[Check out the book “Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer” at Amazon.com]
When the Grand Jury indicted abortion doctor Dr. Kermit Gosnell in 2011, it wrote: “This case is about a doctor who killed babies… What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy—and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors… Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it.”
Filmmakers Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer (FrackNation, Not Evil Just Wrong) have spent the last few years investigating the case and raising money for a feature documentary about the man they call “America’s biggest serial killer.” Now, in Gosnell, McElhinney and McAleer report their shocking findings, taking readers inside the grisly case the mainstream media hesitated to cover. What really happened in Gosnell’s Pennsylvania clinic? And perhaps more importantly, how did Gosnell get away with infanticide for decades?
Mollie Hemingway writes: Last week, President Barack Obama pardoned a turkey prior to Thanksgiving Day, as is tradition. And as in previous years, his teenage daughters Malia and Sasha stood by his side. The daughters are cute as can be — and Malia is growing into an absolutely beautiful young woman.
They are, however, teenagers. And they were, I guess, engaged in some mild teenage behavior — eye-rolling and smirking and what not. I watched a video of the event and didn’t really notice anything worth commenting on (apart from the interesting annual practice of Obama signing the cross over the turkey). But one minor Capitol Hill staffer thought the girls were dressed inappropriately and acted a bit churlish. And then, for some reason, she wrote about it on Facebook.
At which point some people lost their everliving minds. Her comments were posted on Twitter where the social media mob fed their hankering for constant outrage. There were petitions calling for her to be punished. And worst of all the media wrote and broadcast story after story after story about the matter. Elizabeth Lauten lost her job for saying mean things about President Obama’s children.
“In what world — in what mother-freaking world — does he justify taking a foreign affairs reporter and having him dig up dirt on a low-level former staffer who said nothing worse about presidential children than the Post’s own columnists did in the Bush era?”
Now, Lauten is in communications and her job presumably included an assumption that she wouldn’t embarrass her boss. Besides, in a city where you can keep your job even if you’re involved in serious scandals at the IRS, State Department, Veterans Affairs or the Department of Justice, an actual job loss is refreshing, in its own way. She even gave a full-throated apology — within hours of the initial post — for being mean, not one of these “I’m sorry if” constructions that politicians frequently use.
Still, what in the world was the media doing reporting on this non-story and firing up the mob? The Washington Free Beacon reported that “major media outlets are pouring resources into tracking her moves and digging into her past.” This included two network news vans camping outside of her parents’ home in North Carolina and a search of Lauten’s leaked juvenile records and college writings.
This is insanity and each and every person involved should be ashamed of himself or herself. If you were involved, you are a big part of what’s wrong with journalism and you need to check yourself.
Explain yourself, Washington Post
A few years ago, I had this exchange with a Washington Post reporter:
@MZHemingway Hi Molly – I cover policy for the Washington Post, not local crime, hence why I wrote about all the policy issues you mention.
— Sarah Kliff (@sarahkliff) April 11, 2013
Yes, I was told that the reason why the Washington Post was studiously avoiding any discussion of serial murderer and abortionist Kermit Gosnell was because it was a local crime story. The Washington Post previously avoided or subsequently went on to avoid covering the trial of George Zimmerman, the Grand Jury’s look at Darren Wilson and various other local crime stories. Just kidding. They gave those stories wall-to-wall coverage, as you might expect.
From Intercollegiate Review, May 2013, a timeless classic. Read the whole thing here. Career advice from my newsroom hero, supreme champion pugilist of punditry, brilliant bombshell of bodacious badassery, Mollie Z. Hemingway:
There has never been a better time to consider a career in journalism.
Newspapers are thriving, magazines are innovating, online journalism listicles are becoming more substantive, and cable-news talking heads are shouting at holograms.
Journalists are living up to our reputation as the country’s most trusted profession (at least compared to IRS agents and American Airlines customer-service representatives). Whether it’s our nuanced and thoughtful analysis of hot-button topics such as gay marriage or our tenacious coverage of the terrorist attack in Benghazi and Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s abortion clinic in Philadelphia, people know you can count on us to get the story right.
Would you like to succeed in this environment? As a long-time reporter and media critic, I’m happy to share tips on what to do if you want to make it in modern journalism.
Don’t Sweat the Details
Is there a difference between an Evangelical and an evangelist? Who cares? Don’t know the technical reason why Christians celebrate Easter? Will anyone really notice? Do you confuse the author of Hebrews with Paris booksellers?We all do! Whether you’re reporting on important U.S. Supreme Court decisions or how many people died in a terrorist bombing, what’s most important is getting the story first, not getting the story right, particularly under the pressure of a 24-hour news cycle.
Don’t Question Authority
If the powers-that-be suggest that a terrorist attack on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 was the spontaneous and direct result of an unseen YouTube video with junior high school production values, who are you to be skeptical?
If these same authority figures suggest that therefore it’s dangerous for Americans to speak freely, share their religious views, and express their artistic sensibilities however they want, you should probably just join them in calling for restrictions on these First Amendment freedoms.
Likewise, if a politician suggests that the reports of scandal surrounding his administration are overblown, leave him alone already. Would he lie? One good thing to remember is that, generally speaking, only Republican politicians mislead. The sooner you figure that out, the more quickly you’ll be on your way to working at the New York Times.
Recently, some journalists asked the military about reports that the armed services were cracking down on Evangelical Christians. Military spokesmen assured the reporters that there was nothing to worry about. The good reporters figured that meant the case was closed.
Remember Your Job Is to Advance Narratives, Not Report Facts
CNBC’s John Harwood said recently, “Those of us in political-media world should just shut up about ‘narratives’ and focus on what’s true.” Spoken like a real nobody. We’re in the Golden Era of narratives. Facts are for old-timers. Take the story about the Health and Human Service Department’s Obamacare-inspired regulation requiring all employers (regardless of religious objections) to provide employee insurance covering birth control, sterilization, and abortifacients at no cost to the employee. Would you rather report the actual details about this, including claims that it is an unprecedented restriction on religious liberty, or simply call any attempts to fight it part of a “war on women”? Exactly. You know the right thing to do.
A suspected arms dealer, an allegedly crooked mayor dealing in White House access, and a cowardly attorney general walk into a bar. Even if it’s the bar right next door to The Washington Post, would they get any coverage? If they’re Democrats, the answer is probably no.
You know the old story. A national media once obsessed with the “local crime story” of the Trayvon Martin case is suddenly reticent about abortion doctor and convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell, because it was a “local crime story,” as The Washington Post health reporter Sarah Kliff called it. A national media once obsessed with state Sen. Wendy Davis of Texas is suddenly reticent about a state senator in California allegedly selling rocket launchers to foreign terrorists because they don’t do state senator stories, according to a CNN Twitter account. Read the rest of this entry »
…Phelim McAleer and Ann McIlhenny, filmmakers of Not Evil Just Wrong and Frack Nation want to tell the story of Kermit Gosnell, whom they describe as “the worst serial killer in American history,” but they need to raise funds to shoot the TV movie. Phelim and Ann are halfway through their IndieGoGo crowdfunding push for their Gosnell Movie project, and passed the $1 million level in fundraising yesterday:
We have just passed $1,000,000 and want to say very special thank you to all of you who have contributed to get us this far, it’s a really big milestone. We are so grateful to you.
Thank you and a Happy Easter
Just to remind everyone about the Gosnell case, here’s Ann reading part of the grand jury report: