Anti-Abortion Damage Control, Redux
Just as it did when an abortion doctor was murdered in 2009, the ConWeb rushes to spin away a fatal shooting spree inside a Planned Parenthood clinic.
By Terry Krepel
It's had plenty of practice. In 2009, when Scott Roeder murdered abortion doctor George Tiller in a Kansas church, the ConWeb rushed to proclaim Roeder mentally ill and disassociate him from the mainstream anti-abortion movement, even though a sticky note with the phone number of Operation Rescue official Cheryl Sullenger was found in Roeder's car when he was arrested. Well after Roeder was convicted of murder, CNSNews.com's Penny Starr was still insisting that Roeder was "mentally unstable" even though Roeder did not mount an insanity defense at his trial and a psychologist hired by his defense found him competent to stand trial and said "He did know what he was doing."
Let's see how the ConWeb handled things this time around.
Bob Unruh grumbled in a Nov. 27 WND article:
The reports coming from reporters on the scene of a shooting in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Friday were vague.
So Unruh was complaining that people were speculating on motive before a crime was solved (never mind that the speculation was ultimately proven correct). Ironically, his WND colleagues were doing the exact same thing a couple days earlier. In one of its race-baiting moods, WND complained that a an incident in which a black man in Mississippi went on a shooting spree was not being considered as a "hate crime" because his victims included two white women.
In fact, there's plenty of evidence -- which WND and its resident race-baiters have chosen to ignore -- that indicate that the victims of the shooter's crime spree were chosen at random. He also fired shots into a house and a municipal bus, where there was no apparent racial motive.
Having thus hypocritically lectured about jumping to conclusions on the Planned Parenthood shooting, WND went on to do exactly that in an article published shortly after Unruh's original lecture:
Throughout Friday’s six-hour armed standoff at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood facility that left three dead and nine wounded, social media feasted on the fact the gunman was described as a white man, as WND reported.
The fact that WND is getting its information from the Gateway Pundit, run by Jim Hoft -- better known as the Dumbest Man on the Internet -- is a major clue to its veracity. Needless to say, WND's suggestion that Dear is a transgender leftist is not true at all.
First, the mugshot of Dear included with the WND article should have shot that story down. Does he look transgender? Nope. The voter information form identifying Dear as a female is most obviously explained as a typo. And he actually more closely fits the profile of the ideal WND reader: Buzzfeed quoted a neighbor of Dear describing how Dear was "handing us anti-Obama pamphlets” and saying that “Obama was ruining the country and needed to be impeached.”
Nevertheless, the counterfactual right-wing portrayal of Dear has made it all the way to Ted Cruz. And WND is totally cool with that; a WND headline on a story stolen from CNN reads, "CNN's panties in bunch over 'transgendered' shooter." Meanwhile, WND's original story remains uncorrected.
CNS followed the damage-control playbook to a T. First on the agenda: Immediately brand the shooter as crazy, despite the fact that no psychological evaluation of Dear had been performed or otherwise made public following his arrest. Here's how that narrative was advanced:
The next step was to separate Dear from the anti-abortion movement, even though his rants about "no more baby parts" were clearly echoing the movement's attacks on Planned Parenthood in the preceding months. Lauretta Brown suddenly found a sense of journalistic balance in an article countering statements by NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue condemning the killings and those who apparently inspired Dear with statements from anti-abortion groups denouncing violence.
Brown quoted the Center for Medical Progress' denunciation of the killings -- in which Dear was dismissed as a "violent madman" -- and proudly noted CMP's "undercover videos over the summer showing Planned Parenthood’s harvesting of aborted baby parts," but she did not mention that Dear was ranting about "baby parts" during his rampage. Similarly, Brown highlighted Operation Rescue's statement denouncing the incident, but she didn't mention that Operation Rescue official Cheryl Sullenger spent time in prison for plotting to blow up an abortion clinic. Because Hogue specifically called out Operation Rescue president Troy Newman, Brown went further into defense mode:
Hogue was likely referencing comments in a 2000 book, “Their Blood Cries Out,” co-authored by Newman, and which Australian MP Terri Butler recently invoked to deny Newman’s visa for a speaking tour on character grounds.
But claiming that abortion doctors should go through the legal system before being executed is still demanding that they be executed, no matter how much Operation Rescue tries to deny it; his "Their Blood Cries Out" statement does not differentiate between abortion doctors doing their job legally and "abortionists who are breaking the law."
Brown concluded her article with an apparent attempt to justify the shooting and blame Planned Parenthood itself for it by invoking Mother Teresa:
Planned Parenthood also tweeted Sunday: “To all of the trolls who spew hatred and lob attacks at us, PP family, or supporters online, you are a part of the problem.”
But CNS was not done. Managing editor Michael W. Chapman tried to change the subject altogether with a presumably hastily written article on "The latest abortion surveillance report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," in which "55.4 percent were performed on black or Hispanic mothers." Chapman was silent on the ethnicities of the people Robert Dear murdered while apparently inflamed by anti-abortion rhetoric.
Since these articles in the first few days after the attack, CNS has devoted no further original news coverage to it.
Media Research Center
The MRC's first actions following the shooting were to brand any media suggestion that anti-abortion rhetoric may have inspired the shooting as "liberal bias":
The MRC doesn't really offer to rebut any of this, of course, but simply complains it has been said (with the implication that it shouldn't have been allowed to be said in the first place). NewsBusters blogger Mark Finkelstein did take a stab at a defense in one post: "Really? Is there no room for people--without being accused of inflaming people to commit murder--to express their opposition to abortion and to the largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood? To state what the videos indisputably demonstrate: that among other things that PP was in the business of selling baby body parts?"
Actually, the only thing that's been indisputably demonstrated is that the videos in question were heavily edited and cherry-pick facts to avoid telling the entire truth.
But the MRC wasn't done spinning and deflecting. A post by Kristine Marsh complained that "journalists were quick to blame conservatives, Fox News and the pro-life movement for the violent tragedy." In fact, all the "journalists" she names are actually writers for opinion journals, not reporters for objective news outlets.
A NewsBusters post by Jack Coleman responded to one claim of GOP rhetoric contributing to the shooting by attacking the critic, then asserting that abortion is an "inherently homicidal act."
The boss had to weigh in as well. Tim Graham and Brent Bozell used their Dec. 2 column to mock the idea that the anti-abortion movement's rhetoric inspired, claiming that the fact Dear ranted "no more baby parts" during his rampage resulted in "a media game based on pro-abortion mantras rather than facts." Graham and Bozell apparently went blank on the fact that "baby parts" is the central mantra of the CMP's anti-Planned Parenthood campaign, and the phrase figures heavily in the MRC's own promotion of it.
Graham and Bozell were so busy spinning for their side that they couldn't be bothered to denounce the shooting. In fact, they seemed to be arguing that it was justified and more shootings were needed: "Planned Parenthood is snuffing out more than 325,000 babies' lives a year and lecturing others about the harm of dehumanizing people. This was an evil enterprise before Dear and nothing has changed since. The slaughter of the innocents continues."
Accuracy in Media
Leave it to Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid to take it to the next level by twisting the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting to focus on his own peculiar obsessions.
In his Nov. 30 AIM column, Kincaid followed the damage-control agenda by dismissing Dear as a "crazy nut living in a shack." Then he changed the subject completely by ranting about ... Bill Ayers:
We don’t remember any outrage from the media over the alleged roles played by Obama associates Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn in the 1970 bombing murder of San Francisco police officer Brian V. McDonnell. In fact, the media peddled the nonsense that Ayers and Dohrn, who helped launch Barack Obama’s political career, were “anti-war activists” who bombed a few buildings and never hurt anyone.
By contrast, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that "investigators have found no evidence that links the Weather Underground to the bombing" that killed McDonnell.
Two days later, Kincaid was back with a column titled "Planned Parenthood Killer Was a Deranged Pothead." And -- we are not making this up -- this is all somehow Obama's fault (oh, and George Soros too):
The liberals were quick to blame conservative Christians, Republicans, and others on the right for the carnage in the Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic. It turns out the killer was a paranoid pothead who probably moved to Colorado because it offered him plenty of legal weed. The murders were just the latest example of President Obama’s pro-pot policies causing “active shooter” cases in which innocent people get maimed and killed.
Kincaid didn't mention that Dear ranted "no more baby parts" during his rampage, was described by neighbors as a Kincaid-level Obama-hater, and believed that anti-abortion extremists like the Army of God were doing "God's work."
Leave it to Kincaid to do anything he can to distract from the fact that extreme anti-abortion rhetoric now has a (larger) body count.
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A few days after the Planned Parenthood shooting, another shooting occurred in San Bernardino, Calif., carried out by apparent Islamist extremists. That gave the ConWeb all the excuse it needed to drop the Planned Parenthood story. It has been mostly ignored in the ConWeb ever since.