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The Gosnell Blackout Starts To Crack

Kermit Gosnell is probably the most successful serial killer in the history of the world. — Terry Moran (@TerryMoran) April 12, 2013 Things are finally starting to move on the Gosnell front. If you have a strong stomach, read Conor Friedersdorf’s extremely powerful Atlantic piece about why Gosnell should be a front-page story. (Be aware […]

Things are finally starting to move on the Gosnell front. If you have a strong stomach, read Conor Friedersdorf’s extremely powerful Atlantic piece about why Gosnell should be a front-page story. (Be aware that there is a photograph of a baby girl allegedly killed by Gosnell; this is what late-term abortion is, America.) By his own reckoning, Conor consumes lots of media, yet Gosnell was unknown to him until Kirsten Powers’s USAT column showed up on his radar. This, says Conor, is why the media should be talking about Gosnell:

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, thisought to be a big story on the merits.The news value is undeniable.

Yeah, but Rush Limbaugh. :::snark:::

UPDATE: You want to know a big reason why the MSM is ignoring or downplaying Gosnell? Look at this story headlining the Washington Post’s website now. Here’s the lede:

The Virginia Board of Health voted Friday to require abortion clinics to meet strict, hospital-style building codes that operators say could put many of them out of business.

The 11 to 2 vote represented the board’s final say on the matter, which has taken unexpected twists and turns since the General Assembly voted in 2011 to regulate abortion clinics like outpatient surgical centers. The regulations will now go to Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, both Republicans, for their review.

The board’s move comes at a time when measures restricting abortion seem to be gaining traction in state houses across the country.

I had just finished Conor’s piece and posted on it when I saw this WaPo story. I read on to see what the case for and against regulation abortion clinics like outpatient surgical centers was. After all, abortion is surgery, and a major aspect of the Gosnell case is the savagery visited upon women by this very lightly regulated abortion mill, which was not remotely up to proper medical standards.

Nowhere in this story is it explained to the reader why abortion clinics deserve, or don’t deserve, to be regulated like outpatient surgery centers. It is assumed by the reporter that this story is framed solely as an abortion-rights story. In other words, if you’re for greater state oversight and higher medical standards for abortion clinics, then you are therefore in favor of restricting abortion access.

Is it possible that these new regulations are unnecessary, and are only being imposed to drive abortion clinics out of business? Sure. But give the reader a sense of why that might be true (and why it might be false). The point I’m trying to make here is that the reporter only sees the issue through the abortion-rights political paradigm. The health and safety aspect is invisible to her. An earlier Post story mentions that the state is requiring renovations to widen clinic hallways. As Dr. Mary Russell, one of this blog’s commenters, pointed out in an earlier thread, the narrow, crammed hallways of the Gosnell clinic made it difficult for medics to get women in medical crisis out of the clinic. This is not a made-up concern. I allow for the possibility that in the Virginia situation, the state could be exaggerating the danger and the need for a remedy, but in light of Gosnell, it should be screamingly obvious that unregulated abortion clinics, and clinics that don’t have to meet high medical standards, can be deadly to women.

The Gosnell case, then, has direct implications for public policy being made right now in Virginia. Unfortunately for abortion rights water-carriers supporters in American newsrooms, the ghoulish realities of Gosnell undermine the story they would prefer to tell, and the political outcome they would prefer to see.

UPDATE.2: Mollie Hemingway, who along with Kirsten Powers is most responsible for moving the Gosnell/media bias story forward, today looked into what Garance Franke-Ruta at The Atlantic has written about Gosnell. Excerpt:

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.

Hemingway got an extremely unimpressive answer from Franke-Ruta. Hemingway continues:

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.

You got that right. And do you want to know what Franke-Ruta did? Accused Hemingway on Twitter of drumming up anti-Semitic phone calls and tweets directed at her:

Unbelievable. At least Franke-Ruta thought better of her reaction and deleted that tweet, but still. Man.



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