Did conservative media miss the Gosnell story, too?

posted at 10:01 am on April 15, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Call this The Mainstream Media Empire Strikes Back.  After an avalanche of criticism over their failure to pay attention to the trial of Kermit Gosnell, the national media began pointing fingers back at their conservative-media critics and accused them of ignoring the story, too.  Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi dove into Lexis-Nexis to accuse The Weekly Standard and National Review of hypocrisy, for instance:

The charge of liberal media bias is perhaps undercut by the fact that a number of conservative media outlets — and conservative leaders — overlooked the story, too, until a flood of tweets and commentaries about it began late last week.

The Weekly Standard and the National Review, two leading conservative magazines, for example, hadn’t published anything on the trial, according to a search of the Nexis database. The New York Post’s conservative editorial board has written one commentary — an editorial lamenting the lack of coverage, which, although it doesn’t mention it, includes its own paper. The Washington Times has published five staff-written articles and guest commentaries on the matter, all focusing on the absence of press coverage.

Fox News has been the only consistent national TV source on the story, having run 11 news reports or commentaries on it over the past month. Among national print outlets, the Associated Press has covered the trial extensively. The story has been prominently featured in the Huffington Post and discussed on its Huffington Post Live webcast. The Huffington Post is generally considered a liberal news organization.

It’s not as if outlets weren’t aware of Gosnell’s case, since his arrest in 2011 was widely covered. But the trial received no mentions on NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC and PBS programming until last week. NPR’s “All Things Considered” reported one piece on it at the end of last month, as did the New York Times on March 19. Until Friday, CNN had aired only 76 words on the trial when host Jake Tapper mentioned it March 28. The Washington Post hadn’t reported a word on the trial until Friday.

Jim Geraghty points out in his Morning Jolt that this research was oddly … selective:

Notice the careful wording on that accusation. Of course, several of my colleagues wrote about the charges against Gosnell before the trial. (The opening statements in Gosnell’s trial began March 18.)

And if I’m reading Farhi correctly, he’s only looking at the print magazines, not the online versions – which, as we all know, generate a lot more material, day in and day out, than the print versions of our magazines.

Jim provides a number of links to coverage of the Gosnell story, and then resets the debate properly:

But none of that will be acknowledged by Fahri, because it interferes with the point he wants to make, that “media bias” isn’t to blame for the fact that Kermit Gosnell only became a household name last week.

Listen up, media. The existence of other factors – the fear of offending squeamish readers, limited budgets, the presence of other news events, the lack of television cameras in the courtroom – doesn’t disprove the factor of bias, the notion that at many allegedly “mainstream” publications and outlets, a political and ideological lens skews the perception of what is big news and what is, in the words of the Post’s health policy reporter, just a “local crime story.” As Jay Nordlinger lays out, there is always an editor’s decision of which events get “flood the zone” style coverage, and that decision inevitably reflects that editor’s worldview and perspective. News that damages key tenets of the Left – i.e.,the notion that late-term abortion is necessary, good, and moral objections to it are outdated, fringe, religious zealotry – rarely is deemed big news.

For the record, Hot Air has been covering this story from the release of the grand jury report:

By Ed Morrissey • January 23rd, 2011

The trial coverage began here when the testimony directly touched on the atrocities in Gosnell’s abortion clinic, although we mentioned it in two posts prior to that point.  It took days before the national media bothered to notice even that testimony, though, and they would have continued to blithely ignore it if the outrage over their silence hadn’t forced them to start paying attention.  Farhi’s trying a sleight-of-hand to fake readers into forgetting that it’s the job of newspapers and national media to inform readers, a task at which the Post and other national outlets utterly failed.

Update: Via Scott Johnson, the Post’s Melinda Henneberger, a pro-life liberal, has a much different take:

But, why wasn’t more written sooner? One colleague viewed Gosnell’s alleged atrocities as a local crime story, though I can’t think of another mass murder, with hundreds of victims, that we ever saw that way. Another said it was just too lurid, though that didn’t keep us from covering Jeffrey Dahmer, or that aspiring cannibal at the NYPD.

Yet another said it’s because the rest of the country doesn’t care about Philadelphia — that one was especially creative, I thought. And a friend argued that any “blackout” boiled down to the usual lack of media interest in the low-income community Gosnell “served.” (While he routinely turned poor, black patients over to assistants who lacked even a high school education, according to court testimony, the white patients he seated separately, and treated himself.)

I say we didn’t write more because the only abortion story most outlets ever cover in the news pages is every singlethreatorperceivedthreattoabortionrights. In fact, that is so fixed a view of what constitutes coverage of that issue that it’s genuinely hard, I think, for many journalists to see a story outside that paradigm as news, even if that’s less a conscious decision than a reflex. …

Planned Parenthood’s Snow was similarly obtuse, either willfully or out of habit, in testifying against a Florida bill that would have required medical care for babies who survive abortions. “If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion,” she was asked, “what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?”

Her answer was a familiar one: “We believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family and the physician.”

Though it pains me to say so, that’s the same stand Barack Obama effectively took when he voted against a similar Illinois bill — even after the addition of a “neutrality clause” spelling out that the bill would have no bearing on the legal status of the (you say fetus, I say unborn child) at any point prior to delivery, and thus could not be used to outlaw abortion.

Just remember who the extremists are in this debate, and then ask why the media didn’t cover the Gosnell atrocities.

Update: Daniel Halper at the Weekly Standard e-mails me to note that they first covered the case in January 2011, with this as a major article in the print edition. I had meant to do a search at TWS too but got distracted and forgot to include one. I’d bet that Halper or others at TWS will have their own response to Farhi, so keep checking back over there.

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In the abortion debate today, you’re either unashamedly Pro-Life, Pro-Choice with the ‘rare’ exceptions of rape, incest or (real) harm to mother, or Pro-Abortion on demand for any reason at any time for any woman. President Obama is Pro-Abortion, based on his voting record. Somebody should ask him about those children’s lives and why they don’t have the same value as the children gunned down at Newtown. He should be answerable for his voting record, right?

CitizenEgg on April 15, 2013 at 10:05 AM

And if I’m reading Farhi correctly, he’s only looking at the print magazines, not the online versions – which, as we all know, generate a lot more material, day in and day out, than the print versions of our magazines.

Which is why traditional media is as dead as a baby born at Gosnell’s clinic.

rbj on April 15, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Even if true the excuse would still essentially be, “I know you are but what am I?”

You couldn’t so much as turn on the tv or leave your house without 24/7 carpet-bombing of the Newtown shooting being smashed into your face. Even watching sports coverage would bring some jackwads comment about Newtown and what it meant for this or that sport.

Bishop on April 15, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Yes, libtards, the conservative alternative media has been covering the trial. They’re just regurgitating their Media Matters talking points without lifting a finger to confirm the veracity of those claims. For example, last week a bunch of lefty morons went after The Five because that show criticized the media blackout over the Gosnell trial despite never having done a single segment on it themselves. But anyone who’s paying attention knows damn well that FoxNews itself has done countless stories on Gosnell’s trial, rendering the entire allegation from MMFA and the rest of the Democrat/media complex irrelevant.

Doughboy on April 15, 2013 at 10:10 AM

The shame and blame lays squarely on the shoulders of those that support infanticide, known as abortion. obama shed crocidile tears for Newtown, where are his tears for what happened in Philly and in every other aborion clinic around the world. There will be none because he has no soul, he is his own god…..He can just go golfing or on another vacation or party it down to salve whatever soul he does have….

crosshugger on April 15, 2013 at 10:11 AM

WTG, Ed and Hot Air!

layin’ some smack down!

ted c on April 15, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Our trolls will say the largely-silent LSM have been covering the story properly, while at the same time saying HA is sensationalizing it.

Liam on April 15, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Even if Fahri’s claims weren’t so dishonest his argument is nothing but tu quoque. Weak.

forest on April 15, 2013 at 10:14 AM

I’ll just remind people that Headline News, a CNN station, has been running wall-to-wall coverage of sensational cases (like the Jodi Arias case) for years now.

If there’s nothing more sensational that a doctor killing babies by snipping their spinal cords, all while doing it in filthy conditions, with women suffering from dangerous after-care (to the point where at least one died), then I’m clueless as to what is.

Nethicus on April 15, 2013 at 10:17 AM

NY Times ran Abu Ghraib on Page 1 47 times, including for 32 consecutive days.

But this story is “sensationalistic”.

Del Dolemonte on April 15, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Waiting for Thuja to show up and equivocate in…

gryphon202 on April 15, 2013 at 10:26 AM

LA LA LA can’t hear you..gotta stay on our message

cmsinaz on April 15, 2013 at 10:33 AM

So the MSM that spiked a story that didn’t fit the narrative has managed to make headlines by still not reporting on the story but, rather the fact that conservatives are not reporting on the story.
Got it. Conservatives are at fault and always will be no matter the truth.

Dr. Frank Enstine on April 15, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Buzz feed has been covering this for awhile
– morning joe defending his buddy

cmsinaz on April 15, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Keep spreading the truth Ed, let the LSM wallow in the depths of hell when the time comes.

D-fusit on April 15, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Well done Ed & HotAir

Don’t Wait for the Media to Cover Gosnell — Do It Yourself..


workingclass artist on April 15, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Prolife liberal? Sorry, isn’t such a thing. You vote for the people
Who believe in murder so you are an accomplice in my book.

mrscullen on April 15, 2013 at 11:10 AM

In the abortion debate today, you’re either unashamedly Pro-Life, Pro-Choice with the ‘rare’ exceptions of rape, incest or (real) harm to mother, or Pro-Abortion on demand for any reason at any time for any woman.

CitizenEgg on April 15, 2013 at 10:05 AM

wtf?? how would that be “pro-choice?” it IS rare. over 99% of abortion cases do not involve those circumstances. so if someone wanted abortion to be mostly illegal except legal in those cases, calling them “pro-choice” is a mistake and actual pro-choicers would just laugh. that’s my position too and i still call myself “pro-life” just like many other pro-lifers who have the same position.

women who were raped and still have their child, or face a health threat and still have the child, are heroes to me and i have posted people like that on my blog. i do want to spread the word that there are raped women who had a child and were happy about it. but i wouldn’t go as far as to make it a law that abortions absolutely must not happen in those situations. i can’t say “i wouldn’t have an abortion if i were in that situation” because i haven’t been in that situation. it’s easy for anyone to say “i wouldn’t do that” but it doesn’t take any courage to say those words when those things are not actually happening to you. so don’t tell me “i wouldn’t do it.”

besides, the pro-life cause already has enough difficulties trying to get people to believe that those over 99% of abortions are bad. if we start trying to convince people that 100% of abortions are bad, that will make people resist us even more than they already are. going all-or-nothing is not going to work. look at the laws republicans are passing in various states. they don’t ban 100% or even 99% of abortions, but they are stopping some abortions, and that’s better than nothing.

Sachiko on April 15, 2013 at 11:28 AM

lol at people who are trying to say that that conservative media missed this story too. if conservative media missed the story then how do conservatives know about it in the first place? XD such simple logic.

i knew about this story back in 2011. some lib journalists are saying they just heard about it recently. i’ve thought about it, and i’m honestly not sure whether they are lying or not.

Sachiko on April 15, 2013 at 11:38 AM

The Weekly Standard and the National Review, two leading conservative magazines, for example, hadn’t published anything on the trial

That isn’t exactly their type of story. It makes as much sense as chiding Highlights for Children for their lack of reporting on the trial.

Happy Nomad on April 15, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Pro football player kills girlfriend…national news with wall-to-wall coverage. Doctor murders hundreds of babies, in conditions the USDA would find unsuitable for a slaughterhouse…crickets.

Every time I read anything about this Gosnell creep, I get the same feeling that I did when I read a book about H.H. Holmes and the Chicago World’s Fair murders.

ReaganWasRight on April 15, 2013 at 12:09 PM

NY Times ran Abu Ghraib on Page 1 47 times, including for 32 consecutive days.

Del Dolemonte on April 15, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Good reminder.

I think any sane person would rather have been mistreated by U.S. soldiers in Abu Ghraib than be one of those babies or women slaughtered in Gosnell’s House of Horrors.

No U.S. soldier kept an Abu Ghraib prisoner’s severed hands or feet in a trophy jar, like Gosnell did with little baby hands and feet.

ITguy on April 15, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Did conservative media miss the Gosnell story, too?

Before we get to that, is there any conservative media?

Yes, there’s Hot Air and the blogs, but how “mainstream” is that? You know, where the people with short attention spans might actually see it?

The only thing that could be remotely conservative is Fox and even then that’s pushing it.

The premise fails. There really is no mainstream “conservative” news outlet. Once again, the idiot media has built a strawman in order to avoid their culpability.

kim roy on April 15, 2013 at 2:36 PM