How important is it that an alternate media exists to shine a light on mainstream media bias? This story about bullies successfully shutting down a pro-abstinence speaker’s presentation in a small town middle school and high school gives one such example.
Pam Stenzel has spoken to countless young people across the country about the importance of abstinence and the costs of sexual activity for more than 20 years without a hint of scandal. But the left-wing outrage machine has decided it will simply proceed with character assassination and lies.
And sometimes those assailants are reporters in local media, like Lancaster Online reporter Kara Newhouse.
When Newhouse found out that an abstinence speaker had been invited to address the Warwick School District, she responded with an October 17 story headlined, “WATCH: This lightning-rod speaker will promote abstinence to Warwick students.” Newhouse branded Stenzel a “lightning rod” who “is known for what some critics say are scare tactics.” Stenzel “shouts” during her “frequent yelling into the microphone.” Newhouse quoted a friendly source who branded Stenzel “harsh and abrasive” before helpfully pointing out, repeatedly, that Stenzel once worked for a “Christian-based pregnancy counseling center,” the boogeyman of the pro-abortion movement. However, Newhouse cited the Sex Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS) as a responsible expert source.
The heart of her articles, though, were a pair of dubious “quotations” from one of Stenzel’s speeches in a West Virginia high school: “If you take birth control, your mother probably hates you,” and “I could look at any one of you in the eyes right now and tell if you’re going to be promiscuous.”
Having seen Stenzel speak numerous times, these words did not ring true to me, so when they were first reported I assigned LifeSiteNews reporter Kirsten Andersen to contact Stenzel about them.
“I never in my life said that,” Stenzel told us. “You can go listen to it yourself; my talks are all over YouTube.”
Although Newhouse recycled these alleged quotations in four separate stories, she never once quoted Stenzel’s denials. She did not even report that George Washington High School principal George Aulenbacher was quoted by the Charleston Gazette in the same story that he attended Stenzel’s presentation and “didn’t hear anything like that.”
“She never talked to me,” Stenzel told me yesterday. “She doesn’t even know what she’s talking about.”
Despite these omissions and strong objections from the Warwick school leadership that Newhouse had misrepresented the facts, LNP Executive Editor Barbara Hough Roda said, “LNP stands fully behind its reporting of this story.” (LNP, Lancaster Online, and numerous other media outlets in southeastern Pennsylvania are part of Steinman Communications; Roda is Newhouse’s boss.)
Apparently “mainstream” media reporters like Newhouse need not follow such protocols.
On a whim, I decided to research Newhouse. I was not surprised by what I found.
In 2012, she led an OccupyPA tour – a statewide campaign for the state chapter of the Occupy Wall Street movement – on behalf of the publication Pennsylvanians from Below.
The same year, the Occupy Wall Street movement threw itself into disrupting peaceful pro-life events. Occupy Providence reportedly interrupted the 39th Annual Pro-Life State House Rally in 2012 by “showering condoms down on some of the girls from a Catholic high school,” according to Rhode Island State Right to Life Committee Executive Director Barth Bracy.
Weeks later, I was present as Occupy D.C. activists shouted down pro-life leaders including Lila Rose at the 2012 March for Life Youth Rally.
Here is Newhouse discussing the OccupyPA tour with a public access program:
According to her LinkedIn profile, before lionizing the Occupy movement Newhouse “contributed monthly to feminist blog, Canonball.” Feminists tend to have pronounced views on abortion. This may explain Newhouse’s decision to portray local citizens going to the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. – including its schoolgirls – as militant “soldiers of Christ” in a story for the publication this January.
Before that, she “investigated and reported breaking news and features from the West Bank in 2010 for Palestine Monitor, an English-language news site.” The Monitor makes no bones about its advocacy: “Our aim is transparent: to present the Palestinian perspective,” its website says.
Seh also “reported from Honduras on civil resistance to the military coup in 2009 for alternative news sites and blogs.”
That would be the movement to support would-be dictator Manuel Zelaya, the ousted president of Honduras and ally of Venezuelan leftist strongman Hugo Chavez, who tried to amend the constitution so he could remain in office – a move opposed by members of his own party. Roberto Micheletti acted as interim president for six months until a democratically elected successor took his place.
President Obama strongly supported putting the far-Left Zelaya back in office, although he was reportedly heavily involved in drug-running. An estimated 100 tons of cocaine passed through Zelaya’s Honduras every year en route to the United States. Then-Ambassador Charles A. Ford wrote in a cable released by WikiLeaks that Zelaya was “surrounded by a few close advisors with ties to both Venezuela and Cuba and organized crime” and that he believed Zelaya would inevitably “threaten the rule of law and institutional stability.” Insiders believe Obama supported Zelaya in an effort to appease Chavez.
In her none-too-balanced coverage, Newhouse extolled the “tireless Honduran protesters” who stood up to “the Micheletti dictatorship.” She joyously reported an event that featured FMLN members from El Salvador – the Cuban- and Soviet-backed radicals the U.S. sought to keep from power in the 1980s – showed up to support Zelaya. Avowed Communists from around the world made Zelaya their cause célèbre.
In the end, he disappeared not with a bang but with a whimper. Zelaya barricaded himself inside the Brazilian Embassy and covered his room with tin-foil, claiming that Israelis were beaming high-frequency laser beams into his room to disturb his mental state. (Tel Aviv: Mission accomplished.) But the Honduran people chose someone else to lead their nation. Last year his wife, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, made a credible run for president but lost.
By then, Newhouse had moved on to Palestine, then to feminism, then to the Occupy movement…and now to all-but-libeling pro-family speakers like Pam Stenzel.
It is no sin for reporters to have political views. However, it is a breach of ethics for them to allow those views to skew their reporting, as Newhouse has done, with LNP’s tacit or explicit approval.
I decided to give the newspaper another chance to clarify whether Newhouse’s reporting was appropriate. I e-mailed Barbara Hough Roda:
I’m doing a story on Pam Stenzel’s speech cancellation. I had two questions for you:
1. You are quoted as having said, “LNP stands fully behind its reporting of this story.” Reporter Kara Newhouse repeatedly quoted Stenzel as having allegedly said, “If you take birth control, your mother probably hates you,” and “I could look at any one of you in the eyes right now and tell if you’re going to be promiscuous.”
However, Stenzel specifically told LifeSiteNews that “I never said that” following the controversy, and George Washington High School principal George Aulenbacher told the Charleston Gazette that he attended Stenzel’s presentation and “didn’t hear anything like that.”
There is also no video or audio proof of her alleged remarks.
None of these facts made it into LNP’s reporting to counterbalance the explosive allegations.
Do you still stand fully behind Newhouse’s reporting?
2. According to her LinkedIn profile, Newhouse “contributed monthly to feminist blog, Canonball,” has written for websites with a pronounced left-wing slant on Palestinian and Central American issues, and led the OccupyPA tour. During the time she was a volunteer, Occupy Wall Street chapters across the country interrupted pro-life events, in one instance reportedly throwing condoms at Catholic schoolgirls.
Do you believe she was the best reporter for this story or other pro-life stories she has covered?
I look forward to your response. My deadline is 3 p.m. Eastern. Thank you.
Ben Johnson, U.S. Bureau Chief
bjohnson (at) lifesitenews.com
Roda, who has been with the company for 32 years, never responded. She reportedly did not reply to other media requests for comment, either. I can’t imagine why.
Perhaps she or Kara will respond to you. It can’t hurt to try.
Barb Hough Roda, LNP Executive Editor
Kara Newhouse, Education
UPDATE: When Lancaster Online covered Pam Stenzel’s final speech, it did not assign Kara Newhouse to cover it but Tom Knapp. His final story, “Abstinence message finds warm welcome in Warwick,” incorporates some – but not all – of the correctives I noted in my e-mail to Executive Editor Barbara Hough Roda. It includes the fact that she was conceived in rape and that she denies she made the incendiary comments – but not that the principal who attended the rally backed her up, thus leaving it a matter of he said/she said. One passable story ex post facto hardly atones for the series of stories from a politically motivated reporter that misled the public, arguably harmed Stenzel, but more importantly denied a message Newhouse apparently disliked a willing audience of adolescents in this small Pennsylvania town. Somebody still owes journalism an apology.
Cross-posted at TheRightsWriter.com.