Not a “Teenage Murderer,” on ABC He's “Home School Student Charged with Murder”

Before the first ad break on Monday's World News Tonight, ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas plugged an upcoming story: "When we return, the home school student charged with murdering his girlfriend's parents. A small town, and a community of home-schoolers, are shattered." ABC reporter Nancy Weiner, in the subsequent story about how 18-year-old David Ludwig allegedly murdered the parents of his 14-year-old girlfriend, Kara Borden, and then fled with her from Pennsylvania to Indiana where he was arrested, outlined the home-schooling connection: “The Bordens, devout Christians, home-schooled all five of their children. Kara and David met through a group of home-schoolers.” Weiner portrayed the murders as ironic: “Many parents choose to home school their children to have more control over their upbringing and avoid exactly what happened here." (Vargas reminds me of journalists who report how an “SUV” hit someone, instead of referring to a “car” or “vehicle.”) Can you imagine Vargas ever citing “the English as a Second Language student charged with murder”?

Weiner, however, allowed a Lititz, Pennsylvania resident to point out how “this could happen to any family whether you're home-schooled or not.” Weiner also noted that “many home-schoolers resent the criticism that they are removed from society."

Video of the Vargas plug, in Real or Windows Media. Plus MP3 audio. (Partial transcript follows.)
Elizabeth Vargas plugged the November 14 World News Tonight story:

Vargas plug before first ad break: “When we return, the home school student charged with murdering his girlfriend's parents. A small town, and a community of home-schoolers, are shattered.”

Later, in the subsequent story, Nancy Weiner explained, after a rundown of the incident:

“The killings came as a shock to this small rural town, and particularly devastated the tight-knit home schooling community here. The Bordens, devote Christians, home schooled all five of their children. Kara and David met through a group of home-schoolers. Many parents choose to home school their children to have more control over their upbringing and avoid exactly what happened here.”

Linda Neiss, resident of Lititz, Pennsylvania: “This could happen to any family whether you're home-schooled or not. And, like I said, just so sad and so tragic.”

Weiner: “More than a million student are home schooled in the U.S. and that number is growing. Many home-schoolers resent the criticism that they are removed from society.”

Susan Jones, home-schooler: “People imagine us as being holed up in our house all day. And if anybody asks that, I just say, then you need to know a home school families because we are very involved in the community and activities.”

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center