A funny thing happened on the way to the courthouse. The organizers of the sting operation to bring down Planned Parenthood … got stung…. (More)

I’m usually not a fan of Schadenfreude. For one thing, it’s hard for non-German squirrels to pronounce. SHAH-den-FROY-deh is close, but I see the subtle tail twitches when I say that to German squirrels. Most of them are too polite to say it, but I know my accent makes them want to giggle.

Plus I’m usually not one to delight in others’ suffering. Quite the contrary.

But some people deserve it, and David Daleiden and his colleague Sandra Merritt of the self-styled Center for Medical Progress definitely fall into the “sow the wind, reap the whirlwind” category:

A Houston grand jury investigating undercover footage of Planned Parenthood found no wrongdoing Monday by the abortion provider and instead indicted anti-abortion activists involved in making the videos that provoked outrage among Republican leaders nationwide.

David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to purchasing human organs. Another activist, Sandra Merritt, was also indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record. It’s the first time anyone in the group has been charged criminally since the videos started surfacing last year.

In a statement announcing the indictment, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson didn’t provide details on the charges, including what record or records were allegedly tampered with and why Daleiden faces a charge related to buying human organs. Anderson’s office said it could not provide details until the documents charging Daleiden and Merritt were formally made public, which was expected later Monday.

“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” Anderson’s statement said. “As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us.”

“The same undercover techniques that investigative journalists have used for decades”

Of course Daleiden and Merritt quickly tried to hide behind the First Amendment:

The videographers, who had posed as employees of a company that buys tissue and filmed interactions with Planned Parenthood executives, issued a statement saying they had not committed any crimes.

“The Center for Medical Progress uses the same undercover techniques that investigative journalists have used for decades in exercising our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and of the press, and follows all applicable laws,” the statement said, adding, “Planned Parenthood still cannot deny the admissions from their leadership about fetal organ sales captured on video for all the world to see.”

Okay, where to start. Yes, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech and the press, but it does not give ‘investigative journalists’ a license to break laws. Daleiden and Merritt were not charged for editing their videos to be misleading – and they did that – because that’s not illegal. They weren’t charged recording the meetings without consent, although in that would be illegal in many states … even for actual ‘investigative journalists.’

They were charged with tampering with records, a felony, and with trying to buy fetal tissue. The records-tampering charge springs from their having made and used phony California driver’s licenses. That’s a crime, even for actual ‘investigative journalists.’

And their own videos show them trying to buy fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood officials didn’t take the bait, but asking someone to commit a crime is itself a crime – solicitation – even if the other party refuses to join the scheme. And yes, that’s a crime even for actual ‘investigative journalists.’

But Daleiden and Merritt aren’t actual ‘investigative journalists,’ as Heather Digby Parton explains:

It’s one thing to go undercover to reveal facts that tell a true story. It another to go undercover and then selectively edit your footage to make up a story. That’s what happened here and it was despicable.

And lest we dismiss their lie as trivial, three people died because a gunman in Colorado Springs acted on the deceptive story spun by Daleiden and Merritt.

So yes, I’ll have another mug of Schadenfreude. However it’s pronounced.

+++++

Photo Credit: CSPAN

+++++

Good day and good nuts