Like pretty much everyone who writes opinion columns, I hope that people will read what I write and look at things differently as a result. It happens, sometimes. But very few have the impact of Kirsten Powers’ column on the murder trial of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell that ran in these pages last week.
Before Powers’ column, the case wasn’t on the national radar. Oh, it was getting attention from pro-life writers, conservative media critics, and law bloggers, but in terms of national media, the story didn’t exist. It wasn’t on the national radar until Powers’ column opened with this: “Infant beheadings. Severed baby feet in jars. A child screaming after it was delivered alive during an abortion procedure. Haven’t heard about these sickening accusations? It’s not your fault. Since Gosnell’s trial began March 18, there has been precious little coverage of the case that should be on every news show and front page.”
Glenn’s column is characteristically perceptive and full of links in its online version. As with everything he writes, from one sentence squibs at InstaPundit to columns to law review articles and books, the whole thing is worth reading.
Glenn notes in passing the argument advanced by some in defense of the silence of the mainstream media: “In response some are noting that conservative media outlets like the Weekly Standard weren’t exactly providing page-one coverage, and there’s some truth to that.” This may be true in some sense, but I don’t think it is fair with respect to conservative flagships such as the Standard and National Review.
I first became aware of the Gosnell case through Joseph Bottum’s February 2011 Weekly Standard article “To live and die in Philadelphia” and Clarke Forsythe’s January 2011 Weekly Standard online column “The Supreme Court’s back alley runs through Philadelphia.” The Standard’s archive on Gosnell can be accessed in its entirety here. I believe that, like the Standard’s, National Review’s coverage of the case goes back at least to January 2011, in an editorial devoted to the case (“Ho-hum horror”), quoted here.