June 16, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Remember When Kansas Media Told Us NOT to Believe Victims

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On Wednesday the Kansas City Star scolded those on the right defending Judge Brett Kavanaugh for their failure to believe victims and their “cavalier and supremely confident know-nothingism on sexual assault.” The Star was not alone in its finger wagging campaign.

A year earlier, in a pious bit of bluster, the editors of the Star cheered that “various dams of misdeeds past are being blown up” and that the country “is finally being shamed into enforcing post-cave dwelling directives against sexual harassment.”

The editors overlooked the year the Star, the Topeka Capital-Journal and just about every major Kansas newspaper dwelt deep in their own cave. The year was 2006, the most morally squalid year in Kansas history.

Paul Morrison, before the fall

The story begins in 1989 when then Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison promoted a woman named Kelly Summerlin to the position of victim witness coordinator. Soon afterwards, as Summerlin would later testify under oath, Morrison began making comments about other women that Summerlin found “offensive,” and she told him as much.

In November 1990, Morrison invited Summerlin to a bar to celebrate a victory in court. There, he took her aside and said, “Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife and kids, but I am very attracted to you . . . Well, what are we going to do about this?” Morrison would admit that he said this and would confirm Summerlin’s testimony that he apologized the next day.

After that incident, Summerlin claimed that Morrison could barely bring himself to talk to her and began to strip her of responsibilities. Three months after the incident in the bar, he called Summerlin in for her annual performance review and gave her a choice to either quit or be terminated.

“I decided to fight it, to stand up and tell the truth,” said Summerlin in a 2006 radio interview. Summerlin sued Morrison for sexual harassment in a federal court. Morrison’s attorney, future Democratic governor Mark Parkinson, filed a motion for summary judgment that the court denied, stating “questions of fact exist such that a reasonable person could find in favor of either party.”

Exhausted by the ordeal and with a newly adopted baby at home, Summerlin signed a joint stipulation for dismissal with Morrison in 1993. In 2006, the Topeka Capital-Journal would dismiss Summerlin’s accusation as an “unproven allegation.”

2006 was the year all hell would break loose. At the root of the outbreak was a more grievous plague of sexual abuse. After a multi-year fight with the administration of Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius to get access to relevant records, Republican Attorney General Phill Kline had discovered that the state’s abortion clinics were grossly ignoring mandatory reporting laws on child rape.

Of the 166 abortions performed on girls under-fifteen in the years 2002 and 2003, the clinics reported only three cases to the state department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. They should have reported all 166.

To save the state’s now imperiled abortion industry, Sebelius and pals convinced the nominally Republican Morrison to switch parties and run against Kline as a Democrat. With millions in backing from the abortion industry and the full throated support of the state’s media, Morrison was poised to defeat “Snoop Dog Kline,” the attorney general allegedly fixated on exposing women’s health care records.

The campaign protected abortion violations under the guise of “privacy”

Late in the campaign, the Kline camp raised the Summerlin harassment charge in an ad. Unlike, say, the charges against Judge Kavanaugh, this charge did not surface out of the ether. Kline cited court testimony in the ad. Having proven their indifference to the rape of minors, the state media doubled down and showed their indifference to sexual harassment charges.

“Sexual harassment allegations are serious,” said Kline at the time. “We must take them seriously.” The media refused to. They not only declined to investigate whether Morrison persisted in his behavior, but they also chose to attack Kline for daring to raise the issue.

The attacks were indirect but obvious. One Topeka Cap-J article was headlined, “Kline broke vow in sex case.” The “vow” in question was Kline’s earlier “no” answer when asked by the Wichita Eagle editorial board whether he would make the harassment charge a campaign issue. Needless to say, the Wichita Eagle did not make it an issue.

In 2006 to raise charges of sexual harassment was “bottom feeder” politics.

In another Cap-J article–unsubtly headlined “New Kline ad cites old claim: Morrison says A.G.’s tactics are ‘deceptive and sleazy’”–the reporter had former Republican attorney general Carla Stovall do the heavy lifting. “I think its unconscionable,” an indignant Stovall told the Cap-J. “Any lawyer knows that anybody can file a lawsuit about anything. But that doesn’t mean there’s any legitimacy to it.” Unmentioned in the Cap-J article is that as attorney general the “pro-choice” Stovall did nothing to corral the state’s increasingly lawless abortion industry.

Had the media bothered to follow up on Kline’s charges, they would have discovered that under Morrison the district attorney’s office had devolved into a virtual carnival of sexual grotesquerie with Morrison’s mistress, Linda Carter, as ringleader in chief. If the major media refused to tell the story, the alternative “Pitch” did in all of its squalid detail.

In 2006, the Star would win Planned Parenthood’s top editorial award for its role in defeating Kline.

According to the Pitch, which interviewed 21 of Carter’s friends and colleagues, her affair with Morrison began in September 2005 in an empty office on the sixth floor of the courthouse and lasted two years. As director of administration and with the boss in her thrall, Carter used her power to sexually degrade men and women both. “When Morrison was confronted with the problems,” reports the Pitch, “he dismissed them as cattiness. An abusive, threatening environment developed. Carter created a sexually charged workplace that would have gotten others in the office accused of sexual harassment or fired.”

In 2006, however, the media did not want to know any to this. They had an industry to protect and an attorney general to defeat. They succeeded in doing both. When the Morrison scandal blew up in 2007, they blamed Kline, who succeeded Morrison as Johnson County district attorney, for blowing the whistle on the sexual squalor of Morrison’s office.

In 2006, just as in September 2018, the issue isn’t sex. The issue is abortion, and the media will choose to believe whoever it is, male or female, that will protect that unholy industry.

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