Senate Candidate Explains Why He Published Goofy X-Rays of Gunshot Victims

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 25 2014 2:24 PM

Senate Candidate Explains Why He Published Goofy X-Rays of Gunshot Victims

In my journeys across Real America (it's Clearwater, Fla., today), I've been writing less and missing, it seems, pretty slow news days in D.C. I'm more disturbed to have missed the breaking Milton Wolf story, the scandal that has engulfed the briefly competitive-looking candidate for Senate in Kansas. Wolf, who won Tea Party fame because he was 1) related to Barack Obama and 2) pretty good on the stump, is a radiologist. He used to post some of the most gruesome X-rays that came out of his office to a Facebook page. Please let Tim Carpenter explain:

Wolf and others viewing these Facebook postings relentlessly poked fun at the dead or wounded. The gunshot victim, Wolf joked online, wasn't going to complain about the awkward positioning of his head for an X-ray. In a separate Facebook comment, Wolf wrote that an X-ray of a man decapitated by gunfire resembled a wounded alien in a “Terminator” film and that the image offered evidence people “find beauty in different things.”
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Carpenter confronted Wolf with the imagery in a sit-down interview, and the video is tremendous.

The story got even better after that video came out. In it, Wolf—clearly hating the position he was in—concocted an explanation. "I've written, actually, educational software to teach medical imaging to doctors," he explained. Later: "These are real consequences that you see of real activities. ... It is an educational thing for people to see these consequences."

See? The images were shared on jokey Facebook updates because Wolf was warning people that getting shot in the head with a bullet was actually dangerous.

This was explanation No. 1. Explanation No. 2 was given to Jonathan Strong at Breitbart—the first national media interview Wolf did after Carpenter nailed him.

"Day after day, year after year, you deal with the absolute worst tragedies you can imagine," he said to Strong. I have had to deliver to people, to families, to moms the worst news they will ever hear in their life. That's difficult and it takes its toll."

Better! But a little confusing. Not all radiologists are tasked with breaking bad news to patients. An interventional radiologist is, and Alliance Radiology, where Wolf works, employs a few doctors who had interventional training. Wolf is listed as a specialist in "Diagnostic Radiology." Did he have to break the bad news to, say, the parents of the guy with the missing head? Unclear. Not entirely likely.

That brings us to explanation No. 3, which isn't so much an explanation as a claim that the allies of Sen. Pat Roberts are smearing Wolf. Wolf's Facebook wall now features an image of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher with the inspirational slogan "if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left."

I get it, but how can Wolf assume that Roberts or Carpenter are attacking him "personally"? Perhaps they're just being educational.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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