Was There a Media Blackout on the Gosnell Abortion Trial?

Kermit GosnellThe testimony paints a picture worse than any horror movie plot:

-An abortion clinic infested with rats and smelling of cat urine, its basement filled with bags full of biohazardous material.

-A doctor, Kermit Gosnell, who allegedly illegally performed third trimester abortions, and allegedly cut infants' spinal cords with scissors if they were alive when he extracted them.

-Drains clogged with tiny body parts.

-Dirty operating equipment that wasn't washed between procedures.

-A patient who died after an overdose of anesthetic.

It's the kind of trial that reads like front page news -- but even though it's been going on now for five weeks, mainstream media has just now begun covering it.

And many are asking why.



Conservative news outlets have been covering the story now for weeks, and rightfully so -- I'm pretty sure Kermit Gosnell qualifies for the Worst Doctor of All Time award.

But mainstream media was silent on the trial for more than a month, prompting many online to begin shaming them for ignoring it. "So how many dead American babies does it take to make the news?" wrote Mark Steyn on the National Review's website. As a result, over the last few days, national newspapers and news networks have sheepishly announced that they would (finally!) be sending reporters to the trail.

Explanations as to why the trial hasn't been covered up to now ran the gamut. " I cover policy for the Washington Post, not local crime," explained the Washington Post's Health Policy editor.

This explanation was offered by Megan McArdle, a reporter for The Daily Beast: "It makes me ill.  I haven't been able to bring myself to read the grand jury inquiry. I am someone who cringes when I hear a description of a sprained ankle."

Washington Post writer Melinda Henneberger was refreshingly frank about the lack of coverage:

I say we didn’t write more because the only abortion story most outlets ever cover in the news pages is every single threat or perceived threat to abortion rights. 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. That’s not so much a conscious decision as a reflex, but the effect is one-sided coverage.

That makes far more sense to me than the other two explanations. And before you try and read into anything in this post: -- full disclosure-- I'm a moderate independent who personally would not choose abortion, but believes it's something each woman should decide for herself.

I do think politics entered into the decision to not cover this story, as much as I hate to admit it-- because in my experience as a television reporter, MANY journalists out there are concerned with reporting a story impartially and without bias-- and I know plenty of journalists who manage to keep their own opinions out of their reports. In general, I think the media gets a bad rap.

That said, regardless of politics this is clearly a story that deserves to be covered. No one on either side of the abortion debate is disputing the fact that babies were killed in this clinic- living, breathing humans who would have survived outside the womb if their spinal cords hadn't been snipped by this doctor or one of his assistants.

It's sickening. And I'm disappointed that it took mainstream media so long to cover the story.

How about you?

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