That the establishment media have a leftward lean is news to no one these days, but an episode of reporting on a speech by conservative Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., seems to push the envelope.
It seems the media trumpeted, and even headlined, the senator’s references to abortion, even though he didn’t make any.
The Associated Press reported about Paul’s recent speech at the 10,000-student Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., with the headline: “Rand Paul warns eugenics on horizon unless conservatives stand up against abortion rights.”
Except that Paul didn’t mention abortion in the nearly 18-minute address.
Then, other media outlets that rely on the giant wire service’s reporting followed AP’s lead.
In fact, the wire service dispatch was republished in the Washington Post, and other reports citing Rand Paul’s connecting abortion to eugenics appeared in USA Today, Gawker and other outlets.
The reports on comments he didn’t make are ironic in light of the fact that Paul has been under attack for alleged plagiarism in speeches and an article recently.
He has conceded he inadvertently made mistakes in crediting sources and has set up a new system for correcting the oversight.
In his Liberty University speech, what Paul did comment on was rapid advances in technology that raise privacy concerns for citizens and how that could embolden the surveillance state.
He also talked about genetic technologies and medical advancements and how going down that road will likely lead to genetic manipulation in mankind’s s ongoing quest for perfection.
“Imagine a world in which disease and disability are eliminated: no meningitis, no Down’s Syndrome, no cleft palate, no cerebral palsy. Man is able to select against these disabilities,” Paul said. “Each individual’s biological future can be predicted by looking at their DNA.”
On the matter of genetic selection, Paul asked the audience: “It is easy to oppose eugenics at the hands of an omnipotent state. But will we have the strength of character to resist a world where eugenics is practiced voluntarily?”
“Will we be sorry when we eliminate the disabled? Will we be sorry when we eliminate those with premature deafness such as Beethoven?” Paul questioned.
Tony Lee at Breitbart.com accused the “media” of distorting Paul’s address “by cribbing off an AP report.”
“Though Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., never once mentioned the word ‘abortion’ in his address at Liberty University last week – a speech that caused MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow to become apoplectic – the Associated Press immediately targeted Paul’s speech as a crusade against abortion,” he noted.
“Because so many outlets use the AP as source material, myriad writers simply cribbed from the original AP story, without watching Paul’s speech or obtaining a transcript, focusing in on Paul’s abortion position. Despite their own complaints about Paul’s supposed plagiarism in a speech, the media made clear that its own work is often cribbed from different sources.”
He noted someone at USA Today even went so far as to insert the word “abortion.”
Lee quoted the USA Today story, which said, “Kentucky’s Sen. Rand Paul warned a crowd at a religious college Monday that advances in biology combined with abortion could lead to a society that weeds out people deemed to have undesirable traits.”
That was the rewrite of the source story, the Courier-Journal, which had said: “Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on Monday warned a crowd at a religious college in Virginia that advances in biology could lead to a society that weeds out people deemed to have undesirable traits.”
Wrote Lee: “Paul then proceeded to tell the story of [Christy] Brown, who was ‘born with profound cerebral palsy’ and only ‘had control of his left foot.’” But he ended up an author and poet.
Paul’s theme throughout the address was the wise use of technology, and the threat that follows when it’s out of control. He cited the federal government’s snooping on citizens and capturing every telephone call.
“We fought for over 800 years to restrain the state. From the Magna Carta on, our tradition has been to fight to limit the power of the state,” he told the students. Then he asked them what it would take for them to give up those rights that have been so long established.
On eugenics, he said the future is bright with the possibility of eliminating handicaps and disease. But is that what’s best, he wondered, if eugenics falls into the hands of those who want to control the population?
That, he suggested, would eliminate “our humanness.”
He also got a couple of political digs in.
This trending, he said, “is not just President Obama’s fault. OK, well, a lot of it is.”
“It’s not that we chose the wrong politicians, although we may have chosen a few of the wrong ones,” he added.
He said, “What America needs is not another politician. What America needs is a revival.”
“My hope, though, is that we don’t lose our appreciation of the miracle that springs forth from tiny strands of DNA,” Paul said. “Einstein said there are two ways we can look at the world: We can either look at life as if there are no miracles or look at life and see miracles everywhere.
“I choose the latter.”