Truth about Gosnell story fails to stem Rep. Smith’s Derp

Over the past few days, House Republicans have been queuing up to take the stage at the Institute of Derp to grandstand about the alleged media cover-up of the gruesome details of the Kermit Gosnell trial.

In an interview with The Hill published this afternoon, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said “the fact [this case] has been so aggressively ignored by national media needs to be explored.”

And amid what was hopefully Peak Derp earlier this week, Rep. Smith joined Reps. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas), Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), and Scott Perry (R-Pa.) to urge the media to defy this supposed censorship.

But if Smith had read Salon after his initial outburst, he’d have found out that the media, in fact, hadn’t “aggressively ignored” the story.

As Irin Carmon explained:

If you’ve never heard of the Gosnell story, it’s not because of a coverup by the liberal mainstream media. It’s probably because you failed to pay attention to the copious coverage among pro-choice and feminist journalists, as well as the big news organizations, when the news first broke in 2011. There would be something rich, if it weren’t so infuriating, about these (almost uniformly male, as it happens) reporters and commentators scrambling to break open this shocking untold story.

In other words, you might not have heard about this story because it isn’t one that anti-abortion activists should want to tell. As Holly Obertein stated in the Philadelphia City Paper in March of 2012, “Pro-choice voices…saw in it a cautionary tale of the lack of affordable and accessible abortion options, especially for poor women.”

If anything, the anti-abortion camp’s frustration over this story seems to be a crude expression of self-loathing — they failed to spin this story in a way that would advance their fundamentalist agenda. As Carmon’s colleague Alex Seitz-Wald explained, Republicans in Congress and conservative media didn’t even pick up the story until this week.

That is, with the exception of one outlet:

To its credit, Breitbart.com, which decried “a full-blown, coordinated blackout throughout the entire national media” has written plenty about Gosnell.

That no one on the right picked up Breitbart’s reportage on the story might be an indication that the outlet has become such a laughing stock after “Genocide Ben” Shapiro’s “Friends of Hamas” fabrication, that not even the rightwing echo chamber is listening to it anymore.

So at least Rep. Smith and his GOP colleagues don’t appear to read Breitbart religiously. That, however, hasn’t prevented House Republicans from letting the Derp flow on the Gosnell issue.

If only House Republicans picked up on real examples of censorship — like the industry driven cover-up of the March 29 oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas.

If anything, the “mainstream media” tends to lean toward the anti-abortion point of view. North Dakota, for example, has seen spike in sexual assaults as roughnecks have flooded into the state due to an energy boom – women working in the service industry are particularly vulnerable. One would think that, in light of the development, reproductive health in the state would be a particularly sensitive issue. But, according to Google Trends, the number of stories about Gosnell over the past 30 days is far greater than the amount of stories covering the insanely restrictive anti-abortion fetal heartbeat law that was signed into law by North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple three weeks ago. And the amount of “Kermit Gosnell” related stories in the past three months dwarfs the amount of reporting tied to “Bette Grande” – the fundamentalist crusader and North Dakota state legislator who sponsored the bill (a woman who makes Sarah Palin seem like Emma Goldman).

Not that this can be explained by some sort of censorship conspiracy. A gender gap in the newsroom probably explains the phenomenon here.

Samuel Knight

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.