Dr. Kermit Gosnell faces the death penalty if he is convicted of multiple counts of first-degree murder for a range of grisly tactics he allegedly employed to terminate late-term fetuses at his Philadelphia abortion clinic between 2008 and 2010, when it was shut down following a federal raid.
Horrific testimony in the trial over the last couple of weeks has revealed tales of the abortionist and his workers at Gosnell's Women's Medical Society clinic allegedly snipping fetuses' spines with scissors to "ensure fetal demise," jars of terminated fetuses' feet that Gosnell allegedly kept at the clinic, and a baby "screeching ... like a little alien" during a so-called live-birth abortion procedure allegedly performed at the clinic.
The trial has been watched closely by many pro-life and conservative groups, including LifeNews.com, which has reported extensively on the developments, but many in the pro-life movement, as well as some pro-choice folks who are shocked by the nature of Gosnell's alleged crimes, are asking why mainstream media outlets are largely ignoring this story.
The Associated Press, local newspapers like the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Delaware News-Journal, and local TV stations like NBC Philadelphia have reporters covering Gosnell's trial, but several of the major news networks have dedicated precious few moments of airtime -- if any at all -- to the case.
The media watchdog site NewsBusters.org has been covering this lack of attention in some depth, and it reported Tuesday that over the past week, ABC, CBS and NBC had not spent a second covering the ongoing Gosnell trial; by comparison, the major three networks dedicated a total of 41 minutes and 26 seconds of airtime to 36 stories on the scandal surrounding disgraced Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice.
The decision by major news networks to effectively "black out" the Gosnell abortion trial led a coalition of 20 conservative leaders to join with Media Research Center founder and NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell last week to demand that "the broadcast networks stop censoring coverage of the trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell and the testimony of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates in favor of murdering children who survive botched abortions."
The call by the conservative leaders for the networks to stop ignoring the story went on to point out that as of Tuesday, ABC, CBS and NBC had not mentioned Gosnell since he was arrested in January 2011, that even the arrest was only covered by CBS, whereas all three networks have covered new abortion-restricting laws in North Dakota and Arkansas.
"The horrific excesses of the abortion industry -- exemplified by Gosnell and Planned Parenthood -- are major, national news stories any way you look at them," their letter states. "But the pro-abortion liberal media are determined to hide them from the public. The media have a solemn duty to the American people to report the news, not just news that helps the positions they support. It’s unprofessional, it’s disgusting, and it’s inhuman. If the pro-life movement were involved in this type of insanity, there would be wall-to-wall coverage from every major news outlet. This cover-up is a national disgrace."
The question of why ABC, CBS and NBC have apparently deemed the Gosnell trial unworthy of news coverage is one that has as gone unanswered. But calls for the networks to explain themselves are increasing as the trial continues.