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May 2, 2013

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if you continuously got lumped in with a stereotype? It happens to my business a lot, and I guess the business name doesn't help things. If I had a nickel for every time I was chastised as part of the liberal media, I'd probably be able to afford to change my publication's name to better describe the political leanings of its ownership.

I have to admit I would have fallen into the category once again if it hadn't been for me stumbling across a re-run of the Huckabee Show at 2:30 a.m. as I was sitting in my hotel room unable to sleep do to the loud party going on next door.

One of Governor Huckabee's guests was journalist J.D. Mullane, who writes for a pair of Philadelphia suburb publications. Mullane had snapped a now famous photo of an empty press gallery at the murder trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell.

If it had not been for this chance late night viewing of the program, I never would have heard of Kermit B. Gosnell, M.D. and I would have been a guilty member of the media who failed to cover the news.

You have to admit it is odd to not be aware of Dr. Gosnell's case, considering that I can get "gavel-to-gavel coverage" of the Jodi Arias murder trial on CNN.com. Casey Anthony became a household name after media coverage of her murder trial. Yet, I'd never heard of Gosnell until Saturday night.

Arias is on trial for a sexually charged murder of a boyfriend. Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her two-year old daughter. The stories apparently made for good theatre.

Gosnell is on trial for four counts of first degree murder for killing legally protected infants born during illegal abortions. He also faces one count of third degree murder for the death of a patient. Yet there is no gavel-to-gavel coverage of his trail. Anthony's acquittal by a jury outraged America, but the dismissal of four additional murder charges by the judge as well as numerous charges of abuse of corpses scarcely was heard of outside of the anti-abortion circle.

I understand that politically charged cases polarize TV viewers, but shouldn't the media at least give the consumer the choice to turn the channel or not, instead of simply ignoring the case all together?

It would be easy to blame the lack of coverage on the gruesome details of the case, but it seems like the more shocking the better when it came to the Arias case.

Perhaps the grand jury tales of the FBI search team recovering "fetal remains haphazardly stored throughout the clinic - in bags, milk jugs, orange juice cartons, and even in cat-food containers," might poison people's minds against pro-choice. The report went on to state "Some fetal remains were in a refrigerator, others were frozen... In some instances, surgical incisions had been made at the base of the fetal skulls. The investigators found a row of jars containing just the severed feet of fetuses... In all, the remains of 45 fetuses were recovered at the clinic that evening and turned over to the Philadelphia medical examiner..."

I was pro-life before reading about this case, so conservative media bias in reporting these horrific images could not have made me any more anti-abortion than I already was.

Would it have impacted the pro-choice section of America? Possibly. I assume most would be inclined to simply chalk it up as one bad apple, or point out that it was the doctor who severed the babies spinal cord, not the abortion industry, which kills babies legally.

I simply do not understand why it took a Twitter photo by Mullane to finally get the big media outlets to do their jobs. The gruesome details of gun violence are propagated at the sacrifice of those who strive to protect the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution, so why wasn't the same coverage allowed at the expense of Roe vs. Wade? Are we so caught up in protecting a woman's choice that we media members are willing to overlook our duties as public watchdogs? Even if the murder trial isn't media worthy in your eyes, what about the gross negligence of government agencies charged with overseeing medical clinics to insure public safety?

The prosecution itself pointed out in the overview comments of the grand jury report "that we realize this case will be used by those on both sides of the abortion debate. We ourselves cover a spectrum of personal beliefs about the morality of abortion. For us as a criminal grand jury, however, the case is not about that controversy; it is about disregard of the law and disdain for the lives and health of mothers and infants. We find common ground in exposing what happened here, and in recommending measures to prevent anything like this from ever happening again."

Perhaps the media should have paid attention to this comment and strived to do the same. Instead, it appears like national news agencies made a deliberate choice to protect political ideologies instead of simply reporting the news.


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