The few straight news reporters covering the Kermit Gosnell case have all seemingly come to the same conclusion: It’s one of, if not the most, gripping trials they have ever witnessed. Last week, an uproar started by blogger Mollie Hemingway led many mainstream outlets to justify their non-coverage of the case and the trial. Some, including Slate‘s Dave Weigel, admitted that at least part of the reason for the lack of coverage is a pro-choice bias among most reporters who were dissuaded from an obviously newsworthy trial by the way this particular case undermines pro-abortion absolutism.
The Washington Post‘s Sarah Kliff initially told Hemingway that she would not be covering the trial because it was a local crime story, off her beat as a national healthcare reporter. Hemingway, in response, produced a tally of all of the other “local crime stories” that Kliff deemed appropriate to cover, including the 2009 murder of abortionist George Tiller. After the crush of attention the New York Times and the Washington Post both agreed to send reporters to the trial and the media, who have been few in number throughout the trial thus far, reported on the presence of these mainstream reporters among their ranks.
Two days ago on Hot Air Ed Morrissey posted a guest blog from a documentarian, Phelim McAleer, who decided to spend a few days in the media benches while visiting Philadelphia. McAleer told Hot Air readers:
I have covered the troubles in Northern Ireland and child trafficking in Indonesia and Romania. I have never come across a more sensational case. There is plenty of meat for the tabloid or the “serious” journalist. That they have mostly ignored it is part of the reason their industry is in decline.
McAleer discussed how few in number his fellow reporters were (just three locals) and how, despite the fact that this is likely one of the largest mass murders in American history, his notes on the trial will be one of the only records of the case outside of court documents. Yesterday, more news emerged on the trial’s progress. A local Philadelphia paper describes the theatrics between the prosecution, defense and the trial judge:
“Based on the totality of the evidence . . . you cannot testify to anyone that this fetus was born alive?” Gosnell lawyer Jack McMahon asked Medical Examiner Sam Gulino.
“No I cannot,” replied Gulino.
Then Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron flipped around McMahon’s question: “Can you think of any reason why the neck was severed if that baby was not born alive?”
Again, Gulino agreed. McMahon tried to salvage his first answer, only to be interrupted by Cameron.
McMahon exploded in anger, but was topped by Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart.
“Mr. McMahon, behave yourself!” yelled Minehart. “Act like a lawyer.”
Lawyers and judges exploding in anger is something seen often on crime shows like Law & Order but which McAleer claims is, in real-life courtrooms, exceedingly rare. The testimony that followed helps explain why tensions have run high over the course of the trial: the details are horrific. Yesterday’s evidence centered on the dozens of human remains stored at the clinic, sometimes overflowing the toilets, complete with horrifying photographic evidence. The family of the adult victim, a 41-year-old woman, wept in the stands today listening to testimony. All of these details appeared yesterday in the local Philadelphia media.
After the media bias uproar started by Hemingway, which gained momentum on Thursday night, Americans were promised coverage of the trial, finally. So where is it? Reporting on the lack of media attention doesn’t count. The Post‘s Kliff has written a summary of the case for her readers, posted yesterday, who before then were completely unaware of the case if the Post is their only source of news. Late last night the Post‘s reporter on scene filed a story about the only adult victim Gosnell is on trial for murdering, a survivor of camps in Nepal which ran on page A2 of today’s edition of the paper. There was little mention of Gosnell’s alleged infant victims, but still, it’s a start. Where are the cable news stories and where are the dispatches on the graphic and gripping details from this week’s testimony from other national reporters on scene?