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On Twitter and FaceBook today, #Gosnell is trending. The reason for the social media buzz is the strange silence of the mainstream media regarding one of the most gruesome murder trials in American history.

To put the Kermit Gosnell trial in perspective, consider other famous cases of child-killing. From Susan Smith to Andrea Yates, and most recently the horror of Newtown, we are accustomed to 24/7 news coverage of these types of tragedies.

Not so with Dr. Gosnell.

Here are the reasons why:

1. The Gosnell case involves an abortionist.

Whenever we see news stories about abortion, the abortionist must be portrayed as a victim of hate and intolerance, not a perpetrator of violence. But it is impossible to spin this story in a way that keeps “abortionist” separate from testimony about dead women and children.

2. The Gosnell case involves an unregulated abortion clinic.

Whenever we see news stories about abortion, the clinic must be portrayed as a “refuge” for women in distress, not a “house of horrors” where women are taken advantage of. But it is impossible to spin this story in a way that keeps “abortion clinic” away from negative connotations.

3. The Gosnell case involves protestors who, for years, stood outside 3801 Lancaster and prayed, warning people about what was taking place inside.

Whenever we see news stories about abortion, the protestors must be portrayed as agitators and extremists, not peaceful people who urge mothers to treasure the miracle inside them. But it is impossible to spin this story in a way that keeps the abortion protestors from looking like heroes.

4. The Gosnell case involves gruesome details about living, viable babies having their spinal cords “snipped” outside the womb.

Whenever we see news stories about abortion, the details of an abortion procedure are to be avoided. But it is impossible to spin this story in a way that keeps people from asking why such violent killing is unjust moments after birth, yet acceptable at any other time during the pregnancy.

5. The Gosnell case raises the question of human rights.

Whenever we see news stories about abortion, the discussion must always be framed in terms of a woman’s “reproductive rights,” not a baby’s “human rights.” But it is impossible to spin this story in a way that keeps people from asking why “reproductive rights” should trump “human rights” – or why a doctor devoted to “reproductive rights” would (without any apparent twinge of conscience) violate human rights so egregiously.

6. The Gosnell case involves the regulation of abortion clinics.

Whenever we see news stories about abortion, the clinic must be portrayed as under siege from anti-abortion extremists. But it is impossible to spin this story in a way that will keep people from pushing for policy change and further regulation of Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics.

7. The Gosnell case exposes the disproportionate number of abortion clinics in inner cities and the disproportionate number of abortions among minority groups.

Whenever we see news stories about abortion, the discussion must be framed in terms of providing “access” for low-income, minority women. But it is impossible to spin this story in a way that keeps people from wondering if perhaps some abortion providers are “targeting” low-income, minority women.

8. The Gosnell case competes with recent stories about states enacting broad laws banning many abortions.

Whenever we see news stories about abortion, the choice of coverage must focus on the threat to a woman’s “right to choose.” But it is impossible to spin this story in a way that will keep Americans from joining together to enact more common-sense regulation of late-term abortions.

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81 thoughts on “8 Reasons for the Media Blackout on Kermit Gosnell”

  1. Catherine Alexander says:

    Here’s another obvious reason (to me): Gosnell is black. Criticism of African-Americans is very distasteful to the mainstream media (unless, of course, the individual is conservative or pro-life.

  2. There isn’t a black out. USA Today, Huffington Post, ABC, CBS, NBC, NY Daily News, Washington Times, Philadelphia Enguirer, and a whole bunch of other mainstream sites all have reported on the story, and their articles are readily available and up to date. The only noteworthy site that didn’t have anything on it is CNN. Now if you want to do an article about why CNN is ignoring it, that is a good question. But do a web search before you claim there’s a black out.

    1. Andrew Stravitz says:

      You’ve strained a gnat.

    2. Elizabeth C says:

      Christian Vagabond, I believe the author isn’t referring to whether the media has mentioned this trial. Most media outlets have, in fact done so. I believe the uproar on FB, Twitter, etc and this author’s use of the term blackout is referring to the proportional media coverage…
      In other words, the issue is that the media is giving it the air time they would give a local dog show rather than the horrific, media-blitz-worthy, human rights tragedy that it is. In light of what has happened and the details emerging everyday about the slaughter of innocents, there should be nonstop coverage from all the major networks. This is one of the greatest human rights violations within our borders in decades, maybe ever.

      In light of what this IS, the media’s coverage can absolutely be termed a black out.

      1. A blackout is just that: a blackout. No information available, and a conscious choice among media outlets to avoid the story or suppress it. THere is no evidence that either of these has taken place.

        What you’re talking about is very different. The story is being reported, just not with much attention or fanfare. If the author had written an article asking why the mainstream media is not paying much attention to the story, that would be fine. But I think by going straight towards accusing the media of a sinister plot to blackout the story, he makes his own credibility the issue here. Why exaggerate what is otherwise a valid question? What is gained by going straight to conspiracy-theory-land when a simple Google search can prove that there is no conspiracy and no blackout?

        1. Jeff Schultz says:

          By your own definition, there is a blackout — a conscious choice among media outlets to avoid the story. That this is taking place is increasingly clear, well-documented, and obvious from comparisons to other “local crime stories” (which is how reporters are framing this as an excuse for their lack of coverage).

          Here’s an overview:

          Or just go to NYT and search for “Kermit Gosnell.” Compare the results with searching for “Sandra Fluke” or “Akin rape” or “Newtown gun control” or even “George Tiller killing.”

          One doesn’t have to “conspiracy-theory land” to see there’s a very real and conscious effort to avoid the story.

          1. If the story is being reported, then it is not being avoided.

          2. Jon says:

            If I pass you on the hallway and say ‘Hi’ to you, and then walk on by, it doesn’t mean that I’m not avoiding you. I’m just minimizing the contact we make, so as not to come across as rude. Same thing with news corps, they do the obligatory story and be done with it.

      2. Lori says:

        Most trials do not receive a lot of media coverage unless the people involved are rich/famous or the case is extremely strange/interesting. This case is neither of those. It seems rather cut-and-dried: there’s not much doubt that he did what he’s accused of, and no real question of the motive, either (he was making money). It’s simply not the kind of case that is going to generate the level of interest that a Casey Anthony or Susan Smith or O.J. Simpson would.

        1. Karen says:

          By your own admission, they should be covering it extensively. This is an “interesting” case to Americans, especially to those of us who claim the unborn have rights. We are very interested to see how this case sets precedent for abortion clinics in general and the cause of the unborn as a whole. The reason it is avoided is that those who do NOT care about the unborn see it as threatening…just like the article stated.

          1. Julia says:

            This is not ‘interesting’, it is disgusting. I can honestly say I wish I had never heard about it because it makes me sick. If you want to say I don’t care about the unborn, that’s okay, but I’m going to avoid the subject as much as possible. I think the reason it is being brushed over by the media is because there are some very sensitive people who don’t need or want to hear the gory details of this whole affair.

    3. Chad Damewood says:

      HLN is effectively the “Jodi Arias” channel yet no one heard about these horrors until this week.

      Clearly the media is avoiding this story.

      1. Lori says:

        Perhaps they are avoiding it because most of the victims of Dr. Gosnell, both the babies and the women, were black and poor.

        If these kinds of practices were going on in abortion clinics that affluent white women were going to, it would indeed be front page news. But, again, nobody cares what is going on in abortion clinics in inner-city Philly. And, it has a lot less to do with how people feel about abortion than with how they feel about the people living in inner-city Philly.

    4. Seth says:

      Vagabond, the presence of an article does not equate to good coverage.

      If you go to NPR you will not find any coverage,

      MSNBC has nothing on their home page, you must search ‘Gosnell’ to find a link to their Philadelphia syndicate,

      CBS has nothing on their home page, you must search ‘Gosnell’ to find an article

      ABC has nothing on their home page, you must search ‘Gosnell’ to find a link to an AP article

      USA Today has nothing on their home page, you must search ‘Gosnell’ to find an opinion piece

      Huffington Post has nothing on their home page (but does have as their top story ‘The GOP’s war on Sex’), you must search ‘Gosnell’ to find a blog on him.

      No major outlet is trying to bring this story to the public, you only find anything on this pages if you have already heard about the story and want to go digging for information. They are burying the story.

  3. Jason Wilcoxon says:

    An article full of assertions with no facts to back them up. and we wonder why the society at large ignores our voice in the discussion.

  4. Danny says:

    There are several media outlets that are covering it besides the typical watchdog pro-life anti-abortion sites (who many times have been egregious at best with their exaggerations). I don’t see how this article is truly constructive…So many sarcastic generalizations! Satire like this doesn’t really do the job here, sorry. Why are we surprised when much of our opposition to this issue carries little to no credence with its supporters? This rhetoric is completely unhelpful and nonconstructive to the dialogue about abortion in this country.

    We in no way should condone egregious acts such as this, should they be proven to be true. But sitting here in your armchair slinging mud is not going to help the situation very much at all, is it?

    1. Rich says:

      To be honest, I’ve never seen any pro-life “exaggeration” that has even came close to the horrors described in the grand-jury report submitted against Gosnell and his clinic. Look it up for yourself. The document is a scathing indictment of the entire death-for-profit industry that is imbedded in our political culture. And if you think this is just some debate-club exercise and not a live threat to your future, think again. The same political movement that precipitated this atrocity has now taken over our entire health-care industry, and I guarantee that in your “useless” old age, you’ll be just as easy to sacrifice as any breathing “post-delivery fetus.” Why has this story been avoided? Because our political/media “minders” understand the threat of an unfiltered clarion warning about where we are headed as a culture.

    2. I don’t see satire at all in this article. Rich is absolutely right. All the mud we can possibly fling can’t compare with the filth that is the truth about some of these places. I highly doubt Gosnell is that much of a rarity.

  5. Craig says:

    I think the issue can definitely be compared to the examples at the beginning as well as the Casey Anthony story. While all death is tragic, the comparison of coverage between the tragic death of one or two children versus the mass death perpetrated by this man is astounding. Each of those cases saw the top story coverage by all the cable networks with debates by panels, reporters on scene at the trials, etc. Network coverage seems to be focusing on guns, budget, and immigration, with a little sprinkling of North Korea. While America’s attention seems to be more focused on liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we have forgotten completely about the first – life. Without protection in regards to life, there is no need for liberty or pursuit of happiness.

    1. It isn’t comparable to Casey Anthony because there is no mystery to solve. Anthony ket people fascinated because it wasn’t clear what exactly happened, and a homicidal mother will always be more lurid than a homicidal doctor. With Gosnell all of the facts are already out.

      1. There wasn’t a mystery with Casey Anthony either. I mean, we all know she got away with murder. We all knew the facts of her case too, but her face was splashed all over the news everywhere. Why not the same with this? A homicidal doctor is more terrifying than a homicidal mother. The mother might kill her own kids which is scary, but the doctor has access to WAY more people.

  6. Brian says:

    Jason, it’s like MLA format. When the facts are so obvious, and abundant, you don’t need them. I’m sure Tevin Wax could have cited many many examples and gotten this article to us tomorrow or Monday and turned it into a five page article rather than a one page blurb. I think his purposes were accomplished with this piece. Give me any one of the eight assertions and I will list some facts for you to support his “assertions.”

    1. Jason Wilcoxon says:

      no you couldn’t. it’s more of the usual nonsense “liberal media” trope that conservatives like to parade out there as if it means anything when it doesn’t. they’ll ignore that, as was already pointed out in the comments, this case has received a LOT of coverage both nationally and internationally and that all of us could read about it in any one of the “heathen” news sources.

      this is another stupid skirmish in the stupid culture wars, where the church is busy fighting a war can’t win, against enemies that aren’t its enemies, with weapons that aren’t its own for a prize it doesn’t want, and most importantly, with a spirit that isn’t Christ’s It’s a fight for traditional america which is dressed as a fight for Jesus, and Jesus has precious little to do with it.

      1. MRS says:

        Thank God that William Wilberforce and MLK didn’t think that way. And Jesus has “precious little to do” with murdered children? Terrific. What church do you attend? I’ll be there next Sunday…

        1. Julia says:

          Jesus has “precious little to do” with publicly attacking a man and everything he has done for years. It’s fine to find out what happened and get rid of the problem and punish him, but all the media will do is rip him apart. Jesus usually has more to do with justice and forgiveness than anger and hatred.

      2. Brian says:

        Jason: No I couldn’t what? Give you facts? That was your original complaint and I said I could give you facts. What information do you want to support the author’s assumptions? Do you want information or do you want to be contrary simply for the sake of being contrary?

  7. Steve says:

    All good points – but basically, by their silence the MSM control the news and limit the masses to what they (MSM) think they should know. The MSM and the Leftist’s that control the media came to to realize, it’s not so much what they report on, but what they don’t report on that drives the news cycle. This story just points out that fact.

  8. Keith Moore says:

    I would submit that the use of a media Blackout in the title is a bit of using journalistic license. But effective to grasp the attention of a portion of our society. This is only one of many biases that the main stream media has and proves the power of social media. A person can be as informed as they choose to be, unlike the millions of Americans that were never given the chance to choose, and no doubt thousands since 1973 that have shared similar deaths to the kids that died in this clinic.

  9. Ted Olsen says:

    I don’t know, Trevin. I’m with you that I think this deserves more coverage than it’s getting. But I’m wary of the conspiratorial tone here and the claim that the lack of day-to-day trial coverage is exclusively driven by pro-abortion ideology/zealotry. While I don’t doubt there’s some ideology at work, I’d bet that it’s largely blind spot-driven than willfull neglect. And I think it’s likely that the main culprit here is the vagaries of pack journalism (Bitcoin! Twitterers think Cher is dead!). Why aren’t media reporting this? Why aren’t they reporting the crisis in Central African Republic? Why is “Accidental Racist” getting so much discussion? Why are so many outlets going wall to wall on Audrie Pott?

    1. Trevin Wax says:


      I do not believe this is a conspiracy either. I think it’s the blind-spot of reporters and news decision-makers largely sympathetic to (if not totally on board with) the pro-abortion rights movement. It’s just hard to miss the bias, however, when you compare this to, say, the wall-to-wall coverage of Todd Akin’s rape comments, the Komen foundation’s issue with Planned Parenthood, or the killing of George Tiller. What we have here is one of the most gruesome murder stories in years and virtually no network news coverage. Compared to the other abortion-related stories we see regularly, I find the absence appalling (and revealing of media bias).

      1. Melody says:

        Sadly the biggest lie is to deny that it was even absent from the media. Over and over I see claims that it has been in the news for months. We know that is not true because it is easily researched.

  10. Lori says:

    Over the weekend, there were two shootings involving 4-year-old children and ill-secured firearms. In one case, a 4-year-old boy grabbed a gun owned by a sheriff’s deputy and accidentally killed the sheriff’s wife. In another case, a 4-year-old boy got hold of a firearm and accidentally shot a 6 year old.

    There has been little to no press coverage of either of these tragic events.

    I live in Detroit, and children die due to violence on a sadly, shockingly regular basis here, but it does not make national news.

    The question isn’t why this particular case isn’t getting the level of attention that a few high-profile child-murder cases have gotten, but why the vast majority of violent deaths of children in this country do not make the news at all.

    @Catherine Alexander, to the extent that race may play a role in this, please also be willing to consider that, given the demographics of the area the clinic was in, it’s likely that most of the babies involved were black, and that is probably more relevant than the race of the doctor (we report on crimes committed by blacks all the time). The deaths of black children do not make national news in this country.

    1. Brian says:

      Lori, your analogy falls short. Accidental shootings are just that, accidents. While those accidents are indeed tragic, Trevin’s article is about murder… government sanctioned, intentional murder of living breathing children, by adults who should know better.

      1. Lori says:

        This wasn’t government-sanctioned. These were illegal acts. That’s why he is on trial for infanticide and murder right now.

        1. Regina says:

          Then explain the seventeen years (17)–let me say it again: SEVENTEEN YEARS–during which Gosnell was allowed to operate without a single state or local inspection. Numerous complaints were received. Women were showing up at local hospitals with body parts of dead babies still inside them, venereal diseases, perforated bowels, etc. Physicians made reports.

          And the state. Did. Nothing.

          Get it?


          Silence is complicity. Your silence is complicity too.

          Get it?

  11. Gordon says:

    This is straight to the pint. No scholarly, confusing, politically correct jumping around. Trevin, you haven’t lost all your baptist makes after all. Good stuff.

  12. chris says:

    This is a good article, but Trevin misses the main reason why the MSM does not want to report this story. The main reason why is because our nation simply does not want to admit to the epic proportions of our sin. We rightfully look back in horror at the slavery of African Americans in the 18th and 19th century and the Holocaust of the Jewish people in World War II. These horrors were based on the deception that certain human beings are not really human beings. We like to think that we are too enlightened to fall prey to these deceptions of the past. Yet, here we are again. The really scary part of this is that if you could take a time machine and go back in time and meet the people who took part in those horrors, is that you would discover that most of them would not come across as monsters. They were much like you and me. They were tragically and horribly deceived. The MSM squirms and wiggles it’s way around reporting this because it’s just too painful and humbling to come to grips with our capacity for epic evil. We like to think of ourselves as more enlightened, progressive, and those “monsters” of the past. Not really.

    1. Brian says:

      Exactly. Well said, Chris.

    2. Kristen says:

      Agreed, which begs the question, “then what?” If we do admit the epic proportions of this sin, what do we do next? What happens to all of the medical and legal professionals who have contributed to all of this? And what of all the women who have been told that they weren’t really murdering their babies, only now to be told “Oops sorry about that, it was murder after all?”

      1. chris says:

        Kristen- this is where the Gospel comes in. You forgive and you love those people. The gospel says if there is not the possibility for grace and forgiveness for abortionists and women who have had abortions, then there is no grace and forgiveness for me either. My sin condemns me to hell just as much as theirs.I have stood wide-mouthed in wonder as I have seen some African Americans embrace and openly forgive the Klansman, the corrupt police officers, and others who arrested them, beat them, and supported their oppression. I have also been equally astounded to see those same Klansman and Police Officers tearfully admit that they were deceived and took part in something that was horrific. You forgive, but you do whatever it takes to make sure that this evil never happens again. Did we execute and imprison every plantation owner who enslaved African Americans? Did we execute or imprison every German who was in any way knowledgable or complicit in what happened to the Jews? Do we arrest and fine every person who supported segregation? Obviously, no. But we still as a nation took steps to admit the wrong of it and took action to stop it. As painful as it is, we do have to own up to what abortion really is. We have several women in our church who have had abortions and deeply regret it. Do we go around calling them “murderers”? No, because in some sense we are all murderers when we hate our brother (Matthew 5:21-22). We need the same forgiveness that they do. They are no worse than me.

        1. Kristen says:

          I agree wholeheartedly. I’m wondering if we as the church are ready for this. If God did grant us grace leading to repentance in this, would we be ready? I imagine there would be LOTS of women needing counseling, and LOTS of other women needing support for unplanned pregnancies. I know that there are ministries dedicated to these things now, but if the law changed, the scope would be much greater. Would we be ready, or would we be too busy gloating in our “victory?” Even now, are we putting ourselves in a position to offer this grace, or are we too busy shouting, pointing fingers, condemning? We are ALL in need of much, much grace.

          1. chris says:

            Kristen- Well said. I wonder the same things myself. I hope we would stop at nothing to support women who need counseling and also support women who have unplanned pregnancies. Right now, my wife and I are going through the process of a domestic adoption. In our own small way, we want to be there for women who have an unexpected pregnancy. My wife is in the application process of being a counselor at a Crisis Pregnancy Center. We give financially to ministries that help financially strapped families with adoption costs. We give financially to support Crisis Pregnancy Centers, sponser children living in poverty, and contribute time and money to other ministries that support children and families in poverty. I know it’s not enough, but we are doing what we can. We can surely do more. We don’t want to just be pro-life in our beliefs, but pro-life in our lifestyle. A lot more Christians would need to do similar things. I’m afraid that far too many would condemn rather than be prepared to love and minister to people. A lot of Christians are “getting it” when it comes to backing up their beliefs with compassionate action, but we still have miles and miles to go.

  13. Ted Olsen says:

    Honest question: Isn’t there a risk in characterizing Gosnell as a typical abortionist? It seems to me that the particulars of Gosnell’s case too easily allow other abortionists and abortion advocates to say: “Yes, Gosnell was a bad man, racist and misogynistic. We don’t do it that way. Ladies, don’t worry, you’re safe with us.” (Indeed, I fully expect Gosnell to be lifted up as the example of what “back alley” abortion will look like if prolife efforts keep winning.)

    Abortion is itself horror. Gosnell’s shelves of trophy fetuses may shock consciences so much that we miss the more mundane, “cleaner,” everyday evil.

    1. Brent Johnson says:

      I was reading an article about this in The Atlantic and that’s what people are saying, blaming the prohibition against late term abortion for this tragedy. As if ripping babies limbs off at 16 weeks is so honorable.

  14. jigawatt says:

    Remember when the big electric blackout happened in the northeast in 2003? There were a few places here and there that never lost power, or got it back quickly. And yet, nobody at all objected to the term “blackout” to describe the situation as a whole.

  15. Rick says:

    You forgot one: This case involves an abortionist making millions of dollars off of minorities and the most underprivileged.

    This cannot be spun as a mild doctor faithfully serving his community . But a maniac taking advantage of those who most need help.

  16. Megan says:

    Where have you guys been? The Gosnell story has been in the mainstream media for months! As has the story about Savita Halappanavar, the Indian woman who died of sepsis after being denied an abortion in an Ireland hospital, though I have yet to see that discussed on this site.

    1. Regina says:

      Then why was Luke Russert surprised to hear about it? Why did Anderson Cooper admit on Twitter that he hadn’t even read the grand jury’s report until yesterday?

  17. Sean Thomas says:

    #9- Widespread coverage might cause other questionable clinics to be investigated and the investigation would probably uncover that Gosnell is not the only amoral abortionist out there. This discovery would probably have at least two outcomes, collective societal outrage and a call for stricter regulations against abortions. It would also probably mean less votes nationwide for those who support abortion. Thank you Trevin for your clear and honest assessment of our culture.

  18. Rich says:

    Reason #10 The Gosnell story exposes our President as complicit in the culture of infanticide via his votes against “born alive” legislation while he was a State Senator in Illinois.

    1. Regina says:

      Exactly. He’s up to his eyeballs in this culture of death. Here’s audio of him calling a newborn baby a fetus outside the womb.

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  20. Jeff Schultz says:

    Even the media on the left are starting to admit they’ve been avoiding the story. So can we stop splitting hairs over terms? The story is significantly under-reported, and intentionally so.

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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