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Spinning A Sordid News Story Into A Xmas Miracle

Updated on December 24, 2008

It seems as if every news organization in the world has covered the story of Donna Molnar and her amazing rescue from a Canadian blizzard near Hamilton, Ontario. A quick look at Google News will show coverage on every continent on Earth, all basically stating the basic story as summarized in the New York Times:

A Canadian woman who disappeared during a blizzard has been found alive, buried in 23 inches of snow, three days after her sport utility vehicle got stuck in a snowy field. A police dog found Donna Molnar, 55, on Monday, near Ancaster, Ontario, a few hundred yards from her SUV, conscious and wearing little more than a winter jacket. The police said the snow may have insulated her from temperatures as low as 2 degrees (F).

This story was entitled: Canada: ‘Miracle’ in the Snow, and that was the Christmas Eve spin that the media wanted to give to this tale. After all, what is better than settling around a roaring fire on Christmas Eve, enjoying some egg nog and chatting about the amazing Christmas Miracle that had occurred in a snowy field in the wilds of Canada?

I most certainly don't want to detract from Mrs. Molnar's amazing survival and rescue. Temperatures around here have hit -30 C (-22 F) and I don't even want to go out to get the mail, let alone go spend three days buried in a snowdrift. The problem I have is not with the survival. It's with the spin. It seems that the media has decided to quietly drop some aspects of the story which would sully the purity of such a Christmas miracle.

Let's look at what was being reported on Monday, December 22, 2008.

CBC Television:

(Police Insp. Bob) Buck said the woman, a mother of one who works for the local Catholic school board, left her home on Friday to go for a walk, as she often does. She usually drives to a quiet location, parks her SUV, and explores the area on foot.

Hmm... So this lady decides to "go for a walk, as she often does" in open fields in the middle of nowhere in the teeth of one of the worst blizzards that area has experienced in a decade? What was she trying to do, train for a polar expedition? What does a 55 year old woman go exploring on foot at temperatures near zero F in zero visibility and snow up to your butt? Interesting question. Even Mrs. Molnar herself confirmed her intention to go for a pleasant little walk on Tuesday, December 23, 2008.

The Hamilton Spectator:

(Molnar) told people who found her she was just out for a walk and she didn't mean to cause any trouble.

Oh, isn't it nice that this lovely lady didn't want to cause any trouble? No, she just parked her SUV and walked the length of several football fields into open country at a time when most reasonable people wouldn't even step outside because she felt like a stroll. And no, it was no trouble at all to have the local police mobilize countless officers and search crews for three days of trudging through snowbanks trying to find her. What did it cost the taxpayer? $100,000? $250,000? More? No trouble at all, Mrs. Molnar. The trouble begins on Wednesday, December 24, 2008 when all of a sudden the story of the walk vanishes just like Mrs. Molnar did for three days. No, Mrs. Molnar was not an insane twit going for a walk in a blizzard. She was a good little housewife baker who had run out of her secret ingredient for her scrumptious Chrismas cookies and couldn't disappoint her family so out she went in the blizzard to the supermarket.

The Hamilton Spectator:

Her family believes she needed to buy some baking supplies and headed out in the family van to a store. The family thinks Donna was forced off the road by the extremely poor visibility and driving conditions along Fiddler's Green Road at the height of the blizzard and then found herself trapped when a highway snow plow sealed off the parking lot. Molnar said it is possible his wife tried to walk to a nearby home for help and became disoriented. "I think she may have fallen ... or twisted her ankle and couldn't go any further. We don't know, though, it's pure speculation."

Yeah, sure it's speculation. Speculation created specifically to avoid the wagging fingers of blame for being stupid enough to cause a major search and maybe even facing charges to compensate the police department for the money and resources used up in the long search. The family suddenly changed the "walk" story to something much more palatable for worldwide news consumption. She's a baker! She got lost in the snow! What a miracle! So why did Mrs. Molnar really decide to go on her merry adventure? Again from the same Hamilton Spectator article:

Some media reports have detailed Molnar's history of depression, which her husband yesterday did not discuss. "There is no pre-existing history that is relevant."

This is even though those reports told a very different story that is quite "relevant":

The Globe & Mail:

Annie Molnar said her daughter-in-law had been suffering from depression and having a difficult time adjusting to a new medication... Her husband was keeping a close eye on her, Ms. Molnar said...

Her husband was keeping an eye on her? Was she that whacked out?

...but on Friday afternoon he left her sitting alone on a couch in the family room while he went into the basement for a few minutes. When he came back upstairs, Ms. Molnar was gone. He opened the front door, looked through the blowing snow, and saw that she'd taken the van.

OK, so her mother in law spills the beans about the fact that Donna Molnar is a lithium case (or whatever depression meds she's on) and that she most likely got into a Christmas funk and through the skewed logic of the depressed human mind waited until hubby got his eye off her and ran off into the blizzard. Suicide? Maybe. Depressed people do strange things. But the bottom line is not her motivation, but the unconscionable media spin to make this sordid story into a palatable Christmas Miracle tale.

The story would not have played as well if the headlines had read:

Depressed Woman Rescued From Snowy Suicide Attempt

Police Dig Out Crazy Lady From Snowbank

Were Meds To Blame For Woman Seeking Snowy Grave?

Nutcase Survives 3 Days Buried In Snow

No, Miracle In The Snow is much better. Tidier. More Christmasy. Pass the egg nog.

STOP LYING TO ME! Spinners should be treated like murderers in Saudi, but even beheading is too good for them. Tell me the truth and let me make the determination of how I want to interpret the facts. I am not a plasticine Gumby sitting here quietly waiting for the media to place me into whatever position they want... as I know the position they want me in, and it's quite unbecoming. When I read news, I want just that. News. Not prepackaged feel-good lying pap spinning a bunch of lying family members who tell porkies about illusory innocent little baking housewives and their astounding Christmas Miracles.




Does anyone remember those words?


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    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      Best of the season to you and yours, quicksand! Thanks!

    • quicksand profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi Hal!

      Wish you a merry extended X-mas and a great new year! Looking forward to more educative hubs from you in 2009.


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