Rob Schenck is not exactly a household name – in fact, he’s barely known even to those who monitor the Religious Right, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a history of influence with member of Congress and the right-wing movement.
We’ve been writing about Schenck for awhile now, primarily in the context of his crusade to expose the fact that Barack Obama might really be a Muslim infidel … and even if he’s not, his Christian faith is “woefully deficient,” as well as his reportedly successful efforts to sneak into the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room and anoint the chairs with oil before Samuel Alito’s confirmation hearings.
While Schenck might not be a right-wing powerbroker, he is something of a name dropper as this video check-in from earlier in the week demonstrates in which he reports that he’s on his way to Utah to join Sen. Orrin Hatch for a golf tournament before meeting up with Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice.
None of this is particularly relevant or groundbreaking and we probably wouldn’t even bother mentioning it were it not for the announcement at the end that he will be attending and providing commentary for both the Democratic and Republican conventions on behalf of National Public Radio:
Schenck released a statement today confirming that he “will travel to Denver on Saturday, August 23, to observe and comment on the Democratic National Convention and surrounding events” but makes no mention of NPR.
Is Schenck really going to be providing commentary for NPR on the Democratic Convention? If so, did NPR bother to do any research on just who they were bringing on-board?
During the early 1990s … [Schenck] was arrested a dozen times during protests outside women’s health clinics and abortion doctors’ homes, and is renowned for outrageous publicity stunts, including dangling an aborted fetus in Bill Clinton’s face outside the 1992 Democratic National Convention. With former Elim classmate Randall Terry, Schenck helped start Operation Rescue, a hardline anti-abortion group that embraced “direct action” in an effort to shut down reproductive health clinics and prevent doctors from practicing abortion.
Schenck, along with his twin brother Paul, have a long history of militant anti-abortion activism and first came to fame by targeting local doctor Barnett Slepian who was, in 1998, assassinated by an anti-abortion activist:
BOOK EXAMINES SCHENCKS’ ROLE IN SLEPIAN CASE
25 October 2000
Two years after Dr. Barnett A. Slepian’s assassination, a new book written by a former local pro-life activist raises the question of whether the Schenck twins played an indirect role in singling out Slepian as a potential target for violence.
Author Jerry Reiter, a former member of the Town of Tonawanda church led by the Revs. Paul and Robert Schenck, never accuses the twin brothers of being involved in any murder plot or the harboring of the killer.
But in his book, “Live From the Gates of Hell,” Reiter writes that his former pastors brought national Operation Rescue leaders here for protests outside the same home where Slepian later was killed.
The author questions how “an obscure physician from a midsize city like Buffalo” wound up on a national short list of targeted abortion providers.
“It was impossible to say with certainty who had put Slepian on the secret list, but it was possible that the national leadership would not have known about Slepian at all if it had not been for Rob and Paul Schenck,” Reiter writes. “They were the first to choose him as a target for anti-abortion protesters.”
Reiter writes that he was shocked when Robert Schenck told him that neither brother had heard of James C. Kopp before the FBI announced him as a suspect in Slepian’s murder. The Schencks and Kopp had been arrested at demonstrations in the same cities.