Ken Shepherd engaged in an odd bit of nitpicking in a July 25 NewsBusters post about a "sympathetic profile for Nebraska abortionist LeRoy Carhart" in the Washington Post.
Shepherd quoted a section of the article noting that Carhart's Nebraska farm had burned following the passage of a parental-notification law in the state: "The next day, Carhart received a letter informing him that the fire was in retaliation for the abortions. Local officials were unable to determine the fire’s cause." After the Post then wrote that the headline on the jump of the article stated "Doctor's activism grew after opponents destroyed farm," Shepherd huffed:
The farm fire may have been an arson. You may say it most likely was. But no one has been caught and proven guilty in a court of law for the farm blaze.
[Reporter Lena] Sun failed to produce evidence of other substantial threats against Carhart or to cite any law enforcement personnel who fear for his safety.
Is Shepherd really claiming that Carhart has never been threatened, or that anti-abortion protesters never threaten abortion providers? That's patently false -- just this week, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a Planned Parenthood clinic. Can't Shepherd reasonably presume that abortion doctors fear for their life, given the history of violence against them? George Tiller and Barnett Slepian would undoubtedly agree.
And is Sheppard really claiming that courtroom-level forensic evidence is necessary before it can be said in public that anti-abortion protesters burned down Carhart's farm? Isn't the letter admitting retaliation evidence enough to make that claim with a moderate to high degree of certainty?
NewsBusters doesn't demand that high level of evidence when conservatives make claims. For instance, on July 10 Tim Graham uncritically repeated a man's claim that he was fired from Cisco Systems for opposing gay marriage without providing any independent evidence that this is what, in fact, happened.
Of course, the MRC has worked to obscure the fact that anti-abortion activists commit violence. As we've noted, CNSNews.com's Penny Starr has repeatedly insisted that Scott Roeder, convicted of murdering Tiller in 2009, is someone "known to have mental problems" and "a mentally unstable man," even though the court and even a psychologist hired by his defense found Roeder competent to stand trial, and Roeder did not mount an insanity defense.