Why The IVF Story Won't Go Away

This week we learned that Alexander Smirnov, a one-time informant who’s been arrested for lying to the FBI about Hunter Biden, obtained his phony dirt on the president’s son from Russian intelligence officials. The number of pieces mentioning Smirnov that have appeared in The New York Times this week? Six.

We also learned about Nex Benedict, a nonbinary teenager who was assaulted by fellow students in a high school bathroom in Oklahoma, and who died the next day. The number of Times pieces mentioning Benedict this week? Four.

And we saw an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that defined embryos and blastocysts as children for the purposes of state law, a decision that threatens to make in vitro fertilization unavailable in the state. Times pieces referring to the IVF ruling and its ramifications this week? Twenty-four.

All three of these stories matter. Dan Froomkin correctly argues that the press needs to see the House GOP’s presidential impeachment effort as corrupt and the party’s most prominent politicians as witting or unwitting agents of Russia:

The story is no longer whether Joe Biden committed high crimes and misdemeanors by maintaining relations with his ne’er-do-well son. In fact, there has never been any credible evidence to support that conclusion.

The real story is that the ludicrous Republican impeachment investigation has now been exposed as a Russian intelligence op. This, even as Republicans do Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding by blocking support for Ukraine and only a few short years after Trump aides welcomed Russian moves to help the Trump campaign in 2016.

But the political reporters at our most esteemed newsrooms who went to great lengths to portray the Biden impeachment investigation as a serious inquiry seem unable to change gears.

I’m not surprised. It would require them to admit they were wrong. They don’t do that.

In the Oklahoma story, we know that the Twitter account Libs of TikTok, one of Elon Musk’s favorites, targeted a pro-LGBTQ teacher at Nex Benedict’s school a couple of years ago, and we know that the account’s founder, Chaya Raichik, was appointed to the Oklahoma Department of Education’s Library Media Advisory Committee. We know that Benedict’s family has strong doubts about early reports stating that Benedict’s death appeared unrelated to the assault. All of this deserves more mainstream media coverage.

But it’s the IVF story that’s getting the most attention at The New York Times. Why? Because it’s more relatable to the rich and upper-middle-class folks who decide what goes into the Times, and it’s presumed to be more relatable to the paper’s upmarket readers.

IVF is expensive, so it’s mostly for an upscale clientele. Often, IVF clients are two-career couples who want children but didn’t have them when they were young. Stories about the possible disappearance of IVF are worrisome to this demographic.

For some reason, the same people aren’t worried that they could have a gay, trans, or nonbinary kid who’s bullied and brutalized in school. Maybe they think such violence would never take place in their liberal suburban schools. Maybe they think they’d push back if one of their kids said they were trans or nonbinary. Maybe they just flat-out hate trans and nonbinary people, even if they’ve gotten used to the idea of gay people over the past couple of decades, and consider themselves liberal and open-minded. Or maybe that’s just the writers and editors of the Times. Maybe the readers would be more sympathetic.

The Russia story doesn’t seem to matter very much to the writers and editors. Hey, we had a president who was a Russian agent and life was okay. Gas was under $3 a gallon and the stock market was doing pretty well. So who cares?

IVF matters at the Times because it matters to the people who write and edit the Times, and presumably to the people who read it. Republicans can’t get away with consequence-free IVF bans, even in a deep red state. But they can get away with many other outrages because the people who write and read the Times and other mainstream news sources don’t believe those things will ever affect them personally.

Republished with permission from No More Mister Nice Blog.

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