Reporters Apologize for Ignoring Kermit Gosnell Abortion Trial

Opinion   |   Jill Stanek   |   Apr 13, 2013   |   5:44PM   |   Washington, DC

There is a fine line between righteous indignation and gloating.

I would identify the charges levied against the media for ignoring the Kermit Gosnell mass murder trial as righteous indignation.

We pro-lifers engage in this a lot. There is daily evidence that MSM ignores or distorts stories on abortion.

But in the case of Gosnell we are seeing something rare, mea culpas, such as at the Washington Post and The Daily Beast. Some of the blinders are lifting, thanks in large part to Kirsten Powers, who has pointed out the Gosnell case is so obviously over the top.

In the days to come there will likely be plenty of room for righteous indignation regarding the media’s treatment of Gosnell, such as this ridiculous piece.

But I am also now trying to be sensitive to those mea culpas as well as those in the liberal press who are doing a bit of soul searching, such as Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic:

Until Thursday, I wasn’t aware of this story. It has generated sparse coverage in the national media…. I still consume a tremendous amount of journalism. Yet had I been asked at a trivia night about the identity of Kermit Gosnell, I would’ve been stumped and helplessly guessed a green Muppet. Then I saw Kirsten Power’s USA Today column. She makes a powerful, persuasive case that the Gosnell trial ought to be getting a lot more attention in the national press than it is getting….

But I agree that the story has been undercovered….

Inducing live births and subsequently severing the heads of the babies is indeed a horrific story that merits significant attention. Strange as it seems to say it, however, that understates the case.

For 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?

But it isn’t even solely a story of a rogue clinic that’s awful in all sorts of sensational ways either. 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.

To sum up, this story has numerous elements any one of which would normally make it a major story. And setting aside conventions, which are flawed, this ought to be a big story on the merits.

The news value is undeniable.

And those in the press doing a combination of the two, like David Weigel at Slate:

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….

If you’re pro-choice, say, and you worry that the Gosnell story is being promoted only to weaken your cause, you really should read that grand jury report. “DOH could and should have closed down Gosnell’s clinic years before,” write the investigators. Why wasn’t it? Were state regulators nervous about igniting a political fight about abortion? Is the regulatory system incompetent or under-funded? And are there other states where the same could be said? Social conservatives are largely right about the Gosnell story. Maybe it’s not a raw political story. It’s just the story of a potential mass murderer who operated for decades as government regulators did nothing.



As a pro-life Christian, I am burdened to pray particularly hard for community wisdom right now. How do we continue to hold feet to the fire yet coax along those whose cold hearts are being pierced by this extreme example of where abortion leads? Because, after all…

He has sent me to announce forgiveness to the prisoners of sin and the restoring of sight to the blind, to forgive those who have been shattered by sin, to announce the year of the Lord’s favor.

~ Luke 4:18-19

Your thoughts? I think the operative word here is “gloating” – to pray against that. Because God hates religious pride as much as secular pride. Note: Jill Stanek fought to stop “live birth abortions” after witnessing one as an RN at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois. That led to the Born Alive Infants Protection Act legislation, signed by President Bush, that would ensure that proper medical care be given to unborn children who survive botched abortion attempts.