Did the headline get your attention? Upset because it was misleading?
Now you know how I feel.
I began with the Kansas City Star’s Primebuzz blog, then I moved to the Lawrence Journal-World, The Topeka Capital Journal and others. And it couldn’t have been more plain from the headlines I was reading…man, what a beating Phill Kline took today.
For instance, I began with this headline, “KS court blisters Kline” where I was told, “It’s one of the most blistering opinions delivered in memory, according to The Star’s legal reporter.”
Then I moved to the Journal-World, “Supreme Court blisters Kline, orders return of abortion clinic records.” The first paragraph said it all, “The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday ordered Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline to turn over copies of patients’ medical records from an abortion clinic he is prosecuting.”
KSN in Wichita, “The Kansas Supreme Court orders Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline to turn over abortion patients’ medical records.”
As I continued on my ‘mainstream’ media tour, it was more of the same.
Finally, I turned to my emailed headline from Kansas Liberty, “Despite opinion’s scathing language, DA Kline can keep copies of abortion records.”
Based on the scathing language directed toward Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline in an opinion issued by the Kansas Supreme Court this morning, it might seem easy to conclude that Kline not only suffered a legal defeat, but that he disgraced the offices in which he served during an investigation of Planned Parenthood.
But, cutting through the criticism and innuendo contained in the majority opinion, written by Justice Carol A. Beier, it appears the ruling actually favored Kline on the law.
Beier wrote: “The above analysis leads us to the conclusion that [Planned Parenthood] and the Attorney General are not entitled to the primary relief they seek. We will not force Kline to disgorge ‘each and every copy’ of the patient records Kline and his subordinates have made ‘and any and all other evidence Kline developed and obtained while he was acting as Attorney General that he took with him to Johnson County’.”
Then, I turned to KAKE Channel 10 from Wichita. What I read there made me think two different rulings from rival courts had been passed down today.
The Supreme Court denied an abortion clinic’s petition for contempt proceedings against former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline on Friday, but the court granted other relief and sanctioned Kline for his handling of the clinic’s patient records.
What a difference some perspective gives.
It’s amazing what a loaded headline and a writers slant will do to your understanding of the facts. As I read headlines proclaiming that the records must be “returned” to the AG’s office, I found myself thinking that Kline had lost, the records had to be returned, and the case was over.
It was amazing. I continued to think this even as I read, in story after story, that only copies had to be turned over. It wasn’t a return of records, it was a copy and supply of records.
I have to admit, it never fully sunk in until I got to the Kansas Liberty and KAKE 10 stories.
How many people do you think never got around to reading those articles?
Today isn’t a defeat for Phill Kline. Today is a defeat for a free and responsible press and an informed public.