Media Distortions in the Veronica Brown Case: Adoptionis only about adopters

media-biasA newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier…..H L Menken

Michael Corcoran has written a marvelous piece in Truth Out on media distortions in the Veronica Brown case. Titled,  Media Failures Lead to Flawed Understandings in Cherokee Adoption Case, Cocoran analyses how MSM distorted ICWA and the facts of the case.The Cherokee Nation was portrayed  as a collective grabby race pimp (my term, not Corcoran’s) and Dusten Brown painted as an irresponsible father. The Capobiancos, however, were  framed as a trusting respectable couple victimized by a predatory tribal system and an uncaring father both propped up by unreasonable  and archaic federal law..

What is surprising is that this article was published on January 13, 2013, months before the serious shit hit.  Corcoran is writing about  2012 media coverage.  Yet, the article is as fresh and relevant today as it was then.

Corcoran takes on Fox News, The Huffingnton Post, Anderson Cooper,  The Washington Times, Dr. Phil,  and the local Charleston media.  All come across emotionally biased and class- and white-privileged about ICWA, and adoption, and ignorant of the facts of the Brown case.  Even worse,  they are incurious and lazy.  I can very well picture reporters behind their computers busily  cutting and pasting what other reporters have cut and pasted from other reporters  ad nasueaum  without bothering to do their own footwork and fact checking.


Who knew Veronica was kidnapped? Typical media view of the desperate Capos begging “bring back our daughter.”

Corcoran takes to task Washington Times reporter  Andrea Poe (and others) for focusing on the “heartache of the adoptive family” while neglecting the other side.  Poe wrote in TWT  that  the case is  “every parent’s worst nightmare.” and later in HuffPo that [t]his is not an illegal abduction, although it certainly sounds that way” and that the “adoption community has been devastated by this news.” (links to these quotes and many others in the original article.).

Corcoran doesn’t address the use of specific language in Poe’s reports, but clearly she is carefully biasing her language to make her case. By the turn of a few words she makes adoptees, birthparents, and lots of other people associated with us invisible and silent. To Poe, the only legitimate party in an adoption are adopters and paps–the baybee savers.. There is no “adoption community” outside of them.  Maybe MY  adoption community should picket her office in WDC  S Poe  even promotes the Capo-founded misnamed Coalition for the Protection of Indian Children & Families.

Coverage in Charleston was especially enthusiastic toward the Capos,  Corcoran  writes about how even the TV news headlines biased listeners to the Capobiancos::

ABC News 4 in Charleston went as far as to use the headline “Veronica May Not be Saved,” when reporting on the July 26 court ruling. Clearly, such a headline implies that the decision was a grotesque affront to justice and that Veronica will only be in a healthy and loving environment, i.e. “saved,” if Brown loses custody. NBC News 2 in Charleston was guilty of the same biased headline writing, when staffers wrote of a restaurant that “raises money to save Veronica.” The inclinations toward the side of the Capobianco family seem to come naturally to media outlets. If Veronica will be “saved” by having her removed from Brown’s custody, as so many media reports alleged without question, then how can a consumer of news not be inclined to see things that way as well? 

Media failures is good media criticism that we don’t see much of nowadays outside of certain specialized publications and websites, especiallly when it coms to the sacred money cow of adoption..Any objective student of the media can see  that the Veronica Brown coverage was biased and bad.

Cochoran closes with a warning of where this kind of bad  fact-free reporting leads.

If the US Supreme Court effectively alters this crucial piece of legislation [UCWA], it would eliminate a protection that helped thwart one of the most invidious policies in US history and has helped maintain Indian families and culture for decades. The public ought to at least be aware of this. But due to the many fallacious media accounts, this complicated and important debate has been reduced to an oversimplified story about one heartbroken couple and often adopts the racist view that we need to “save” this child from her Cherokee father.

Michael Corcoran’s blog.

Thanks to Samantha Franklin for sending this article along.

Join me on Twitter @DBastardette




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