Local journalists tell stories national media won’t
Many people think that the pinnacle of journalism is working for a publication with national reach, like The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal Where The ChicagoTribune. These are the flashy, high-profile jobs that put you in line for the Pulitzers and invite you to pontificate on cable news networks. And although there is a certain cachet in being able to put “of The New York Times“after your name (unless of course you lived in Ukraine when Stalin was pushing it to starvation while the newspaper looked the other way), some of the greatest writers and investigative journalists worked in many small local papers in parts of the country that we used to call “flyover” I guess some brie and chablis lovers still do.
First, a tribute to the great Salena Zito. A Pennsylvania native who has gained much-needed national recognition, Zito rose to prominence during the 2016 election cycle when she became what some called “Trump’s whisperer,” a woman who could explain the idiosyncrasies of the Trump voter to an otherwise disbelieving audience of horrified institutional Republicans and Democrats. Zito understands people and she understands how important it is that their lives and concerns are accurately represented in the journalism they read. Unfortunately, this rarely happens in national publications, which often twist the facts of individual cases to advance a larger narrative.
This happened recently in Norfolk, Nebraska. To be honest, I wouldn’t have known where Norfolk, Nebraska was, because I’m a born and raised Philadelphia girl, and my geographic expertise is mediocre at best. However, my column works in the Norfolk Daily News, thanks to a lovely man named Jerry Guenther who helps edit the paper and often picks up my column from the Cagle Syndicate which distributes my articles beyond the Delaware Valley. The other day I received an email from Jerry asking me to take a look at a local story that had national attention. He wanted my honest opinion on how the national media, including CNN, Reuters, MSNBC and The Guardian fit the problems. And because it was about abortion, and because I have some experience of how these stories are portrayed by the national media, I agreed.
A little background: in June of this year, before the decision in Dobbs came down from the Supreme Court flipping Roe vs. Wade, a 17-year-old Nebraska girl and the 41-year-old woman who helped her have been charged with felony charges related to the disposal of a baby’s remains. As the facts began to emerge, it appears that the older woman obtained pills for the pregnant teenager, the teenager ingested the pills, and the fetus was chemically aborted. The initial diagnosis was a stillbirth, but further investigation indicated the death was caused by the pills.
But let’s stop talking about the “fetus”. At the time of her death, which is believed to have been caused by the chemical abortion, the unborn child was 29 weeks old. That means it was beyond the time Nebraska law allows abortions, and medical records indicate the child himself was healthy, with no prenatal abnormalities. If this baby had been brought to term, he would have survived. Babies much younger than this have been operated on in utero at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and by Dr. Ben Carson at Johns Hopkins, and at many children’s clinics around the country, and have been born healthy. This child was aborted in his 7th month by a teenager, with the help of a woman who provided him with an illegal abortion. And then the couple buried the child’s remains in a ditch and failed to obtain the proper death certificate, also in violation of state law.
This is a baby who was less than two months from birth. This is a baby who could have been adopted since the young mother was clearly not prepared to become a parent. This is a baby who, by all accounts, was healthy and had no medical conditions that would have warranted an abortion at term. It’s a baby who was thrown into a ditch and abandoned.
And sure enough, the national media twisted the narrative into a pro-abortion message, suggesting that the pregnant young woman’s “desperation” is a reason why abortion must remain safe and legal. They gloss over the fact that the woman knew she was pregnant months before she had the abortion and also knew that her unborn child was perfectly healthy.
They also gloss over the fact that the adult was the teenager’s mother, that she was an unauthorized abortionist, that she committed the act after knowing that the baby (her grandchild) was in good health and helped her daughter and a 22-year-old man. -old male in disposal of remains. The added horror of the situation is that the trio attempted to burn the baby’s body before burying it.
There are too many details to cover in this play, many of which are blood-curdling. The scariest thing, however, is the suggestion that the real culprit is a society that prevents women from having abortions whenever they want, as opposed to people who view human life as disposable trash.
The journalist who authored most of the local stories, Austin Svehla, has done a magnificent job of presenting the facts in an honest and unbiased manner. He should be applauded. Unfortunately, he is reviled in some circles because of his work.
Svehla, like many local reporters who aren’t asked to pontificate on CNN and MSNBC, are the real professionals, trying to honestly shine a light on the things we’d rather ignore.
He, Salena Zito and their ilk deserve more than Pulitzers. They deserve our gratitude and respect.