Read backstory here. If you didn’t see pro-abort Rachel Maddow’s documentary, The Assassination of Dr. Tiller, it’s worth watching. Click to view Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, and Part VI.

I came away from watching the special thinking it was nothing special. So I was surprised to read of pro-abort discontent.

Maddow’s goals were to 1) evoke sympathy for slain late-term abortionist George Tiller; 2) promote a conspiracy theory that shooter Scott Roeder didn’t act alone;  3) blame pro-life activists for provoking Roeder to murder Tiller if he did act alone; and 4) influence the 2010 elections, coming only 8 days after her special, as she freely told Today Show’s Matt Lauer:

And I think it’s important that it’s airing right now because there are… 5 Senate candidates running right now who have a position on abortion that has never really been seen in mainstream politics before. They want it criminalized, including people who are, who become pregnant because of rape or incest….

Well if the far edge of the pro-life movement is getting mainstreamed by… high level candidates adopting their position, what do we need to know about the far edge of the anti-abortion movement?

In all I thought Maddow did a fair job preaching to her choir, although I don’t know how much new support she garnered from those ambivalent about abortion. It’s a tall order to illicit sympathy for the murder of a murderer, particularly of little babies.

And for however wrong the pro-life community thinks it was for Roeder to murder Tiller, Maddow strangely gave him plenty of airtime to explain his rationale, and he came across as quite clear thinking.

I also thought both pro-life activists profiled, Troy Newman and Randall Terry, came off well. I winced a little at Randall’s blunt closing comment, but it was all true:

Wichita’s chapter is closing in the history books. Summer of Mercy happened, all the abortion mills are closed, Tiller’s dead. We move on to the next battle. We move on to the next villain.

Thinking Maddow accomplished her goals, as I wrote at the top of this post, I was surprised to read that some pro-aborts were unhappy with the end product. Thoughts from the other side were indeed enlightening. Jodi Jacobson, editor-in-chief of RH Reality Check, wrote:

But, being honest, I also found myself disappointed at the end….

[T]he documentary fell short in doing any real investigative journalism.  It told a story of the murder of Dr. Tiller.  It did not take that story much further.  It did not, for example, really examine financial, political or other links between groups such as Operation Rescue, which is crazy enough, with groups such as Army of God, or with the shennanigans [sic] of a Jill Stanek posting pictures on her website of the locations of clinics and the home addresses of physicians… as a public service of course…

Wait, how’d I get mixed up in this? Jacobson was inaccurately repeating an inaccurate Keith Olbermann report, but whatever. The reason Maddow didn’t go down that path was because there was no path to go down. Jacobson continued:

It did not explore the failures before the murder of the government (including but not limited to the Obama Administration) to enforce the FACE Act, or the lame response by the Administration or Congress to Dr. Tiller’s murder….

In the end, I did not feel it adequately challenged the “lone wolf” theory and put the issue of murdering doctors in the context it belongs.  The Taliban murders doctors, the anti-choice movement in the U.S. murders doctors… these threads need to be connected.

Jodi, it does your side no good to compare us to the Taliban. Everyone knows a pro-lifer and knows that’s crazy talk. It furthermore makes you look hypocritical when out of the other side of your mouth you’re arguing to stop equating 9-11 terrorists with the Muslim faith.

Lauren Sabina Kneisly at (Biblical America Resistance Front, cute) went much further  in her critical analysis, starting with (click to enlarge):

Kneisly expounded with several examples of what she considered pro-life bias in Maddow’s piece, for instance:

While the film spent a fair amount of time on painting a portrait of Roeder, his family life, some of his personal history, having him speak in his own words, and a full blown oh so television re-enactment of his final Friday night spent with his son, right down to pictures of an ice cream cone, showing how much he supposedly must have cared about his son to step outside his usual Friday night christian co-optation of jewish observances, after watching the film how much do you come away from it knowing about Dr. Tiller himself?

It does after all proport to be a film about Dr. Tiller. We see precious little footage in which he speaks in his own voice, and when he does, much of it is about his initial revulsion at discovering abortion had been part of his father’s practice….

Worse still, what happens when you end up with sonogram images being utilized to negate the very words being spoken?

Examine the actual structuring of the video itself, this example from part 2 at time marks roughly 4:43-5:17. We begin with the interview of Doctor Tiller, speaking of the way he learned his father had performed abortions as part of his practice. Dr. Tiller speaks of being “horrified” at the revelation, and upset that women would say his father had provided abortions, “why would these nice people say that he was… scumbag type physician?” Eventually he comes to learn that “abortion is a matter of survival for women.”

The visuals throughout these sequences reinforce the compulsory pregnancy advocates memes perfectly negating any positive messaging about abortion that could possibly come out of such…

First we are treated to images of an empty procedure room, complete with stirrups just as the phrase “scumbag type physician” goes by on the audio track…. As he utters the phrase “a matter of survival for women” an image of a sonogram negates/short circuits precisely that focus on women. Throughout this portion, a heartbeat-like drum sound effect plays.

That’s all true, although I never would have noticed any of it. Kneisly also noted that Tiller nemesis AG/SA Phill Kline was never mentioned, which I agree was odd. More…

[Tiller’s] interaction with Shelly Shannon is portrayed almost as if *HE* was provoking her [to shoot him in both arms in 1993] by giving her the finger.

Meanwhile, here we have Troy Newman, dressed a suit, against that well lit gray background….

The root problem is, it doesn’t take a media conspiracy to produce work this bad. Even those who support abortion access and providers are at this point, so tangled up in a basic inability to think or tell a visual story beyond those false memes that we’re at the point where you have plenty of people willing to do this themselves, to themselves.

Well, wow. I suppose Maddow would say if she made both ends of the abortion spectrum angry, she did her job in telling a fair and balanced story.

The problem is Maddow’s stated intent was not to be fair and balanced but rather to advance pro-abortion ideology. So I’m beginning to wonder if her documentary was a big fail.

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