Hey, did you hear the story about the Purdue University staffer who allegedly threatened to rape some women? No, you probably didn’t—because so far the media have almost completely ignored it.
Earlier this week, Jamie Newman—a staff member at Purdue’s dance department—allegedly posted comments on a Live Action News article stating his intentions to rape another commenter’s “wife/daughter/great grandmother.” Those comments have since been deleted, although the rest of the conversation remains.
According to Newman, the suggestion that he “actually threatened to rape” anyone is a “complete fabrication;” but it is, according to Newman, a fabrication “built on a fragment of a much longer conversation.” Newman suggested that the “whole conversation” would make it clear that he had no intention to rape anyone, but that Live Action News deleted his comments. “Makes it so much easier to spin,” he said, “when all relevant context is removed.”
Newman is apparently trying to say that he did indeed make these disgusting rape threats, but within a larger conversation in which “relevant context” would provide an exculpatory explanation. Make of that what you will. It’s entirely possible that Newman indeed had no intention to rape anyone, though when you’re arguing that your rape threats should be taken “in context,” you’re probably on the losing side of things either way.
After a brief investigation, the university announced it would take no action against Newman: “[T]he speech was repugnant and inconsistent with Purdue values,” Purdue said. “We don’t condone it, but at this time no personnel action is intended.” That is, when you think about it, rather remarkable: a university employee apparently hurled sexual assault threats at a young woman, and the university will take no administrative action against him.
Who Cares If People Threaten Pro-Lifers
But that’s not the real story here. The real story is this: at the time of this writing, more than 24 hours after the news dropped on Campus Reform, the media have almost completely ignored this incredible story. More than a day after it was first reported, a few scattered outlets have run pieces on it: the Lafayette Journal and Courier, Breitbart News, the Christian Post, and some local news outlets. That’s it.
Think about that for a moment: a staff member at a prominent American university apparently made public, vile, profoundly disturbed, and disgusting threats of sexual assault towards innocent women, the university is refusing to do anyting about it, and the mainstream media have ignored it for nearly a day, if not more. In our lightning-quick digital media age, how could such an astonishing story go so underreported for so long?
The reason is this: Newman apparently made these threats in the course of an argument with a pro-life activist. Moreover, he apparently made these threats towards a pro-life activist. In most of the media’s eyes, this isn’t even worthy of a throwaway article on page A16.
When Rape Threats Aren’t Newsworthy
There is a craven and cowardly streak within American journalism, and it is no better exemplified than in the way it reports on the pro-life movement. The Planned Parenthood sting videos, the March for Life, the compelling and self-evident scientific arguments for the pro-life position: time and again, the media prove themselves incapable of approaching these topics with any measure of fairness or accuracy. This is a serious and pervasive problem, and it shows no signs of getting any better.
Now we see just how far the media are willing to go to deny the pro-life movement fair coverage. Had these disgusting alleged threats taken place in any other context—had they been directed at a liberal student activist, or a pro-choicer, or really anybody other than a pro-lifer—the coverage would have been immediately wall-to-wall.
The media circus would have descended upon Purdue, the person who had made the threats would have likely been placed on administrative leave prior to being fired, and social media would have exploded with righteous and appropriate indignation. None of that has happened. For the most part, at the time of this writing and long after the story should have blown up nationwide and even globally, there has been silence.
This is how bad things have gotten. It is not merely a matter of lazy reporting. It is a case of the media’s professional priorities being wildly out of step with any kind of journalistic ethics. Newman apparently made disgusting and evil threats towards an innocent young women and her family, and his employer—a public university—will do nothing about it—because, aside from a few mostly conservative outlets, the media have not bothered to look into it. They have instead chosen to look away.
It is, in other words, apparently no big deal if a staff member of an American public university allegedly threatens to rape several women—that is, as long as he is threatening the right kind of women: pro-life women. In that case, most journalists can’t even be bothered to care.