WaPo Late to the Party on Fact-Checking Poorly Sourced '10-Year-Old Rape Victim' Abortion Tale—BUT Proves Us Right

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File

The Washington Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, finally tried to fact-check the highly suspicious tale of the 10-year-old who reportedly traveled to Indiana for an abortion due to abortion restrictions in Ohio. The story first appeared in the Indianapolis Star and quickly went viral. Why did he wait so long? I had the story on July 5 in a tweet showing my research into the story that relied on one highly biased source named Dr. Caitlin Bernard.

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Today is July 9, and the WaPo finally decided to weigh in.

“Patients head to Indiana for abortion services as other states restrict care,” the article was headlined. That was a benign headline. But it was the anecdotal beginning that caught the attention of other news organizations.

Kessler didn’t bother to name those “other news organizations,” which were literally me, myself, and I. After my tweet showing my research into this story that didn’t add up went viral, the only news about it linked to my research. Kessler didn’t bother to give me any credit for that. It probably hurt too much to admit that a conservative news outlet and an independent journalist smoked the Washington Post.

The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin (who, unbelievably, used to work here) wrote a hysterical opinion piece on the “forced births” that furthered its spread. Kessler didn’t bother to fact-check the story at that time. He let Rubin’s piece run without question as she relied on the thin tale to spread her pro-abortion propaganda.

Two Republican governors, Kristi L. Noem of South Dakota and Tate Reeves of Mississippi, were asked on Sunday news talk shows about the case of a 10-year-old girl impregnated by her rapist. Are they really insisting that, regardless of the physical harm that giving birth could cause someone so young, the child be further tormented and forced to have the baby? Yes…The monstrous cruelty of such bills shows how little many conservatives care about the well-being of women and girls who have already experienced the unbelievable trauma of sexual violence.

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It took four more days, my viral tweet, Joe Biden weighing in, and a RealClearPolitics reporter asking the White House press secretary about it for Kessler to get interested in fact-checking this story. He didn’t do a terrible job. With the headline that says “A one-source story about a 10-year-old and an abortion goes viral,” Kessler threw cold water on Dr. Bernard’s claims.

The only source cited for the anecdote was Bernard. She’s on the record, but there is no indication that the newspaper made other attempts to confirm her account. The story’s lead reporter, Shari Rudavsky, did not respond to a query asking whether additional sourcing was obtained. A Gannett spokeswoman provided a comment from Bro Krift, the newspaper’s executive editor: “The facts and sourcing about people crossing state lines into Indiana, including the 10-year-old girl, for abortions are clear. We have no additional comment at this time.”

Rudavsky never responded to me either, nor did Krift. Krift’s response to the Post is pretty revealing. He refused to answer direct questions about how the information was vetted. I can’t resist: Clearly, Bro, the info isn’t “clear,” or you wouldn’t have the WaPo, Snopes, and a hundred other outlets asking you to clarify your vetting process. 

Related: This Is How We Lose: Ohio Gov on Defense Over Dubious Tale of 10-Year-Old Rape Victim Who Fled to Indiana for Abortion

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Krift chose the easy way out, refusing to answer any questions about “how” the information was confirmed, if at all. We can all assume he didn’t confirm any of the details, or why would he hesitate to share that process?

Then Kessler went on to the next part of my research, which showed how the story spread through news aggregators that don’t bother to do any sort of confirmation. There are very few “reporters” left in the world as most are just “repeaters.”

The story quickly caught fire, becoming a headline in newspapers around the world. News organizations increasingly “aggregate” — or repackage — reporting from elsewhere if it appears of interest to readers. So Bernard remained the only source — and other news organizations did not follow up to confirm her account.

Kessler went on to try and confirm the story by finding a criminal report, which, as I said, would have been required under the law since doctors are mandated reporters. He couldn’t find any, and Bernard wouldn’t tell him if she followed the law and reported a crime as she is required to do.

Under Ohio law, a physician, as a mandated reporter under Ohio Revised Code 2151.421, would be required to report any case of known or suspected physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect of a child to their local child welfare or law enforcement agency. So Bernard’s colleague would have had to make such a report to law enforcement at the same time he or she contacted Bernard. Presumably then a criminal case would have been opened.

Bernard declined to identify to the Fact Checker her colleague or the city where the child was located. “Thank you for reaching out. I’m sorry, but I don’t have any information to share,” she said in an email.

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Kessler then contacted Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s press secretary and other government agencies to find out if they knew about any reports of the rape of a minor. No one has any information.

Related For Our VIPs: Fake News? Viral ‘Pregnant 10-Year-Old Rape Victim’ Abortion Horror Story Deserves a Deeper Look

Dan Tierney, press secretary for Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R), said the governor’s office was unaware of any specific case but he said under the state’s decentralized system, records would be held at a local level. Thus, he said, it would be hard to confirm a report without knowing the local jurisdiction to narrow the search. He added: “The rape of a ten-year-old certainly would be newsworthy.”

As a spot check, we contacted child services agencies in some of Ohio’s most populous cities, including Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo. None of the officials we reached were aware of such a case in their areas.

Up until this point, Kessler did a pretty good job confirming what we already told you several days ago. This story is most likely a fraud and a political hit job, and there’s no evidence that a pregnant 10-year-old rape victim even existed in Ohio, let alone had an abortion. But then Kessler had to go and ruin a perfectly good fact-check that made Democrats look stupid. Instead of determining that this story lacks credibility, Kessler actually concluded that it’s fact-based because of how many times it has been repeated, including by Joe Biden.

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This is a very difficult story to check. Bernard is on the record, but obtaining documents or other confirmation is all but impossible without details that would identify the locality where the rape occurred.

With news reports around the globe and now a presidential imprimatur, however, the story has acquired the status of a “fact” no matter its provenance. If a rapist is ever charged, the fact finally would have more solid grounding.

Do you understand that, dummies? Anything can be true if it is repeated enough by important newspapers and politicians who think you will buy this. Unverifiable made-up political baloney gets the “status of a fact” based on how good the left is at spreading it. This is Big Media’s opinion of the general public: you’re too stupid to know what’s true. We will take care of that for you. 2+2=5. Say it, or else. This story is a fact because we say so. Stop asking pesky questions. 

I reached out to Kessler for a comment on his opinion that this unverified nonsense is a “fact,” but I’m pretty sure he’s going to continue to pretend that I don’t exist. If by some chance he responds, I’ll update this article.

Too bad for Kessler and the rest of Big Media that we’re here forcing them to do their jobs, whether they admit it or not (or give us any credit for busting them every single day). Make sure you don’t miss our reporting and sign up for VIP now to support real journalism — not whatever the hell Glenn Kessler is trying to sell you.

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