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Thursday, September 29, 2016

You may have heard about a dark conspiracy that’s afoot. An activist cabal has plotted to influence media coverage of the trial of a notorious abortion doctor. Their scheme has been wildly successful, leading to a dramatic shift in media attention. Only, as Salon’s Irin Carmon notes, the real conspirators shaping coverage of the murder trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell have been anti-choice activists and not, as the anti-choicers claim, their pro-choice counterparts.

Gosnell, as you may have heard, is a Philadelphia-based physician on trial for charges that include illegal abortions and the murders of a patient and seven newborns who died under his care. The allegations are horrific, and from the moment they were publicly revealed, feminist journalists and mainstream media outlets were on the story. In early 2011, Katha PollittMichelle Goldberg, and Amanda Marcotte wrote about Gosnell. Stories also appeared in the New York Times and CBSNews.com (a comprehensive roundup of coverage can be found here). The case was far from being ignored.

But last week, anti-choice activists unveiled a clever campaign designed to persuade the media, and the American public, of the opposite. An op-ed by Fox News Democrat Kirsten Powers kicked things off. Soon after, an army of flying Twitter monkeys descended on prominent journalists, berating them for allegedly ignoring the case.

Unfortunately, a number of them swallowed the sucker bait. Among the journalists who clearly didn’t do their homework and falsely blamed feminists, and the media, for ignoring Gosnell were Dave Weigel, Jeffrey Goldberg, and Megan McArdle — centrist and center-right pundits all.

Next came conservative bloggers, who used the case to screech about the media’s alleged liberal “bias” — how fresh! A few even claimed that media coverage of Gosnell demonstrates the need to employ more Christian-right reporters. The usual mainstream media bowing and scraping followed, as both the New York Times and the Washington Post promised, and delivered, still more coverage.

So, more than a week into the anti-choice movement’s campaign, what have learned? For opponents of women’s reproductive freedom, the case is of prime strategic importance, because it can be used to portray abortion clinics as dangerous, late-term abortions as common, and abortion doctors as monsters. These assertions are false (for example, nearly 90 percent of abortions occur in the first trimester, and only 1.5 percent occur after 20 weeks), but to the extent the general public believes them, they can increase political momentum to place more obstacles between a woman and her right to choose. The media surrender to activist demands for additional trial coverage is, then, a triumph. Score a victory — and a big one — for the anti-choicers.

Another winner here is the vast right-wing conspiracy. They have won another battle in their decades-long war to “work the refs” and shame the media into serving as a propaganda arm for the conservative movement. Once more, they have played this game very well indeed.

  • question is, if the state knew about the problem why wasn’t the clinic shut down a long time ago?

    • tobyspeeks

      Where in the story does it say “the state knew about the problem?”

      • CrankyToo

        Which came first, the dumbass or the egg?

        • tobyspeeks

          If you could pick your uneducated knuckles from the floor for even a second to climb out of your mother’s basement, you’d find yourself looking in a mirror with egg on your face.

          • CrankyToo

            I don’t know what you’re trying to say, Gomer, but I will not engage in a battle of wits with someone who’s unarmed.

          • tobyspeeks

            We all know who’s lacking wit around here.

      • RobertCHastings

        I think you skipped over Renee’s BIG word, “if”, which she actually does use as a disclaimer. She is absolutely correct in asking why the clinic was not shut down IF THE STATE KNEW. She did not claim that the state knew. The obvious reaction to her question SHOULD have been, apparently the state did not know, and why didn’t they know if his offenses were so egregious.

        • tobyspeeks

          Your implication of Renee’s use of the word “if” is flat out wrong! If it’s not wrong, it was at best a rhetorical question. I wouldn’t like to read much of anything you write if in fact you use the word “if” the way you’re so adamantly defending it.

          • RobertCHastings

            There was no implication implied orintended.Renee’s use of the word “if” in the context it was used brought into question whether or not the state knew before the “news” hit the media. Renee claims neither yea nor nay, she merely inserts in the discussion the question as to whether or not the state knew. That is what the word “if” means, and that is its proper use. Sorry that you find that so difficult to understand or accept. And your confusion over the ambiguity of the word “if” is understandable.

  • Charles___Darwin

    Abortion should be legal. Liberals tend to abort their kids, so eventually it will be good for society. Margaret Sanger was right; the poor and stupid should not breed.

    • RobertCHastings

      Darwin’s theories are based upon the observed survival of the fittest. I have no idea as to why the Republican party has survived, except perhaps to provide us all a huckleberry.

      • Charles___Darwin

        With the number of illegals coming in, the party may not survive, nor will the country. We are approaching the fictional Idiocracy, under which the democrats will thrive. Passing out entitlements and keeping people ignorant is a surefire path to success for the dems.

        • RobertCHastings

          I think you need to reconsider your statement, as current figures clearly show that the influx of illegals has been drastically reduced. The term “entitlements” is a misnomer, as those who receive Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid have worked their entire lives to pay into the funds for these “entitlements”, and, as such, have earned the right to benefit from them.