A false article published Monday by Newsweek has spawned a series of articles repeating a false claim about Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a potential Trump pick to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Newsweek originally claimed that a charismatic Catholic group called People of Praise, which Barrett is reportedly a member of, inspired the dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. Newsweek later corrected the article, admitting “the book’s author, Margaret Atwood, has never specifically mentioned the group as being the inspiration for her work.”
The correction, which undercut the premise of the article, drew heavy criticism. National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru called on Newsweek to retract the debunked article.
“The correction at the bottom of this article should have caused the piece to be taken down,” Ponnuru tweeted.
The correction at the bottom of this article should have caused the piece to be taken down. https://t.co/zrtjFSn2uP
— Ramesh Ponnuru (@RameshPonnuru) September 22, 2020
Newsweek left the article up, however, and it spawned a series of similarly false allegations from various outlets against Barrett, connecting her and People of Praise wrongly with “The Handmaid’s Tale.” As The Daily Wire reported:
By the time Newsweek “updated” its article, though, the story had spread, and Reuters, Refinery29, and a host of other left-leaning media outlets had picked up on the rumor that Barrett was directly involved in a Handmaid’s Tale-style society. It does not appear any of the other outlets have yet offered a similar correction.
Barrett has fallen under scrutiny because she’s likely a judicial conservative, something the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom Barrett could replace, was not. Her feelings on key political issues are under wraps, as is the case with most high-level judges, and experts have been left to speculate that Barrett is religious and right-wing based on her biography alone.
The media laundering of the false story drew heavy criticism from lawmakers, journalists, and others who accused outlets that repeated the lie of “anti-Catholic bigotry.”
“These ugly smears against Judge Barrett are a combination of anti-Catholic bigotry and QAnon-level stupidity. People of Praise is basically a Bible study — and just like billions of Christians around the world, Judge Barrett reads the Bible, prays, and tries to serve her community. Senators should condemn this wacky McCarthyism,” Sen Ben Sasse (R-NE) said in a statement.
“Absolute embarrassment the way much of the press ‘reports’ on religion,” Washington Examiner Magazine executive editor Seth Mandel tweeted. “You would think there would be some curiosity about the beliefs of millions of your fellow citizens. Also, it’s your damn job. If you have no interest in how things work get out of journalism and go into government or something.”
you would think there would be some curiosity about the beliefs of millions of your fellow citizens. Also, it's your damn job. If you have no interest in how things work get out of journalism and go into government or something.
— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) September 22, 2020
“Brazen bigotry from what is supposed to be a news organization. The campaign of personal destruction begins. Let’s draw a line in the sand now. There is no place for this trash,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) tweeted.
Brazen bigotry from what is supposed to be a news organization. The campaign of personal destruction begins. Let’s draw a line in the sand now. There is no place for this trash https://t.co/j1WvoxYCMs
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) September 22, 2020
“Biden’s Sister Souljah moment will come when some resistance idiots on this site start going after Coney Barrett’s Catholicism and he just publicly curb-stomps them as a Catholic himself, telling everyone to focus on the substance, not personal attacks,” Tablet Magazine senior writer Yair Rosenberg noted on Twitter.
“This meme literally got started because partisan idiots confused Coney Barrett’s ‘People of Praise’ Catholic group with a totally different group called ‘People of Hope’ that ALSO didn’t inspire The Handmaid’s Tale. Now it’s laundered as a mainstream news piece. Not great, folks!” he said.
This meme literally got started because partisan idiots confused Coney Barrett's "People of Praise" Catholic group with a totally different group called "People of Hope" that ALSO didn't inspire The Handmaid's Tale. Now it's laundered as a mainstream news piece. Not great, folks! https://t.co/Wht6V6gsf8
— (((Yair Rosenberg))) (@Yair_Rosenberg) September 22, 2020