A CBS affiliate in Sacramento, Calif., has issued an apology to a pro-life organization after falsely portraying the group in a nightly news story.
The CBS station ran a follow up story last week to clarify a previous segment it broascast in March that purportedly showed a pro-life Project Truth volunteer placing a graphic anti-abortion pamphlet on a car parked outside resident's home. It turned out the man featured in the segment was a neighbor, not a member of the pro-life group.
The clarification came in response to a letter sent to the news station from the Life Legal Defense Foundation, a California-based pro-life law firm.
"The story goes on to infer that the Project Truth team canvassed the neighborhood and put fliers on vehicles in private driveways. It further suggests that the literature was found torn up and thrown on the ground all throughout the neighborhood," stated the Foundation in a press release.
"But Project Truth does not leaflet cars. Project Truth held signs and handed out literature on the public sidewalk in front of Cordova High School, as they have done many times. They distributed literature directly to students who willingly accepted them when politely offered."
The CBS news report states: "During our report we interviewed Larry Blount, who lives across the street from the school and was upset by the fliers. A portion of the interview we aired may have created the impression that someone from the group, which calls itself Project Truth, placed a flier on Blount's car. A representative from Project Truth has told us that the group only distributed fliers on the public sidewalk in front of the school. We regret any confusion."
Earlier this month, Allison Aranda, senior staff attorney with the Life Legal Defense Foundation, sent CBS a letter regarding the segment and demanded that the news organization issue an apology.
Aranda told The Christian Post that LLDF became involved in the effort via a Project Truth participant and said that CBS's apology is "not as strong as I would like it to be."
"I do appreciate the fact that they aired a follow up on the nightly news regarding the truth about what my clients did actually do," said Aranda. "I am disappointed that they didn't go so far as to apologize for the obvious setup that they had displayed … but I am glad that they at least did do a follow up and cleared that matter up."
The CBS segment in question featured reporter Anjalie Hemphill and was about Project Truth's pamphleteering efforts at a local high school.
Hemphill's story stirred the ire of Project Truth and the LLDF over factual accuracy.
"The obvious bias and lack of true reporting demonstrated by Hemphill is deplorable," wrote Aranda to CBS News Director Tom Bell and General Manager Kevin Walsh.
Aranda told CP that CBS's Project Truth segment was not an unprecedented incident, as she feels the media has "a slight bias against any pro-life groups or pro-life stories."
"This isn't the first time we have had to get involved in sort of a false light portrayed by the media," said Aranda.
"Most times it comes in the form of the print media getting quotes from pro-life organizations and either misquoting it, taking it out of context, portraying it in a false way."