Following an Indy Star report about a 10-year-old rape victim traveling from Ohio to Indiana for an abortion, right-wing media have tried repeatedly to disprove the story or attack the individuals involved, even since the story was confirmed to be true.
The source behind the story, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, has been under heavy scrutiny for being the sole source for the story. Washington Post columnist Glenn Kessler, while misspelling her name, dismissed her as an activist. Right-wing media figures were also quick to discredit Bernard, especially after President Joe Biden mentioned the story in a pro-abortion rights speech and the Ohio Attorney General said on Fox News that he was unaware of any report of the rape. After the story was further confirmed by the arrest of a suspect, right-wing media outlets continued unconfirmed attacks against Bernard, claiming that she had a history of not reporting underage rapes. Fox News’ Jesse Watters did not hesitate to pile on to the attacks, and he even invited on the Indiana attorney general, who declared that his office would be investigating Bernard.
Right-wing media figures have continued to target Bernard, repeating claims that she should be investigated for not reporting the crime to authorities, in a clear attempt to discourage other health care providers from coming forward with similar stories. The claim that Bernard failed to report the procedure has been debunked by a local Fox affiliate, which obtained Indiana Department of Health documents showing that she reported the incident. Right-wing media continue to promote the Indiana attorney general’s claims of an investigation into Bernard’s actions, as well as general claims that Bernard acted outside the law.
Following Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s appearance on Fox News’ Jesse Watters Primetime, cries for an investigation into Bernard’s response to the crime spread over right-wing news sites. The articles primarily quoted Rokita’s statements directly, with only one of them, from PJ Media, adding a later correction that Bernard had indeed complied with privacy laws.
Fox News host Jesse Watters
Watters, as part of his repeated attempts to undermine the story, claimed on the July 13 edition of Fox News’ Jesse Watters Primetime, that “this Indiana abortion doctor has covered this up,” and that “she has a history of failing to report child abuse cases.” Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita then appeared on the show to announce his investigation into Bernard, stating, “We have this abortion activist acting as a doctor with a history of failing to report. So, we're gathering the information. We're gathering the evidence as we speak, and we're going to fight this to the end, including looking at her licensure. If she failed to report it in Indiana, it's a crime for – to not report, to intentionally not report.”
Newsmax Co-host Bianca de la Garza
On the July 14 edition of Newsmax’s John Bachman Now, co-host Bianca de la Garza repeated that Indiana authorities are “not sure if she [Bernard] reported the rape, as required by law.” When asked why abortion providers allegedly sometimes fail to report rape, guest Abby Johnson claimed that “most abortion facilities do not report rape. They are a safe haven for abusers. The fact that she, from what we can tell, was not one of the people that reported this, is very very common. They protect abusers. We see that over and over again. We’ve seen that in undercover footage.”
YouTuber Tim Pool
Right-wing YouTuber Tim Pool repeated Watters’ claim that Bernard did not report the crime, stating on July 14 that “the people who were helping this little girl didn’t report it,” and claiming that “if they reported it, then maybe they would have gotten services, and that's where the hoax actually does come into play.”
BlazeTV host Glenn Beck and PJ Media writer Megan Fox
BlazeTV host Glenn Beck got the story wrong on his July 14 show as well, frequently mixing up Bernard and the Ohio doctor who referred the victim to her and claiming that “she instead reported it to the press. She's now also being investigated in Ohio for a violation of HIPAA. A 10-year-old – and tell me these people care.”. PJ Media writer Megan Fox, who has led the charge on Twitter in accusing those involved of protecting the girl’s rapist, later clarified that Bernard is being accused of failure to report rather than the Ohio doctor, but added that “I don't know if she reported to the Indianapolis police her mandated report.” She went on to say that Bernard “still won't answer directly what role she had in helping this investigation or not.”
The Daily Wire's Ben Shapiro
The Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro claimed on his July 14 podcast that “it does not look as though we have any information about the doctor or who this girl saw making a police report, which is actually required by law.”
Fox co-host Carley Shimkus
Fox & Friends co-host Carley Shimkus reported on July 15 that Rokita’s investigation “comes after it is revealed that the 27-year-old alleged rapist was listed as a minor in the report sent to authorities. Rokita saying the doctor in question has a, quote, ‘history of failing to report criminal incidents.’”
Fox co-hosts Kayleigh McEnany, Emily Compagno, and Fox contributor David Webb
In a July 14 group discussion on Outnumbered, co-host Kayleigh McEnany falsely claimed Bernard did not report, asking, “Why did you report this to a newspaper and not authorities?” Co-host Emily Compagno responded that “it's a crime to intentionally not report. … There are HIPAA violation allegations now. That could lead to criminal and/or also civil penalties. That could lead up to jail time.” Later on, Fox contributor David Webb accused Bernard of using the child for political gain: “Why was she used as a political tool? Why was the doctor not acting on it? Why was she first a political tool?”
One America News’ Kara McKinney
One America News’ Kara McKinney stated on the July 14 edition of her show Tipping Point that “Todd Rokita told Fox News yesterday that his office is investigating the aforementioned Dr. Caitlin Bernard for not reporting the rape of a 10-year-old to authorities, as she is required to do. Bernard faces a possible loss of her license.”
Babylon Bee Managing Editor Joel Berry
Babylon Bee Managing Editor Joel Berry shared a screenshot of Bernard’s work phone number in a tweet and claimed if the story was true then Bernard “helped cover up the rape, failed to report it to authorities, and sent the victim back to her rapist to be raped again.”
Townhall Media, owner of both Townhall and PJ Media news sites, published articles on the affiliated sites repeating the claims that Bernard is under investigation for possibly not reporting the rape to authorities. The July 14 article published to Townhall included a quote from Rokita declaring his intentions to remove Bernard’s license if she did not go to the authorities. PJ Media’s article was updated at 8:13 p.m. on July 14 with a statement from Bernard’s employer saying that “IU Health’s investigation found Dr. Bernard in compliance with privacy laws.”
The Washington Times
The Washington Times published an article repeating Rokita’s statement and noting, “An Indiana abortion provider is under investigation over whether she reported the rape of a 10-year-old Ohio girl as required by law.”
Just the News
Just the News, a website run by misinformer John Solomon, repeated the claims that Bernard had previously had complaints filed against her for not reporting underage rape. The site quoted from Rokita’s appearance on Fox, where he said, “We have the rape, and then we have this abortion activist acting as a doctor with a history of failing to report.”
National Review published a July 14 article that discussed Rokita’s intent to investigate Bernard and continued to cast doubt on the original story, saying, “Many pundits and representatives were skeptical of the story.” It also implied there was no evidence Bernard reported the attack to the authorities, saying the original article “did not make any mention of a law enforcement probe, which should have been immediately triggered after a medical professional learned of the rape.”
Blaze media covered Rokita’s Fox News appearance in a July 14 piece, noting that “Rokita said his office will investigate Bernard because she purportedly failed to disclose the case to law enforcement.” The article also included Bernard’s statement following Rokita’s TV appearance.
The Daily Caller
The Daily Caller published a July 14 article outlining Rokita’s intent to investigate Bernard for “potentially failing to report the rape of a minor to law enforcement.” The article goes on to reference Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, who earlier this week claimed there was no evidence of the rape taking place. The Daily Caller stated, “Yost said Monday his office had no evidence that the rape of the girl had occurred as prosecutors had not been able to identify a report to law enforcement.”
Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.
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