See What You're Witnessing, And Call It By Its Right Name

Robert Morrison

2/7/2011 12:34:49 PM - Robert Morrison

Christiane Amanpour is ABC News’ highly touted host of This Week. She came from CNN, where she made a reputation as a fearless foreign correspondent. This Anglo-Persian reporter wrote recently of the untimely death of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. She gave great praise to the trouble-shooting diplomat, who was always on the short list for Secretary of State in every Democratic administration.

Describing Holbrooke’s greatest diplomatic success, Amanpour wrote:

It was in Bosnia that I learned—I do not mean to make my tribute to my friend too personal, but Bosnia, and Holbrooke’s role in it, was inseparable from my own education—what it means to really see what you are witnessing and to call it by its right name.

Hers is a genuinely touching eulogy to a dedicated public servant. It also speaks to the need for reporters to see, to witness, and to call things by their right names.

Bosnia was an exciting and dangerous assignment for young Amanpour. Her clipped British accent would seem more fitting for a stately garden party at Downton Abbey than dodging real bullets and ducking from incoming Serbian mortars. We can see young Miss Amanpour wearing a broad-brimmed white hat and being served a watercress sandwich by Thomas, Milord’s footman.

Instead, the courageous CNN correspondent wore a flak jacket and did stand-up reporting outside soccer stadiums that had become makeshift cemeteries.

It all made for compelling journalism. I give Christiane Amanpour full credit for having awakened the conscience of the world to “ethnic cleansing,” the 1990s name for genocide based on ancient grudges. She could not understand how any human being could target children. Aren’t they fathers, too? I agree.

Writing of Ambassador Holbrooke’s crucial role in that conflict, she quoted jaded Europeans who kept telling her and others: “Don’t think that the cavalry is coming over the hill to save you.” They were wrong, she writes: Holbrooke was the cavalry, backed up by American military might.

Now, Chiristiane Amanpour has replaced George Stephanopoulos on the Sunday morning talk show. I have this challenge for her:

Go to Philadelphia, Christiane. Visit the little hell of Kermit Gosnell.

See the vermin-infested hole where Gosnell ran an abortion mill. Listen to stories of how he and his minions snipped the spinal chords of newborns that they had failed to kill in the womb. Hear how Gosnell described one of the newborn babies he killed as “big enough to walk me to the bus.”

Can Christiane Amanpour exercise her moral sense on this story? Is she willing to “see what you are witnessing and call it by its right name” here in Philadelphia, far from exotic Sarajevo?

Now, consider this lead from the Washington Post. It’s how it covered the explosive story of Lila Rose’s Live Action group exposing Planned Parenthood in NewJersey: “Anti-abortion group releases Planned Parenthood sting video.”

Staff writer Sandiva Somashekhar informs us, “A group seeking to discredit Planned Parenthood released a video Tuesday that depicts two hired actors posing as a pimp and a prostitute seeking services at a New Jersey clinic, in an operation resembling one that helped take down a liberal anti-poverty group two years ago.”

Note: Before you’re into the story, you’re alerted by the headline “anti-abortion group.” Planned Parenthood has never planned any parenthood. They are more accurately called Planned Barrenhood, but they nonetheless get called what they call themselves.

Hey, for that matter, Al Qaeda is what they call themselves. Maybe the requirement for getting respect from the liberal press is that you cut off human heads.

Pro-lifers are the only group of people who do not get called what they call themselves. Follow that biased headline with the first lines of the story. As the reader, you are put on guard.

Lila Rose’s Live Action group wants to discredit Planned Parenthood! Oh my! How arch, how devious of them. Where do you think Lila Rose and her intrepid doom treaders might have learned such a nefarious tactic? Perhaps they grew upwatching Sixty Minutes on CBS.

It takes away nothing from the justifiable moral outrage of Christiane Amanpour’s Bosnian reportage that the victims were Bosnian Muslims and the killers were Serbian Christians. Politically correct perpetrators or not, mass murder is mass murder.

I just wish Amanpour’s moral vision was a bit more embracing. Gosnell’s tophet in Philadelphiais a story of inhumanity. As author George Weigel has noted, you really cannot say you’re shocked by Gosnell’s hell. If you want Roe, the logic of Gosnell is inescapable—minus the filth and the little bodies left in toilets.

Human evil is just that—evil—whether inflicted as a massacre on a soccer field in Sarasjevo or in a Philadelphia abortion facility. That's a word, evil, that bears witness to the conduct of Bosnian thugs and Kermit Gosnell.

If Christiane Amanpour goes to Philadelphia and reports on the Gosnell case—and really sees and really calls it by its right name—she will rise above the usual stuff of liberal reportage.