Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bias by Blackout

Writing about what the media does or does not report as news usually seems like a futile use of energy, but once in a while some act or omission is so egregious one can't help noting it. Mollie of GetReligion has an outstanding post talking about the media blackout of the trail of late term abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who is accused of performing abortions later than allowed by law, infanticide and of horrifically bad medical and sanitary practices that resulted in the deaths of several women (you know, the adult kind that abortionists aren't supposed to kill.)

That the media would really much rather not cover this sort of thing is obvious, and indeed it's been only the right leaning alternative media that's been providing national coverage of any sort. Mollie recounts her attempt to get some response out of reporters on the issue:
[S]ince tmatt has me reading the Washington Post every day, to look at how the paper’s health policy reporter was covering Gosnell. I have critiqued many of her stories on the Susan G. Komen Foundation (she wrote quite a bit about that) and the Sandra Fluke controversy (she wrote quite a bit about that) and the Todd Akin controversy (you know where this is going). In fact, a site search for that reporter — who is named Sarah Kliff — and stories Akin and Fluke and Komen — yields more than 80 hits. Guess how many stories she’s done on this abortionist’s mass murder trial.

Did you guess zero? You’d be right.

So I asked her about it. Here’s her response:

Hi Molly – I cover policy for the Washington Post, not local crime, hence why I wrote about all the policy issues you mention.

Yes. She really, really, really said that. As Robert VerBruggen dryly responded:

Makes sense. Similarly, national gun-policy people do not cover local crime in places like Aurora or Newtown.

So when a private foundation privately decides to stop giving money to the country’s largest abortion provider, that is somehow a policy issue deserving of three dozen breathless hits. When a yahoo political candidate says something stupid about rape, that is a policy issue of such import that we got another three dozen hits about it from this reporter. It was so important that journalists found it fitting to ask every pro-lifer in their path to discuss it. And when someone says something mean to a birth control activist, that’s good for months of puffy profiles.

But gosh darn it, can you think of any policy implications to this, uh, “local crime” story? And that’s all it is. Just like a bunch of other local stories the Washington Post also refuses to cover — local crimes such as the killing of Trayvon Martin and the killing of Matthew Shepard and the killing of students at an elementary school in Connecticut. Did the Washington Post even think of covering those local crime stories?
And this is the key thing to understand about how our media environment works. Virtually all stories are in some sense "local" stories. One of the biggest areas of media power is deciding which local stories become national "conversations". In this case, the media in its enlightened wisdom is clearly determined that there be no national discussion of that nasty underside of the abortion industry to which they are so attached.

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