Excuses for ignoring the Gosnell trial pour from the media
Now that the cast-iron embargo on the Kermit Gosnell abortion horror has rusted away, it’s time for the media to begin offering fanciful excuses for how they somehow failed to cover the trial of a man Terry Moran, anchor of ABC’s Nightline, called “probably the most successful serial killer in the history of the world.” But he didn’t say that on Nightline. He said it on Twitter. Moran’s network had not produced any original reporting on Gosnell at all. The topic of Nightline’s last installment before his Tweet was, “Hot Moms Incorporated: From Gisele to Gwyneth, new celebrity moms are losing the baby weight faster than ever.”
The most fashionable excuse offered by the liberal media for ignoring the Gosnell trial is that they live in a coastal bubble, and don’t always notice the things that get folks riled up out in red-state flyover country. They might have acted sooner, if they knew how much this crazy trial meant to you. Dave Weigel at Slate put it like this:
Let’s just state the obvious: National political reporters are, by and large, socially liberal. We are more likely to know a gay couple than to know someone who owns an “assault weapon.” We are, generally, pro-choice. Twice, in D.C., I’ve caused a friend to literally leave a conversation and freeze me out for a day or so because I suggested that the Stupak Amendment and the Hyde Amendment made sense. There is a bubble. Horror stories of abortionists are less likely to permeate that bubble than, say, a story about a right-wing pundit attacking an abortionist who then claims to have gotten death threats.
That’s a reasonable description of the liberal media attitude, but it’s not sufficient to explain a total media embargo that lasted for days after the blackout itself became a big story. Remember, we’re not talking about a lack of emphasis – we’re looking at absolute zero coverage from Big Media. And the example of Terry Moran illustrates that some media bigwigs were aware of the story and its importance, even as they refused to cover it.
Big Media coverage is not driven exclusively by the attention of top anchors. Huge staffs of reporters and news analysts work for each network, gathering stories. Are we supposed to believe all of them live in Weigel’s bubble, and were somehow unaware of the Gosnell story, rather than deliberately suppressing it? Especially after the story caught fire across the conservative media sphere? The left-wing blogosphere can push stories into Big Media with ease, but somehow it seems conservative websites can howl about something in unison for days on end without the major news networks hearing a sound. If they want to reverse the decline in their viewership, they really ought to do something about that. For example, each huge news network could assign one person to spend an hour a day checking the big conservative websites to see what half the country is talking about.
The most laughable bit of Gosnell embargo spin is the feeble assertion by some left-wing media outfits that conservatives weren’t really talking about the Gosnell trial until the end of last week, either. That’s a knee-slapper for anyone who actually follows conservative media, but Jim Geraghty of National Review brutally slapped down a bizarre Washington Post story that tried to claim Geraghty’s magazine, and the Weekly Standard, didn’t cover the Gosnell trial much more than the Post did. Among other deficiencies, Geraghty noted that the Post performed a very selective Lexis-Nexis search that somehow missed a sizable number of items, they were apparently only searching the print editions of the two conservative magazines, and there are countless other sources to consider beyond those two publications – meant, presumably, to stand in as the conservative equivalent of the big liberal media networks. Beyond the longstanding interest of pro-lifers in this awful story, conservative media coverage of the Gosnell trial really caught fire after the first couple of days had gone by, and it became clear Big Media wasn’t going to cover its shocking revelations at all.
We’ve also heard someone from the Washington Post attempt to wave off the Gosnell trial as a “local crime story,” which is a laughable tautology: every story is a “local” story until the national media decides otherwise. Someone at CNN tried claiming they had a “small staff” and couldn’t spare anyone to sit in the famously empty “reserved for the media” area of the Gosnell courtroom. It has been suggested that Big Media tends to ignore crimes in which the victims are largely poor minorities, as was the case with Gosnell – but that’s only true when reporting on such crimes would drown a preferred media narrative, such as abortion rights or gun control. That’s why the bloody drumbeat of gun slayings in gun-control utopias like Chicago receives no more coverage than the Gosnell trial did.
There’s no way to spin away what happened here. A story that seriously challenges the media action line on abortion was firmly suppressed, keeping days of gruesome testimony from the public eye. Public outrage literally dragged the press into finally covering the trial – as of Monday morning, there are finally reporters from the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal sitting in that formerly empty media section of the courtroom. Do not allow apologists for the left-wing media to manufacture a narrative about this story escaping their notice. They knew all about it, and they keenly understood its significance. That’s why they didn’t report on it.