Some years ago, Wendy Davis (currently a Democratic candidate for Texas governor) sued the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for libel and defamation, claiming (among other things) mental distress. The case had no merit, and was dismissed.
This has been reported previously. The facts are not in dispute. They are part of the public record of the State of Texas.
All of this makes the Houston Chronicle‘s headline and subheadline for their reporting today rather strange:
Blogger says Davis claimed suit harmed her mental health
Blogger says she claimed suit harmed her mental health
Yes, those are really the headlines on the newspaper’s “premium” online site, HoustonChronicle.com, at the time this post was published.
Here are the first two grafs of the story, reporting most of the facts that I described above:
A long-ago libel lawsuit by Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis against her hometown newspaper has new life as a GOP-driven campaign issue in the race for governor.
Davis sued the Fort Worth Star-Telegram after losing a Fort Worth city council race in 1996 as she embarked on her political career. Her lawsuit said the newspaper’s coverage, including news writing and editorials, libeled and defamed her and inflicted emotional distress.
Nevertheless, the headline writer decided to reach to graf # 5, and focus on a secondary point for TWO headlines:
Erick Erickson, in his conservative blog, RedState, mocked Davis’ claim that the newspaper’s actions harmed her mental health.
Erickson, and many others, have mocked the lawsuit by Wendy Davis, but the story isn’t that some blogger is alleging something, as the headline suggests. Erickson was discussing established facts, not allegations.
Did the headline writer even comprehend what this story was about (making him or her simply bad at the job)? Or worse, did the headline writer purposely modify the narrative (because of bias)?