A photo of empty media seats taken during testimony at the 2013 Kermit Gosnell trial in Philadelphia went viral. It pressured the media Bigs to show up.
The movie “Gosnell” is in theaters, and I wanted to see how faithful it is to the facts, having covered the 2013 trial of the infamous Philadelphia abortionist and killer of newborns, a murder trial ignored by Big Media.
Ignored, until pro-lifers marshalled the forces of social media and shamed the bigs into covering it. The case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell had the elements of a national sensation: baby murders, racism, poor women abused and exploited, and indifference from city and state politicians who could have stopped Gosnell, but didn’t.
The cable news networks which that year gave America wall-to-wall coverage of the Jodi Arias murder trial were MIA at Gosnell. He was charged with seven counts of first degree murder for snipping the spinal cords of born-alive babies at his filthy abortion clinic in West Philly.
Failure to cover was an embarrassment for American journalism, and I will always take satisfaction helping to cause that embarrassment.
On April 11, 2013, I was in the courtroom with three other local reporters listening to the horrifying testimony of Ashley Baldwin, a Gosnell employee. I looked over at rows of empty seats marked with “media only” notices.
Disgusted, I snapped a picture of the empty seats and uploaded it to Twitter. It quickly went viral. That pic, along with a same-day column by Kirsten Powers at USA Today, exposed our tribe as derelict.
In “Gosnell: Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer,” filmmakers Philem McAleer and Ann McElhinney, with writer Andrew Klavan, take license with key players, compressing events in the sprawling horror of Gosnell. They have produced a riveting film that tells what the abortionist did in his clinic, sparing viewers the gore that each day sent gasps through the courtroom.
Actor Dean Cain is excellent as Montgomery County police Det. Jim Wood, then with Philly PD. Wood was investigating Gosnell’s pill mill when he stumbled upon the doctor’s house of horrors crammed with aborted babies and baby parts stored in jars, waste bags and kitty litter containers.
Sarah Jane McGuire plays prosecutor Alexis “Lexy” McGuire, a composite of real life Gosnell prosecutors Joanne Pescatore and Ed Cameron, who brilliantly assembled and meticulously explained mountains of shocking evidence for the jury. (A jury comprised of pro-choicers, by the way.)
Director Nick Searcy plays Mike Cohan, Gosnell’s snarling defense lawyer, who in real life is Jack McMahon. McMahon, a courtroom bulldog, today represents Claire Risoldi, accused of torching her McMansion in Buckingham for the insurance money.
Earl Billings plays Kermit Gosnell, precisely capturing the abortionist’s creepiness with a stone-cold chill.
As for me, there’s a character named “Mollie Mullaney,” a tattooed millennial blogger, not a grizzled boomer newspaperman. She is a composite of me and Mollie Z. Hemingway, senior editor at the Federalist, who was first to respond to my empty media seats pic on Twitter and relentlessly went after elite journos for being MIA.
The Gosnell trial is landmark for pro-lifers, because it pulled back the curtain on the seedy side of the abortion industry that pro-choicers won’t discuss.
The film rightly calls out Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, a pro-choice Republican, who was Gosnell’s biggest enabler, and who still hasn’t answered for it. Ridge’s administration ordered state health inspectors to halt inspections of Pennsylvania abortion clinics, because it would force some to close. Under Ridge, nail salons were more strictly policed than abortion clinics.
The day after my pic went viral, pressure grew on the media. They scoffed. Most infamous was Sarah Kliff, a health writer for The Washington Post. She told Hemingway that Gosnell was a “local crime” story.
The big media were shamed into coming to Philly, though many, like the New York Times, bailed after a few days.
Pro-choicers argued that Gosnell was an “outlier,” what happens in a “post-Roe” world. That’s false. Activists had for years uncovered filthy clinics across the country. Trial testimony showed that Gosnell was performing inexpensive, late term abortions on demand, using non-doctors to do them – the exact abortion policy Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo had called for in his 2013 State of the State Address.
On May 13, 2013, Kermit Gosnell was found guilty of three counts of first degree murder, and the death of Karnamaya Mongar, a patient who died during an abortion. He was sentenced to life without parole.
If you haven’t heard of the movie, it’s not surprising. PhillyMag reported last week that Facebook is allegedly blocking ads for the film, and most movie reviewers are silent on it.
If you stick around for the closing credits of “Gosnell,” you’ll see the photo of the empty media seats, a picture that, except for the Courier and Intell, has never appeared in any major U.S. daily newspaper.
Like the trial and now the movie, it’s just another Gosnell media diss.
LifeNews Note: Reporter JD Mullane writes for the Courier Times.