Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What's Wrong With Anecdotes

Michelle Malkin has an interesting piece in the Washington Times. It seems to support two basic propositions - don't trust the media and don't trust anecdotes (I'm already getting Al Gore debate flashbacks):

It's official: The editors of the New York Times have no shame. Don't take my word for it. Listen to the Times' own ombudsman, Byron Calame.

On Sunday, Mr. Calame wrote a stunning column debunking an April 9 New York Times Magazine cover story on abortion in El Salvador. The sensational piece by freelance writer Jack Hitt alleged that women there had been thrown in prison for 30-year terms for having had abortions. Mr. Hitt described his visit to one of them, inmate Carmen Climaco. "She is now 26 years old, four years into her 30-year sentence" for aborting an 18-week-old fetus, Mr. Hitt reported.

The magazine featured heart-rending photos of Climaco's 11-year-old daughter, eyes filled with tears as she clutched a photo of her jailed mom. Cruel. Horrible. Outrageous. And utterly, demonstrably, false. Climaco was actually convicted of murder for strangling her newborn baby.


Authorities found Climaco's dead baby hidden in a box wrapped in bags under her bed. Moreover, Lifesite reported, forensic examination showed it was a full-term normal delivery. The child was breathing at birth. The official cause of death was asphyxia by strangulation.

Mr. Hitt's main sources of info came from a pro-abortion group called Ipas. The group would profit from legalized abortion in El Salvador since it peddles abortion vacuum aspirators. Mr. Hitt's translator consulted for Ipas, which launched a fund-raising campaign to free Carmen Climaco and bring her to America. Pro-abortion groups recycled Climaco's story, citing the Times' bogus propaganda to scare up opposition to any abortion restrictions here.


Mr. Calame concluded that "Accuracy and fairness were not pursued with the vigor Times readers have a right to expect." That's too polite. The Times slung bull and refuse to clean it up. The Times' Climaco-gate, like the Associated Press' Jamil Hussein-gate and Reuters' fauxtography scandal and CBS's Rathergate, will go down in mainstream history as yet another case of textbook media malpractice.

Or maybe just a post-birth abortion.

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