Joseph Cotto, 5/12/2015 [Archive]

Remember Kermit Gosnell? Probably Not

By Joseph Cotto

It is difficult to imagine that two years have passed since a Philadelphia jury decided the fate of Dr. Kermit Gosnell.

For no small amount of time beforehand, Gosnell's story captivated America's right-leaning media outlets. The longtime abortion doctor was convicted of, among many other things, killing a patient and fetuses which were born alive.

Later, he pleaded guilty to federal charges of, in short, operating a pill mill.

Considering the dire state of narcotic dependency in Philadelphia, one might imagine that Gosnell being a drug dealer would have generated more attention. However, the rightist press was mainly interested in the allegations that he carried out illegal late-term abortions.

As for the left-leaning media, a description that surely fits most news organizations in this country, relatively little attention was paid to Gosnell. Commentators on the right chalked this up to sheer bias.

It seems difficult to prove them wrong.

"Given how few Americans follow the news, it would be a stretch to say that most Americans want a serious presentation of it," Media Research Center president, and outspoken man of the right, Brent Bozell told me.

He later explained that people who follow the news "tend to go where they will find evidence to validate their respective viewpoints. It's common sense: people go to their comfort zones. But it's also a function of time management. The average person looking for news of the day wants it — and then wants out. It is compartmentalized. It's the half-hour you dedicate before dinner. The lunch hour break. The breakfast distraction."

Taking this into consideration, does anyone honestly miss the sensationalism associated with high-profile trials? Whether it be the chronicles of O.J. Simpson, Casey Anthony, George Zimmerman, or Jodi Arias, far more views than news make it through the editing room.

In our age of cable television, talk radio, and blogging, there seems to be all but no place for straight reportage concerning any given day's events.

Even if leftist bias is to blame for Gosnell not being sensationalized in the front page from coast to coast, is this really so bad? Isn't it better for the defense and prosecution to do their jobs without ten different pundits pretending to know what they're talking about?

Irrespective of our views on abortion rights, we should all be glad that the Gosnell trial did not devolve into a media circus. Having the courtroom packed with journalists eager to write a lurid, headline-grabbing story is a bad idea if there ever was one.

So, controversial as this may be, it is likely a plus that Gosnell's time in court never became the stuff of daily news for the alphabet networks or most national publications. There is already far more than enough anguish and misery peddled in the media; of what societal benefit would it have been to publicize Gosnell?

Sometimes, leaving a local story at the local level is not such a bad idea. Just consider this: If worldwide, let alone national, media sources laid off of the Michael Brown-Darren Wilson debacle, would there have been so much bedlam?

That question should answer itself.


Copyright 2015 Joseph Cotto, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.

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