WHY THE BYLINE GENDER GAP MATTERS. Back in April, the New York Times Magazine published the cover story "Pro-Life Nation" about abortion in El Salvador. It was written by Jack Hitt, an old white dude and entrenched member of the elite lefty media (he routinely writes cover stories for Harper's, Mother Jones, etc.). On Sunday, the Times's public editor Byron Calame wrote that Hitt and the Times editors had failed to check the court records on a woman Hitt said was serving a 30-year prison term for having an abortion at 18 weeks. The court documents actually show she was sentenced for having a full-term, live birth and strangling the "recently born." But the Times hadn't bothered to check the documents, and continually defended Hitt's reporting.
This gives the anti-choicers a great opportunity to discredit the entire article, which makes a series of important points about the lives of women in countries where abortion is criminalized. This has long been a sticky issue for the antis, and they were none too pleased when the piece came out. One of the worst things about Hitt's and the editors' failure to admit to their error is that, in exposing the issue, Calame cites and lends credibility to anti-abortion "news" services like LifeNews.com, which have proliferated (ha) in recent years. I've watched these sites for a long time, and have seen mainstream news outlets mimic their language and pick up certain stories. Now, by crediting them with exposing the problems in Hitt's El Salvador story, they're seen as journalists rather than propagandists. Needless to say, this is dangerous.