Friday, February 25, 2005

Wilgoren almost has the strongest article in the paper

Jodi Wilgoren almost has a strong article, almost. If she had, we'd be celebrating her for it. On the front page, you'll find "Kansas Prosecutor Demands Files on Late-Term Abortion Patients"
which demonstrates some real work in terms of research.

Let's break it down for anyone who's late to the story, Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline wants the medical records "of scores of women and girls who had late-term abortions" because he asserts they are necessary "to prosecute criminal cases." Wilgoren's got perspective in this story (she notes the similar, earlier attempts of J-Ass Ashcroft to do the same), she's got state lawmarkers on record, she's got background on Kline and on one doctor involved.

Here's one section of the article:

"When a 10-, 11- or 12-year-old child is pregnant, under Kansas law that child has been raped, and as the state's chief law enforcement official it is my obligation to investigate child rape in order to protect Kansas children," Mr. Kline said. "There are two things that child predators want, access to children and secrecy. As attorney general, I'm bound and determined not to give them either."

That statement begs questioning and exploration by the journalist. A 12-year-old girl pregnant by a 12-year-old boy is automatic rape? That's what Kline's quoted statement appears to suggest. The age of consent is 16 in Kansas. I think if Kline's going to build his case that sex under the age of consent is automatic rape, we need a legal opinion. I'm not familiar with Kansas law but most states dealing with statutory rape are dealing with situations where one person is of the age of consent and the other isn't and "[i]t is not uncommon for there to be exceptions giving lower ages of consent where young partners are close in age."

Does Phill Kline understand his state law? I don't know. And neither does any reader that's not already familiar with Kansas laws regarding age of consent and statutory rape.

Other than that, I'd argue it's the strongest article Wilgoren's written since 2003. It certainly shows that she might still become a reporter whose work actually means something. And I'll slam her (humorously and seriously) when she's clowning and being inept. If the laws governing age of consent and staturory rape weren't so important to whether Kline grasps his state's law, this would be a damn good article and I'd be praising Wilgoren without reservations for hard work done.

(Medical records, my personal opinion, are private. That goes for women's medical records and for Rush Limbaugh's and anyone else's. I think Kline's overstepped. But I do think it's an issue, if he's making blanket statements that may or may not demonstrate legal comprehension of age of consent, rape -- statuory or otherwise, molestation, etc.)

Ian Fisher's popular with many members for his strong work on the tsunami so let's note that he has a front page story: "Pope Undergoes Tracheotomy After Rush Back to the Hospital." If you have the print edition, you've read it or will read. If you don't and are reading online, skip it and go with "Pope Is Breathing on His Own After Throat Surgery" instead because it's also by Fisher and a recent update (7:03 a.m. this morning).

Stephen Crowley has a photo of Putin and the Bully Boy on the front page that Marcia's e-mailed about this morning to note that "it begs the question of how much filter and lighting is used on previous photos of Bully Boy? Apparently a lot."

Articles to note include Neil A. Lewis' "Senator Critical of Proposal on Filibusters" (Arlen Specter warns against Kitty Killer Bill Frist's 'nuclear option' on the filibuster), Gardiner Harris and Alex Berenson's "10 Voters on Panel Backing Pain Pills Had Industry Ties," Elizabeth Becker and Stephanie Strom's " Groups Pledge to Account for Tsunami Aid," and Annie E.
Kornblut's " Democrats Criticize Social Security Official."