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NBC Nightly News airs first story on Gosnell Murder Trial

by | May 2, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

Editor’s note. Fox News will air an hour-long special on what District Attorney Seth Williams has called Gosnell’s “House of Horrors.” The program will air Friday, May 3, at 9pm Eastern Standard Time.

nbcnightlynewslogoHats off to Newsbusters, which has done yeoman work exposing how little the networks have covered the Kermit Gosnell murder trial and then placing in context what is presented. As Newsbusters’ Matthew Balan reported, NBC Nightly News finally got around to covering the case Wednesday night. The full transcript is below and you can read Mr. Balan’s piece.

Almost as if anticipating that critics would use this first look 44 days after the trial began, Host Brian Williams sets the stage for correspondent Stephanie Gosk’s report.

“An early heads-up on this next story for those watching with young ones present – it’s a grisly subject matter. A jury in Philadelphia has ended its first full day of deliberations without reaching a verdict in the high-profile trial of an abortion doctor accused of murder. There have been six weeks of testimony, much of it difficult to hear.”

In other words the same network that will layer end-to-end coverage of the most notorious murder trials on the face of the planet is supposed to get a mulligan because it was hesitant to talk about the “grisly subject matter” of Gosnell’s alleged crimes. Go figure.

Balan correctly highlights how Gosk bookends her piece. She immediately tells the viewers that Gosnell’s “Women’s Medical Society was one of the only places in this low-income neighborhood in Philadelphia where pregnant woman could afford to go for abortions.” Gosk concludes by talking to a local crime reporter who feels the area has been abandoned by the local government because the people there are poor (by way of explaining why the abortion clinic wasn’t inspected for 17 years, despite complaints).

But comparatively speaking, that is quibbling. Gosk hits all the low points.

Her first sentence is “What Doctor Kermit Gosnell allegedly did behind the walls of this clinic for years is too gruesome to describe in detail. “ A second later, she tells us, “The grand jury report states he ‘regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns’.

And then. “The doctor allegedly hired unlicensed workers, including a 15-year-old. Investigators described this clinic as outdated, filthy, and horrendous. The police found rusty instruments, dirty equipment, and blood on the floor.”

Following an overview of the multiple charges against Gosnell, Gosk reports, “The grand jury also criticized Pennsylvania health officials for not doing more. The clinic wasn’t inspected for 17 years, despite repeated complaints.”

Finally, while the comment about the neighborhood being poor—and it surely is—can be read as a back-handed endorsement of the tact taken by Gosnell’s defense attorney(Gosnell was practically a knight in shining armor, practicing “urban medicine”), it can also be taken as a stinging indictment of the entire Pennsylvania apparatus charged with looking out for women’s health. The Grand Jury cited the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania Department of State, and The Philadelphia Department of Public Health, to name the most prominent.

Enforcement was non-existent because the fate of poor women of color got caught up in the politics of abortion—pro-abortion politics. As the Grand Jury wrote,

“But at least the [Pennsylvania Department of Health] had been doing something up to that point, however ineffectual. After 1993, even that pro forma effort came to an end. Not because of administrative ennui, although there had been plenty. Instead, the Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all. The politics in question were not anti-abortion, but pro. With the change of administration from Governor Casey to Governor Ridge, officials concluded that inspections would be “putting a barrier up to women” seeking abortions. Better to leave clinics to do as they pleased, even though, as Gosnell proved, that meant both women and babies would pay.”

We will have several other posts today on the Gosnell case. Below, courtesy of Newsbusters, is the full NBC Nightly News transcript.

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BRIAN WILLIAMS: An early heads-up on this next story for those watching with young ones present – it’s a grisly subject matter. A jury in Philadelphia has ended its first full day of deliberations without reaching a verdict in the high-profile trial of an abortion doctor accused of murder. There have been six weeks of testimony, much of it difficult to hear.

Our report tonight from NBC’s Stephanie Gosk in Philadelphia.

STEPHANIE GOSK (voice-over): What Doctor Kermit Gosnell allegedly did behind the walls of this clinic for years is too gruesome to describe in detail. The Women’s Medical Society was one of the only places in this low-income neighborhood in Philadelphia where pregnant woman could afford to go for abortions. The grand jury report states he ‘regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns’.

GOSK (on-camera): The doctor allegedly hired unlicensed workers, including a 15-year-old. Investigators described this clinic as outdated, filthy, and horrendous.

GOSK (voice-over): The police found rusty instruments, dirty equipment, and blood on the floor.

RENEE CHENAULT-FATTAH (from WCAU/NBC 10 Philadelphia broadcast): Happening now: a jury deliberates for a second day in the murder trial of Doctor Kermit Gosnell.

GOSK: Gosnell pleaded not guilty to the charges, including four counts of first-degree murder involving infants; one count of third-degree murder of a 41-year-old patient; and 24 counts of illegal late-term abortions. Three previous charges of first-degree murder were dropped for lack of evidence. Gosnell’s defense rested without calling any witnesses, including the defendant, and accused prosecutors of extraordinary hype and exaggeration. If found guilty he faces the death penalty.

The grand jury also criticized Pennsylvania health officials for not doing more. The clinic wasn’t inspected for 17 years, despite repeated complaints. Local crime reporter Larry Miller grew up in the same neighborhood.

LARRY MILLER, PHILADELPHIA TRIBUNE: That particular part of the – of the city feels as though they’ve been left behind – that they’ve been ignored by the government – by the local government, the state government-

GOSK (off-camera): Is that because they’re poor?

MILLER: That’s because they’re poor.

GOSK (voice-over): The [Pennsylvania] Department of Health has since changed its laws. Clinics that provide abortions are now subject to annual and random inspections, and face the same regulations as outpatient surgery clinics. A horrifying case that abortion activists on both sides are using as a rallying cry for change. Stephanie Gosk, NBC News, Philadelphia.

Categories: Gosnell