With its recent commentaries on a terrible rape case in Ohio, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board has demonstrated yet again that it exists simply to put a seemingly respectable face on the most disgusting vitriol from right-wing political circles.
In the past few days, right-wing media outlets attempted to deny the legitimacy of a horrific crime that had reportedly occurred in Ohio, in which a 10-year-old girl was raped, became pregnant, and then had to travel to Indiana in order to receive an abortion. The case was first reported on July 1 by The Indianapolis Star, and then the story was repeated by President Joe Biden during a speech on July 8.
“All kinds of fanciful tales travel far on social media these days, but you don’t expect them to get a hearing at the White House,” the Journal’s editorial board declared on Tuesday, in an editorial with the stunning headline “An Abortion Story Too Good to Confirm.” “There’s no evidence the girl exists,” the editorial further insisted, while dismissing the word of the doctor involved in the case: “You may not be surprised to learn that Dr. Bernard has a long history of abortion activism in the media.”
The next day, The Columbus Dispatch further confirmed the story and reported that a suspect had been arrested for rape in the case.
By the time the Journal published its editorial on Tuesday, however, the paper’s corporate cousin Fox News had just confirmed on-air that the little girl did indeed exist. Appearing on Special Report, Fox correspondent Aishah Hasnie told guest anchor Bill Hemmer, “A source familiar to this situation is confirming to Fox News tonight that indeed, there is a 10-year-old girl from Ohio who traveled across state lines to Indiana to seek an abortion.”
The segment aired at 6:27 p.m. ET. It turns out the Journal editorial board’s work is somehow so shoddy, its contributors could potentially have been better informed if they’d been watching more Fox News. (Even then, the network’s prime-time star Tucker Carlson still falsely claimed later that night that “the story was not true.”)
Following the news developments on Wednesday, with the arrest of a suspect in the rape, the Journal first posted an editor’s note acknowledging the suspect’s arrest, while justifying its initial disregard of the story by saying, “No public confirmation of the referral or arrest was reported until the Dispatch story on July 13.” The editorial was then updated yet again, this time with a link to a follow-up editorial titled “Correcting the Record on a Rape Case,” which further shifted the blame to others and offered no apology from the editorial board for getting this story so wrong.
“It’s unusual that no one in law enforcement stepped forward to confirm that the rape referral had been made, especially after the story had gone viral for days on the internet,” the editorial said. “But we appreciate our obligation to correct the record on the case, which is a terrible one. The best news is that an alleged rapist has been taken off the street.”
Both of the Journal’s editorials had cited Ohio’s Republican Attorney General Dave Yost, who had claimed during an appearance Monday night on Fox’s Jesse Watters Primetime that there was “not a whisper anywhere” of the case among law enforcement in the state. In fact, the Dispatch’s article Wednesday on the suspect’s court appearance cited a police detective who testified that the girl’s mother had made a report to Franklin County Children’s Services on June 22. Yost’s assertion had also been repeated uncritically on Fox News, including in the same news report by Hasnie that confirmed the girl’s existence.
The Journal’s unapologetic follow-up piece concluded that the country “needs to find a rough consensus on abortion … . One way to help is to make sure that stories about abortion, from either side of the debate, can be readily confirmed. Passions are already heated enough.”
The Journal’s editorial board has a long history of simply disregarding the need to gather facts and ascertain reality, on such topics as the Trump/Russia investigation, Hunter Biden, the failures of the Texas electricity grid, and far more. This latest example, however, has proved to be viscerally revolting.