Oh to have been a fly on the fall during any editing discussions at The New York Times national desk during the time between the newspaper of record’s early report on the verdict in the Dr. Kermit Gosnell case and the final version that is currently online.
Yes, there were a few changes.
Now I — naive old me — failed to save a copy of the early story. Frankly, I thought the Times team would leave that online as the early, deadline version and then publish a separate second-day story. Yes, I am naive every now and then.
However, the Newsbusters crew wrote a commentary that included some of the language that I also saw early on. It interesting that when you click on the URL in this commentary that is supposed to lead to the early Times report, you now head over to the radically changed final version. Slick.
The key statement in the early text is that the “verdict came after a five-week trial in which the prosecution and the defense battled over whether the fetuses Dr. Gosnell was charged with killing were alive when they were removed from their mothers.”
Now, that is an accurate statement, from one perspective. The whole point of the trial was whether Gosnell’s coworkers were speaking the truth when they reported that he regularly delivered late-term fetuses alive before killing them. Then again, as your GetReligionistas have been noting, there is no such thing as a fetus that has been delivered. Once it’s delivered, it’s an infant or a baby. Look it up.
fe·tus … pl. fe·tus·es
… 2. In humans, the unborn young from the end of the eighth week after conception to the moment of birth, as distinguished from the earlier embryo.
What part of “to the moment of birth” is so hard to grasp? One really doesn’t need get into arguments about abortion, morality, religion, science and law to read the a few words in a dictionary.
However, it is also important to note that the Times team was challenged with reporting, accurately, the claims of voices on both sides. Gosnell’s defenders were clearly using “fetus” language and it was important to quote that language as part of his case. Thus, the early Times report also stated that “Dr. Gosnell was acquitted of one first-degree murder charge involving an aborted fetus.”
Right. The jury apparently did not believe that the evidence of a live birth was as strong in one of the “snipping” cases. But what about the victims in the three guilty verdicts?
Over at The Washington Post, the early report went with the simple language of the trial itself — a good choice. The attributions are clear and strong.
PHILADELPHIA – After a two-month trial and 10 days of deliberation, a jury on Monday decided that Baby A, Baby C and Baby D lived a few fleeting moments outside their mothers’ wombs before their spinal cords were severed at Kermit Gosnell’s abortion clinic in West Philadelphia.
The way those brief lives ended didn’t amount to abortion but to three acts of first-degree murder, jurors concluded.
So what happened in the revised Times report? Let’s walk through that one, starting with the blunt lede: