White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said last week that he was "merely repeating" Planned Parenthood’s lines on its sale of fetal organs captured on undercover video. On Monday, Earnest admitted he still hasn’t seen the footage that has sparked calls on Capitol Hill to defund the organization.
"You saw the videos, Josh," CNN host Chris Cuomo said. "There’s no high ethical standard at play there. Base stuff, ugly stuff."
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"There's no denying the fact that the organization—that is clearly anti-Planned Parenthood—put them out not because of news value but shock value," Earnest said. "I haven’t seen the videos, but even based on the news coverage, the videos are shocking."
Earnest repeated Planned Parenthood’s contention that the videos were deceptive and of questionable authenticity, although he wouldn’t know either way.
"I haven't seen the videos," Earnest said. "I can't render my own judgment on that."
Earnest has found questions about Planned Parenthood—the nation’s largest purveyor of abortions and a staunch White House ally—hard to ignore, as videos surfaced showing top officials speaking candidly about their graphic work.
Democrats have indicated they will go to the trenches to protect Planned Parenthood’s sizable government subsidy, but even defenders of legal abortion have confessed their discomfort with what the undercover videos reveal.
Rep. Diane Black (R., Tenn.) reacted to Earnest’s defense of Planned Parenthood later in the day.
"He ought to at least watch the videos before commenting on them," Black said.