newman insisted that in 2003 he wasn't defending the killer's actions. “In no way was I defending Paul Hill or his actions in any way,” Newman said. “It’s obvious that he was painfully guilty of the crime of murdering these people.” Newman claimed that he was only trying to say: “Let him use the defense of his choosing."
That's an odd position to take, but whatever Newman meant by his 2003 statement, it remains clear that Planned Parenthood's attack on David Daleiden is a diversion. Pro-life activists should disassociate themselves from anyone who has ever committed or condoned violence against abortionists. Such violence is wrong, and, as Richards correctly perceives, it's the best way to discredit pro-life activists. But there's no evidence that Daleiden or anyone who helped make the videos has ever engaged in violence.

If Richards wants to continue to make the guilt-by-association argument, hopefully she is asked the following question: If President Obama can pal around with an actual unrepentant domestic terrorist like Bill Ayers, why should Daleiden be discredited for his association with Newman, who now condemns violence against abortion doctors though it's not clear that he always has?

(In case you don't recall, Ayers's terrorist organization the Weather Underground intended to kill hundreds of U.S. soldiers with a bomb. The bomb accidentally went off during the construction process, killing three of Ayers's associates, including his girlfriend. John McCain's campaign was widely mocked by the press as desperate in 2008 for bringing up Obama's association with Ayers in the 1990s).

There are, of course, several other important follow-up questions for Richards, including questions about false statements she's made about Planned Parenthood's organ harvesting practices and questions about her statement that life begins when a baby is delivered and her inability to explain the difference between late-term abortion and infanticide.