Gosnell, Continued

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 12 2013 1:57 PM

Gosnell, Continued

An anti-abortion protester holds up a placard outside the Marie Stopes clinic, the first private clinic to offer abortions to women in Belfast, Northern Ireland on October 18, 2012.

Photo by PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images

Irin Carmon has a sharp response to my item from this morning:

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Slate’s Dave Weigel congratulated the tweeters for getting his attention and then filed a piece sympathetic to the cover-up claim, lecturing pro-choice people that “You really should read that grand jury report,” and concluding, “Social conservatives are largely right about the Gosnell story.”
No, they aren’t right about the Gosnell story. If you’ve never heard of the Gosnell story, it’s not because of a coverup by the liberal mainstream media. It’s probably because you failed to pay attention to the copious coverage among pro-choice and feminist journalists, as well as the big news organizations, when the news first broke in 2011. There would be something rich, if it weren’t so infuriating, about these (uniformly male, as it happens) reporters and commentators scrambling to break open this shocking untold story

Piece by piece here:

- Why not congratulate the tweeters? Activists work the refs all the time, and sometimes it leads to reporters finding stories they wouldn't have otherwise noticed—the Trayvon Martin story, to pick the example I ended up covering in person.

- I wasn't "lecturing pro-choice people" to read the report because I think they're ignorant. Of course one reason pro-lifers are promoting the story is that they think confronting the horrors of abortion will change minds. I'm saying you can read the facts of the case without changing your mind—this was wanton murder, wanton exploitation of women. What I wrote:

If you're pro-choice, say, and you worry that the Gosnell story is being promoted only to weaken your cause, you really should read that grand jury report. "DOH could and should have closed down Gosnell’s clinic years before," write the investigators. Why wasn't it?

This probably wasn't clear, but when I wrote that "social conservatives are largely right" about the story, I was augmenting the middle of my piece—they're right, it's weird that it hasn't gotten more coverage.

- Carmon writes that there was no "coverup by the liberal mainstream media." I didn't say there was. I said that members of the MSM are generally socially liberal, and less likely to notice/devote attention to a story about a rogue abortionist. There's no Politburu shutting down CNN or what have you from covering the story, but it just doesn't "pop." Carmon's right that "pro-choice and feminist journalists" did cover the story, but that's sort of the point—it didn't make the leap and become a Trial of the Century. Casey Anthony did. (Carmon writes about cable's ... let's be nice and call it cable's "mixed" record on covering crimes that affect poor people and non-whites, as opposed to crimes involving attractive white people.)

So: Liberals covered Gosnell when the story broke. A gag order effectively snuffed out media coverage of the case for two years. But when the trial began, it didn't break into the MSM the way all manner of random murder or fraud trials have. If this does start to captivate the MSM, it probably won't get covered or analyzed the way conservatives prefer. A more sane and responsible system of inspections could have nabbed Gosnell without any change whatsoever to abortion law.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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