Powers: Yes, there is a Gosnell cover-up in the media

posted at 12:41 pm on April 16, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Or perhaps more to the point, there has been a media blackout on the atrocities placed in evidence at the trial of accused serial killer Kermit Gosnell.  Is that term too strong?  Before we get to Kirsten Powers, let’s check in with the latest from the trial testimony, brought to us by LifeNews.  Yesterday, the jury heard that Gosnell kept trophies from 47 aborted babies in containers in his office, including cat food jars:

The jury in the murder trial of Kermit Gosnell was told this morning that the embattled abortion practitioner kept at least 47 babies in odd places at his clinic such as cat food jars and other containers. …

But the most shocking portion of today’s hearing revolved around Gosnell’s habit of storing the bodies of babies he butchered in abortions.

“This morning’s testimony from the medical examiner discussed remains of 47 babies found in cat food and cherry lime ade containers,” says Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue, who is in the courtroom listening to the trial. “All containers contained bloody fluid and human remains.”

She said it took the medical examiner, Dr. Gulino, five days just to catalog the containers of fetal parts and the examiner also examined feet and lower extremity found in jars of formaldehyde belonging to five babies Gosnell killed. The ages of the unborn children ranged from first trimester to 22 weeks and the latter baby was possibly viable.

Those are the kind of details that usually drive national-media coverage, not to mention at least a tangential connection to the abortion debate. So far, though, national media outlets insist (with a few exceptions, such as the mea culpa from the Washington Post last week) that they have covered the case.  As Powers writes today for the Daily Beast, that’s a claim that’s both absurd and easily disproven:

The problem is that the media apologists are battling a straw man. The column that started the firestorm over the media blackout didn’t claim that the mainstream press had “never” covered Kermitt Gosnell. I know, because I wrote it.

The column, and the ensuing outrage—and much of the outrage came from people with vaginas despite Carmon’s egregious and divisive claim that it was just the patriarchy rearing its ugly head—was specific to the fact that the mainstream media had not covered the trial of Kermit Gosnell, which started March 18, 2013. I am going to repeat this, because a starling number of people on the left, including New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan, either cannot grasp this or are intentionally ignoring it. Repeat after me: “The problem is that the trial has not been covered.” That the Times ran one story about Gosnell in January is hardly relevant to the trial that started in March.

It is the trial that has included spectacular and headline-grabbing testimony from Gosnell’s former assistants and workers. It is the trial that has been largely ignored outside of local media and activists on the right and left. This, despite the normal obsession with murder trials (Good Morning America has done a 10-part series on the Jody Arias trial). It is the trial—rife with grisly details about an abortion doctor who maimed and killed women and babies—that was ignored, despite The Washington Post’s, The New York Times’s, and network evening news’s usual obsession with all things abortion related.

And where are the so-called feminists, who claim the moral high ground on abortions for womens’ health?  AWOL:

I can only think of a handful of times in my eight years as a Fox News contributor that I’ve discussed abortion. The people who obsessively cover it and anything vaguely related to it are those in the mainstream media and in the left-wing media, which is why their silence on this is so remarkable. Mollie Hemingway did yeoman’s work chronicling how faithfully The Washington Post’s health reporter, who covered Todd Aiken, the Susan G. Komen controversy, and the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller, didn’t write a single story on the Gosnell trial. No abortion regulation is too small for the mainstream media to cover; no stupid comment about abortion by any Republican goes unnoticed. So her disinterest in this trial is inexplicable.

But while the left has alternately attacked the right for its alleged lack of interest and for paying too much of the “wrong sort” of attention, I haven’t heard a lot about the near silence from the feminist organizations that lecture us endlessly about how they stand for women’s health. I find the claims now that feminists were deeply upset about poor minority women being abused and killed along with their babies a little tough to believe. A search for “Gosnell” on NOW’s website yielded only two hits, both from 2011. Search for “Gosnell” on the League of Women Voters website and you will find nothing. The same search on the NARAL and Planned Parenthood sites returned the same number of hits: zero.

Glenn Reynolds hails Powers as the reason national-media outlets now find themselves shamed into covering the trophy-keeping abortionist/alleged serial killer now:

Before Powers’ column, the case wasn’t on the national radar. Oh, it was getting attention from pro-life writers, conservative media critics, and law bloggers, but in terms of national media, the story didn’t exist. It wasn’t on the national radar until Powers’ column opened with this: “Infant beheadings. Severed baby feet in jars. A child screaming after it was delivered alive during an abortion procedure. Haven’t heard about these sickening accusations? It’s not your fault. Since Gosnell’s trial began March 18, there has been precious little coverage of the case that should be on every news show and front page.”

Once that column ran, more people started talking. Writing in the Atlantic a couple of days later, Conor Friedersdorf wrote “Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s Trial Should Be a Front-Page Story.” He commented: “The dead babies. The exploited women. The racism. The numerous governmental failures. It is thoroughly newsworthy. ”

Yes. So why wasn’t it news? Pro-choice writer Megan McArdle of The Daily Beastnotes that it’s about fear of where the story would go, and what it would require writers to confront: “Gosnell is accused of grisly crimes that I didn’t want to think about. … I understand why my readers suspect me, and other pro-choice mainstream journalists, of being selective — of not wanting to cover the story because it showcased the ugliest possibilities of abortion rights. The truth is that most of us tend to be less interested in sick-making stories — if the sick-making was done by ‘our side.’ ”

It was fine to dwell at length on the Newtown, Conn., shootings, because those could be blamed on the evil NRA. But writing about these dead innocents might be a political liability instead of a political asset. It might have been awkward for President Obama.

Perhaps more dangerously, it challenged the absolutism of the pro-abortion crowd, as LauraW at Ace‘s place explains:

The problem with absolutism is that it shoots itself in the foot. Truly radical pro-choicers do not understand that the assumption that abortion primarily kills very tiny, unviable blobs, is the very thing that keeps abortion legal. It is in fact the only thing keeping a majority of people ignoring the subject.

In the case of abortion, this is the social/ political compromise that exists within the non-ideological crowd (most people): Many are willing to say that abortion is wrong (or at least not good), but the majority of these are also willing to allow it, as long as the understanding is that ‘a clump of cells’ is being eliminated.

As long as the belief persists among most reasonable people that the child has not been formed yet, and will not suffer, they will tolerate this practice even if they think it is wrong.

However, as soon as they understand that big, live, squealing babies are being murdered in abortion facilities, the spell is broken. There will be a closer look. And we know in our bones there are more Kermit Gosnells out there, don’t we? It behooves all absolutists to observe the kneecapping that pro-choicers will give themselves if they continue to very stupidly get on the wrong side of this issue and actually argue for a more obvious and expansive infanticide.

Let’s hope the spell is broken now.


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