By Susan Duclos
Ever since Kirsten Powers took to the pages of USA Today with a piece headlined “We’ve forgotten what belongs on Page One,” writers from multiple news outlets have attempted to explain, excuse or justify now reporting on Kermit Gosnell:
It’s not your fault. Since the murder trial of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell began March 18,
there has been precious little coverage of the case that should be on
every news show and front page. The revolting revelations of Gosnell’s
former staff, who have been testifying to what they witnessed and did
during late-term abortions, should shock anyone with a heart.
Melinda Hennebergeron writing for the “She The People”, Washington Post blog, hits the nail on the head as she explains the lack of significant national coverage on the Kermit Gosnell Abotion Clinic “House of Horrors.”
But, why wasn’t more written sooner?
One colleague viewed Gosnell’s alleged atrocities as a local crime
story, though I can’t think of another mass murder, with hundreds of
victims, that we ever saw that way. Another said it was just too lurid, though that didn’t keep us from covering Jeffrey Dahmer, or that aspiring cannibal at the NYPD.
Yet another said it’s because the rest of the country doesn’t care about Philadelphia
— that one was especially creative, I thought. And a friend argued that
any “blackout” boiled down to the usual lack of media interest in the
low-income community Gosnell “served.” (While he routinely turned poor,
black patients over to assistants who lacked even a high school
education, according to court testimony, the white patients he seated
separately, and treated himself.)
I say we didn’t write more because the only abortion story most outlets ever cover in the news pages is every single threat or perceived threat to abortion rights.
In fact, that is so fixed a view of what constitutes coverage of that
issue that it’s genuinely hard, I think, for many journalists to see a
story outside that paradigm as news. That’s not so much a conscious
decision as a reflex, but the effect is one-sided coverage.
That is it in a nutshell. Any pro-abortion story is newsworthy in the eyes of the media and anything else is hidden like a dirty little secret.
Kudos to Hennebergeron, who is pro-choice, for admitting that.
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