Politico and Atlantic.com’s turn to explain Gosnell blackout

Politico and Atlantic.com’s turn to explain Gosnell blackout April 12, 2013

Earlier I shared what happened when I asked an AP reporter and a Washington Post reporter about their personal Gosnell blackouts.

It was so illuminating that I decided to check out a few other media outlets. I headed over to Politico. Since Washington Post reporter Sarah Kliff tried to justify her lack of coverage of the Gosnell trial by calling it a local crime story, I thought I’d add other local stories into my search. Thanks for the idea! So here’s what I found out. Politico‘s search engine pops out 165 results on Trayvon Martin (local crime story in Florida), 94 stories on Komen, 233 on Sandra Fluke and 866 on Todd Akin.

Guess how many stories Politico has published on Gosnell.

Did you guess zero? You win!

I’d love to ask the reporters in question about the shocking disparity but I noticed that the reporters who wrote some of the histrionic Komen coverage aren’t even around any more. Politico is known for its turnover. So I should probably ask editors. Once I figure out who I should talk to (I’m also trying to find Kliff’s editor since she has revealed some problems with her ability to cover this issue) and will let you know how it goes.

Which brings us to my last anecdote. I follow the prolific tweeter Garance Franke-Ruta from Atlantic.com. Her twitter bio says “Senior editor, @TheAtlantic. Your early warning system. Politics, media, breaking.” I know she loved loved loved to tweet about Fluke and Akin and Komen and all that. Couldn’t get enough of it. But I hadn’t seen anything on Gosnell from her. I plugged it into the Alantic.com’s search engine and there was a story about Gosnell! I clicked on it. It wasn’t a story so much as a very brief mention in a lengthy roundup of the day’s news. Back in March.

And that was it. Atlantic.com hadn’t covered Gosnell at all. But did they cover Trayvon Martin? (247 hits) What about Komen? (97) Fluke? (131) Should I ask about Akin? (296). So I asked her about it.

Here’s what she said (before deleting it later):

Hi Mollie. I have not had a blackout on him; I picked up the story in March and expect to do so again at some point.

See if you can find her coverage of Gosnell here. It’s a brief snippet of a New York Times story on Gosnell from the start the trial. It runs 155 words. And the first sentence is wrong (newborn babies aren’t fetuses). But whatever. I think we all must agree with her point. She briefly mentioned Gosnell in a link round-up in March. What more do you people want?

I suggested that a brief mention in a link-fest wasn’t quite on the same par as the top 8 hits (out of, remember, 97) on Komen. Check out these headlines:

Top Susan G. Komen Official Resigned Over Planned Parenthood
Feb 2, 2012 … Sources with knowledge of the Koman process said recent policies were adopted specifically to cut funding for Planned Parenthood.

Komen VP Karen Handel Quits Over Planned Parenthood Dispute
Feb 7, 2012 … The one-time gubernatorial candidate from Georgia who ran on a pro-life platform admitted she wanted funding cut to the network of clinics.

An Inside Look at Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s Spin Machine …
Feb 3, 2012 … Internal documents circulated by Komen officials instructing employees how to respond when confronted with questions about funding.

Who Bullied the Susan G. Komen Foundation Into Cutting Funding …
Feb 10, 2012 … Karen Handel, the recently-departed Komen VP contradicts her organization in explaining the reasoning for defunding Planned Parenthood.

Why Did Susan G. Komen Pull the Plug on Planned Parenthood …
Feb 2, 2012 … The two organizations seemed like natural allies. Why cut ties now?

How the Church and Susan Komen Place Themselves Before …
Feb 11, 2012 … Ultimately, Americans want the freedom to make personal health decisions on their own, without the various institutions around us.

The Komen Foundation’s Black Eye – Linda Hirshman – The Atlantic
Feb 1, 2012 … By no longer donating to organizations “under investigation,” the Susan G. Komen Foundation is replacing its pink ribbons with a black list.

Who Is Behind Susan G. Komen’s Split From Planned Parenthood …
Feb 1, 2012 … The mysterious decision by the leading breast-cancer charity to stop funding the country’s most prominent reproductive-health provider.

Those are just the first eight hits. So pardon me if I’m just a tad less than impressed. Since Franke-Ruta is “senior editor” there and known for covering abortion-related stories, I kept asking for an explanation that made sense.

She responded, “I don’t know why you’re acting like I assigned every Atlantic article ever written,” deleted her initial tweet and then ignored the reader deluge of questions to her about the disparate coverage.

I asked her who I should be speaking with about the editorial decisions and she has declined to answer.

It’s all very instructive. How did we get a media that is choosing to hide this story? Through many individual actions. How do they maintain the system? Lack of transparency and lack of accountability certainly help.

One last thing. The image above is the search engine for Politico. If you type in Gosnell, you’ll see two interesting things. One is that they have literally no coverage at all. The other is that it’s the most searched for news topic. Talk about serving your customers, eh? That’s some commitment to the blackout.

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