New York Times Defends Non-Coverage of Gosnell Trial, Says Trial is Meaningless

-By Warner Todd Huston

For The New York Times, editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal penned an apologia for the Old Media establishment’s disinterest in covering the abortion trial of Kermit Gosnell and essentially claimed that the trial is a meaningless incident when all things are considered, especially when it comes to the overall abortion debate.

“What does the trial of a Philadelphia doctor who is accused of performing illegal late-term abortions by inducing labor and then killing viable fetuses have to do with the debate over legal abortion,” Rosenthal writes.

Rosenthal excuses his paper’s lack of coverage of the Gosnell trial saying that the NYT has written “six articles” already so this, he believes, means they’ve adequately covered the story. He also maintains that there is “no rule” that a newspaper “has to run one piece about a bad clinic for every piece celebrating a good one.”

But a mere six articles seems rather lacking. As’s Rob Schwarzwalder pointedly recalls, “I wonder why the Times, as it did with the trial of Tiller murderer George Roeder, did not cover such things as jury selection or pronounce endlessly on the assorted issues involved in the Gosnell case.”

Speaking of Tiller, Rosenthal also invokes the murdered abortionist and finds space to mourn his death and celebrates the reopening of his clinic.

Strangely, even as the Times has more or less ignored what is essentially the trial of a serial killer, Rosenthal blames abortion opponents for Gosnell’s alleged crimes because they’ve worked to limit abortion.

But Rosenthal’s chief point is that the trial actually proves the opposite of what media critics have maintained; that the trial proves how horrible abortion can be. Instead, Rosenthal imagines that the trial proves that more abortion is necessary and that it “highlights the need for safe, affordable and available women’s reproductive health care.”

Of course, abortion is already “safe, affordable and available” in most states not to mention in the very state where Gosnell perpetrated his crimes. Sadly, as James Taranto points out, despite the Democrat’s efforts to make abortion free and easy, back-alley abortions have never stopped.

Contrary to Rosenthal, Taranto says the Gosnell trial proves that, “the claim that Roe v. Wade made America safe from back-alley abortion stands exposed as a cruel hoax, and a deadly one for women and children alike.”

Medial ethicist Leon Kass goes further saying that ubiquitous abortion so devalues human life that it “means we no longer see a child as a gift but as a product of our will to be had by choice only.” That concept, Kass laments, “makes human choice the basis of all value” instead of a reverence for life serving that purpose.

Kass also says that, “abortion is connected to lots of other things that are threats to human dignity in its fullness.”

Rosenthal and the Times aren’t alone in this desire to inoculate the Old Media for its failure to cover Gosnell. In US News, Susan Mulligan agrees with Rosenthal saying that the Philadelphia trial is just a local crime story and has no national significance.

As Milligan sees it, “suggestions that the ‘media’ were deliberately ignoring the story to protect a so-called ‘abortion doctor’ are ludicrous.”

“The Gosnell case is a local murder trial,” Milligan concludes. But, she feels, “The burden of proof for the media is not why reporters outside Pennsylvania… should not be covering it nonstop. It’s why they should.”
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,, and, as well as,,,,, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

For a full bio, please CLICK HERE.

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