Kansas Senate candidate Milton Wolf is trying to recover from a social media scandal — he posted macabre X-rays of gunshot victims on Facebook — by explaining gallows humor to Breitbart.com. In an apparent attempt at humanization, his wife also tweeted the unusual image below, a black-and-white, somewhat eerie photo of Wolf embracing her in a hospital bed. This may not the best way to salvage his campaign.
Wolf, a radiologist in Overland Park, Kansas who bares a passing resemblance to New York City’s own Dr. Zizmor, is challenging Sen. Pat Roberts in the Republican primary. On Saturday evening, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that a dig into his social media history unearthed a series of gory photos and jokes that sound like they come straight from a dark corner of Reddit. On Sunday afternoon, Karrie Wolf, the wife of Kansas Republican Senate candidate Milton Wolf, tweeted the photo above, saying, “THIS is my husband. Amazing father best friend and physician. #blessed Milton Wolf @miltonwolfmd.” Karrie Wolf, according to her husband's website, "suffered a ruptured splenic artery aneurysm" while training for a marathon in February 2013. It is touching that Wolf cares so deeply for his wife, but the photo does not entirely succeed in convincing us that he's just an average Joe.
Then, in an interview with Breitbart News published on Monday afternoon, Wolf explains that he used humor as a coping mechanism after treating patients and telling numerous families their loved ones had died. Wolf says that every joke is mean to somebody:
“We all try to get through difficult things. I suppose humor in of itself is just that. If you stop and think about it, every single joke that exists, or everything you've ever laughed about is at somebody else's expense. It's at someone else's pain. And I think we use humor to try to deal with difficult situations."
Wolf has issued an apology, and accused Roberts of whipping up a storm over the posts in an attempt at character assassination. Now another campaign has just begun: to clean up the mess and help save Wolf from any future embarrassment.
While the Facebook page featuring the X-ray uploads and morbid commentary was removed and replaced by Wolf’s official campaign page, an eagle-eyed screenshotter caught images uploaded to The Wolf Files, a blog maintained by Wolf that is now private. In one of the screenshots, underneath an X-ray of a torso torn open by bullets, Wolf writes;
“This is my 2nd favorite gunshot wound of all time. I wish I could tell you the story behind this awesome x-ray, but this patient came through the ER and they don’t believe in obtaining patient histories. (I wish I was kidding.) I’m guessing a jealous husband or jilted love. I mean … 2 shotgun blasts … to the back.”
One of Wolf’s most beloved gunshot wounds, according to the The Topeka Capital-Journal, which first reported the story and did not publish the images, is an X-ray of a person’s skull blown apart by gunfire, which the paper likens to “a smashed pumpkin.” This prompted Wolf to write on Facebook:
“One of my all-time favorites. From my residency days there was a pretty active ‘knife and gun club’ at the Truman Medical Center. What kind of gun blows somebody’s head completely off? I’ve got to get one of those.”
An X-ray of a man decapitated by gunfire also prompted Wolf to provide his insightful commentary on Facebook:
“It reminds (me) of the scene from 'Terminator 2' when they shoot the liquid metal terminator guy in the face at close range and it kind of splits him open temporarily almost like a flower blooming. We all find beauty in different things."
In his apology statement, Wolf asks for forgiveness for publishing the images, and maintains that they were uploaded legally and for educational purposes, as well as demonstrating the evil that exists in the world. "Several years ago, I made some comments about these images that were insensitive to the seriousness of what the images revealed," Wolf said in his statement. "Soon thereafter, I removed those images. However, my mistakes are my own and I take full responsibility for them... The cumulative effect of day after day, year after year, witnessing so much human suffering, so much tragedy, takes its toll."
The Topeka Capital-Journal contacted medical ethics professionals, who said that Wolf’s posting of patient images to Facebook is “beyond alarming.”
Wolf also released a statement accusing Roberts of orchestrating a character attack against him. “The attack will not only target me,” Wolf said, “but will, through its implications, cast a wider net to vilify all doctors.”
The video below shows Wolf being confronted over the images.