Gallup: Abortion views steady as media ignores Gosnell trial

posted at 12:01 pm on May 10, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Americans may not be terribly aware of the trial of Kermit Gosnell,  but they are aware of who to blame for their ignorance. Gallup’s latest survey shows that only 25% of the public are following the trial somewhat or very closely, and only 33% of self-identified pro-life adults.  Fifty-five percent of adults aren’t following the case at all.  However, pluralities in both groups believe that the media hasn’t done enough to report on the multiple-murder case in Philadelphia:

One-quarter of Americans say they have followed news of the case either very closely (7%) or somewhat closely (18%), but that is well below the 61% average level of attention Americans have paid to the more than 200 news stories Gallup has measured since 1991. An additional 20% of Americans say they are following Gosnell case “not too closely” while 54% say “not at all.” This makes the Gosnell case one of the least followed news stories Gallup has measured. …

It is not clear from the data whether Americans’ relatively low attention to the Gosnell case reflects a lack of interest in it, or a lack of coverage by the mainstream media. However, nearly half of those following the case, 46%, say the media have not devoted enough coverage to it. That compares with 20% saying the media have devoted too much coverage and 27% saying the right amount.

The strong tilt toward saying there has not been enough coverage as opposed to too much coverage partly reflects the heavy representation of pro-life respondents among those who were asked the question.

Even among the entire sample, those saying that the case hasn’t gotten enough coverage exceeds by more than a 2:1 ratio those who say it’s received too much (21/9).  For those following the case, it’s also more than 2:1 at 46/20.

With the media doing little to shed light on the Gosnell house of horrors, it’s not too surprising that the lack of new data means that views on abortion haven’t changed much:

As Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell awaits the jury verdict in his capital murder trial, Gallup finds 26% of Americans saying abortion should be legal under any circumstances and 20% saying it should be illegal in all circumstances. The majority, 52%, opt for something in between, as has been the case in nearly every Gallup measure of this question since 1975.

Current views on the legality of abortion, based on Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs poll, conducted May 2-7, are nearly identical to those from Gallup’s prior measures in December and May 2012. More generally, they are similar to what Gallup has found for most of the past decade, except for a brief period between 2005 and 2006, when the balance of the two absolutist positions tilted more heavily in favor of abortion being legal in all circumstances. …

Although the latest Gallup survey was conducted after much of the testimony in this trial had already been reported in the news, the stability in Americans’ views about the legality of abortion suggests the trial has not swayed public opinion. Part of the reason could be that relatively few Americans are paying attention to the case.

And that might be by design, no? After all, if the news media doesn’t bother to cover it — or only covers it as a media story, rather than report the testimony in detail — why would anyone change their minds about abortion?  Other than the few reporters who have to listen to the testimony in person, of course.

Kathryn Jean Lopez sees a glimmer of hope in the attention the case has received:

But here, we have the opportunity for redemption, too, in the wake of 40 years of euphemisms that led to newborn snips for in the name of “women’s health.” It’s going to be a long haul of investigation and introspection. But it’s our moral and civic duty to quit looking away from the horrific injustice being done to the innocent unborn — and newborns marked for abortion — and women. I give Leroy Carhart credit for at least being forthright with the truth in Live Action’s most recent undercover video, that abortion changes you, and that a late-term abortion means killing a baby.

Kirsten Powers gets it. Marlin Stutzman gets it. Mollie Heminway gets it. Rich Lowry gets it. Robby George and Ramesh, of course, get it. Jonah gets it. The list does, thankfully, go on — but there is a whole lot of awakening yet to happen.

Perhaps that’s what the media fears.

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