Michael Kirke

Opinion

Shoot first, aim later

Michael Kirke
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December 5, 2012 (Mercatornet.com) - In trawling for ideas for regulating Britain’s unruly press, the head of the government inquiry, Lord Leveson, pinched a few ideas from Ireland. Its Press Council offered, he thought, a reasonably sophisticated system for maintaining standards of fairness and balance in its media.

But the Press Council hasn’t stopped the Irish press from being incredibly unfair and slanted in its coverage of the death of Savita Halappananvar. Without a minimum of professional integrity no regulatory system will be fool-proof against this kind of abuse.

The Irish Times headline “Woman ‘denied a termination’ dies in hospital” on November 14 ignited an international firestorm. The story became the best-read article in the newspaper’s history. Media around the world condemned Ireland’s “backward” no-abortion policy.

The story which generated this frenzy is now beginning to unravel – but there have been no mea culpas from Ireland’s blinkered press.

Kitty Holland, the journalist who broke the news, has admitted at least twice that her narrative was misleading and that she had papered over the ambiguity and uncertainty about the facts of Savita’s illness and death.

Not that she has been shy about admitting it. Only three days after the news of Savita’s death broke, Ms Holland published a column in the London Observer reflecting on her scoop. Without blushing, she wrote, “Whether the fact that Savita had been refused a termination was a factor in her death has yet to be established”.

Yet to be established? Her original story gave millions of readers around the world the firm impression that Ireland’s ban on abortion had murdered Savita. With a measure of grim satisfaction, she wrote:

“If she had been Irish, perhaps the international reaction would have played out with an underpinning sense that, well, that is what Ireland does to its women. But the line from Newsweek to Channel 4 News to New Delhi TV has been: ‘Did Irish abortion laws kill this Indian woman?’”

As time goes on, Ms Holland’s story keeps unravelling. Marc Coleman, of independent radio station Newstalk 106, quizzed her last Saturday. Coleman pointed out discrepancies in reports by the Irish Times as to when Savita was started on antibiotics in Galway University Hospital where she died on October 24. She responded:

“All one can surmise is that his (Savita’s husband Praveen) recollection of events—the actual timeline and days—may be a little muddled… we only have Praveen and his solicitor’s take on what was in or not in the notes… we’re relying all the time on their take on what happened…”

Of course, mentioning the solicitor is a red herring. His recollection can only be of what Praveen told him after the event.

Under Coleman’s patient prodding, Ms Holland admitted that she is sure of nothing. Savita’s death may, in fact, not be connected with abortion at all. She told him:

“Oh, I’m not satisfied of anything. I’m satisfied of what he told me, but I await as much as anyone else the inquiry and the findings. I can’t tell for certain—who knows what will come out in that inquiry? They may come back and say she came in with a disease she caught from something outside the hospital before she even arrived in, and there was no request for termination.”

Reporting Savita’s death was undoubtedly in the public interest. Ireland has the lowest or second-lowest maternal mortality rate in the world, even though it has banned abortion. In a country where it happens so rarely, the death of a foreign woman was certainly news. But Holland’s real interest was not the tragedy of a young mother dying in a distant land in her first pregnancy. It was driving her agenda for legislative change.

If Lord Leveson is searching for a model of press regulation which delivers unbiased media coverage, he is unlikely to find it in Ireland.

Questions about Holland’s version of events were raised soon after the initial report and the Irish Government began an immediate inquiry on a number of levels. None of this precluded the Irish Times or other media from pursuing their own further investigations.

None of them did.

For many in Ireland this all sounds very familiar. It is the same “group think” which corrupted the reporting of the national broadcaster, Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE) in the “Reynolds affair”.

Fr Kevin Reynolds, a retired missionary priest, was falsely accused of fathering a child in Africa last May. An independent investigation revealed incredibly sloppy journalism which was passing for serious investigative reporting. In that case the team from RTE’s investigative flagship was identified as having fallen victim to “group think” in the aftermath of the clerical abuse stories which the media has been feeding on over the past few years.

The death of Savita has fed into this culture. Clearly the Irish Times saw it as the perfect pretext for overturning Ireland’s pro-life legislation. Against the background of the hysteria the Government is now planning legislation which could overturn Ireland’s existing pro-life laws. If this happens there can be no doubt but that a total failure of ethics within media organisations will have driven it there.

Lord Leveson’s ideas for press regulation in the UK go futher than Ireland’s model. Understandably there is great reluctance to accept his recommendations – but Ireland’s recent media history, where truth has been trampled under foot by the ulterior agendas of the media herd, does a great deal to undermine the more benign and self-regulatory system applying on that island.

Michael Kirke is the editor of MercatorNet’s Conjugality blog. He also blogs at Garvan Hill. Reprinted with permission from Mercatornet.com



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Princeton Professor Robert George speaks at the Legatus conference. Steve Jalsevac / LifeSiteNews
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Princeton’s Robert George: Are you ready to pay the price? The days of socially acceptable Christianity are over

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ORLANDO, February 4, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- “It is no longer easy to be a faithful Christian, a good Catholic, an authentic witness to the truths of the Gospel,” said Princeton Professor Robert George to a large crowd at the Legatus Summit in Orlando, Florida last weekend. Professor George added that people can still safely identify as “Catholic” as long as they don’t believe, or will at least be completely silent about, “what the Church teaches on issues such as marriage and sexual morality and the sanctity of human life.”

He said “the guardians of those norms of cultural orthodoxy that we have come to call ‘political correctness,’” will still grant a comfort to a Catholic ashamed of the Gospel, “or who is willing to act publicly as if he or she were ashamed.”

The Princeton professor, who has been a leader in the fight for life and marriage, reminded his audience of Christ’s words: “If anyone wants to be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me.” “We American Catholics, having become comfortable, had forgotten, or ignored, that timeless Gospel truth. There will be no ignoring it now,” he remarked.

Are we “prepared to give public witness to the massively politically incorrect truths of the Gospel, truths that the mandarins of an elite culture shaped by the dogmas of expressive individualism and me-generation liberalism do not wish to hear spoken?” he asked.

For Catholics, and Evangelicals in America, he said, “it is now Good Friday.”  To a rousing standing ovation Professor George concluded:

The memory of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem has faded.  Yes, he had been greeted—and not long ago—by throngs of people waving palm branches and shouting ‘Hosanna to the Son of David.’  He rode into the Jerusalem of Europe and the Jerusalem of the Americas and was proclaimed Lord and King.  But all that is now in the past.  Friday has come. The love affair with Jesus and his Gospel and his Church is over.

Fearing to place in jeopardy the wealth we have piled up, the businesses we have built, the professional and social standing we have earned, the security and tranquility we enjoy, the opportunities for worldly advancement we cherish, the connections we have cultivated, the relationships we treasure, will we silently acquiesce to the destruction of innocent human lives or the demolition of marriage? Will we seek to ‘fit in,’ to be accepted, to live comfortably in the new Babylon? If so, our silence will speak.  Its words will be the words of Peter, warming himself by the fire:  ‘Jesus the Nazorean? I tell you, I do not know the man.’

The saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ includes, integrally, the teachings of His church on the profound and inherent dignity of the human person and the nature of marriage as a conjugal bond—a one-flesh union….

The question of faith and fidelity that is put to us today is not in the form it was put to Peter—“surely you are you this man’s disciple”—it is, rather, do you stand for the sanctity of human life and the dignity of marriage as the union of husband and wife?  These teachings are not the whole Gospel—Christianity requires much more than their affirmation.  But they are integral to the Gospel—they are not optional or dispensable.  To be an authentic witness to the Gospel is to proclaim these truths among the rest. The Gospel is, as St. John Paul the Great said, a Gospel of Life.  And it is a Gospel of family life, too.  And it is these integral dimensions of the Gospel that powerful cultural forces and currents today demand that we deny or suppress.

One day we will give an account of all we have done and failed to do. …

One thing alone will matter: let me say this with maximum clarity—whether we stood up for the truth, speaking it out loud and in public, bearing the costs of discipleship that are inevitably imposed on faithful witnesses to truth by cultures that turn away from God and his law. Or were we ashamed of the Gospel?

If we deny truths of the Gospel, we really are like Peter, avowing that “I do not know the man.”  If we go silent about them, we really are like the other apostles, fleeing in fear. But when we proclaim the truths of the Gospel, we really do stand at the foot of the cross with Mary the Mother of Jesus and John the disciple whom Jesus loved. We show by our faithfulness that we are not ashamed of the Gospel. We prove that we are truly Jesus’s disciples, willing to take up his cross and follow him—even to Calvary.

But lest we fail the test, as perhaps many will do, let us remember that Easter is coming.  Jesus will vanquish sin and death. We will experience fear, just as the apostles did—that is inevitable. Like Jesus himself in Gethsemane, we would prefer not to drink this cup.  We would much rather be acceptable Christians, comfortable Catholics. But our trust in him, our hope in his resurrection, our faith in the sovereignty of his heavenly Father can conquer fear.  By the grace of Almighty God, Easter is indeed coming. Do not be ashamed of the Gospel.  Never be ashamed of the Gospel.



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Planned Parenthood investigator Daleiden refuses plea deal: ‘What we really want is an apology’

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URGENT: Sign the petition to Harris County urging them to drop the charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt. Click here.

HOUSTON, February 4, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - This morning, Harris County prosecutor's office offered David Daleiden a plea deal. His legal team, in turn, made a counter-offer.

"The only thing we're going to accept right now is an apology," said Terry Yates, one of four attorneys who flanked Daleiden down the corridors of the courthouse as he visited two court rooms to face felony and misdemeanor charges.

He confirmed an offer had been made but was unlikely to be accepted.

Instead, Yates said that a hearing before Judge Brock Thomas of Texas District 338 had been scheduled for March 28. "At that time, we anticipate filing a couple of motions" asking that all charges be dismissed at once. "We believe the indictments are factually and legally insufficient."

"The old Texas expression 'all hat and no cattle' - that's what we believe these indictments are. There's not much to them," he said.

Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society reiterated that stance during a press conference co-hosted by LifeSiteNews at 11 a.m. local time.

When asked if Daleiden would plead guilty to lesser charges offered by Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, Breen replied, "At this point, no."

"What we really want is an apology," Breen said, standing next to fellow counsel Briscoe Cain, Texas attorney for Operation Rescue. "He deserves an apology...He is innocent."

His legal team felt certain he would prevail on the substance of the charges without admitting guilt to any of them.

"The reality is David is a modern day hero," Jared Woodfill, another Daleiden attorney, told LifeSiteNews inside the courthouse. "He has exposed the wrongdoing that has been occurring at abortion clinics all across this country. And the fact that he's here today is a miscarriage of justice."

"He will be vindicated," he said.

The 27-year-old Daleiden appeared unflappable - smiling, well-groomed, wearing a black jacket, blue shirt, and black tie as he spoke briefly with reporters, including LifeSiteNews.

"I'm very grateful for all the support from the public, especially from the people of Houston," he said, some of whom held handmade signs that said "I Stand with Sandra and David" as he presented himself for booking and paid bail this morning.

Attorneys did not disclose the terms of the agreement prosecutors had offered. If convicted, Daleiden and fellow pro-life investigative journalist Sandra Merritt face up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

However, the charges could be dismissed at any time. LifeSiteNews delivered the first batch of signatures, more than 106,000, on its petition to the DA's office asking that all charges against Daleiden be dropped at once.

If that fails? "We're ready to go to trial," Woodfill told LifeSiteNews.

URGENT: Sign the petition to Harris County urging them to drop the charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt. Click here.



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First 100K petitions to drop charges against Daleiden delivered: ‘let’s double that’

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LifeSiteNews reporter Lisa Bourne and the Christian Defense Coalition's Patrick Mahoney deliver LifeSiteNews' petition to the Houston DA's office.
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URGENT: Sign the petition to Harris County urging them to drop the charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt. Click here.

HOUSTON, February 4, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Pro-life leaders have presented more than 106,000 signatures to the Harris County district attorney's office, demanding that charges be dropped against David Daleiden.

It was the first batch of signatures to be dropped off in LifeSiteNews' ongoing petition. It asks prosecutor Devon Anderson to dismiss the charges facing Daleiden and his fellow investigator Sandra Merritt, which could result in 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

"Houston, we do have a problem," said Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition at a press conference at 11 a.m. local time.

"We are standing in solidarity and say, 'When you attack David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, you are attacking us and our community,'" Rev. Mahoney continued. "Do not proceed with these unjust indictments."

Congressman Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican, sent a statement to the gathering saying, "Instead of society persecuting the truth tellers, Planned Parenthood needs to answer for their gruesome practices," as well as apologizing to adoptive families like his own, which the abortion provider has "prevented from being whole."

The local indictment, made by the Houston-area grand jury last Monday, has drawn national coverage as the first skirmish in a war between Planned Parenthood and those who sought to expose their practices.

"In delivering these petitions, I am representing more than 100,000 people who demand that these charges against this 27-year-old man and his fellow investigator be dropped at once," said LifeSiteNews reporter Lisa Bourne.

"The next move is up to the Harris County DA's office," she said, reading a statement prepared by LifeSiteNews. "These petitions prove that the world is watching."

"The indictment is another example of Planned Parenthood's bare-fisted intimidation tactics," she added, similar to campaigns taken against former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Andy Parrish, PR director for LifeSiteNews, who was in Houston with Bourne, said he was honored to tell David of the 106,000 LifeSite petition signers who were standing with him. "These signatures are just the beginning. The coalition standing behind David is growing. We've got 100,000, but let's double that."

David Daleiden addressed the crowd alongside two of his attorneys, Peter Breen and Briscoe Cain, and thanked all those who showed their support for him during his latest legal showdown.

"I just want to say thank you to everyone at LifeSiteNews and everyone who shared the petition, who signed it, and made it possible to deliver that today," Daleiden told LifeSiteNews. "It means a lot to me, and to Sandra, and to the Center for Medical Progress. Thank you for your faithfulness and for standing up for us."

URGENT: Sign the petition to Harris County urging them to drop the charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt. Click here.

He hoped everyone would remain united in demanding justice be done - and, like Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue, hopes that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast be indicted.

"I firmly believe that if we stay the course, if we stay together, we will bring about a day when there is no longer a price tag on human life," Daleiden said.

During the windy 45-minute-long press conference, speakers at the rostrum defended Daleiden's undercover journalism tactics in the face of sometimes hostile questions from the established press.

"No one can deny that this was the number one investigative journalism story of 2015," Rev. Mahoney said, citing statistics of the story's impact on the mainstream media.

In the new media environment of 2016, someone does not need a degree from Northwestern or Columbia to be a journalist, he said.

"He broke one of the biggest stories of the year," agreed John Hawkins of Right-Wing News, who sent in a written statement to the conference. Pressing charges against him sends a message to conservatives and Christians: "Sit down and shut up, or this just might happen to you."

"If this were a meat-packing plant investigation, there would be no question about his integrity," said Alexandra Snyder, executive director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation. "He would be universally lauded as a hero. I think he's a hero...for getting the truth out."

"In the meantime, we're going to do everything we can do to stand with David," she said, "and see justice prevail."



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