McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

National News

April 17, 2013

An abortion provider Is on trial: Where's the media coverage?

The trial of Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell would seem to have all the elements of a spectacular news story: shocking allegations, horrifying visuals, sympathetic victims.

Yet until late last week, much of the national media was silent as testimony about Gosnell's alleged "house of horrors" abortion clinic rolled out. Much of the media attention outside Philadelphia, in fact, centered on how little media attention the story was receiving outside Philadelphia.

Could it be, as conservative bloggers have charged since shortly after the trial began March 18, that the media had taken a pass because Gosnell - who stands accused of killing seven newborn infants and one mother - is an abortion doctor whose alleged crimes run counter to the mainstream media's supposed support for abortion rights?

That's the way the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group based in Alexandria, Va., has framed it. In multiple commentaries published since last month, the group has hammered the lack of coverage, citing it as evidence of liberal media bias. "The media elite are passionate about abortion and passionate about defending it," says Tim Graham, the MRC's director of media analysis, in an interview. "This is a story that threatens the abortion rights agenda. . . . It's bias by omission." Neither Graham nor any of the other critics have offered evidence for their suspicions.

Media representatives offer several rationales for their inaction: that other stories were commanding their attention and resources, that the lack of cameras in the courtroom diminished TV interest in the story, that the Gosnell trial was simply overlooked.

Moreover, some commentators have pointed out, greater media attention to the trial might help, rather than hurt, abortion rights advocates. They say the graphic testimony about illegal late-term abortions, unlicensed staff and shockingly unsanitary procedures and conditions at Gosnell's Women's Medical Society clinic strengthens the case for keeping abortion safe, legal and affordable, particularly for the poor women who sought Gosnell's services.

            

The charge of liberal media bias is perhaps undercut by the fact that a number of conservative media outlets - and conservative leaders - overlooked the story, too, until a flood of tweets and commentaries about it began late last week.

The Weekly Standard and the National Review, two leading conservative magazines, for example, hadn't published anything on the trial, according to a search of the Nexis database. The New York Post's conservative editorial board has written one commentary - an editorial lamenting the lack of coverage, which, although it doesn't mention it, includes its own paper. The Washington Times has published five staff-written articles and guest commentaries on the matter, all focusing on the absence of press coverage.

Fox News has been the only consistent national TV source on the story, having run 11 news reports or commentaries on it over the past month. Among national print outlets, the Associated Press has covered the trial extensively. The story has been prominently featured in the Huffington Post and discussed on its Huffington Post Live webcast. The Huffington Post is generally considered a liberal news organization.

 It's not as if outlets weren't aware of Gosnell's case, since his arrest in 2011 was widely covered. But the trial received no mentions on NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC and PBS programming until last week. NPR's "All Things Considered" reported one piece on it at the end of last month, as did The New York Times on March 19. Until Friday, CNN had aired only 76 words on the trial when host Jake Tapper mentioned it March 28. The Washington Post hadn't reported a word on the trial until Friday.

Despite this, several network representatives defended their absence on the story.

"The story is on our radar," said Liz Fischer, a spokeswoman for NBC News. "We understand the importance of the issue and we'll continue to cover the broader questions as news warrants." She declined to comment further.

"CBS has been working the story," said a spokeswoman, Sonya McNair. She declined to explain why CBS hadn't reported on it until Sunday's "CBS Evening News."

"We feel our coverage, both online and on television, has been thorough and appropriate," said Allison Gollust, a CNN spokeswoman.

An ABC News representative, Julie Townsend, declined comment.

Lauren Skowronski, an MSNBC spokeswoman, said her network was paying attention to the story, but added, "We don't cover criminal trials to the extent of others in cable news."

Indeed, the big trial for cable news last week wasn't Gosnell's but that of Jodi Arias, the young Arizona woman accused of killing her boyfriend. The Arias story has been a tabloid favorite, with numerous sexual and romantic angles.

A spokeswoman for HLN, the cable network that has covered Arias extensively, said it had no current plans to cover Gosnell. "We've been carrying the Arias trial live and wall-to-wall since the trial started shortly after the new year, and will continue to do so until it concludes," said the spokeswoman, Alison Rudnick. "And, as you know, viewers have been gripped, and we want to continue to respond [and] deliver to viewer interest."

One key difference between the Arias and Gosnell trials is that courtroom cameras are permitted in the former but not in the latter. That makes it "a lot easier [for TV] to cover [Arias] extensively," said CNN's Gollust.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
National News
  • Another botched execution

    (AP) Since the start of the year, executions in Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona have gone awry, with inmates gasping for breath as lethal drugs coursed through their bodies.

    July 25, 2014

  • Budd family National news: Struck by rock thrown from overpass, mom fights for her life

     A 52-year-old Uniontown, Ohio, mother of four fought for her life in a hospital here Monday as a result of a rock thrown from a highway overpass that shattered the windshield of the family car during a trip to New York City.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Airman Airman laid to rest six decades after death

     Unchecked tears rolled down Paul Martin’s lined face as he clutched the hand of an Air Force servicewoman who handed him a handwritten note at the graveside service for his older brother.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • 12 states now have plans for a minimum wage of $9 or more

    Rhode Island last week joined 11 other states that plan to raise their minimum wage to at least $9 over the next several years.
     

    July 7, 2014

  • Higher airfare, crowded planes likely to linger after summer

    Air travelers are paying more to fly in the U.S. this summer on crowded planes as carriers keep capacity tight, conditions passengers will have to get used to beyond the vacation period.

    July 5, 2014

  • More Americans are stuck in part-time work

    New government data slated for release Thursday is expected to show the economy added more than 200,000 jobs for the fifth straight month - the longest streak since the late 1990s.

    July 5, 2014

  • Americans falling out of love with shopping malls

    Abandoned malls are hot: The Dead Malls Enthusiasts Facebook group boasts almost 14,000 members; a Google search of "dead malls" produces 5.7 million results; and the desolate interiors of these unused retailing meccas keep making cameos in thrillers and horror films.

    July 5, 2014

  • Avoidable injuries are killing too many young Americans

    Not so cheerful news before your holiday weekend: Some sobering new government numbers show just how many young people die from injuries that could have been avoided.

    July 4, 2014

  • Happy birthday, America. Now legalize fireworks.

    Through the smoke of Roman candles and bottle rockets, the absurdity of Americans' obsession with do-it-yourself explosives is nonetheless clear: One day each year, we gather with neighbors, friends and loved ones to blow stuff up in our backyards. Go, U.S.A.!

    July 4, 2014

  • VIDEO: A boom in firework sales

    This year could be quite the boom for fireworks sales across the U.S. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, or the APA, sales are already off to a good start.

    July 3, 2014

Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive
NDN Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.