All-Star Panel: Debate over media bias in Dr. Gosnell trial

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," April 11, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


REP. MARLIN STUTZMAN, R - IN: The loss of these lives should scar the conscience of civilized people everywhere. This is not a discussion about abstract concepts like choice. We are talking about brutal deaths of newborn children.

MALLORY QUIGLEY, SUSAN B. ANTHONY LIST: It's difficult to look at the images and read the testimony and hear the testimony that is coming out of this trial going on right now in Philadelphia. But it is so important. People need to know that this is happening. This is a mass murder trial. And the media needs to be covering it.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: This is the capital murder trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, charged with killing seven babies born alive during abortions. This is not getting a lot of attention anywhere. The National Abortion Federation statement is actually from March 21st and we couldn't find any statements from any other groups.

This is what they said. "This particular facility in Philadelphia is an outlier and not typical of the high-quality abortion care provided by the majority of abortion providers in this country." We've asked a number of pro-choice groups, a number of representatives to weigh in, and they have not.

As far as media coverage, NBC, MSNBC, have covered it zero times, ABC zero times, CBS zero times, CNN has covered it once. And we could continue with the print lack of coverage, but we'll bring in the panel from there. Kirsten, you wrote a column on this for USA Today. What about this?

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: Well, I think that I would love an answer to the question -- why the media is not covering it. Normally they are fascinated by trials, as we know. "Good Morning America" has done a 10-part series on this murder trial of Jodi Arias who murdered her boyfriend. So somehow that is newsworthy and this isn't.

I think that what the media needs to be looking at is how did this happened. So while the Nation Abortion Federation is saying this is an outlier. The reality is the regulations weren't being enforced and the regulations weren't being enforced because of the pro-abortion rights groups had lobbied the government essentially to not do this. So if you read the grand jury testimony, what you find out is this clinic had not been -- no one has gone to inspect it since 1993. And that is when Tom Ridge, a pro-choice Republican, came into office. And the grand jury testimony, they concluded it was a purely political decision to not go and inspect this facility even after a woman died in 2009. They did not send anybody out to look at it. Usually, when there is a murder like this, the media will say, "what happened." Nobody is asking "how did this happen?"

BAIER: Jonah, some of the testimony is unbelievable. You had a nurse saying that Dr. Gosnell joked to her that one aborted baby was so big that the baby could "walk me home."

JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: It is horrific. It's an abattoir, and it is disgusting. And I will give my own theory of a partial reason why the media is not covering this, because when the debates were going on about partial birth abortions in this country, most of the mainstream media treated it as if it was a right wing myth. They always had to refer to it as "so-called" partial birth abortion as if it doesn't actually happen. Or that the name means nothing and it was just some sort of Frank Luntz spin. And that was incredibly dishonest.

The official position of the President of the United States when he was a state senator in Illinois was that what they were in Gosnell's place -- maybe poorly regulated but otherwise it was OK. He voted against and fought against the born alive infant act in Illinois. Barbara Boxer says a baby's life doesn't start until they bring it home from the hospital. These are the ideological positions a lot of these people are committed to. A lot of people in the mainstream media are committed to them and they were reflective in their coverage of this issue for years. And to all of a sudden say the pro-lifers were right about a lot of this is just too darn embarrassing.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, you have Patrick Moynihan, a famously liberal professor and senator who said of this procedure long before it happened in the clinic, in this particular clinic, he called it tantamount to infanticide, which is what it is. And the fact that it is not covered I think is easily explained. It's because it casts [INAUDIBLE] -- it puts the pro-abortion forces in a very bad light. It brings the issue of late terms abortion starkly into relief.

Here is a place where it clearly went over the edge, clearly engaged in the murder. But even the ones that are a second or two on the other side of the line where you are destroying an infant as it is exiting the womb, I think is, as Moynihan indicated, murder. You can have that position and not believe that all abortions ought to be illegal. You can have a different position on early term abortions, which I think is in a different category.

But on this, I would think there'd be unanimity in the country. And the reason that there is resistance against either outlawing or heavily regulating is because the pro-choice people imagine that any regulation at any level of any kind is the beginning of the end of abortion rights. I think there is room for a national consensus on this. If there ever was it would be on this kind of procedure, and I am just surprised by the stubbornness of the forces who resist any regulation or outlawing of this.

BAIER: I just did the media on television, but I should point out, the Washington Post has done no staff written articles on it. They mentioned in news briefs. The New York Times has done one article on Dr. Gosnell since the trial started. They did do five articles in 2011. I should credit the Philadelphia Inquirer. They have done 103 articles on it since this whole thing has started.

POWERS: We wouldn't know what is going on if not for the local Philadelphia media. So they have actually done a great job. But this clearly should be national news. And I think this needs to be delved into a little bit. Is liberals want regulation of every single thing, right? They want regulation of the air, water, animals as they are raised, banks, you name it, and I put myself in that category. But they have this one little area where they say no government regulation. It doesn't make any sense, and I think people need to examine that.

BAIER: We have covered this story many times on 'Special Report' and we'll continue to cover it. You can bet on that. That's it for the panel, but stay tuned for the latest internet sensation that is sweeping the web.

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