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

<img hspace="0" border="0" align="right" src="media/2005-11-14-ABCWNTVargas.jpg" />Before the first ad break on Monday's <i>World News Tonight</i>, ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas plugged an upcoming story: &quot;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.&quot; 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.&quot; (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”? <br /><br />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.&quot; <br /><br /><b>Video</b> of the Vargas plug, in <a href="media/2005-11-14-ABCWNTVargas.rm">Real</a> or <a href="media/2005-11-14-ABCWNTVargas.wmv">Windows Media</a>. Plus <a href="media/2005-11-14-ABCWNTVargas.mp3">MP3 audio</a>. (Partial transcript follows.)<br /><!--break-->Elizabeth Vargas plugged the November 14 <i>World News Tonight</i> story:<br /><blockquote>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.” </blockquote><br />Later, in the subsequent story, Nancy Weiner explained, after a rundown of the incident: <br /><blockquote>“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.” <br /><br />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.”<br /><br />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.”<br /><br />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.” </blockquote>

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