Kermit Gosnell About to Become Right-Wing’s Pet Rock for April

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Last night I was browsing through The Corner, and it was basically wall-to-wall coverage of the Kermit Gosnell case. This is a pretty grisly trial of a Philadelphia doctor who performed late-term abortions and killed the fetuses if they were delivered alive; conducted his business on a cash basis amid filthy conditions; spread disease among his patients; and caused the deaths of at least two of them. There’s also a political angle: Gosnell was able to continue his practice only because of a massive breakdown among state and local oversight agencies that failed to shut him down. Conor Friedersdorf has a ton of detail here if you want to read more.

As grisly as this is, however, the really big story on the right is the fact that Gosnell isn’t getting 24/7 coverage from the national media. Peter Kirsanow, in particular, believes the national media would normally be all over this story since most of Gosnell’s patients were poor and black, and doesn’t the national media love stories about people who abuse poor blacks?

In almost every other circumstance race is never irrelevant to the very same people who are maintaining complete radio silence on the Gosnell case. There’s a reason why the parody headline, “World Ends, Minorities and Women Hardest Hit” resonates. The elite media are rarely at a loss for highlighting racial disparities, whether real or imagined, in any story. But it’s hard to highlight racial disparities when you refuse to cover the story at all.

Also missing are the usual suspects who would rail against the responsible oversight authorities for their indifference to the plight of minorities. These usual suspects would normally ask — in this case perhaps justifiably — whether what allegedly happened in Gosnell’s clinic would be allowed to happen in a clinic largely patronized by whites. But again, as with the elite media, utter silence.

A hierarchy of priorities is thus revealed.

Obviously, conservatives believe the media is ignoring this story because it’s about abortion, and the lefties who run our media empires hate stories that put abortion in a bad light. Alternatively, it could be because it’s a Philadelphia story, and the national media doesn’t usually give a lot of time to local cases like this. Frankly, I don’t know—though I’ll note that even the conservative media didn’t give it a huge amount of coverage until fairly recently, when Gosnell’s trial started.

But if the motivations of the mainstream press are hazy, the motivations of the conservative press are crystal clear: they want this case to get a lot of attention because it highlights a rogue abortion doctor. That’s it. They wouldn’t give it the time of day if it were merely a story of regulatory failure that caused the deaths of a few poor people in, say, a rogue inner city dentist’s office.

Which is fine. If it were a rogue banker, I’d want to highlight it too. But that wouldn’t mean the rest of the media would somehow be implicated in a conspiracy if they didn’t follow my lead.

In any case, a reader emailed me a few minutes ago to make a prediction: “This story is about to bloom in a big way.” Probably so. The conservative echo chamber is now pounding on this big time, and when that happens the mainstream media usually isn’t far behind. It’s likely, in fact, that this is about to become The Most Important Story In The World. Fasten your seat belts.

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And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

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