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For Lila Rose, Planned Parenthood video 'sting' is about revolution

Lila Rose, the young founder of the organization that released 'sting' videos targeting Planned Parenthood this week, is one of a new generation of right-wing media insurgents taking on touchstone topics like abortion through the lens of civil-rights activists.

By Staff writer / February 4, 2011


Lila Rose has been called the new face of the antiabortion movement. In fact, she might represent something much more ambitious.

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This week, the 20-something's antiabortion organization, Live Action, released videos from Planned Parenthood clinics in New Jersey and Virginia that appear to show staffers willing to help a purported pimp get abortions for underage girls. Such guerrilla journalism tactics have been deemed "unacceptable" by critics.

But like her mentor James O'Keefe, a conservative activist who took down community organizer Acorn through a similar video sting in 2009, Ms. Rose has aims that seem to go beyond journalism. The videos, Rose acknowledges, are a weapon, and like Mr. O'Keefe, she is deploying them toward revolutionary ends.

Planned Parenthood is the target of the day. But the ultimate goal of this new generation of right-wing muckrakers is the overthrow of the perceived liberal-leaning mainstream media narrative on touchstone political issues such as guns, racism, and abortion. Rose casts her work in light of the civil-rights movement of the 1960s, and her videos are the tinder for peaceful social insurrection.

"Real social revolutions are basically media revolutions ... and this is a media revolution," says Brian Anse Patrick, author of "Rise of the Anti-Media" and a communications professor at the University of Toledo in Ohio. "There's a battle going on between orthodoxies. What was unthinkable or not discussed – well, here we are, we're talking about it."

Who is Lila Rose?

Rose, a devout Catholic and aspiring actress, founded Live Action as a 15-year-old, and started making films three years later. Since then, she has become a leading light of the antiabortion movement, frequently giving speeches and appearing on cable news shows.

"We take the video cameras, and we use them because in a way they're a weapon. They can reveal truth and show what's really happening, say, inside an abortion clinic," Rose, a soft-spoken California native, said in a CNN profile.

In her work, Rose has focused on issues like the high abortion rate in the black community – an effort supported by Alveda King, Martin Luther King Jr.'s niece. Rose recently quoted King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail and his exhortation for activists to use "creative extremism" to fight for civil rights.

Both Rose and O'Keefe were trained by The Leadership Institute, a conservative Washington organization led by Morton Blackwell, Reagan's youth mobilization coordinator. O'Keefe has taken his creative extremism to greater lengths. He is currently serving a three-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty to trespassing at the New Orleans office of Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, apparently in an attempt to set up another exposé. Earlier, his Acorn "pimp" sting basically destroyed the minority-rights organization.


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