Writing on Gosnell Media Blackout in 2011 -UPDATED

On twitter yesterday, it was mildly irking to see a few tweets in my timeline from people like Kevin Drum and I forget who else, basically saying, (essentially) “oh, yeah? Well, if the Gosnell story was such a big deal, why weren’t any of you people writing about it in 2011, huh? Answer that! Burn!”.

It was pretty easy to do a quick search and send him links of this blog and Hot Air and Michelle Malkin and others, writing multiple times of Gosnell in 2011, and even 2012. But here’s a piece that speaks specifically to the media blackout of the story, that I wrote for First Things, ‘way back in 2011:

The Gosnell story—a story that by any measure deserved in-depth coverage, some serious discussion about regulation and responsibility, and a few features forcing the nation to consider just when a “late-term” abortion slips into the category of “infanticide” or what our leadership and politicians really think of all of this—proved too big and too messy for the mainstream media.

They did not want light shed on dark truths that cannot be prettied up with euphemisms and nebulous notions of “choice.” They did not want to have to ponder the likelihood of Gosnell’s stinking, body-piled-and-bloodstained rooms being replicated in other cities, in other states, where other authorities chose to look away from the carnage, rather than address it.

That’s all pretty obvious to everyone, today, but here’s something I suspect no one is thinking about, and it’s an idea that the mainstream press has got to hate:

So, allow me to ask the impolitic question I have hinted at elsewhere: in choosing to look away, in choosing to under-report, in choosing to spin, minimize, excuse, and move-along when it comes to Kermit Gosnell—and to this whole subject of under-regulated abortion clinics, the debasement of women and the slaughter of living children—how are the press and those they protect by their silence any better than the Catholic bishops who, in decades past, looked away, under-reported, spun, minimized, excused, moved-along, and protected the repulsive predator-priests who have stolen innocence and roiled the community of faith?

The press was quite right (and duty-bound) to report on the shameful failures of our bishops and the sins of our priests. They reported; they followed up. They dug through records. They sought out histories. They looked for more, because they understood that if filth existed in one diocese, it likely existed in others. They courageously did their jobs, unworried about fallout or repercussions; they were looking at a big issue, and were thus unintimidated by big names, and rightly unreserved in their outrage.

They pulled neither punches nor headlines. They even dared to peer at the very uppermost seats of authority and leadership, to see if there was any culpability, there—any mismanagement, any looking-away.

In the wake of Kermit Gosnell, however, in the wake of Andrew Rutland, Stephen Brigham, and Abu Hayat, there is no following-up, no digging through records; there is no curiosity about filthy, women-maiming, spine-snipping facilities existing in other cities; there are no big names to go to for quotes. These crimes—when they are covered at all—are treated like “local” aberrations. No one peers in at authority or examines the pro-abortion leadership. There is no one in government, apparently, to ask about criminal-neglect, lack of scrutiny; no one to accuse of mismanagement or of looking-away.

The mainstream press, made uncomfortable by a 261-page grand jury report detailing what might well be called a decades-long and heinous crime against humanity, abetted by the spectacularly willful looking-away of those in authority, itself turns away from the story and neglects its duty to the public trust.

In doing so they bring to mind the words of Saint Paul to the Romans: “The evil which I hate, that I do.”

Some members of the press are finally reporting on Gosnell, and some even seem authentically horrified by the story and mortified that their profession let it go unreported. Despite the ones intent on distracting by sneering, “oh, yeah? And where were you when the story broke?” like 14 year olds, let’s be glad they’re finally awake and paying attention. Let’s appreciate what may be a moment of grace.

UPDATE: The FT piece links to this but let me also link to it, here, Melinda Henneberger’s excellent piece from…2011

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • Fiestamom

    What I sincerely (maybe naively?) hope is that these mainstream media members ask themselves HOW IN THE WORLD did they not know about this? They all knew about the #WarOnWomen, Todd Akin, Sandra Fluke, Mitt Romney and his binders of women. They all spent hours on these “important” topics. I suspect that JournOlist still exists. These media members really need to get themselves a passport, and come to Red State America. They can’t content themselves with going to a diner in Iowa every 4 years to meet the rubes. Come out here and see what we’re about!

  • Bill M.

    I fear the MSM will spin Gosnell and his clinic as an aberration, and won’t draw the obvious conclusion that abortion, particularly its late-term variety, is infanticide.

    [read my latest post and also note this: http://www.politicsdaily.com/2011/01/23/kermit-gosnells-pro-choice-enablers-how-clinics-become-death-t/?a_dgi=aolshare_twitter - have hope. admin]

  • Terry

    To quote one of your posters from yesterday, “Silence=Consent”.

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  • Kim

    What hasn’t been mentioned much is that what Gosnell did was illegal, that there were numerous reports to various state authorities, including from employees who fled the facility, with little or no follow-up until the feds raided the place on drug charges. Also little mentioned are the minority women who were abused or killed by the facility (also with barely an eyebrow raised among authorities) and the conditions in that community which (a) allowed Gosnell to function and (b) caused women to believe that his “services” were the only viable alternative.

  • Brian

    Unfortunately, your hopes seem to already be dashed. People on the other side of the aisle are pointing fingers, claiming that pro-life activists created the climate in which this could happen. Could you publicly address claims made on pages like these? Can you show me where their spinning is?



    I do pray that abortions can come to an end. I do pray that women’s health be fully served. I do pray for peace.

    I know that I have a long history of posting critical comments on Catholic sites and blogs. Sometimes I was not successful at all in arguing well. I wish to assure you that I do not wish to tear down the Faith. In this case, I do not want to belittle the seriousness of abortion either! I have a very complicated and difficult history of seeking truth and goodness in Christ’s Church, in addition to many difficult questions–so complicated and difficult that I wrote a 24-page letter to Pope Francis sharing my history and voicing my questions.

    I have posted links like the ones above because I try to bring up questions to others. I have tried to post and fewer critical comments. This may be the last time that I post to this blog. If it is, please pray for me as I continue to search for truth.

    [I no longer care about how the "other side" comports itself and "reacts". I care about how the Christians respond. I'm done doing that "well, they're saying," thing. We have to move beyond it. And yes, all pray for each other. -admin]

  • Strife

    “No one doubts that an ordinary man can get on with this world: but we demand not strength enough to get on with it, but strength enough to get it on. Can he hate it enough to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth changing? Can he look up at its colossal good without once feeling acquiescence? Can he look up at its colossal evil without once feeling despair? Can he, in short, be at once not only a pessimist and an optimist, but a fanatical pessimist and a fanatical optimist? Is he enough of a pagan to die for the world, and enough of a Christian to die to it? In this combination, I maintain, it is the rational optimist who fails, the irrational optimist who succeeds. He is ready to smash the whole universe for the sake of itself.”

    ― G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

  • anonymous irishman

    “how are the press and those they protect by their silence any better than the Catholic bishops who, in decades past, looked away, under-reported, spun, minimized, excused, moved-along, and protected the repulsive predator-priests who have stolen innocence and roiled the community of faith?”

    Quite so. Actually, an even more precise analogy is with the treatment of children in Catholic children’s homes in mid-century Ireland until about the late ’60s http://http://www.childabusecommission.ie/ , and the media silence on the issue until well into the ’90s. In both cases the major motivation for the system being protected was/is the need to deal with the menace that unwanted children present to society at large – a grim task best conducted out of sight and out of mind.

  • Peggy M

    I keep thinking of that Goya painting “Saturn Devouring His Children” as the icon of the Culture of Death. Mostly in relation to abortion, but also to the nihilistic contraceptive culture, the killing sprees, the wars, etc., etc. But mostly abortion. They are killing our young.

    Many of those babies killed by Gosnell were larger than my own premature babies. There is a photo of an aborted girl placed next to a tape measure, who looks like my daughter at birth. You would not be able to tell them apart if i put the photos side by side.

  • Victor

    (((I do pray that abortions can come to an end. I do pray that women’s health be fully served. I do pray for peace.)))

    Forgive me Anchoress, but I just can’t keep up with ya and I will go on to say that in reality you’re doing a great job. Keep up the good words cause you’re giving the truth a heart that they can count on and some know “IT” NOW!

    Anchoress I honestly don’t know how much of this you’ll allow but feel free to edit what you feel must be edited for whatever reason. I don’t usually agree with anyone editing what I write and long story short, right now, i’m writing from the heart and really don’t want to intentionally hurt anyone but don’t ya think that enough is enough NOW?

    I have not written to His Holiness like this Brian has and “IT” would be cruel for me to even start thinking that the man I’M about to be talking about also goes by the name of Brian so I won’t say that NOW. Anyway, there’s a girl child that is truly still loved even though she got involved with a boy that was very intelligent and he was loved by this girl child. This boy later took this girl’s parents for a ride in his father’s car and during the ride, he made “IT” very clear to them that because of a rumor, which was being spread around, that he could not marry their daughter and although they found what he had done kind of silly they just let “IT” be for the time being.

    Longer story short, the father of this girl didn’t lose his cool with this boy and because of his daughter, he even started to befriend him and hoped for the best but years later, it all ended bad when this boy who had now turned to be a man started to question this father’s Religion and asking this father stuff like: How do you know that GOD does not approve of this and that? Let’s just say that “IT” all hit the fan and many years later, this boy is still a friend to this girl but for her father’s love, she keeps saying that they are only friends and that’s as far as “IT” goes but as far as the father for many reality reasons this intelligent man is using all he can to try to prove that this father is wrong.

    Anchoress! I won’t get into “IT” here but I don’t blame this boy who is now a man but as far as these parents are concerned, “IT” would be easier to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbOXrmUf8kY then try changing this fathers way of thinking so for what “IT” is worth and as you say, let’s just keep praying for each others.


  • Patricia

    By the silence of the left and the MSM, they have defeated all of their own arguments against the right, from racism, to “war on women,” to caring about the “children,” and more, including (good point), Elizabeth, the cover up of by the Catholic Church of the sexual abuse scandal.

    So now when the left doesn’t have an agurment and labels us a racist or falsely demeans us for our ‘war on women’, or calls us mean and bigots for defending the sacrament of marriage, along with the predictable others, there need be only one response: Where was YOUR voice during the Gosnell trials.

  • anonymous irishman

    “they have defeated all of their own arguments against the right”

    That just proves that “they” are hypocritical are sometimes guided by ulterior motives, not that their arguments are wrong; some are correct.

  • Adam

    You know, the one thing I keep worrying about is that this “moment of grace” will be like St. Paul’s metaphor of the man who looks in the mirror and then forgets what he looks like. That is, the press will cry their mea culpas over this and then go right back to their hypocrisy of ignoring stuff. We’ve known for years that the press leans left and has selective coverage–it’s just that this is the first time in awhile where they’ve really acknowledged that it could be a problem for them.

    I don’t want to kick them while they’re down, but I do think we should keep the pressure on the press in the future. Their selective bias will, unfortunately, occur again in the future (particularly if a Republican ever holds the Presidency again–watch the criticisms of spending and drone strikes come out of the woodwork!). I think we need to regularly get on message boards and comment feeds of major news outlets and keep at them: why are you running this story? Why now? What’s your agenda? Remember that guy who killed multiple children in Philadelphia, and you ignored it?

    The press needs to be told that, like the Priesthood, our trust in them has been horrifically damaged. (As a Catholic, I can’t say “irrevocably”–forgive us our trespasses!–but there’s been a breach for years, and this story has only made greater light of it.) They need to be reminded that it’s because of stories like this–but not JUST this–that we’re skeptical of anything they say.

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  • RigelDog

    On Friday, I happened to be in the courtroom where this case is being tried; they have been adjourning on Fridays. The prosecutor’s side of the room had a mound of evidence covered with a blue tarp. I was glad that I did not have to see what might be hidden underneath. That’s what this whole issue comes down to in some ways, doesn’t it? As Ann Althouse recently wrote, we should talk about the shallow morality “of the seen and the unseen.”
    Yesterday I watched the documentary 3801 Lancaster with my 22 year old daughter and her friend. There were a few pictures of the babies shown; I looked away after the first one but can not get the image out of my mind. It showed the back of a baby’s body with the incision where Gosnell would “snip.” I just keep thinking how perfectly made the nape of a baby’s neck is for kissing and nuzzling….and how that which has been seen cannot be unseen.