Photo of the Day: Media Row at the Gosnell trial
posted at 12:01 pm on April 12, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Via Breitbart and Patheos, this image comes from JD Mullane of the Bucks County Courier Times, who is one of the few reporters covering the trial of Kermit Gosnell. If you want to know why there aren’t more reporters sitting in these seats, Mullane explains:
Sat through a full day of testimony at the Kermitt Gosnell trial today. It is beyond the most morbid Hollywood horror. It will change you.
Well, we can’t have that, can we? Patheos’ Mollie Hemingway followed up with Mullane to confirm that the media section was really this empty, and Mullane confirmed:
I was surprised by the picture and asked “really?” He responded “Local press was there, Inky, PhillyMag, NBC10 blogger. Court staff told me nobody else has shown up.”
Mollie challenged reporters on Twitter yesterday why they write about abortion policy but not the Gosnell trial. One reporter, Sarah Kliff at the Washington Post, responded to Mollie:
@mzhemingway Hi Molly – I cover policy for the Washington Post, not local crime, hence why I wrote about all the policy issues you mention.
— Sarah Kliff (@sarahkliff) April 11, 2013
Compare this to the media firestorm over the Komen Foundation’s all-too-temporary decision not to fund Planned Parenthood for breast-cancer screening over the tiny detail of PP not having any mammograms in their clinics. For that matter, Mollie writes, compare that to the “local crime story” coverage of the Trayvon Martin or Matthew Shepard cases:
So when a private foundation privately decides to stop giving money to the country’s largest abortion provider, that is somehow a policy issue deserving of three dozen breathless hits. When a yahoo political candidate says something stupid about rape, that is a policy issue of such import that we got another three dozen hits about it from this reporter. It was so important that journalists found it fitting to ask every pro-lifer in their path to discuss it. And when someone says something mean to a birth control activist, that’s good for months of puffy profiles.
But gosh darn it, can you think of any policy implications to this, uh, “local crime” story? And that’s all it is. Just like a bunch of other local stories the Washington Postalso refuses to cover — local crimes such as the killing of Trayvon Martin and the killing of Matthew Shepard and the killing of students at an elementary school in Connecticut. Did the Washington Post even think of covering those local crime stories? No! Oh wait, they did? Like, all the time? Hmm. That’s weird. But did they cover them in terms of policy implications? Asking politicians for their views and such? Oh they did that, too? Hmm. So weird. Oh, and Sarah Kliff herself wrote one of those stories? Well, gosh, I’m so confused.
And what policies could possibly be under discussion with this Gosnell trial? Other than, you know, abortion clinic hiring practices? And enforcement of sanitary conditions? And laws on abortion practices that extend to killing live infants by beheading them? And the killing of their mothers? And state or federal oversight of clinics with records of botched abortions? And pain medication practices? And how to handle the racist practices of some clinics? And how big of a problem this is (don’t tell anyone but another clinic nearby to Gosnell was shut down this week over similar sanitation concerns)? And disposal of babies’ bodies? And discussion of whether it’s cool to snip baby’s spines after they’re born? And how often are abortion clinics inspected anyway? What are the results of inspections? When emergency rooms take in victims of botched abortions, do they report that? How did this clinic go 17 years without an inspection? Gosh, I just can’t think of a single health policy angle here. Can you?
I mean, God forbid we go big and actually discuss abortion policy in general — something Kliff is usually quite keen to do. (Here’s her 2010 piece for Newsweek headlined Remember Roe!)
Erick Erickson says that someone killing a dog would get more national coverage:
Gosnell is now on trial two years after his arrest. The stories coming from the trial via the few outlets willing to pay attention are horrific and gruesome. But what’s more, similar stories are trickling out from other abortion clinics. The uncommon barbarism of Kermit Gosnell’s clinic turns out to be more common than most might imagine.
But they won’t imagine it. Like with Dave Weigel from Slate, most reporters have never paid attention to the trial or the horrors of many abortion clinics. Reporters lean left, are sympathetic to abortion, and view the right’s demands for coverage unsympathetically because of the reporters’ biases.
Within the media coverage Gosnell is either a story they covered in 2011 or something they won’t cover at all. If they cover it now, they do so in passing so they can say they covered it. But they won’t devote the resources to it as they would if Gosnell had killed dogs. He only killed babies. …
Had Kermit Gosnell killed dogs, HLN would be giving it wall to wall coverage as they do all sorts of sensational trials. Nancy Grace would be in full outrage mode every night through the course of the trial.
I’m not sure I agree with Erick on this one. I don’t recall the media paying much attention to Michael Vick’s local crime case of dogfighting and dog killings. Oh, wait …
CBS News certainly seems interested in dog stories. Here’s a list of dog stories from the CBS News RSS feed this week, including one about — Erick guessed it — a dog killing:
- Puppy tied to train tracks is rescued, man who did it won’t be charged, Calif. authorities say
- FDA: Don’t let your dog into your chocolate Easter candy leftovers
- Video: Shih Tzu caught after 2 years on the run
- Sheena Cornwell, Iowa woman, arrested for allegedly killing, hanging boyfriend’s dog in garage
- PETA apologizes to Iditarod musher after dog death
Now here are all the links from the same feed about the Gosnell trial this week:
The last mention of the Gosnell trial from CBS was March 21st.
Matt Lewis argues that newsrooms need more Christians in place to better grasp coverage needs as well as better analysis:
Conservatives have long lamented our East Coast secular media, charging that its worldview bias (even more than its overt political bias) skews America’s information supply. Too often, Christians feel like they’re cast as the type of fringe characters one might associate with the bar scene from Star Wars. (And remember, 77 percent of Americans identify as Christians.)
This longstanding lack of diversity in the newsroom is confirmed by the Times‘ McCandlish Phillips obituary, which noted that “there were [no other evangelical Christians working at theTimes] when he joined the paper.”
That was unfortunate. Media outlets who want to understand America should at least have a few journalists hanging around who share — or at least, aren’t hostile to — the Christian faith. …
Why does this matter? This sort of diversity isn’t just important because of the creeping worldview bias, but also in terms of selection bias.
Perhaps it would be enough if they included enough humans who valued babies a little more than dogs.
Let’s give the last word to Conor Friedersdorf, who wrote a lengthy distillation of the Gosnell grand-jury report as a way to demonstrate why this should be a front-page story across the nation:
For this isn’t solely a story about babies having their heads severed, though it is that. It is also a story about a place where, according to the grand jury, women were sent to give birth into toilets; where a doctor casually spread gonorrhea and chlamydiae to unsuspecting women through the reuse of cheap, disposable instruments; an office where a 15-year-old administered anesthesia; an office where former workers admit to playing games when giving patients powerful narcotics; an office where white women were attended to by a doctor and black women were pawned off on clueless untrained staffers. Any single one of those things would itself make for a blockbuster news story. Is it even conceivable that an optometrist who attended to his white patients in a clean office while an intern took care of the black patients in a filthy room wouldn’t make national headlines?
But it isn’t even solely a story of a rogue clinic that’s awful in all sorts of sensational ways either. Multiple local and state agencies are implicated in an oversight failure that is epic in proportions! If I were a city editor for any Philadelphia newspaper the grand jury report would suggest a dozen major investigative projects I could undertake if I had the staff to support them. And I probably wouldn’t have the staff. But there is so much fodder for additional reporting.
There is, finally, the fact that abortion, one of the most hotly contested, polarizing debates in the country, is at the center of this case. It arguably informs the abortion debate in any number of ways, and has numerous plausible implications for abortion policy, including the oversight and regulation of clinics, the appropriateness of late-term abortions, the penalties for failing to report abuses, the statute of limitations for killings like those with which Gosnell is charged, whether staff should be legally culpable for the bad behavior of doctors under whom they work…
There’s just no end to it.
To sum up, this story has numerous elements any one of which would normally make it a major story. And setting aside conventions, which are flawed, this ought to be a big story on the merits.
Be sure to read it all.