As you may have heard, right-wing pundits, and some in the mainstream, are accusing the “liberal media” of covering up the sensational case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia, whose horror show of crimes at his abortion clinic should have (they claim) drawn repeated news coverage and commentary. Ross Douthat of The New York Times on Sunday went so far as use it as a prime example of the dangers of (allegedly) liberal reporters and editors increasingly pushing a certain social agenda—in this case, pro-choice.
It all started last week when Fox News’ Kirsten Powers for USA Today described the gruesome case, which has just gone to trial—Gosnell, 72, is charged with murdering seven infants and a pregnant woman—and charged that news outlets were deliberately ignoring it. She wondered why they acted outraged when Rush Limbaugh attacked Sandra Fluke but not over a murderous abortion doc.
Her conclusion? "The deafening silence of too much of the media, once a force for justice in America, is a disgrace." Both Breitbart.com and the National Review dubbed it a "blackout."
Conservative writers leaped on this, charging that the Gosnell case showed the dangers of legal, late-term abortion and so the media simply had to cover it up. Working the refs worked, and much analysis and/or self-criticism ensued, from Dave Weigel to Jeffrey Goldberg. Conor Friedersdorf came up with 14 theories yesterday why the case did not receive, in his view, nearly enough attention.
Now, as you might have guessed, there are several problems with this hue and cry—though one should be grateful for any attention to savage and illegal crimes against women.
For one thing: The Gosnell case actually bolsters the pro-choice case, since at heart it shows the kind of butchery that might happen daily all over the country if Roe v. Wade was overturned.
For another, there’s this hypocrisy: With rare exceptions, conservative media also ignored the case until recently. As Paul Farhi at The Washington Post pointed out yesterday, the Weekly Standard "hadn’t published anything on the trial, according to a search of the Nexis database.” Neither did Ross Douthat. Or the Wall Street Journal right-wing editorial page.
Kevin Drum at Mother Jones observed today that the Washington Times carried a piece last month—from the AP—on the start of the Gosnell trial and nothing since, beyond running seven separate pieces on the media coverup angle.
Right-wingers claiming that THEY didn't ignore the case are frantically linking to this Jim Geragty "takedown" of that meme. Problem is: every piece he cites is from 2011–when "liberal media" had more coverage.
Farhi points out that the Associated Press, like Fox News, has covered the case extensively. The New York Times ran a piece as recently as March 19. One reason for the lack of extensive TV coverage is: There are no cameras in this courtroom. Another: The judge has imposed a "gag rule" on all involved. A third: Since when they do care much about crimes against folks in poor neighborhoods?