Newsweek magazine has issued a major correction to an article smearing potential Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, accusing the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judge of belonging to a Catholic sect that “inspired” the novel “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Initially, Newsweek claimed that “People of Praise,” a charismatic Catholic group to which Barrett reportedly belongs, “served as inspiration for Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale,” adding that female members are forced to report to spiritual superiors known as “handmaids” and that the group stresses that “men have authority over their wives.”
“Members of People of Praise are assigned to personal advisers of the same sex — called a ‘head’ for men and ‘handmaid’ for women, until the rise in popularity of Atwood’s novel and the television series based on it forced a change in the latter,” the outlet reported. “Atwood herself has indicated that the group’s existence motivated her to write The Handmaid’s Tale, set in the fictional Gilead, where women’s bodies are governed and treated as the property of the state under a theocratic regime.”
The problem? People of Praise’s “handmaids” are little more than spiritual advisors, according to sources familiar with the 1,700-member group that spoke to The Daily Wire. And as National Review Online’s David Harsanyi points out, Barrett’s partner’s “authority” must be severely limited, given that her “knuckle-dragging misogynistic religious fanatic husband has only let the poor woman out of the house twice. Once, to serve a 15-year stint as a law professor at a highly prestigious university,” and the other to serve on the 7th Circuit.
Deeper than that, though, it turns out Newsweek’s story is actually completely wrong based on information from Atwood herself, which Newsweek points out in its “correction.”
“Correction: This article’s headline originally stated that People of Praise inspired ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. The book’s author, Margaret Atwood, has never specifically mentioned the group as being the inspiration for her work,” the note read. “A New Yorker profile of the author from 2017 mentions a newspaper clipping as part of her research for the book of a different charismatic Catholic group, People of Hope. Newsweek regrets the error.”
“The clipping includes a spokesperson for the People of Hope sect based in Newark, New Jersey saying, ‘We’re all Roman Catholics. We differ in the sense that we are a Charismatic group, which would mean that we have prayer meetings, during which there is raising of hands, singing and speaking in tongues,'” the outlet notes. “People of Praise has never had a presence in the state of New Jersey.”
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.
A false Newsweek story that had be corrected spread to Yahoo, Reginery 29 and now Reuters even after the correction.
And the fact checkers are AWOL. But remember it’s pizza emojis that is the problem with spread of mass information pic.twitter.com/1D8KwNpSl1
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) September 22, 2020
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.
As The Daily Wire noted Monday, Barrett has also fallen under scrutiny because of her family size — she has seven children, two of which are adopted — and past rulings indicating support for affording due process and a right to appeal to college students accused of sexual assault on campus.