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What can we infer from the additional media coverage of the Gosnell Murder Trial?

by | Apr 16, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

Martin Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post

Martin Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post

Pick your metaphor–starting with “it’s like pulling teeth”—but parts of the “mainstream media” are not only debating their non-coverage of the Kermit Gosnell murder trial but actually beginning to cover what is, by any ordinary standard of news judgment, a sensational story.

The best example, not for the actual coverage but the level of orneriness, is the piece that ran in the New York Times yesterday– “Online Furor Draws Press to Abortion Doctor’s Trial,” by someone named Trip Gabriel.

He covers some of the gruesome details and plays a little bit of catch up. (The last piece the Times ran was March 18.) But much of his story is an attempt to simultaneously concede the power of social media to force to the surface what outlets like the Times want to bury and to cite the usual suspects who deny that there was any “conscious” attempt to ignore the trial of a man charged with eight counts of murder.

The two amusing quotes come from an “expert on media ethics” and the executive editor of the Washington Post. No cover up to Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute just “confusion.” About what?

“Whether the story merited national attention.” Once social media started insisting there was a cover up, well, according to McBride, that simply validated that the story WAS important. Huh?

And then there is Martin Baron, the executive editor of The Washington Post, who “told a reporter from his paper writing about the controversy that he simply had not known of the story until readers e-mailed him last week,” Gabriel wrote. “’I wish I could be conscious of all stories everywhere, but I can’t be,’ he said. ‘We never decide what to cover for ideological reasons, no matter what critics might claim.’”

That is so patently false, it needs no comment. What does need a few word is Gabriel’s pat on the back for his own newspaper. “The New York Times, which covered the news of Dr. Gosnell’s indictment in 2011, was one of the few national outlets to report on the opening of the trial March 18.”

(a)        The story was buried in the back of the A section.

(b)        Until yesterday, the Times had no written a word since.

(c)         The story bungled how Mrs. Karnamaya Mongar died, and most important

(d)        The reader doesn’t know that Gosnell is on trial for third degree murder in her death. The story is almost entirely about seven “fetuses,” which serves the purpose of minimizing the mayhem prosecutors say Gosnell inflicted on countless women.

Tomorrow in Part Two, today, we’ll discuss other media developments and what they may tell you, including the insistence [hope?] that the shock of the Gosnell trial won’t change the debate.

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Categories: Gosnell