Sunday, May 24, 2020 | 2 a.m.
Americans gasped in 1995 when Norma McCorvey, aka “Jane Roe” of the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion lawsuit, was baptized before network TV cameras. This was no average conversion — it was performed by the Rev. Philip “Flip” Benham, the national leader of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue.
Not only had “Jane Roe” joined Benham’s religion, she announced she’d also joined his cause. Among abortion opponents, it was hailed as a major moral victory.
But think again.
In a new FX documentary on McCorvey, who died in 2017, she revealed that she was paid to join the movement. And over the next two decades, she said, she received $450,000 to crusade for the cause — which she didn’t believe in.
“I took their money and they put me out in front of the camera and told me what to say, and that’s what I’d say,” she told the documentary’s director, Nick Sweeney, in what she called her deathbed confession.
Quite a twist.
But actually, the revelation fits a pattern of fraud, misinformation and conspiratorial activity by the far right and leadership of today’s Republican Party.
Luring people into conspiracies to lie, blackmailing others and engaging in pay-for-play are commonplace in the party, with President Donald Trump being the offender in chief. He’s frequently conspired with others, including the National Enquirer, to pay off women to keep them silent about affairs or accusations of harassment. Last week, he tried to use federal aid as a bribe to stop Nevada and Michigan from allowing mail-in balloting to make it easier for residents to vote. Why? Because greater turnout spells doom for Republicans, whose hateful and divisive agenda is out of step with American voters.
The documentary’s debut comes just days after Diana Andrade, who had accused Dr. Anthony Fauci of sexually assaulting her, revealed she had been paid by a pair of pro-Trump fraudsters to make up the accusation. She said she decided to come clean after the two operatives, Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, pressured her to find other women who’d lie about Fauci, whom Wohl and Burkman had targeted in anger over the economic effects of coronavirus-related business closures. She also released recordings of conversations she’d had with the two.
In one, Burkman reacts excitedly when Andrade voices concerns about the health dangers and human costs of the pathogen.
“Mother Nature has to clean the barn every so often,” Burkman says. “How real is it? Who knows? So what if 1% of the population goes? So what if you lose 400,000 people? 200,000 were elderly, the other 200,000 are the bottom of society. You got to clean out the barn. If it’s real, it’s a positive thing, for God’s sake.”
Burkman, on the audio, also says: “Let me tell you something, Diana. This guy shut the country down. He put 40 million people out of work. In a situation like that, you have to make up whatever you have to make up to stop that train and that’s the way life works, OK? That’s the way it goes.”
Yes, that is indeed the way it goes for the GOP, where corruption is endemic.
In another recent example, also from a leaked recording, the chair of Colorado’s state Republican Party — U.S. Rep. Ken Buck — pressures a local party official to submit doctored election results so a party activist can make the primary ballot.
“You’ve got a sitting congressman — a sitting state party chair — who is trying to bully a volunteer — I’m a volunteer; I don’t get paid for this — into committing a crime,” said the official, Eli Bremer, to The Denver Post. “To say it’s damning is an understatement.”
These are all examples of dangerous fraud — the falsified voting records, the attempt to destroy Fauci, the scam involving McCorvey.
Republicans love their conspiracy theories, but really, they’re the ones involved nonstop in corrupt conspiracies.
The potential ramifications are enormous. Crooked elections. McCarthy-esque character assassinations. In the case of McCorvey, if she hadn’t issued her deathbed confession, history would have been polluted.
The reality was that even after joining the anti-abortion movement, McCorvey believed abortion should be legal in the first trimester. The leaders of the movement paid and pressured her into disowning her beliefs for their political gain.
For Republicans, this is now standard operating procedure. They and their media co-conspirators at Fox News and elsewhere intentionally spread misinformation, distort reality and perpetrate massive frauds on the American public.
The party that cries “hoax” at the drop of a hat is actually the party of lies and conspiracy.