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Monday, April 15, 2013

Washington Post, Gosnell, and the media blackout

I put a comment over at Get Religion about Mollie's review of a recent Washington Post article trying to get to the bottom of the dearth of media coverage of the Gosnell trial.

I'm gonna make an observation about the WaPo article and then a speculation, both of which are going to make me sound sexist or something - but I'm not. So, forgive me.

Farhi (the author of the article) has quotes from various media spokespeople offering explanations (or non-explanation explanations, if you will) for the dearth of coverage. Every one of them, except for Martin Baron of the Washington Post itself, was a woman. CBS, NBC, CNN, and MSNBC all had female spokespeople whom Farhi named, all with lame reasons or, unbelievably, claims that the coverage was good. There was also one unnamed spokeswoman for HLN, who said the Arias trial would get wall-to-wall coverage until it's over "to respond [and] deliver to viewer interest."

So here's the speculation, and what I said at Get Religion. I am beginning to wonder if the main reason the mainstream media have been avoiding this case is really political bias. A lot of people – including men – have been personally involved with abortion – I’m speaking about the women who have had one and the men who have allowed, facilitated, or pressured the choice. A lot of people in the media, both “liberal” and “conservative” would probably fall into this category. And let’s face it, it’s not just left-leaning media that are shying away from covering this case. I doubt the abortion was really pleasant for any of them. Although some may be comfortable and confident with their choice, others may view the experience with regret and pain, and virtually none recall it as happy. And some in the first category may not be as confident as they want to believe…. I wonder now, having read the article, if there’s a reluctance to approach this case because it make people face abortion in a new and very personal way.

Anyway, I am willing to consider it is not merely “institutional media bias,” but something very personal, very human, and very real to the human beings who work for these media.

This is an eye-opening, and also a wound-opening, case.

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