Sep 17 2008

More Palin-phobia

Category: election 2008,media,Palin,politics,Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 9:43 am

Now they’re accusing Palin of making rape victims pay for their own rape kit.

At the link above, you can read all about it, and about what was omitted from the USA Today story that made the charge.

The USA Today story continues the pattern of the NYTimes, of quoting Palin enemies in Alaska, without counterbalancing perspectives, and leaving out essential facts.

Of course, it’s possible to make any person in public life look like a cretin, if you quote only their accusers, don’t directly verify facts, don’t present exculpatory evidence, and never ask the opinion of people who disagree with the accusations.

The money quote seems to be this:

<blockquote>“In the past, we’ve charged the cost of exams to victim’s insurance companies when possible,” former chief Charlie Fannon told the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman in 2000 as then-Democratic Governor Tony Knowles was signing legislation to make local police branches cover the costs of the kits.</blockquote>

What’s missing here is that Fannon has no kind feelings for Palin, because he ran a fake campaign ad implying Palin was supporting him for Mayor of Wasilla, and she called him on it publicly, and supported his opponent.  It might have been good for USA Today to mention this bit of possible motivation on Fannon’s part.

In any case, saying that victims were “charged” may be an overstatement.  Even Fannon said they tried to get insurace to pay “when possible”.  That isn’t quite the same thing as demanding payment in full from the victim, is it?

Then USA Today opines:

In cases when insurance companies are billed, the victims pay a deductible.

Of course, this totally depends on the particular insurance plan of the victim.  In any case, deductibles are not paid to insurance companies, they are paid to medical service providers. USA Today provided no evidence that Wasilla had ever actually tried to collect a deductible from any victim.

Here is a telling bit:<blockquote>Fannon, who is no longer police chief, could not be reached for comment Wednesday; his home phone number has been disconnected.</blockquote>What can this mean, except that USA Today ran this story without talking directly to the person whose newspaper quotation they simply requoted?  That means USA asked no corroboration questions, asked no follow ups, asked no questions about Fannon’s relationship with Palin, etc.  Why did they publish without this?  It’s pretty simple:  the media is in a headlong rush to be first with the latest Palin scandal, and isn’t too choosy about sources and confirmation.

Now the really damning admission from USA Today, that proves what a rush they were to get it into print:

<blockquote>It is not known how many rape victims in Wasilla were required to pay for some or all of the medical exams, but a legislative staffer who worked on the bill for Croft said it happened. “It was more than a couple of cases, and it was standard practice in Wasilla,” Peggy Wilcox said, who now works for the Alaska Public Employees Association. “If you were raped in Wasilla, this was going to happen to you.”</blockquote>

In other words, USA Today has the word of political opponents of Palin that victims actually paid, but has no actual proof that it occured, paperwork from the city of Wasilla, or a statement from any rape victim, etc.  It would be easy enough for the Wasilla business office to confirm collection of fees without giving names and endangering the privacy of victims.

And now, the proof of USA Today’s rush to be first:

<blockquote>After calling Wasilla Mayor Dianne Keller for comment Tuesday, USA TODAY was instructed to submit a public records request, under which the city has 10 days to respond. As of Wednesday, the city had not responded to a request for records reflecting Wasilla’s prior policy, including when it took effect and the cost to sexual assault victims.</blockquote>

In other words, there isn’t really a story yet, unless that fact that Palin’s enemies and political opponents are willing to make wild accusations counts as a story.

If all that comes of this is that Wasilla tried to get insurance companies to pay when possible, but did not actually collect money from victims, there is no “there” there.

But it’s so boring to wait to publish until you actually know something, when you know the NYTimes will publish any accusation of anything at first mention.  Why should the gray lady have all the fun?

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