JD Mullane: The media's still blacking out Gosnell

If you ever read or saw any coverage in mainstream media about Kermit Gosnell, you can thank veteran journalist JD Mullane. While the story attracted attention in the blogosphere and religious media immediately after the publication of a Philadelphia grand jury report into his horrific abortion practice, national news outlets ignored the story even when Gosnell came to trial. Only after Mullane’s picture of the empty courtroom pews set aside for media went viral on Twitter did the media show up to cover the trial.

Mullane recounts his experiences today, expressing satisfaction with the new film about the case and his role in shaming journalistic colleagues into covering the story:

The movie “Gosnell” is in theaters, and I wanted to see how faithful it is to the facts, having covered the 2013 trial of the infamous Philadelphia abortionist and killer of newborns, a murder trial ignored by Big Media. …

The cable news networks which that year gave America wall-to-wall coverage of the Jodi Arias murder trial were MIA at Gosnell. He was charged with seven counts of first degree murder for snipping the spinal cords of born-alive babies at his filthy abortion clinic in West Philly.

Failure to cover was an embarrassment for American journalism, and I will always take satisfaction helping to cause that embarrassment.

Unfortunately, Mullane points out, the national media is still finding ways to ignore Gosnell and to prevent others from discovering the film and the story:

If you haven’t heard of the movie, it’s not surprising. PhillyMag reported last week that Facebook is allegedly blocking ads for the film, and most movie reviewers are silent on it.

If you stick around for the closing credits of “Gosnell,” you’ll see the photo of the empty media seats, a picture that, except for the Courier and Intell, has never appeared in any major U.S. daily newspaper.

Like the trial and now the movie, it’s just another Gosnell media diss.

It’s not just Facebook, either. NPR refused to air ads for the film because it referred to Gosnell as an “abortionist.” The government-funded radio network also refused the compromise offer from the film’s producers to refer to him as an “abortion doctor,” insisting that the word “abortion” could not be mentioned. Matt Lewis pointed out a month ago that NPR had itself referred to Gosnell as an “abortion doctor” in its own reporting:

The proposed ad was as follows, “Support for this NPR program comes from the film Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer. The film is the true story of abortionist Kermit Gosnell. A story the mainstream media tried to cover up because it reveals the truth about abortion.”

No dice. According to e-mails provided to The Daily Beast, NPR’s representative ran it up the legal flagpole and came back with a disappointing answer. In addition to other minor tweaks to the wording, their response stated, “The word ‘abortionist’ will also need to be changed to the neutral word ‘doctor.’”

Seeking to find an acceptable compromise, Sullivan (who co-directed Dinesh D’Souza’s first two documentaries) next proposed simply using the term “abortion doctor.” This is a descriptive term that is morally neutral, he reasoned. Still, NPR refused to approve Sullivan’s compromise language. It was “Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell” or bust. …

It’s still unclear why the term “abortion doctor” couldn’t be included. A quick search turns up past NPR stories with titles like, “Joyce Carol Oates’ New Novel Begins With an Abortion Doctor’s Murder” and “Abortion Doctor Killer Appeals to Kansas High Court.” NPR even did a special series called “Training the next generation of abortion doctors.” Heck, there was even an NPR news story about Kermit Gosnell himself, and it was headlined, “Convicted Philadelphia Abortion Doctor Gets Life in Prison.”

The motive here is pretty transparent. Gosnell raises all sorts of questions not just about abortion itself, but also the manner in which pro-choice forces have cowed governments to the point of refusing to police clinics where abortions are performed. That’s precisely what happened in Pennsylvania for the 17 years prior to the discovery of Gosnell’s horrors, which happened because of an investigation into illicit drug sales. Even before that, though, the state and city refused to follow up on specific complaints about Gosnell’s work and refused to investigate the death of Karnamaya Mongar when it happened.

That editorial bias happens in less overt ways, too. For instance, the film Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer opened in 673 theaters this weekend and scored the highest gross of any independent film released this week. It came in 12th overall, 4th among all new releases, and had a respectable $1,836 per-screen average. (In contrast, the highly promoted Bad Times at the El Royale scored $2,573 per screen.)

One would think that a film with a fairly broad opening would get some interest from film critics in its first week. Instead, it got almost completely ignored. Only the Los Angeles Times and Forbes, among traditional media outlets, bothered to review it at all. Rotten Tomatoes only lists four other reviews, including one from our friend Christian Toto of Hollywood in Toto. In contrast, Amazon’s Beautiful Boy — which also opened on Friday and did about one-sixth of Gosnell’s business this weekend — got 70 reviews at Rotten TomatoesThe Happy Prince got 60 reviews even though it opened on only eight screens and did only $45,506 overall this weekend.

Mullane’s correct; the media still doesn’t want to talk about Kermit Gosnell. Fortunately, people can go directly to the theater to see Gosnell and to get an accurate recounting of his horrors.