Newsweek Dishonestly Reports Details, Quotes, about Alabama Pot Mom

  • Newsweek’s Shira Li Bartov writes unbalanced unobjective article about Alabama pot mom
  • Arrested mother jailed for less than 48 hrs now filing civil suit against County, Newsweek only quotes mother’s attorney

  • Unbalanced story is financially useful for pressuring County to settle with Plaintiff pot mom in civil suit for money damages

OUR RATING: Sloppy and Error-Filled. Your typical Friday night at Fox News, sloppy work.

Indicted Outlet: Shira Li Bartov | Newsweek | Link | Archive | 11/22/22

So we had previously fact-checked this story, and found it to be wanting in how it was presented by Elizabeth Norton Brown at Reason, but at Newsweek they include some more quotes from the accused’s attorney that completely distort the facts and issues in the case. Those quotes plus Newsweek’s journalistic malpractice in this story serves to help pressure the County to financially settle the case.

The basic facts are this: a woman in Alabama was being investigated by the County. In the process of that investigation it was learned that she was using illegal drugs. The child of the woman said that the woman was pregnant. The County took her into custody for harming the unborn child, and did not have a pregnancy test at the jail facility, which they ordered. One arrived within 36 hours of her arrest, she did not take the test, and she was released within 12 hours.

The woman spent less than 48 hours in jail and was falsely accused by her own daughter of being pregnant. 

Pro-abortion reporters and activists are trying to use this story as a way to undermine state laws that protect the unborn child.

Pro-abortion reporting comes in many stages of development: partially-developed dishonesty and fully-developed dishonesty. Newsweek’s Shira Li Bartov uses quotes only from one side of the story to make an entirely unbalanced and one-sided recitation of events and engages in journalistic malpractice.

Major Violations:

  • Unbalanced

  • Dishonest Framing

  • Missing Context

Here’s the main quote from the attorney Martin Weinberg in the case:  

“It’s just not even thinkable you could go off somebody’s word to make an arrest of somebody being pregnant,” Freeman’s attorney Martin Weinberg told Newsweek. “You know, you’re criminalizing pregnancy, then you find out they’re not even pregnant.”

There’s a lot to unpack from this one quote.

First off, no one is being arrested for “being pregnant.” That’s just completely false. She’s being arrested for using drugs, which is aggravated by the alleged pregnancy.

Second, this isn’t just “somebody’s word” it was the statement by the defendant’s own child. Children can often get details wrong, but there was certainly a reasonable presumption by the police that the tip from the child was accurate. This case could easily be analogized to an allegation of child abuse and law enforcement has a responsibility to take tips seriously, just as they also have an obligation to investigate the possible innocence of the defendant seriously as well.

Third, pregnant women are arrested all the time. A pregnancy isn’t a ‘get out of jail free card’ for criminal activity. Many women’s prisons have facilities specifically for this reason.

3% of women reporting to federal prison are pregnant and 5% reporting to state prison are reportedly pregnant. [1] The total population is estimated to be 58,000 pregnant women in prison. [2] So this is not an especially uncommon occurrence.

Fourth, no one is “criminalizing pregnancy.” What is happening is that someone who uses illegal drugs needs to consider when and where they use those drugs. Using illegal drugs around older children also carries the risk that they are put at risk. Using drugs while driving puts other people at risk. Those are ‘aggravating circumstances’ that make the act of using drugs more dangerous for the defendant and those around them.

These are just the pre-trial puffery statements by a plaintiff Attorney seeking to get damages from the County for a false arrest.

Specifically, the Attorney is trying to get as much negative press as possible to force the County to offer favorable financial settlement terms. All the extra bad press, especially unbalanced, helps give one side an advantage in pending civil litigation.

Quoting one side and not another, focusing on one side’s complaints and providing no objective balanced analysis is only meant to help one side in litigation. It’s not reporting, it’s pressuring a public entity defendant to give up more money.

The critical missing context from the quote, and from the story, is the drug use by the accused and the fact that most drugs are still illegal in Alabama, including marijuana. [3]

OUR RATING: Sloppy and Error-Filled. Your typical Friday night at Fox News, sloppy work. 

1 ],percent%20being%20pregnant%20at%20reception.
2 ]
3 ]

Join the conversation

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, profanity, vulgarity, doxing, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain fruitful conversation.


TGP FactCheck