Media Assist: Easy, Logical, Fair Angles to Pursue on Gosnell Story – UPDATED

Empty seats reserved for press at Gosnell Trial. Photo credit: JD Mullane, news writer and columnist, Bucks County Courier Times, The Intel, Burlington County (NJ) Times.

So, something happened yesterday, something I have been praying would happen, regarding many stories, for years — at least since the death of Tim Russert. A mainstream reporter looked up from headlines full of spin, distraction and politically expedient, empty themes (“war on women!”) and said, essentially, “why the hell is this absolute horror in our midst not on every front page?”

The reporter was Kirsten Powers, who reached her breaking point with the Kermit Gosnell Butchering of Women and Children Story that bloggers have written about, but not the mainstream press, and this is what she wrote at USA Today:

Let me state the obvious. This should be front page news. When Rush Limbaugh attacked Sandra Fluke, there was non-stop media hysteria. The venerable NBC Nightly News’ Brian Williams intoned, “A firestorm of outrage from women after a crude tirade from Rush Limbaugh,” as he teased a segment on the brouhaha. Yet, accusations of babies having their heads severed — a major human rights story if there ever was one — doesn’t make the cut.

You don’t have to oppose abortion rights to find late-term abortion abhorrent or to find the Gosnell trial eminently newsworthy. This is not about being “pro-choice” or “pro-life.” It’s about basic human rights.

The deafening silence of too much of the media, once a force for justice in America, is a disgrace.

Brava. Powers’ piece brought energy to social media coverage, especially on Twitter, where Mollie Hemingway and the Twitchy Team went at it nonstop (see threads) and #Gosnell, after all this time, finally began to trend.

As the day progressed, it was stunning to read news junkies and journalists admit in their Twitter feeds that they’d never read a word about Gosnell, the women he has killed, maimed and left sterile or the born-alive babies he played with and joked about before snipping their spinal cords, and sometimes severing their feet, to keep as trophies.

They’d never heard of it! If they’d seen blog postings about it in their timelines, apparently they dismissed them as “right wing, anti-abortion hysterics” and didn’t even bother reading them. Some of them are only just now reading the Grand Jury report (pdf) we detailed ‘way back in 2011, and they are appropriately horrified, but that’s where their comments stop. The rest is silence.

Will that horror translate into serious examination of the story, of the multitude of questions it demands asking, not only about policy but about the kind of country we’ve become and — for journalists — what an incurious and trivial place they have allowed their insulated little world to degenerate into?

Mollie Hemingway is taking a closer look at the lack of coverage, and the excuses some journalists are making for their lack. Apparently, this women-puncturing, baby-slaughtering story is a crime tale of only “local” interest” and has nothing in it that speaks to national policy, human rights, the “war on women” or present discussions taking place, anywhere.

It is a national (and weeks-long) story when a man says he looked over resumes of women, in binders, but the debasement of women slapped (“so hard it would leave a mark”) while in stirrups? Or left unassisted after the tearing of her cervix and colon? No story; nothing to see here, nothing to discuss. No questions to ask. They might be discomfiting.

Since members of the press can’t think of any questions about Gosnell, I figured I would do my part, and give them some starters and jumping-off points. Perhaps it’s been so long since they’ve had to do more than take dictation that they just can’t get the brain-juices up to speed, so here are some freely-offered, not-difficult and completely fair questions that the press is free to use, without attribution:

***Nail salons and Tattoo shops are inspected twice year; Gosnell’s practice had not been inspected in 17 years. Why were inspections suspended? Is it common for abortion clinics to be bypassed? Does that not encourage unsafe, unsanitary conditions to flourish?

***Would Gosnell have severed baby feet and kept them like trophies if he had any fear of surprise inspections? Could regular inspections have saved women’s lives? Did political pressure from abortion advocates precipitate end of inspections, limited regulations?

***How much pro-abortion money flows into political coffers? Did Gosnell ever donate to a party or a politician? If so, could that have given him cover? He apparently pulled down over one million dollars a year and hid money in his mattresses. Were any local or state officials paid off to ignore his depravity? Who might be likely recipients of payola? Follow the money?

***Did ERs treating women with infections, perforated uteruses and colons, or uterine abscesses due to filth and unrecovered fetal remains not report Gosnell to the Health Department and the Medical Licensing Board? In the Grand Jury report, one of Gosnell’s untrained workers, Marcella Stanley Choung, says she filed a complaint with the Department of State, but the department “never acted on it”. Why not?

***Poor, minority women were anesthetized by untrained 15 year-olds, and frequently delivered their late-term (often living) babies into toilets, with no doctor present. At trial testimony we hear, “white women got more and better treatment”. How does this speak to the treatment of underprivileged women. Could this sort of treatment every be ignored if it touched monied white women? If there is a “war on women” isn’t this a trench worth fighting in?

***How does Gosnell’s apparent disregard for minorities connect to Margaret Sanger’s genocidal desires to decimate minority populations?

***As Senator, Barack Obama repeatedly voted against mandating medical care for babies born alive during attempted abortion. Does anything in this story change his mind, or speak to the question of when an abortion and a “mother’s right to choose” becomes about “making sure that every child has access to health care and medical treatment”? Does a living baby not qualify as a child?

***Why can’t we ask Obama that question, when he clearly fought passionately against legislation specifically addressing this story?

*** Is the Gosnell story a moment the president can lead us through?

***Is willingness to ignore Gosnell story an indictment of our own corrupt and mindless allegiance to idea that is warping our humanity? Which idea might that be? Are you really going to try to blame pro-lifers for this mess? Should we re-examine the fruits of our laborious silences?

***Why are these people angry about laws meant to better-regulate abortion clinics?

***Why was Gosnell holding on to all those fetal remains in freezers? Is there a market for fetal tissue that encourages late-term abortion?

***Is it possible Humanae Vitae was prophetic?

Having finally been exposed to the Gosnell story
, Conor Friedersdorf , agrees that Gosnell’s trial should be a front-page story, and extensively covered.

…this isn’t solely a story about babies having their heads severed, though it is that. It is also a story about a place where, according to the grand jury, women were sent to give birth into toilets; where a doctor casually spread gonorrhea and chlamydiae to unsuspecting women through the reuse of cheap, disposable instruments; an office where a 15-year-old administered anesthesia; an office where former workers admit to playing games when giving patients powerful narcotics; an office where white women were attended to by a doctor and black women were pawned off on clueless untrained staffers. Any single one of those things would itself make for a blockbuster news story. Is it even conceivable that an optometrist who attended to his white patients in a clean office while an intern took care of the black patients in a filthy room wouldn’t make national headlines? [emphasis mine - admin]

Multiple local and state agencies are implicated in an oversight failure that is epic in proportions! If I were a city editor for any Philadelphia newspaper the grand jury report would suggest a dozen major investigative projects I could undertake if I had the staff to support them. And I probably wouldn’t have the staff. But there is so much fodder for additional reporting.

There is, finally, the fact that abortion, one of the most hotly contested, polarizing debates in the country, is at the center of this case. It arguably informs the abortion debate in any number of ways, and has numerous plausible implications for abortion policy, including the oversight and regulation of clinics, the appropriateness of late-term abortions, the penalties for failing to report abuses, the statute of limitations for killings like those with which Gosnell is charged, whether staff should be legally culpable for the bad behavior of doctors under whom they work…

There’s just no end to it.

Yes, and hopefully now some coverage will begin.

Deacon Greg Kandra,
with over 20 years at CBS News under his belt also has questions for the press:

1) Why do you think the Gosnell story isn’t important?
2) What elements does it need to make it important?
3) Since abortion is one of the most hotly debated and divisive issues in the country, do you think perhaps there might be widespread interest in this particular abortion story?

Read the whole thing.

Ed Morrissey notes that
the Mainstream Media is finally looking and promising reports

Why They Won’t Talk About Kermit Gosnell
9 things you should know about this trial
How do we define a holocaust?
If Gosnell had killed puppies, we’d have a story!
Or, you know…baby seals
Heather King’s “Poor Baby”
Ed Morrissey has more thoughts
Our Daughters Dreams Arise of This Glad Slaughter

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • teomatteo

    “Barack Obama repeatedly voted against mandating medical care for babies born alive during attempted abortion. Does anything in this story change his mind….”? No. Not until his 8th grade daughter ‘evolves his opinion’ like she did with her redefining the consummation of marriage.

  • sherry

    Near sick from the story, but reading clear eyed none the less. Remember the Silence=Death slogan about aids? Well, here Silence=Consent. We will be held accountable for knowing and saying nothing as the trains rolled by with countless people inside…and the Nuremburg trials come to mind, we will not want to be in those chairs.

  • Brigit Barnes

    And it would have to be Kirsten Powers. Democrat, but always agonizing on Fox News who would take up the cudgle. The press could not be convicted by a Peggy Noonan, or other conservative. She will likely be disfigured and dismembered for this.

    [Of course. Only Nixon could go to China. :-) admin]

  • Adam

    David Weigel’s got an article up on Slate doing a “gee whiz, I guess we should be talking about this.” I congratulate him for getting halfway there, but you’ll note in the article that he never says anything akin to “murdered babies.” At best, he says something like “illegal late-term abortions.”

    Pay attention to the comment thread on the Slate article, though. You’ll get a preview of the arguments we’ll get BACK on the Gosnell story: “This is why abortion should be legal; we’ll be back to these kinds of places if it’s illegal; if Pro-Lifers hadn’t caused so much pressure on abortion clinics, women wouldn’t resort to Gosnell!” Which is B.S., of course–Planned Parenthood has plenty of offices across Philadelphia, so Gosnell is an outlier in the area, not a last-resort.

    But pay attention to the comments. The media is now cracking, but the culture of death will find a way to spin this as our fault. Pay attention, and be ready.

  • Fiestamom

    Knowing that 99% of the mainstream media is pro abortion, I wonder if this story just might hit a bit too close to home for more than one reporter? The DC/NY media axis is so chummy, their kids go to school together, they all want to be invited to the right parties. Maybe the talking head shows don’t want to go anywhere near this story out of fear of making a colleague uncomfortable?

    Or it could be as The Ace of Spades opined yesterday, the elites don’t report it because they don’t trust the peasants to come to the ‘right’ conclusion on abortion.

  • Strife

    Hey now, let’s get things straight around here:

    the Mainstream Media doesn’t report the news to us, they *SELECT* the news FOR us.

    They’ll tell you rubes what really matters and exactly what you should think. See?


  • Birthday girl

    @Fiestamom … I wonder how many of the “media elites” are post-abortive themselves? I remember Abby Johnson saying that about 70% of women who work in abortion factories are themselves post-abortive. I wonder whether the corporate media is another pocket that attracts this type of person. And of course how that colors their coverage …

  • CarlH

    To be fair, it’s worth noting that Mollie Hemingway was on this story about the media’s willful blackout of the Gosnell story well before Kirstin Power’s editorial appeared in USA Today (the only big media outlet that has actually covered the story, BTW). You can find links to all of Hemingway’s related columns, the first of which appeared on March 20, by clicking the “KERMIT GOSNELL” tag at the bottom of the story linked through her name in the main post.

    [Yes, Mollie, and Michelle Malkin, and me -- MANY of us had written repeatedly about the MSM blackout, but it still took Kristin, a Democrat and a credible "journalist" to those who need to think that way, to finally pierce that bubble. -admin]

  • Adam

    And now the Atlantic’s got it as well. I’m always curious as to why The Atlantic and Slate tend to run parallel stories–could just be common liberal thinking. (To be fair, I find The Atlantic a much saner version of Slate.)

    On the other hand, now that Powers’ article was published in a major media outlet, maybe everyone else is rushing to talk about it. It’s the “nobody wants to be first, everyone wants to be second” phenomenon.

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  • Joe Odegaard

    Don’t expect any leadreship from Mr. Obama “punished with a baby” on this.

  • Victor

    Anchoress! You’ll have to forgive me again cause this comment was to be placed into your prior post called God in the Balance; Loving Dark and Light but long story short, my wife has me laying hardwood in our bedroom and well never got the chance to finish till NOW. I’ll read this post after MASS if life slows down NOW! This is if YA get my drift NOW? :)


    (((a God Who is All Love by introducing them to the God Who is All Balance)))

    You are such a good Christian writer Anchoress and I believe that one of the reason is that you so often write from your heart of reality mixed with a lot of spirituality prayers.

    There’s so much that i want to say but I will simply say that GOD (Good Old Dad) is always around and being the 100% GOD of LOVE that GOD is for all of HIS Creation of Children, HE let’s U>S (usual sinners) do as we please unless we ask for an intervention from GOD’s Angels NOW.

    Long story short, “I” know as well as sinner vic that we’re all going to make “IT” and where that is, well let’s just say that GOD because of HIS Endless LOVE leaves “IT” all to U>S to decide where that will be!

    I’ll start closing by saying that i’m sorry about your family member but like you said, At his request, he had no funeral, no rite or memorial …. which makes “IT” so sad.

    I’ve got so much more to think about because of your writing and “I” thank you for the prayers that you keep sending toward me and my sinner vic.

    “And When I Die.”

    Thanks Again

    P.S. “IT” is Snowing here today!

    I hear YA sinner vic!

    Come on Victor YA do live in The North! Don’t YA NOW?

    Go Figure! :)


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  • Uncle Miltie

    Perhaps we should put a petition on the White House’s page….

    Ms. Eden, I lack your elequence, could you get this started?

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  • Thinkling

    A remarkable facet of this story is that Gosnell may not be such an outlier, there are (equally ignored) incidents like this frequently — one in nearby Delaware this same week. So this pattern is a ticking time bomb of Pulitzeresque proportions, another Woodward and Bernstein waiting to happen. But up to this point the most intrepid journalism is carried out by ethically ambiguous stings a la LiveAction et al.

    This has all the looks of a crack in a big dam. Who will be the professional, ethical, respected voice who does the legwork to break the Gosnell pattern and land the biggest journalistic coup in a decade?

    [If this is, in fact (as I hope and pray) a break in the tide, it's one that is going to call on Christians to be as Christlike as possible with our stunned and (hopefully) re-thinking brothers and sisters. We can't haul off on them, but must teach with love. -admin]

  • theduchessofkitty

    Remember, they also called Watergate a “local story”… until it wasn’t.

    Yes, the dam must be brought down. Release the river! Let the whole world know, without a smidgen of a doubt, about the “woman’s right to choose”. Let the sweet, Freedom-like mask be finally taken off, and the Face of Death be revealed to the world – and be despised as the abomination before Earth and Heaven it truly is.

    May the Truth be revealed to the whole world and open as many hearts as possible.

  • Philokalos

    This is the best thing I read today.

  • George @ Convert Journal

    Why doesn’t this story, which in part is about the standard of care for women, come up in the discussion of California’s AB 154 whose whole purpose is to lower that standard?

    What happened to abortion being a “difficult decision” to be between a woman and her doctor?

    [I'd venture to guess that most ppl, like myself, had no notion of that story. -admin]

  • Laurie

    The empty seats in the media section speaks volumes. It says much about the lack of intellectual curiosity and intellectual honesty on part of the media. While it is hoped the Gosnell case will shock people and society in recognizing what abortion is, and how it is practiced, unfortunately this case will become another faded memory at best.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    “In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”–George Orwell
    It appears Kirsten Powers has become a media revolutionary on this issue. And as has become common, it is FOX whose reporters and commenters -even when a Democrat–which points out the naked emperor that is the mainstream media. No wonder they all hate FOX so much

  • Matthew J. Ogden

    Just out of sheer morbid curiosity, if nothing else, did anyone here think the media would ever allow stories to surface that make their liberal political positions look bad? Recall the indefinite detention bill that Obama signed into law last year. Didn’t hear about it? That’s because there was a media blackout on that too.

    This is nothing new whatsoever. Either from the media, or from abortionists. Kermit Gosnell, monster that he is, simply did exactly what abortionists do every day. The only difference is that the children he killed were out of the womb. I’m quite sure pro-lifers like me have been saying for years that the location of the baby doesn’t make a difference. It certainly didn’t to Kermit Gosnell. This is illustrates what pro-lifers have known all along: abortionists know they are killers and take great fun in the fact. And that the liberal media will go to no end to cover up the horror of what they themselves promote and advocate.

  • Sarah

    Aaand the AP is covering it, but the story is oddly sympathetic and drastically softens or obscures the details. *facepalm*

  • Manny

    What’s really disturbing is that the media is not listening to us. They are not listening to Conservatives nor religious people. Here’s a story of major proportions, and yes they have their bias against pro-life. But when large groups of people raise their voice the media has to pay attention, and they didn’t. It took a pro-abortion Democrat to raise their awareness.

  • Sgt. Mike, angel second class

    The propaganda machine (aka MSM) has ignored/spiked this story. It will never be seen on national news, nor page 1 on the NYT. You’ll only see it mentioned on the internet, in the comboxes.
    The key takeaway is, if this is a LEGAL abortion mill, what would an ILLEGAL one look like?
    Junior point, why did the political elite shield this slime from review for decades?

  • Regina

    J D Mullane, a local reprter, is doing great work on this issue. He’s been at the trial, and it’s his picture of the empty media seats that’s gone viral. He deserves props for his work. He’s a great writer.

  • spudnik

    A few journalists seem honestly concerned after discovering this story. But I also suspect an effort to kill the story when widespread coverage of a long-standing story begins on a Friday. If it’s still being covered Monday I’ll be pleasantly surprised.