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All the abortion lies fit to print

By Michelle Malkin  •  January 2, 2007 12:53 PM

Carmen Climaco (right, holding baby): New York Times’ propaganda tool

Remember this name: Carmen Climaco.

The next time you hear a New York Times columnist defend the paper’s commitment to accuracy, fairness, and ethical standards, give them two words: Carmen Climaco.

The next time an MSM apologist denies liberal bias, repeat: Carmen Climaco.

Today’s Vent covers ombudsman Byron Calame’s stunning Sunday column calling the Times to task for its false, sloppy, and unrepentant pro-abortion propganda packaged as a New York Times Magazine cover story on abortion in El Salvador by freelance writer Jack Hitt.

The sensational piece alleged that women there had been thrown in prison for 30-year terms for having had abortions. Hitt described his visit to one of them, inmate Carmen Climaco. “She is now 26 years old, four years into her 30-year sentence” for aborting an 18-week-old fetus.

Cruel. Horrible. Outrageous. And utterly, demonstrably, false. Climaco had actually been convicted of murder for strangling her newborn baby.

Lifesite first exposed the truth after easily obtaining court documents in the case. Calame followed up and also independently obtained the documents easily—records which Hitt didn’t bother to try and get for himself to verify the propaganda being fed to him. Calame wrote:

Complaints about the article began arriving at the paper after an anti-abortion Web site, LifeSiteNews.com, reported on Nov. 27 that the court had found that Ms. Climaco’s pregnancy ended with a full-term live birth. The headline: “New York Times Caught in Abortion-Promoting Whopper — Infanticide Portrayed as Abortion.” Seizing on the misleading presentation of the article’s only example of a 30-year jail sentence for an abortion, the site urged viewers to complain to the publisher and the president of The Times. A few came to me.

The care taken in the reporting and editing of this example didn’t meet the magazine’s normal standards. Although Sarah H. Smith, the magazine’s editorial manager, told me that relevant court documents are “normally” reviewed, Mr. Hitt never checked the 7,600-word ruling in the Climaco case while preparing his story. And Mr. Hitt told me that no editor or fact checker ever asked him if he had checked the court document containing the panel’s decision.

Mr. Hitt said Ms. Climaco had been brought to his attention by the magistrate who decided four years ago that the case warranted a trial, so he had asked the magistrate for the court record. “When she told me that the case had been archived, I accepted that to mean that I would have to rely upon the judge who had been directly involved in the case and who heard the evidence” in the trial stage of the judicial process, Mr. Hitt wrote in an e-mail to me. So he didn’t pursue the document.

But obtaining the public document isn’t difficult. At my request, a stringer for The Times in El Salvador walked into the court building without making any prior arrangements a few days ago, and minutes later had an official copy of the court ruling.

Authorities found the dead baby hidden in a box wrapped in bags under the bed of Mrs. Climaco. Moreover, Lifesite reported, forensic examination showed that it was a full term normal delivery. The child was breathing at the time of birth. The official cause of death was asphyxia by strangulation.

Turns out Hitt’s main sources of info came from a pro-abortion group called IPAS. The group would profit from legalized abortion in El Salvador since it sells abortion vacuum aspirators.


Hitt’s translator consulted for IPAS, which ran a fund-raising campaign to free Carmen Climaco and bring her to the United States. They’ve yanked it from the site, but here’s a cached version touting the NYTimes piece.

Pro-abortion groups recycled Climaco’s story, citing the NYTimes bogus propaganda to scare up opposition to any abortion restrictions here.

The Times’ pro-abortion poster child is a woman convicted of infanticide. But the Times, questioned by its own public editor, refuses to acknowledge Jack Hitt’s false reporting.

There is “no reason to doubt the accuracy of the facts as reported,” the editors imperiously told Calame. They refuse to issue a correction, publish an Editor’s Note, or inform their readers of the ready availability of the court decision that exposes Jack Hitt’s deception about the Climaco case.

Calame concluded that “Accuracy and fairness were not pursued with the vigor Times readers have a right to expect.” Translation: The Times slung bull and they refuse to clean it up. The Times’ Climcao-gate, like AP’s Jamilgate and Reuters’ Fauxtography scandal and CBS’s Rathergate, will go down in MSM history as yet another case of textbook media malpractice.

Will they ever acknowledge the truth about Carmen Climaco?

E-mail the New York Times – letters@nytimes.com

E-mail Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Chairman & Publisher – publisher@nytimes.com

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