Anatomy of a Really Vile Bit of Propaganda
Last week at American Thinker, in discussing the Dobbs case, I prophesied, “and if your media sources resemble those I’ve seen, the moral angle will be played to the hilt with stories of exceptional cases being treated as the rule.”
How right I was, as the story of a 10-year-old who was raped and had to travel to Indiana from Ohio to get an abortion was highlighted in multiple media everywhere and used to discredit the Supreme Court justices who decided Dobbs and pro-life politicians.
Megan Fox has done a fine bit of journalism exposing this propaganda coup and the Blaze details her work. Ms. Fox broke the story in a series of tweets. In order to make her work easier to follow I’m reframing it in a more conventional, easier-to-understand way, but you are invited to the source to see how this unraveled. Each of her factual assertions is accompanied by links to them.
The sole source of the story is an ardent abortionist. The story is unverifiable and peddled by those who share her views with no apparent independent efforts to confirm the tale. If nothing else, this shows you how easy the job of a news editor at the named publications is. You don’t have to do anything -- just let your reporters rattle off the headline-framing tales of a figure who advances the desired narrative. Do not demand even the merest investigation of claims, particularly if they sound outrageous. (Like Trump hiring prostitutes to pee in a hotel bed in Moscow because Obama had slept there.)
The Megan Fox account asserts that an unnamed “child abuse doctor” from Ohio called Dr. Caitlyn Bernard, an Indiana abortionist, for help. And she called the media with the account which published it without any questions asked.
Dr. Bernard is the media’s sole source for this story, so it’s important to check her background to see if she is likely to be giving an accurate, nonpartisan account.
When you do, the answer is clear: It’s exceedingly unlikely that she is without a partisan interest in the issue. In June she was interviewed by PBS, predicting doom if Roe was overturned. That same month she repeated her claim of doom on worth.com as she organized a rally for abortion access on the Indiana University campus where she teaches. On June 30 WTHR quotes her saying:
“Healthcare providers are sick of politicians getting in the way of their decision making.”
Politico likes her, too, quoting her as saying, ”For a lot of people in Indiana, if I tell them to go out of state, I might as well tell them to go to the moon. They have to pay for the care at the clinic, the time away from their children, the time away from their jobs. Gas prices are also increasing.”
Since Politico likes her as a source for advancing a narrative of which they approve, can the Republic be far behind? Also advancing her pro-abortion stance was the Herald Bulletin on July 5. Beginning on January 16, 2017, when the NYT covered her remarks on a Trump abortion ban through July 5 of this year, she is quoted twenty times in various publications. Clearly, she’s on the woke publications’ go-to-persons-on-abortion Rolodex.
It’s not just that she’s the media go-to person on the topic of abortions, she was as well the plaintiff in a pre-Dobbs case in Indiana to obtain an injunction against enforcement of the state’s second-trimester abortion (“dismemberment abortion”) restrictions. She won that case, but now that Roe is overturned, the state seeks to have the injunction lifted, and she is again fighting to keep second-trimester abortions legal.
Once an advocate of self-abortions by abortifacient drugs, on July 1 she is quoted in a Fox 59 report as saying they are “risky.” “If women are so desperate to send away to receive pills to have a self-managed abortion at home is what Right-To-Life doing really helping them? Obviously not... because then they wouldn’t be doing something as drastic as that.”
Despite her obvious and easily documented partisanship, her account of the young rape victim was deemed credible -- apparently without any independent examination -- by these media (Courtesy of Megan Fox):
It’s not just the obvious bias of the source of the story, however. There is much more which should have alerted news editors that the story is suspect. Qui bono? That is, to whose benefit is this story? It was used to attack Republican Kristi Noem and will certainly be used to attack all pro-life politicians and contribute to the vitriolic attacks on Supreme Court justices who decided Dobbs. (Justice Brett Kavanaugh, already a target of a would-be-assassin, was just driven by protesters from a downtown D.C. steak house.) The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin embraced the Bernard claim with an op-ed entitled “It’s the cruelty that will undo the forced birth crusade.” She bought the tale of the 10-year-old and uses it for her ends -- bashing her former conservative colleagues.
The story is unverifiable. Even Snopes concedes this.
“Dozens of Snopes readers searched out site or contacted us wondering whether that had actually happened. To find out we reached out to dr. Caitlin Bernard, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Indianapolis and who spoke to the Columbus Dispatch about the headline-generating story. As of this writing [July 5] Bernard has not returned our request for an interview, but we will update this story if that changes.”
Megan Fox reached out to the IndyStar, the first press outlet to carry the Bernard story, asking what kind of vetting had been done by the paper on the story. As of July 5, she had received no response.
But it’s more than unverifiable, even though Dr. Bernard can hide behind doctor-patient confidentiality. It is on its face unlikely to be true. There is no proof that this 10-year-old exists. If she did exist and was abused, the law requires that law enforcement be called to investigate, but no such report exists. No mention in any of these oft-reported stories is there even the name of the town where this crime occurred. (Reminds me of those cheap tabloid stories of a baby with the wolf’s head having been born in some remote, unnamed village in Bangladesh, accompanied by a blurry, impossible to identify, obviously fake photo.)
Stripped down to essential facts, the story is really this: An ardent abortionist, fearing that her state will ban abortions after the Dobbs decision, said an unnamed physician in an unnamed Ohio town told her he had as a patient a 10-year-old pregnant rape victim who needed to travel to Indiana for an abortion. No record exists of a report to law enforcement of the rape, even though an attending physician would be required to make such a report.
It’s good to be a news editor -- you can retire at your desk and keep your salary and paycheck.