As attention intensified on the harrowing story of a pregnant 10-year-old Ohio rape victim forced to flee to Indiana for an abortion in the wake of the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the right seized on a counter-narrative like clockwork.
All seeming to read from the same hymnal, right-wingers began to claim the story was a "false flag" or a "hoax." Perhaps no right-wing media figure did more to promulgate this narrative than Fox News' Jesse Watters.
So when the 10-year-old's rapist was apprehended yesterday, Watters issued a retraction and apology, right?
Of course not.
Instead he did the opposite, taking credit for bringing the rapist to justice.
During a segment last night on his show Jesse Watters Primetime, Watters credited the attention his show placed on the story for helping apprehend the rapist.
He told his viewers:
"Primetime covered this story heavily on Monday. Put on the pressure and now we're glad that justice is being served."
That is a diametrically opposite characterization of the coverage Watters gave the story on his show in several segments and interviews.
He deliberately sowed doubt about the story, underlining its multiple unverifiable elements—which were unverifiable by Watters mostly because of privacy laws regarding crimes against a minor.
Watters criticized Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris and Democratic President Joe Biden as having been duped and promulgating the story without any verification of the facts.
He also announced he and his staff had launched their own investigation into the rape case, then said the state of Ohio declined to investigate the crime.
“You would think the story of a sexual abuser roaming free assaulting 10-year-olds would raise quite a few concerns in small-town Ohio, but no one seems to be doing anything about it."
He then pointed out the story rested entirely on quotes from the doctor who claimed to have performed the 10-year-old's abortion, suggesting the story was a Democrat-created hoax the doctor was in on.
"[I]f this horrific story isn’t accurate and the abortion doctor and the Indianapolis Star are misleading us?"
"And the mainstream media and president of the United States seizing on another hoax?"
"Then this is absolutely shameful."
"And fits a pretty dangerous pattern of politically timed disinformation.”
Watters' was just one of a large group of right wing commentators who claimed the story was a hoak, including his Fox News colleague Tucker Carlson who went even further, accusing the Biden Administration of openly "lying" about the story.
Less than 24 hours after Watters' report, however, Ohio newspaper The Columbus Dispatchreleased a story confirming the rapist had been arrested and charged after confessing to raping the child on at least two occasions.
The Dispatch reported law enforcement was tipped off by local child protection agencies who reported the rape—precisely the supposedly missing details upon which Watters and other right-wingers had based their hoax claims.
Funny what happens when you give law enforcement and legitimate media the time required to do their jobs within the confines of ethics and the law, isn't it?
In reporting on his supposedly valiant efforts at bringing the rapist to justice, Watters and his guests quickly pivoted to attacking the doctor who performed the child's abortion, calling for her to be arrested and prosecuted.
On Twitter, Watters' temerity left people disgusted.
As disgusting at Watters' comments have been, they pale in comparison to Republican Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita.
Appearing on Watters' show yesterday, Rokita insisted the real story was the "illegal immigration" of the rapist, pledged to prosecute the doctor who performed the child's abortion, and said the 10-year-old's situation has been "politicized for the gain of killing more babies."