by Steven Ertelt
September 1, 2004
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A Reuters news editor could face discipline from his employer after firing off a shocking email to a pro-life organization bashing pro-life advocates and President Bush.
After sending out a routine press release criticizing a judge’s decision against the partial-birth abortion ban, the National Right to Life Committee received a scathing email from Todd Eastham, a Reuters editor in Washington.
Reuters spokesman Stephen Naru told Family News in Focus that Eastham’s actions were wrong.
"This was a personal opinion," Naru said, "and unfortunately was issued by this person in his capacity as a desk editor."
When Family News in Focus told Naru that Eastham’s comments made it difficult for readers to know if his writing and editing would be "fair and unbiased," Naru said, "Well, that’s exactly why we are looking into it even further."
Naru indicated that Eastham would be disciplined for the incident, but did not elaborate on the kind of reprimand he would receive.
Reuters and Eastham did not respond to requests from LifeNews.com to comment.
In his email to the National Right to Life Committee, Eastham blasted pro-life advocates.
"What’s your plan for parenting and educating all the unwanted children you people want to bring into the world," Eastham asked. "Who will pay for policing our streets and maintaining the prisons needed to contain them when you, their parents and the system fail them?"
"Oh, sorry. All that money has been earmarked to pay off the Bush deficit," Eastham continues. "Give me a frigging break, will you?"
Douglas Johnson, NRLC’s legislative director, received Eastham’s email.
"It is sad, but revealing, to see an editor for a major news service so casually and gratuitously express such blatant hostility to both the Bush Administration and to the right to life of unborn children," Johnson said in response.
"We can only wonder at how such vehement opinions may color Mr. Eastham’s reporting or editing on subjects such as abortion and the Bush Administration," Johnson added.
Eastham is defending his actions, despite departing from Reuters policy.
He says he normally doesn’t edit stories submitted by reporters on the topic of abortion. In response to a Washington Post query about the email, Eastham claims he read the news release "as a personal political solicitation and was not responding in my capacity as an editor."
"I didn’t intend this as a professional communication," Eastham contends.
However Eastham apparently violated Reuters "editorial policy," that says "Reuters journalists do not offer their own opinions or views."
Reuters spokesman Stephen Naru told the Post it’s "unfortunate" that an editor "chose to offer his personal opinion."
Eastham is a Reuters editor for North American news stories. He has also authored numerous Reuters news stories on subjects such as politics and the Catholic Church.
ACTION: To express your opinon about Mr. Eastham’s email, go to https://www.reuters.com/-helpSection.jhtml?p=contactUs