Big Three broadcasters gave Wendy Davis three times as much coverage as Gosnell trial
posted at 4:01 pm on July 23, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
The analysis from Media Research Center comes as no shock to those of us keeping track of both stories as they unfolded, of course, but it’s noteworthy nonetheless. The broadcast networks created a new heroine in tennis shoes in Wendy Davis while barely mentioning Kermit Gosnell over a much longer period:
Davis, a previously unheard of Texas state senator, staged a filibuster last month in a successful bid to derail a late-term abortion bill. Cheered by rowdy pro-abortion activists, Davis spoke for 11 hours against a bill outlawing abortions after 20 months of pregnancy and mandating that abortion clinics meet the same sanitary and safety standards as any other Texas medical facility.
Davis became an instant celebrity – a comely blonde single mom who stood up for “women’s health” in pink tennis shoes, fighting against “severe” abortion restrictions. Nowhere has her “rock star” status been more apparent than on the broadcast networks.
In the 19 days since her June 25 filibuster, ABC, CBS and NBC have devoted 40 minutes, 48 seconds of their morning and evening news programs to stories including Davis. That’s more than three times the 13 minutes 30 seconds they gave Gosnell during the entire 58 days of the murder trial.
Again, Davis was filibustering a state bill in a state senate – the kind of event that might merit thorough coverage in Austin, Houston or Dallas, but very rarely makes the Big Three evening newscasts. (The 40 minutes 48 seconds excluded discussion of Davis on the network Sunday talk shows, as well as the “Sunday Spotlight” report about her that appeared on ABC’s “This Week.”) And the networks didn’t find themselves responding to a growing news story. They made it a big news story; CBS “Evening News” featured a live report from outside the Texas senate on June 25 – in the middle of the Davis filibuster.
So much for “If it bleeds, it leads,” huh?
If the coverage had been at all critical and objective, a case could be made for this being a rational choice. One trial involved the grotesque nature of late-term abortions and the horrific conditions that led to the death of at least one woman in a clinic, conditions allowed by a refusal of the state of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia to effectively regulate abortion clinics — a conclusion explicitly reached by the grand jury that indicted Kermit Gosnell. The other involved keeping Texas from effectively regulating clinics to prevent more Gosnells. Had the coverage of Davis and the Texas bill taken that approach, or even something approaching balanced, perhaps the disparity in coverage wouldn’t be that jaw-dropping.
However, as MRC argues, “Numbers don’t do justice to the fawning nature of Davis’ coverage.” We covered that here at Hot Air, but MRC robustly recaps the high(low)lights. Too bad they didn’t have as much interest in the children murdered in Gosnell’s clinic after their births, or in the death of Karnamaya Mongar, as they did in Davis’ pink sneakers.