To be sure, some are still defending the YFZ Raid, like Bill McKenzie at the Dallas News who inexplicably promotes false and dated statistics that CPS already admitted were incorrect weeks ago. He continues to claim we "know" girls under 16 were impregnated at the YFZ Ranch, when in fact all such claims have been debunked. No one but him (and, alas, readers who believe the Dallas News) think it's true. As I advised McKenzie in the comments:
The YFZ Ranch is only 4 years old. Claiming the Bishop's record shows a 27 year old got pregnant at age 14 (probably in Arizona, if accurate) does NOT demonstrate any underage girls got pregnant at the ranch. KBP's count is accurate - 5 alleged underage Moms were identified [by CPS] in court. That's it. The number was whittled down to two when one turned out not to be pregnant and two more turned out to be in their 20s.We're still battling the effects of CPS' successful public relations campaign against FLDS group, including but not limited to their claims that:
- 60% of teen girls were pregnant or mothers: To get that number, CPS included 26 adult women who denied they were minors and turned out to be telling the truth, but not until after the agency repeatedly called them liars in the press.
- 10% of kids had broken bones in the past: It turned out they didn't really know how many had broken bones, and anyway 10% would be less than the average for kids in the outside world.
- Male children were molested, although CPS never provided evidence in court for the assertion and dropped the allegation after it made media headlines.
I think they did. I think they knew the whole ranch shouldn't be considered a single "household." I think they knew the group's religious beliefs didn't meet the legal definition of abuse. Certainly they knew claims that 60% of teen girls were mothers were false at the time they made them (the agency added the caveat two days after the headlines ran to say most of those girls claimed to be adults, which turned out to be correct).
If CPS was acting in good faith, why were we subjected to a constant stream of misinformation? That's the part I don't understand. Certainly that behavior significantly colored my own reaction to the raid and its aftermath; once I become convinced you didn't tell me the truth, I start to doublecheck your statements, and CPS' never held up under scrutiny. At the end of the day, the courts found the same thing.
Also in the Houston Chronicle today, reporter Janet Eliot offers up some revisionist history to develop the storyline that CPS was an innocent victim in this case as opposed to the lead victimizer. She blames the agency's "rigid professional compass," of all things, for the massive rights violation it has undertaken - not the phrase I'd have chosen.
Eliot quotes UT law prof Jack Sampson declaring, "one could, in retrospect, say it was too ham-handed. They should have been more nuanced." Speaking for myself, I was criticizing the raid for precisely these reasons from the get-go, so I see little merit in Sampson's claim that the flaws could only be observed "in retrospect." (E.g., on April 9 I suggested on Grits the raid "may be a setup job.") CPS was obviously overreaching at the time it undertook this endeavor, and this was discernible from publicly available information.
AP's Michelle Roberts has a similar retrospective today with the title, "Was polygamist raid doomed from the start?" She qutoes a DPS official declaring, "We had no choice but to treat those calls as credible. If we had not treated them as credible and something bad happened, people would be very upset." That's true, of course, but it sure doesn't explain why authorities waited five days to check out the story. What went on during those five days remains the murkiest and perhaps most probative remaining untold part of the narrative.
Eliot and Roberts' narratives, of course, not only exoneate CPS but the media who gave the agency a megaphone to promote its ill-fated PR campaign. "The initial cracks in the legal case came in late April," Eliot writes, "at the 14-day adversary hearing." But that's not correct. The raid was questionable and questioned from day one. In particular, the search warrant affidavit Judge Walther approved relied on her "ranch as one household" interpretation the appellate courts just shot down.
By claiming no one could have known there were problems with the case, the media exonerates itself for not having done a better job reporting. Similar motives IMO explain why Casey and Eliot continue to hold open the possibility the original phone call from "Sarah" may not be fake. The Salt Lake Tribune figured out the hoax almost immediately (Brooke Adams first came across evidence of this on April 4) but Texas papers still maintain the fiction "Sara" might be real, probably because they'd otherwise be subject to legitimate criticism for not accurately reporting the story.