What Joe Paterno and Kermit Gosnell Have In Common

Dennis Sanders

Dennis is the pastor of a small Protestant congregation outside St. Paul, MN and also a part-time communications consultant. A native of Michigan, you can check out his writings over on Medium and subscribe to his Substack newsletter on religion and politics called Polite Company.  Dennis lives in Minneapolis with his husband Daniel.

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200 Responses

  1. Francis says:

    “It’s story of how we tend to place faith in institutions and causes than we do in God and in caring for people around us.”

    Because, as a card-carrying liberal, I find that overseeing institutions and thinking about causes is far more effective on a day-to-day basis than placing faith in god. And I find that people who emphasize placing faith in god over factual analysis manage to hear answers from their god that support their pre-existing biases.

    To be specific, just how many medical bills has your church paid? Should a newly-unemployed individual come to your church for the financing of his health care needs, or press his congresscritter to ensure the timely deployment of Obamacare?Report

    • Will H. in reply to Francis says:

      I find it odd that so often people who avow no faith whatsoever in God presume to instruct those who do in what manner they should believe and conduct themselves.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to Will H. says:

        I don’t find it odd. After all, those with faith in God seem to rarely have problems instructing those without on what to do.

        Hypocrtical, maybe, but not odd.Report

        • Will H. in reply to Morat20 says:

          And you maintain that those without legs are best situated to offer instruction in walking?Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Will H. says:

            So you’re saying only a Christian can lecture a Christian on the Bible or his beliefs, only a Muslim a Muslim and a Jew a Jew?

            Does that mean only agnostics can bother agnostics and only atheists bother athiests?

            ‘Cause that doesn’t appear to be how the world works. Christians happily tell non-Christians what they believe (often erroneously — ask any open atheist the laundry list of things he’s been told he ‘must’ believe), so it’s only fair that atheists get to do the same back.Report

            • Will H. in reply to Morat20 says:

              What is “lecture,” and what is “bother?”
              Who are these Christians and non-Christians you speak of?

              FWIW, I do have a faith, and it’s not particularly Christian; so please don’t try to tangle me up with “Them.”Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Will H. says:

                You said: “I find it odd that so often people who avow no faith whatsoever in God presume to instruct those who do in what manner they should believe and conduct themselves

                And I pointed out that indeed, the converse is true.

                So by “lecture” and “bother” I meant “exactly what you said” and by “them” I meant “the same people you did”. I just reversed the causal arrow.

                I’m chose Christian merely because, living in a majority Christian nation, they’re the quickest example at hand. I’ve seen it done by Jews, Muslisms, Mormons, Lutherans, and a few others.

                I’m not prepared to let the Zeus and Thor worshippers off the hook just yet….Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Morat20 says:

                I have yet to have a conversation with a Thor worshipper who could talk to me about what Thor thinks about abortion that wouldn’t make sense in any given 21st century conversation about privacy rights.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’ve only met the one Thor worshipper, and he was really just a fan of the actor. 🙂

                I know a few Wiccans, though. They’re an odd bunch. Quite eclectic. Generally fairly nice folk, by and by.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

                But I never said anything about lecturing or bothering anyone.
                I noted only the presumption of the ignorant.
                It is readily apparent that a star baseball player might not be the best basketball coach.
                I don’t see where you came up with that.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Will H. says:

        See my pushback below. Whose good? Isn’t Dennis just telling us that our faults come from a lack of not believing in God?Report

        • Will H. in reply to NewDealer says:

          If you choose to view it in those terms.
          There is no claim stated which is wholly dependent on the existence or non-existence of a deity for the point to be held as valid.
          You could listen to Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror a few times and assimilate much the same message.Report

        • ND,

          I don’t see it that way. I see it as saying that our faults come from our assumption that we could never be guilty of such things, or rather from a lack of humility.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to Francis says:

      I don’t think Dennis is Mennonite, but the Mennonite do take care of their own (and do not participate in public insurance regimes).Report

    • James K in reply to Francis says:

      Because, as a card-carrying liberal, I find that overseeing institutions and thinking about causes is far more effective on a day-to-day basis than placing faith in god.

      For one thing, we can be reasonably confident the institutions exist.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Francis says:

      The answer to your question is that every church I’ve been affiliated with has funds dedicated to rent assistance, emergency food assistance, emergency medical care assistance, and utility bill assistance. Generally all you have to do is ask to see the Pastor, explain your situation honestly, and then use the funds that you are given for the purpose you asked them for. word gets around churches quickly of who the hucksters are. An d if the need exceeds the funds available, there is usually a quiet call to members for additional assistance.

      I would also add that you are painting people of faith with an unnecessarily broad brush by insisting that faith excludes the ability to reason deductively from data.Report

  2. I’m still surprised that this is considered a story that “isn’t being covered”. I’m not arguing either way, but usually when American news winds up in Canada, it can be classified as “being covered”. But, anyhoo, I’m not down there with you guys, so I don’t know.

    I think this analogy is a little strained. When Joe Paterno was fired, students/fans rioted. Is there any equivalent rioting going on among Pro Choicers/The Left? Is anyone arguing that Gosnell’s crimes should have been covered up?

    I’m willing to believe there are some lessons from the (non?-)coverage of Gosnell, but I’m not sure a comparison to aiding child rape is really the way to tease those out.Report

    • Morat20 in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

      No. In fact, it was covered on the left back when it first came to light and the arrests made.

      In general, the pro-choice side’s take on this has been one of “And this is why back-alley abortions are bad, and why making it harder and harder to get abortions just causes greater tragedy”. There’s not actually any controversy. What he did was illegal, unethical, violated medical practices and laws left and right, and he’s on trial and will go to jail for it.

      The only thing worth commenting on, from a pro-choice perspective, is why anyone went to him at all. The answers are rather interesting, but not exactly harmful to the pro-choice perspective.

      (Effectively: Affordable, early abortions were difficult to impossible to get for a number of women. So they took what they could get — cheap, late abortions. No matter the source or danger).Report

      • Michelle in reply to Morat20 says:


      • Will H. in reply to Morat20 says:

        Actually, I believe the only point of any consequence to the pro-choice side is that to close such a clinic necessarily deprives persons of their single most fundamental and basic human right, and that any time such issues as safety are brought up, it is necessarily for the sole purpose of deprivation of the single most fundamental and basic of rights.
        Ergo, provided this one clinic remains open, we can treat women in any manner whatsoever in any other setting or situation, and it is accomplished a priori that their single most fundamental and basic of rights have been sufficiently provided for.Report

        • Will, this is an uncommonly silly and unfair comment coming from you.

          I cannot think of a single person on the pro-choice side who would make such an argument as you attribute to them. If you can find a single pro-choice essayist or commenter who has laid out a claim like you’ve written, please link to it. I am pro-choice (albeit ambivalently) and have worked in pr0-choice advocacy in some capacity over the course of my career. I can imagine none of the people I worked with blithely dismissing the crimes committed by Dr. Gosnell in the manner you lay out. And where on earth do you get the notion that pro-choice people believe the right to safe, legal abortions are the most fundamental and basic human right?

          Over at my own sub-blog, I have written a blistering critique of the Gosnell case and what it says about the regulatory failures of the medical establishment in Pennsylvania. Does that mean I’m not truly pro-choice? Do I fail some kind of Scotsman test for having done so?Report

          • Will H. in reply to Russell Saunders says:

            First, thank you for calling me on what you saw to be irrational and unwarranted.
            I read your post, and I applaud your openness; there was nothing that I could add to it that would be faintly sufficient after that.
            And please note that my own views are more moderate than either of those commonly forwarded; and that often I find those concerns misplaced (such as the focus on pre-procedural wait times rather than mandatory aftercare).

            But to answer your question, the big one that comes to mind is the fellow from Wichita. The most prominent storyline I hear is one of a witch hunt for the Noble Doctor, when this man was purposefully thwarting state requirements regarding minors. Instances of multiple abortions in minors (whether rightfully or wrongly) had been determined by the state authorities as indicating possible sexual abuse from within the home; and the Noble Doctor was aware of this.
            Not that I’m saying what happened there was right; only that there was a lot of wrong-doing to go around.

            Similar to this story, there was a clinic in Kansas City, Kans. and one in Indiana that were closed; though the specific circumstances weren’t quite so gruesome.
            What struck me most about the former was the proximity to the story of the college baseball player who had died from re-use of syringes; and yet I seemed to be the only person making the connection that inspection of medical facilities likely leaves something to be desired.

            Much like yourself, I am very much the product of my experience and of my times.
            Please forgive me, but I don’t care to walk into the past to re-open old wounds to offer any greater specifics.Report

            • If you’d rather not discuss things further, then I suppose I’ll leave it at that. As has been mentioned elsewhere on this thread, there’s a reasonably high likelihood that it will get unpleasant, and I’m loath to contribute anything along those lines.

              But my objection to your comment stands. You seem to be saying that your quintessential pro-choicer would see the Gosnell case and shrug, merely glad that these women could get their precious abortions. And I simply don’t think that’s true. I don’t know the details of what you’re describing with the Kansas abortionist or the other two cases, but I’m not sure they’re entirely germane to the question at hand.

              Would pro-choice people as a rule look at the Gosnell case as women getting access to their most basic and fundamental right? I would say no, quite the opposite. I think the overwhelming majority of pro-choice people are, like everyone, generally decent human beings who would recoil in horror at the monstrous crimes allegedly perpetrated by this man, and would never dream of making the statements you ascribe to them.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Russell Saunders says:

                I regret that I was unclear earlier. I didn’t mean to say that I was unwilling to discuss the matter further; but rather that to re-trace the past to dig up instances of that “quintessential pro-choicer” would be to open old wounds.
                I suppose you could say that I was scarred by the vehemence of those encounters; and unwarranted, I should say.

                However, now I have to leave to do Other Things; regretfully so, as I do appreciate the dialogue.Report

              • Chris in reply to Will H. says:

                I believe the only point of any consequence to the pro-choice side is that to close such a clinic necessarily deprives persons of their single most fundamental and basic human right, and that any time such issues as safety are brought up, it is necessarily for the sole purpose of deprivation of the single most fundamental and basic of rights.

                I’m pretty sure that anyone who starts with this has absolutely no interest in discussion. I’m also pretty sure that someone who begins with this is both unsurprised by the “vehemence” of the encounters he has with people who disagree with him or her on this issue, but is actually in the habit of inviting such “vehemence.” Not surprising, given who started with that, but still worth noting.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Chris says:

                . . . whereas interjections which only serve to confirm initial bias are departed from with delight.Report

              • Chris in reply to Will H. says:

                I find this response odd. You were doing that thing where you consciously troll those who disagree with you, which you’ve admitted doing and which you seem to relish doing. I pointed it out, and your response is that I confirmed your biases? What were those biases? That people here would point out you were being an ass?

                Seriously, this is a very touchy subject, as you well know. If you’re going to play your troll games, do it on a less heated topic. It certainly makes it easier to take seriously your claims to be interested in actually discussing it.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

                Now we need to have a word about human interaction.

                First, here’s the tripe you consider to be “worth noting”:

                I’m pretty sure that anyone who starts with this has absolutely no interest in discussion.
                And what on earth did the ensuing engagement lead you to believe?
                I happen to be pretty sure that the person with no interest in discussion isn’t the person WHO HAPPENS TO BE DISCUSSING, but rather the person who seeks to lay word traps for the purpose of showing that discussion (even as it is taking place) is impossible.

                I’m also pretty sure that someone who begins with this is both unsurprised by the “vehemence” of the encounters he has with people who disagree with him or her on this issue, but is actually in the habit of inviting such “vehemence.”
                Well doesn’t that just lay out a timeline of events unsupported by fact.
                See note above.
                But that’s two strikes; so practically anything you claim to be “pretty sure” of from this point on is rightfully called into question.

                You were doing that thing where you consciously troll those who disagree with you . . .
                Ya know, I’ve seen common social interaction such as MAKING A JOKE referred to as “trolling” for no other reason than some people happen to be prone to such terms.
                First of all, it’s loaded language.
                Secondly, when some innocuous form of social interaction need necessarily be referred to in derogatory terms, that’s a sure sign that someone is so stuck on themselves that their disfunction will likely intrude on any meaningful interaction.
                Third, such a requirement that I only address those who I am wholly in agreement with is not a policy geared toward dialogue, but rather in established parallel echo chambers. I believe this goes against the very underpinning principles of this site.
                Fourth, it’s pretty much a given that whenever someone pulls out a term like “troll,” the purpose of it socially is in excisement. I do not care to be exiled by the likes of you.
                There’s more to add, but I think I’ve made my point. If not, I can go on.

                To my comment:
                interjections which only serve to confirm initial bias are departed from with delight.
                In what manner do you suppose your above comment, even charitably construed, might be interpreted to serve any other purpose than specifically– to confirm initial bias– when it may be reasonably inferred from the statements I made above that confronted with intellectual dishonesty and accompanying vehemence are distinctly problematic.

                Now let’s do a bit of arithmetic.
                intellectual dishonesty

                What other than this do I see in your comment?
                Seriously, what was your objective intent? (Rhetorical question only– I really have no care or concern for some well-meaning intent so well hidden).
                What was it that you hoped to accomplish?


              • Chris in reply to Will H. says:

                Dude, I’m fine with you calling mine intellectually dishonest, but given that the comment I highlighted was blatantly dishonest, and not intellectually so, my response was a step up.

                And no, I still don’t think you’re genuinely interested in discussing abortion, and you haven’t actually discussed it here, so since the only real comment you’ve made on the subject is said dishonest one, I see no reason why I should think that you are.

                But thanks for the lesson. I’m going to go back to doing what I’ve been doing, ignoring you in favor of serious people.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

                You assume a right to compel me to action where I have specifically stated I wish to avoid.
                Q: What is that called whenever a person compels another to perform an action from which they wish to abstain?
                A: Chris.

                to re-trace the past to dig up instances of that “quintessential pro-choicer” would be to open old wounds.
                What part of that did you not understand?
                What part of that was dishonest in any way?
                How did you interpret this as:
                I suppose this indicates that I have a right to compel another to specific performance based on nothing other than interjection in ongoing dialogue for the sole purpose of ensuring derogatory terms are cast.

                You’re not the whole of the world; a thing which you will one day have to come to terms with.

                FWIW, the issue was never abortion per se, but rather one of abortion supporters, the “quintessential pro-lifers.”
                That is, the procedure itself was not at issue, but the acts of those in fervent support.
                Human activity, not medical procedures.

                And for some reason, you believe that to miss the point entirely is somehow a step up.Report

              • trumwill mobile in reply to Will H. says:

                Guys, plrase let this thread go.Report

              • Some further contradiction to your case here, Will.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Russell Saunders says:

                Thanks, Doc.
                I’ll take a look later.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

      This is the Joe Rudi of stories. It gets lots of coverage for how little it gets covered.Report

  3. Sam says:

    This thread is going to quickly turn into a nightmare, but I believe the following point has to be made again and again: it wasn’t “liberals” who were ignoring this story. Feminist journalists were all over it from the beginning specifically because Gosnell is the nightmare scenario of returning to an abortion ban, an uncomfortable truth that those who advocate for such a thing refuse to acknowledge. The desire for abortions doesn’t go away simply because the law makes such a thing illegal.

    There was coverage in major outlets. Certain people at certain publications weren’t paying attention. That they blame “liberals” for this is insane. If Conor Friedersdorf, for example, can’t be bothered to read the news, how are liberals to blame? Because it’s easy? That’s the only real explanation here.Report

    • Jonathan McLeod in reply to Sam says:

      “This thread is going to quickly turn into a nightmare…”

      When talking about abortion and partisanship? Pshaw.Report

      • Michelle in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

        And race and class. Gosnell is African American and most of his patients were poor and minority– not the kind of people the media usually care about, which is likely why it was covered primarily by leftist feminist journalists in the first place.

        Rod Dreher has been working up a head of steam about the case on his blog, but left a big part of the story–that is, race and class issues– out of it. For him, it was all about the barbarity of third trimester abortion. So, there’s a certain blindness on the part of conservative commentators as well.Report

      • Dave in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

        I guess I’ll stick around for a bit. 😉Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Sam says:

      “There was coverage in major outlets.”

      Well, yeah, that’s true enough as it goes.

      But I have to admit that when I look at the amount of coverage the mainstream press gave what might well be the most sensationalize-able U.S. news story of the past half decade (at least), and compare that with the coverage they deemed appropriate to give Anna Nicole Smith’s death, Scot Peterson’s investigation and arrest, Sanford’s Brazilian affair, the Octomom, all things Kardashian, and I assume we can all agree that I could keep this up for hours, then…

      Well, it does seem a little odd and not so easily dismissed as noting that CNN talked about it that one time or whatever.Report

      • Michelle in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        None of the above stories dealt with the poor who are pretty much invisible to the press.Report

      • Sam in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        If we want to blame anybody for what is and isn’t covered in the news, I really don’t think the most obvious answer is “liberals.” The idea that “liberals” is nothing more than a conservative attempt to replace the idea that facts matter with the idea that balance matters.

        That said, the most obviously blameworthy issue of the Gosnell coverage is “the marketplace.” Because media outlets cover what the marketplace demands that they cover, and it ain’t the Gosnell case. It’s whatever bullshit scandalanderous thing has bubbled to the surface, usually involving untoward behavior from politicians or celebrities or weirdos. That though doesn’t have anything to do with liberalism, and in fact, I think that if you asked most liberals, they’d (rightly) point out that the media does an entirely shit job of covering the things that liberals care about.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Like shoving shit down a woman’s throat is not sensationalizable? A black woman’s throat in West Virginia????

      • Morat20 in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Again, strip it of abortion and what do you have?

        “Back alley surgeon kills poor people”.

        Not exactly story of the century. If it wasn’t about abortion, it never would have been covered at all. It would have shown up locally, and no one would ever have cared otherwise. It’d just be a statistic.

        It’s not like poor people going to unlicensed dentists and doctors, or licensed ones working freelance, and getting hurt or killed is exactly news, even in America. I can recall several almost identical stories about cut-rate plastic surgery.Report

        • Michelle in reply to Morat20 says:

          Exactly. And it’s not the issues conservatives are bringing up now that they suddenly “discovered” the Gosnell case. If they were really concerned about something other than scoring points on the abortion issue, they’d point out the conditions at the clinic and how this was the only kind of care available to Gosnell’s clients. It’s not “news” per se but it is the bigger part of the story.Report

        • This is a good point.

          If the only thing that makes this story of such great interest is that you can yell “ABORTION, ABORTION”, then it’s probably not that interesting a story.

          If you take an important story and decide all there is to say about it is “ABORTION, ABORTION,” well… that’s on you.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

            As I mentioned below — important stories (as in those the media tends to cover obsessively, nation-wide) tend to be controversial. In this? Everyone’s very glad he was caught, is on trial, and is going to jail.

            There’s a lot of interesting things in this story — but they’re all pretty local. (Lack of inspections, auditing, the usual oversight given to such things — but none of it indicative of a nation-wide trend.).

            So why the big hue and cry about how it’s not covered? The ‘controversy’ appears to be entirely about media coverage, not about the case.Report

        • Exactly! +1000 space awesome points, or something.

          This is PRECISELY the way I look at the Gosnell case — the type of procedure he was doing matters far less than WHAT he was doing, and to whom.

          One point that I read somewhere (so can’t vouch for accuarcy) was the rich white women were given top-of-the-line abortions in a comfortable suite. So abortion shouldn’t come into the story at all.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        might well be the sensationalize-able U.S. news story

        This is the kicker to me too. Don’t get me wrong, I think it highly likely that some of the most extreme allegations in the Gosnell story are exaggerated, or outright fabricated.

        But it is precisely *because* the allegations are so lurid, that I find it surprising that it hasn’t been a bigger news deal. I mean, the allegations make it sound like John Wayne Gacy running a plastic surgery operation – this story has all (again, allegations, but still) of the biggest page-turners (link-clickers?) I can imagine – “women in danger! blood on the walls! mutilated babies! psycho doctors! government failure!”

        I would have expected it to be 24/7 wall-to-wall coverage (to be clear, it’s not that that is what I would have WANTED, just that it is what I would have EXPECTED).

        That it’s not, seems indicative of something.Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to Glyph says:

          Well, if he’d killed a good-looking middle-class white woman …Report

        • Morat20 in reply to Glyph says:

          Why? Because it’s lurid? As I’ve said — I’ve seen photos of badly botched plastic surgery, done under similar situations (cheaply, off the books, etc) — that included deaths. Lurid as all get out — but didn’t make the papers outside the city it happened in, not unless you dug for it.

          Look, what sells paper — sells stories — is controversy. And is there any here? No. Everyone — pro-life, pro-choice — thinks this guy should go to jail. There’s no one defending it.

          Worse yet, he was caught and is sitting in trial and is about to go to jail.

          So where’s the controversy? Man breaks law, man gets trial, man goes to jail. Everyone thinks what man did is horrible.

          The only ‘controversy’ here is abortion itself, and that’s not enough to make a story. If it was, the one millionth picket of the same abortion clinic would make the news. Or the latest idiotic law on abortion proposed in some state legislature. Also not front page news.

          There’s no great mystery here. It was a local story that originally got picked up solely by interested parties (in this case, mostly left and feminist blogs). It then sat around ignored until the trial phase, where someone tried to gin up a controversy and failed miserably.

          Which is why THIS threat isn’t about the man or the case. It’s about other things, about abortion in general or why the media covers things or conspiracies, because nothing about the case itself is controversial.

          This very threat proves it. Nobody’s saying “Free the doctor!” or “Politically motivates charges” or “He’s innocent!” or “What he did should be legal”. Everyone is on the same page: “How horrible, thank god he was caught and will go to jail”.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Morat20 says:

            Sorry, why this THREAD isn’t about the case. 🙂

            The case is boring. It lacks controversy. So instead, people are trying to make some to make it interesting.Report

            • Glyph in reply to Morat20 says:

              Hmmm. What was the controversy in the Fritzl or Dugard cases? Those got lots and lots of national press IIRC – heck, Fritzl wasn’t even AMERICAN, and you know how we hate to pay attention to anywhere that is not here.

              Isn’t “lurid/hideous” usually enough to spill pixels by the barrel?

              Look, as usual, I allege no grand liberal conspiracy.

              But as far as “things I would like to write/talk about today”, I imagine that “abortion doctor commits hundreds of heinous crimes” is pretty, pretty far down most strongly-pro-choicers’ lists, that’s all.Report

              • Sam in reply to Glyph says:

                Except that those strongly-pro-choicers trumpeted the story, because this is precisely the sort of scenario that they’re so concerned about when decrying the idea that simply making abortion illegal will make it go away. The very people taking the MOST fire here are the ones who did the most to trumpet it. That various men in the national media couldn’t be bothered to pay attention isn’t an indictment of those pro-choicers.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Sam says:

                I’m not sending fire in anyone’s direction.

                I believe, personally, that the majority of national media probably also leans strongly-pro-choice, and suspect that general low-level discomfort with the “abortion doctor commits heinous crimes” aspect (perhaps having little faith in their own ability to clearly communicate the nuance that this is reallya cautionary tale about illegal abortion; or, having little faith in their audience to understand that nuance) may have been a factor in the cumulative editorial decisions that seem to have resulted in this extremely-lurid story getting less-wall-to-wall national play than I would have expected for such an extremely-lurid story.

                I have no evidence to back up my subjective opinion, but there you go.Report

              • Sam in reply to Glyph says:

                What influence did the judge’s gag-order have on the trial’s coverage?Report

              • Glyph in reply to Sam says:

                No idea. What influence did the gag order in the James Holmes case have? It seems, subjectively, like that still got a lot more ink. But those are just my impressions.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Glyph says:

                I have no idea who those people are. Seriously. Apparently the media didn’t cover them enough. (Hand to god, don’t recognize the names).

                And nope — graphic images don’t sell. Controversy sells. And again — the people who broke this story WERE pro-choicers.

                When it finally got picked up by anyone else (besides the locals), two years later it wasn’t “abortion doctor’s malpractice kills”. It was literally “Why is the liberal media covering up a killer abortion doctor?”

                This story STILL isn’t national news. The national news is how the story isn’t national news. It’s entirely meta, and not about the case at all.Report

              • The Dugard case (Jaycee Lee Dugard, am I remembering that correctly) was about a girl who was kidnapped and abused and escaped/was rescued many years later. It was pretty big news at the time.

                I don’t know the Fritzl case, off the top of my head.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

                Frtizl was semi-similar, but Austrian.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:


              • Chris in reply to Glyph says:


              • Jonathan McLeod in reply to Glyph says:

                Ah. I think I remember that one.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

                The Dugard case was covered because it played like a Lifetime movie. It was sort of miraculous that she got found and had a good ending (or better than lost child turns out to be dead.)

                All lost children stories get big play because they get us all afraid, and when the kid is found we all cheer. So too with children in wells.

                The Gosnell case is just a medical crime story. That’s interesting for a day or so, but not as good for ratings, unless it involved celebrities.

                Sex scandal. Lost child/found child. Crazy celebrity. Government cover up. Terrorist attack. Legal trial involving celebrity, pretty white girl, or socialite. Controversy in general: gun control, euthanasia, etc. These things get play because they draw viewers.

                Poverty, inequality, joblessness, the failure of the drug war, racism in sentencing, unnecessary deaths, cancer, genocide, the failure or our healthcare system, war crimes, the immorality of the prosecution of the war on terror, sex slavery, religious indoctrination and cultishness, domestic violence, and many of our biggest problems domestically and abroad get almost no play, regardless of what liberals think about the relative importance of these issues.

                This has nothing to do with liberalism and everything to do with a broken media that aims at ratings and cannot educate the public about what is important.Report

              • Chris in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                This illustrates my frustration with all of this, I think. The Gosnell case has not gotten the amount of coverage that some people would like*, and it certainly hasn’t gotten as much coverage as some other stories, but it seems like every explanation offered for why the Gosnell case hasn’t gotten wall-to-wall coverage, while other cases have, has been largely conjecture. These are empirical questions, and I bet there are some interesting empirical answers as to why certain stories get coverage and others don’t. And I’d love the data. I bet someone has done related studies (e.g., there must be something on whose kidnappings become big stories and whose don’t). Could we start there instead of just idly speculating?

                *I find it somewhat amusing that, at the same time some people are up in arms about what they see as a case of ideology determining the amount of coverage a story gets, it’s their own ideology that has led them to feel that the story hasn’t gotten enough coverage. Whose ideology should get to determine how much coverage a story gets? The way this discussion has been framed seems to demand an answer to that question.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                For starters, if you want your kidnapping to be news: Be white or rich.

                Preferrably both. Double points if you’re female.Report

              • “The Dugard case was covered because it played like a Lifetime movie.”

                In fact I believe that such a Lifetime movie is either in the works or already made.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to Glyph says:

                I had never heard of Fritzl either and I am a news junky.Report

              • Sam in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                Never heard the specific name, or never heard of the story itself? There can be a disconnect between the two.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to Sam says:

                Never heard of either, I think.Report

  4. BlaiseP says:

    I could go into a long diatribe about how liberals don’t pay attention to their own stink in their backyards while they are attacking conservatives for their garbage.

    Uninformed flame bait. I’ve lost very considerable respect for you having said that.Report

    • I took that to mean that he could get into a flame war, but he wasn’t going to.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

        He might have left out that bit entirely. The entire gist of this post argues in bad faith.

        I’m really unhappy with the tenor of this post, Jonathan. Many evil things go on in the world: some make the news and others don’t. The rain falls on the just and the unjust.

        And just Who is referred to in this rhetorical “We”? We ignore. We cover up. We will pretend to not see the sin.

        I have been a lifelong connoisseur of the Homiletic Arts. This is a sermon in exceptionally bad taste, delivered with exceptionally bad manners. It is a pathetic attempt to gin up guilt where none exists. “We” did not look the other way at either Joe Paterno or Kermit Gosnell: both were mentioned here ere he presumes to hector the Us who compose his “We.” Rev. Sanders is cordially invited to recognise this place as a venue for Ordinary Gentlemen: here we do not look the other way.Report

        • Will H. in reply to BlaiseP says:

          I believe I understand your objection, stemming from a predilection to precision in terms.
          However, the point is lost when focused in such specificity.
          The point remains valid only when addressing tendencies.
          Of course, we ourselves did not look the other way at either Paterno or Grisnell.
          However, we remain human and subject to human tendencies. The specifics of Paterno and Grisnell are irrelevant.Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to Will H. says:

            The point is absurd on its face, both at the general and specific. Both these cases have been widely disseminated in the press. My complaint arises from this mawkish, skeevy threnody, this invitation for everyone to don the ol’ Hair Shirt.

            Now I will speak plainly. This is carrying water from the likes of Reince Priebus and the GOP and Breitbart et. al. who would tell us Planned Parenthood knew of this disgusting abortion clinic — and said nothing, though it’s a demonstrable lie. Gosnell was a monster and well known to be one. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania knew, had numerous complaints against him — and did nothing. Not content to damn Planned Parenthood, (or at least not brave enough) now cometh Rev. Sanders to tell us it’s “We” who knew and did nothing. What does he want? I will not wear his little Hair Shirt. And I will never accept his rhetorical We.

            He might at least have preached from Peter’s Second Epistle: Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.Report

        • This is a fair critique, Blaise.Report

        • Shazbot5 in reply to BlaiseP says:

          “delivered with exceptionally bad manners.”

          Not at all.

          I like Dennis’ posts and he is courteous to a fault.

          I think this post contains some fallacious reasoning, but it is interesting and stated within the bounds of fair and reasonable discourse.

          You should apologize for saying this is “bad manners” Blaise, regardless of how much you disagree with the post.Report

          • Shazbot5 in reply to Shazbot5 says:

            In fact, I think the powers that be ought to email you about this. Your attack on manners was the one that was outside of what is acceptable, not Dennis’s post which was really quite excellent, even if I disagree with the reasoning vehemently,Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to Shazbot5 says:

              I will not apologise. I am obliged at this point to take one of two interpretations of that “We” word. Either it includes Us or it is the Imperial We. I am more inclined to the former interpretation though you may take the latter.Report

              • Will H. in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I have to agree with Blaise on this one.
                If he felt the matter to be stated in poor taste, to state such an observation plainly is not out-of-bounds.Report

            • Dave in reply to Shazbot5 says:


              I appreciate your concern and would actually like to see more commenters take a stand if they see something that they have an issue with.

              However, as much as we need to keep the comments section civil, we also need to give people enough room to express their opinions. As Will H said, if someone thinks a statement is made in poor taste, they should be able to express that. Enforcing this is not an easy task so I ‘d rather be deferential to the commenters and let them hash out their arguments.

              I know things can get ugly from there, and I’ll surely step in if they do, but aside from that, I’m going to let it play out.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to Dave says:

                I think the people on the masthead need to exercise some control over each other, but not when expressing ideology or belief about facts. But Blaise said the post was “bad manners,” which is just demonstrably false and a slap in Dennis’ face given how polite his post clearly is.

                If I were Dennis, I’d be less likely to post given how Ai was treated by someone on the masthead who wasn’t sanctioned.

                I personally am less likely to submit a guest post because of Blaise’s behavior in this case. And Blaise has driven away commenters already, not with his ideology, but with his aggressive rhetoric which goes unchecked by the other people on the masthead, to which he belongs.

                He is making you all look bad, and the LOOG bad. He is not making you look tolerant of differing views.

                But that is up to you.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                Just to be clear, I value Blaise’s posts and comments as very interesting. But his rhetoric goes over the line of tolerable aggressiveness a bit too often.


              • BlaiseP in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                Take this up with management. I have made my point clear enough. But I’ve had enough of this Alas Poor Yorick out of you, dragging in the skulls of the Dearly Departed. I do so hope I’ve made myself clear on this.Report

              • Dave in reply to BlaiseP says:

                As it being taken up by management, I don’t think there’s any reason to discuss this further.

                You’ve both made your points. I get it.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Because Liberals don’t do that? Or because it’s impolite to bring it up?Report

      • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

        Is it liberals that don’t pay attention to their own garbage or people in general? Are liberals worse than others? Is that one of our special failing? If yes i’m sure their is good objective proof of that.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird says:

        Does Betteridge’s Law apply to this sort of question?Report

      • Shazbot5 in reply to Jaybird says:

        I’m glad Jaybird seems to accept the fallacious tu quoque and/or false equivalence that Dennis didn’t want to make explicit.

        Yes, Liberal-leaning media and organizations are just as bad about this sort of thing as conservative media and organizations. It’s the same thing.


        • Jaybird in reply to Shazbot5 says:

          It’s more that I see abortion as a reflection of gun control.

          If there is something awful, absolutely awful that happens, you can see the usual suspects run up and say that “legislation wouldn’t have prevented this, as a matter of fact, *MORE LIBERTY* would have prevented this!!!” and a good helping of “how dare you say that this is an issue that we should take more seriously? We take it more seriously than you do!”

          If you can’t see how “the left” is treating this story differently than a story in which someone else’s ox is being gored, that’s one thing, then you can’t see that. Fair enough. A little bit more reflection on whether this is due to your ideological slant or whether it’s due to the veniality of those who oppose people like you who are good, and right, and just, and seriously, take this issue *MUCH* more seriously than your opponents do (which is why you want more freedom), then… well, there you go.

          It should be troubling that there appears to have been media story saturation for certain genres of story in the last few years, though, no? There are a non-zero number of reasons that people could, in good faith, think that this story would be half as interesting as any given handful of those stories that got the saturation treatment.

          “This story got covered!” is certainly true. There are other dynamics going on. Ugly ones… and there are a non-zero number of folks on “the left” who have noticed them too.

          Which strikes you as more likely? The equivalent of ideology on your part and they’re seeing something that you aren’t or clear-eyed thinking on your part while they’re wallowing in some “white liberal guilt” equivalent on theirs?Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

            When I see how the left is treating this differently from others, I see that the only people who did cover it (as a story rather than a meta-story) were on the left: NPR (for the sake of argument), feminist bloggers. Both the mainstream media and the conservative media ignored it.

            Now I get told that this indicates a problem with the left that I’m too biased to see. I call BS.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              Did the Newtown shooting indicate that we, as a society, need to have a serious conversation about… um… something? Did the media discuss whether we needed to have a serious conversation?

              To pick an example of a particular type of conversation that we had in a recent media saturation event.

              Does this particular thing that happened indicate that we, as a society, need to have any serious conversations?

              Is it just a local crime story?Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

                If it’s a liberal bias issue, why don’t the people did cover it skew conservative?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Because the driver of the important conversations that we, as a society, ought to have isn’t the conservatives.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to Jaybird says:

                Look up “skew.”Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                Intransitive verb.
                To take an oblique course.

                What makes this interesting is that “oblique course” was the name of my band in high school.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                Now look up “jerk.”

                There’s a picture of Shazbot there.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                I don’t know if this is the search engine I’m doing or what but, seriously, golf clap.Report

              • MikeSchilling in reply to Jaybird says:

                That would make sense if the conservatives had been talking about it, but no one else was paying attention. But they weren’t talking about it either.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to MikeSchilling says:

                Dude, the conservatives are the cart. They are *USED* to being the cart. When we didn’t start to have a very important conversation about abortion given the limitations that conservatives have imposed upon the reproductive rights of women in Pennsylvania and, indeed, in all of America following the trial of Abortion Doctor Kermit Gosnell, something started smelling.

                Was it *REALLY* that conservatives should have been talking about it more?Report

              • MikeSchilling in reply to MikeSchilling says:

                Dude, the conservatives are the cart. They are *USED* to being the cart.

                Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi BenghaziReport

              • Jaybird in reply to MikeSchilling says:

                Hey, some things *HAVE* changed in the post-Drudge era. No doubt. That doesn’t change the fundamental dynamic of how much of a stink has to be created to get as much coverage as, say, choking on a pretzel.Report

              • MikeSchilling in reply to MikeSchilling says:

                So the conservative press didn’t report on Gosnell because they knew it was hopeless to even try? Poor abused things.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to MikeSchilling says:

                It seems to me that they’re reporting on it in such a way that the liberals are not only reporting on it, the liberals are explaining meta-issues.

                Not only is it a local crime story that wouldn’t normally be covered, it *WAS* covered, by more “liberal” news agencies than “conservative” ones!

                Not only is this about the horrors of unregulated abortion, it’s about the horrors of overregulated abortion.

                The only thing we’re pretty much not doing is taking this opportunity to have a very important conservation, as a society, about what can be done to prevent the next one of these.Report

              • Sam in reply to MikeSchilling says:

                The short answer: by keeping both contraception and abortion legal and easily accessible. But of course, the pro-life movement is never going to accept that.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to MikeSchilling says:

                This isn’t about changing things on the local level. I’m talking about making Congress pass a law that wouldn’t have addressed the problem we’re talking about.

                Having the president sign it in a big important ceremony.Report

          • Shazbot5 in reply to Jaybird says:

            I can’t even understand what you’re talking about.

            Can someone else explain what Jaybird is saying?Report

            • Will H. in reply to Shazbot5 says:

              I believe the point is made in the expansiveness of concern.
              Kid gets shot, kids everywhere are at risk.
              Abortion doctor a monster, move along folks nothing to see here.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to Will H. says:

                Well, there are 30,000 gun deaths a year. And mass killings occur regularly, which would be less likely to be as deadly, if the shooters had less access to guns, especially semi-automatic weapons with high-capacity magazines.

                I think the shootings get so much coverage because they keep happening that could be made less common or less deadly via gun control. And that is a controversy that the press loves.

                The Gosnell case is a one-off thing. And there is no controversy here. Wverybody thinks what he did is wrong and steps should be taken to regulate unsafe abortions and prevent certain medical procedures.

                There is the controversy of whether abortion should occur at all, but what you think about that question won’t be relevant to what you think of Gosnell.

                By contrast, what you think about the prevalence of guns as a cause of gun violence matters very much to what you think about gun control. There is an issue there about whether gun registration laws or gun control would prevent or make-less-deadly slaughters that happen, like Newtown.

                There is no such issue in the Gosnell case, which is a case everyone agrees about.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                I don’t think it’s really like that.
                In fact, I gave a bit of detail regarding abortion doctors in specific upthread.
                That said, I don’t believe the underlying issue has to do with abortion, but of medical care in general.
                We might as well discuss the statute of limitations in personal injury cases, and tort reform in general.

                But it is pretty much a given that availability of abortion is far more of a prominent concern than the safety or regulation of the procedures.
                As I’ve also noted upthread, there are so many who hold that any manner of regulation whatsoever is inherently insidious.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Will H. says:

                How? Abortion is heavily, heavily regulated in the United States.

                I find it difficult to imagine how anyone can claim “any manner of abortion regulation is inherently insidious” when, well, abortion is heavily regulated.

                VERY much so. There’s not a single other medical procedure I can think of — barring perhaps organ transplants — that has as much regulation written straight into law, rather than best practices set by doctors or boards.Report

  5. Dennis Sanders says:

    I really don’t think anyone is listening (or in this case reading) what I said. I wanted to make this about more than whether or not the media ignored the story. I think it did, but what I was trying to get across is that in this case and others, we far too often look the other way. I wasn’t trying to start a flame war, the whole purpose here was to see the tendency for people to protect things over people. The sentence Blaise put up was saying I could go to “blame the liberals” but I think this story has much larger implications than that.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to Dennis Sanders says:

      Students are bleeding, right now, because of the tendency to protect things over people.
      They will not be saved, as Paterno’s students were.

      Where is G-d in all this? Fucking drinking a bud and praising football like everyone else.

      These stories are known, and covered up. And in places that aren’t pennsylvania, where at least the truth eventually comes to light… once our beloved governor is done extracting filthy lucre from all involved.Report

    • FTR, I got what you were trying to say; I thought you were both eloquent and clear.

      That being said, people are going to show up to this topic wanting to have the arguments they want to have on this topic, regardless of what you said. It’s just one of those topics.Report

      • Like Sam (below) I attempted to address some of the substance of the post. First, is this story being ignored? (It looks difficult to definitively say, “yes”.)

        Even if it is, the best way to try to make a point isn’t to compare people to accessories to child rape. It seems odd that anyone might need to point that out. To me, this strained, confrontational analogy takes away from the eloquence and clarity of the post.

        Finally, it should be acknowledged that Dennis might be ignoring a part of the story by not addressing the class implications and the impact on the Pro Life position, as outlined by Michelle, Morat20 and others.

        So, in the end, Dennis may have some solid points, but there’s not enough to back it up; the analogy is, at best, distracting; and there’s a whole level to this story that the conservatives around this site are ignoring (which could function as some sort of symbol for Dennis’s arguments that we all have blind spots, but it’s hard to credit him for failing to try to address his own – or his team’s – blind spot).Report

        • As I said above, I don’t believe it is ignored. But I think it’s well worth taking the time to piece out why it got the level of attention it did as compared to other stories that were being widely covered.Report

        • It’s certainly wrong to say that the story is being ignored now. Arguably, it’s now getting the coverage it should have been getting all along. I think it’s a bit of playing catch-up.

          I do find the comparative lack of coverage from before a little bit puzzling. As Mike S mentions below, the conservative media missed it, too, so I think it’s pretty hard to argue that it’s part of a media conspiracy. Or, at least, that’s not the total explanation.

          On a sidenote, my initial reading of the “Why have they been ignoring this story?” is a bit of “Huh? Nobody ignored the story.” I mean, I heard about it from multiple places. But since then, I’ve talked to a number of people that I would have expected to have heard about it and almost none of them had. Even news-aware people. So it has started to feel like something was missed, for whatever reason.

          I do think that this story (the crime, more than the trial) was worthy of more coverage than it apparently got. Dead babies are news. But I’m less sure about media bias (which I do believe in) playing a role. Both because the conservative outlets missed it (conservatives should be pretty pissed about that – things like this are arguably what a conservative media is for) and because, well, the narrative of this story isn’t necessarily a pro-life one and if the mainstream media were interested in pushing a liberal agenda here, the best thing to do would be to get out in front of it and set a narrative about the things limits on abortion have wrought.Report

    • Sam in reply to Dennis Sanders says:

      Respectfully, I tried to specifically address your claim that the media ignored the story. I disagree with you. I think that certain people WITHIN the media might not have been paying attention, but I don’t believe that’s the same thing.Report

    • Will H. in reply to Dennis Sanders says:

      It’s a fair point, but laid in a politically-charged minefield.
      Similarly, I could point you to the sidebar, where sits a post regarding the “slut shaming” complaint of a student at a high school. While I could easily imagine my cousin saying to my niece, “Oh yeah? Well guess what? I’m the language police. And you’ve been found to be in violation. You’re grounded. Go to your room.” in such an event, when you begin the analysis from the conclusion which you much necessarily reach (by any manner of strained reasoning whatsoever), considerations of people and events are only remotely likely.

      Perhaps a more appropriate place to examine such blindness in reasoning would be the case of a recent post where “Southerners” are held liable for the acts of certain persons in the greater Atlanta area.
      Very similar to initiating a conversation on how all blacks routinely mistreat animals, and beginning with Michael Vick as proof.

      In the end, there are quite a number of groups of whom it is “safe” and “approved” to be painted in broad terms, provided it is done so in derogatory terms.Report

    • Shazbot5 in reply to Dennis Sanders says:

      “I could go into a long diatribe about how liberals don’t pay attention to their own stink in their backyards while they are attacking conservatives for their garbage.’

      I think this is the sentence that gets you in the most trouble. It suggests that you think liberals are just as bad as conservatives about willfully manipulating media to ignore some stories and trump up others for ideological reasons. Look, I don’t like gross generalizations about liberals, conservatives, Muslims, or Christians, but in crude terms the conservative media apparatus is guilty of crimes against truth that the MSM and liberal-leaning media aren’t. Or if they are, the degree of magnitude is huge in comparing what Limbaugh and Fox et al do and what NBC and MotherJones do.

      You seem to want to make a tu quoque argument against liberals or the MSM, that they are bad like Fox and Limbaugh, but then you sort of take it back, but not really.

      “But frankly, this is far more than an ideological story. It’s a human story.”

      Good. But then why did you say that you could go on about how you think liberals are ignoring their own garbage?

      “What matters here is not that the media is bad; what matters here is how easy it is for all of us to just walk on by injustice. What matters is that you and I are just a step away of doing the same thing.”

      I sort of disagree with this. Although what you’ve said is sort of vague and general.

      I am not a step away from doing this. I’m 50 steps away. The conservative media and a lot of conservative movement organizations are not even one step away. They’re stepping in it.

      The problem you’re referring to might be a human one, but it is made worse by politics and all sorts of social arrangements. And everyone who points out that the is a toxic social arrangement on the American right’s news and organizations and the R party that “ignores a lot of garbage” is right to do so.Report

      • Dennis Sanders in reply to Shazbot5 says:

        Actually, I do think liberals can be as bad as conservatives in manipulating facts, so my sentence stands. Maybe I shouldn’t have used the sentence. I didn’t intend for it to be start a flame war.Report

        • Kimmi in reply to Dennis Sanders says:

          /can be/ is not “actually is”. at least, not here, not now.Report

        • Shazbot5 in reply to Dennis Sanders says:

          Have you ever seen television or listened to talk radio?


        • Shazbot5 in reply to Dennis Sanders says:

          What is the liberal equivalent of, to take the first four examples that come to mind:

          a.) The conservative media’s general treatment of the climate change “hoax” email controversy

          b.) The scare over the Black Panther scourge at polling places

          c.) The fact that Rush Limbaugh is one of the most influential voices in the Republican party and movement conservativism, and challenging him is very, very dangerous for conservatives and republicans

          d.) Death panelsReport

          • Patrick in reply to Shazbot5 says:

            a) Monsanto
            b) The hubbub over voter ID laws (which has slightly more grounding in reality, but is wildly blown out of proportion in actual effect)
            c) Got one, there.
            d) Evil insurance corporations who let people die instead of paying out claimsReport

            • Shazbot5 in reply to Patrick says:

              The liberal media and MSM take on Monsanto may have been flawed in places, but the right out and out lie and lie about the climate change email exchange thatproves it’s a hoax.

              The science behind criticisms of Monsanto isn’t there, IMO and IYO, but at least there’s a debate to be had. There is no reasonable debate about what the climate change emails show and everyone knows it, but people who lie and those lied to.

              Maybe some way out there liberal media outlets are as bad on Monsanto as conservative outlets are on the climate emails, but the vast majority of liberal media outlets are pretty science friendly and air worries about GMO or whatever in fair terms with debate. Not so conservative media outlets, where it is an article of faith that these emails showed that climate change is a hoax.

              The effect over voter ID laws is real and could have an effect on close elections. The threat of black panther voter intimidation is not real. (Liberals are upset about racism in electoral law. Conservative media organizations are subtly invoking racist sentiment in this stuff about the Panthers.)

              No contest that what the conservatives do is an order of magnitude worse. It isn’t even clear that what the major liberal outlets do on this story is bad, at all.

              Not sure what you mean by d.) or if the liberal or the MSM media have overblown this problem.

              Certainly people die because they can’t afford coverage. Liberals don’t like that, as they shouldn’t.

              And people do fail to get treatment covered, even when covered. Sometimes they die unnecessarily:


              However, it is unclear how often this happens. It’s probably rare. But then again, it shouldn’t happen in a wealthy, first-world country at all.

              I’d day it’s much more common that the patient gets the needed procedure, but either they get stuck with the bill unfairly or, in many cases, the provider doesn’t get reimbursed. The problem is then that medical bankruptcy is even worse than it should be, which is still an awful, awful thing. But we don’t really know how this works.

              There are stories like this:


              Not that it’s nurses complaining. not the liberal media.

              But generally, the media (liberal and MSM) recognizes that we don’t know how bad the problem of improperly denied coverage for death and health is:


              So people do die from denied coverage. And people go bankrupt unfairly and illegally because of bullying by insurance companies. Liberals are right to complain about this real problem.

              But the problem of government death panels wasn’t real, at all.

              Again, there is no equivalency here.

              The conservative media outlets are orders of magnitude worse. To say otherwise is a false equivalency.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                +1. Unfortunately, even smart people like Patrick fall into the Golden Mean fallacy that since there’s a whole bunch of crazies in the Republican Party, there must be an equal amount in the Democratic Party.

                Now, here’s the thing. Throwing out the racist/xenophobic stuff, I don’t doubt that self-described Democrat’s will answer positively to dumb liberal ideals as self-described Republican’s will answer to dumb conservative ideas.

                The difference is, basically, the DNC ignores the base of their base, barely listens to their base, and listens too much to people who are only Democrat’s because the GOP went off the rails.

                As Shazbot pointed out, there’s actual question one can have about Monsanto, but you don’t have to say, be completely against GMO food to win a Democratic primary. ex-Republican officials have actually admitted that voter ID laws and such were to suppress the black vote. Insurance companies actually do choose not to pay for care and as a result, people die (that’s rationing. Every county rations. Most of them do it by care needed. We do it by your W-2.)

                I’ll happily admit that Dennis Kucinich is wacky. Cynthia McKinney was a nutter. On their bad days, some members of the Congressional Black Caucus can say some silly things. OTOH, none of those people have actual power. The modern Democratic Party is depressingly a staid center-left to centrist neoliberal internationalist political party where even the token Socialist gets a high rating from the NRA.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Unfortunately, even smart people like Patrick fall into the Golden Mean fallacy that since there’s a whole bunch of crazies in the Republican Party, there must be an equal amount in the Democratic Party.

                You don’t see the crazy on your side because you embrace much of it, just as most right-wingers don’t see the crazy on their side because they embrace it.Report

              • Chris in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                I get the feeling that we’re using “crazy” here in a way that causes the term to lose all meaning.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                I have down-the-line social democratic views, but I don’t think they’d be seen as “crazy” to most people. Now, you or Hanley or James K may not think they’ll work, but wanting say, national health care isn’t crazy. Just like wanting a low marginal tax rate is crazy. The horrible policy positions of the modern Republican party isn’t something I’m even throwing in at the moment.

                The crazy I’m talking about is the obsession over BS like Agenda 21, believing global climate change is a conspiracy of Big Science and Al Gore, churches will be forced to preform gay marriages, and of course, the still pretty large belief among Republican’s that Obama wasn’t born in this country and that he’s also coming to take our guns, and so on and so forth.

                To put it bluntly, no major Democratic politician, even on the state level, came forth after 9/11 stating we should look into whether or not it was an inside job. There have been literally dozens of Republican officials who have tried to backdoor questions about Obama’s place of birth for electoral gain.

                But again, even if I did believe in crazy things, unlike a Republican who believed in crazy things (like say, you can’t get pregnant from a rape), I couldn’t get nominated for any political office. Even the most liberal Democrat’s may have bad policy ideas, but none of them are having hearings led by anti-vaccination kooks or wacky New Age thinkers. Hell, Paul Krugman can’t even get a hearing with a large portion of Democrat’s today.

                So yeah, I’m still going to state this. Even if the liberal left and conservative right are equally as crazy, the GOP actually listens to their crazy base while the DNC tries to actively piss it off as much as possible (ie. Chained CPI!).Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                When I speak about D), I speak about code that my friend has written. I find him a credible source for the veracity of the evilness of said corporations, as he’s worked for them, and written some of the rulesets.Report

            • Shazbot5 in reply to Patrick says:

              I reply, but it awaits moderation, presumably from God himself.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                The Good Lord sent me to tell you that everything is going to be okay. Don’t give into hate, don’t give into anger. Let Him be the judge. Let Him hold those emotions on your behalf. Love one another. Forgive one another. Be Kind to one another.

                And He told me to release your comment.

                Which I have done.Report

              • Shazbot5 in reply to Jaybird says:

                Praise you Jaybird-God.

                And I apologize for all my rudeness to you. I am sorry, really. We just seem to not mix on the internet debate thing. I bet in person we’d be cool, though. Anyway, I’ve been rude, and shouldn’t be. Please shoot me down for it when it happens, if it happens again.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                Dude, I deserve no praise at all. God? I’m pretty sure that He doesn’t need it. The only rules we have are the obvious ones which He has given to us *FOR* us.

                And when it comes to “rude”, it’s all good. I’m aspy enough to see it as “honestly communicating one’s perspective”. I just ask that you not hold onto any hard feelings. Not for me, mind… but you’ve got a lot of people around you. You should let go of your hard feelings for *THEM*.

                As for me? Dude. I’ve got tomorrow off. So I’m drinkin’.Report

              • MikeSchilling in reply to Jaybird says:

                One link, nay, two links shalt thou use, and no more, lest thy comment be cast into the place of purgatory. Blessed be the name of WordPress.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

                Three is RIGHT OUT.Report

              • Dave in reply to Jaybird says:

                Rude? Where?

                My problem is that I’ve been around New Yorkers for the last 11 or so years. What passes off as rude or aggressive here is just another kum-bah-yah in the office. 😉

                I won’t even talk about the environment at my previous jobs at one of the major i-banks.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Jaybird says:

                and you wonder why I swear a lot? Been around way too many people who trade on wallstreet. 😉Report

            • Shazbot5 in reply to Patrick says:

              Also, here is a ling to a thinkprogress story on Monsanto:


              I disagree with the conclusion, but it is not dishonest or sensationalistic. It is well researched and linked and fair enough.

              Here’s a conservative editorial from WSJ written by Henninger. He writes:

              “The exchanges between Penn State’s Michael Mann and East Anglia CRU director Phil Jones sound like Father Firenzuola, the Commissary-General of the Inquisition.”

              See they’re equally bad.Report

              • Bob2 in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                And the thing about Monsanto is that it’s not really just a liberal drumbeat on that. The organic and anti-GMO craze has its roots deep everywhere just like anti-vaxxers and the fluoridated water people.Report

    • Francis in reply to Dennis Sanders says:

      A. Why do you think that the media ignored the story? What (preferably objective) measure would prove / disprove the issue?

      B. “I could go into a long diatribe about how liberals don’t pay attention to their own stink in their backyards while they are attacking conservatives for their garbage.” This little rhetorical trick goes by a number of different names. I believe the technical term is apophasis. By disclaiming your interest in liberals’ stink, you focus attention on it. Now you reinforce the point by reiterating it, while again disclaiming your interest in starting a flame war. So any flame war couldn’t possibly be your fault, it could only be the fault of your misguided readers. Right. I believe you. Really, I do.

      C. Your larger point appears to be that “we” ignore injustice (apparently because “we” have lost faith in god.) Who’s “we”, kemosabe? How many injustices are you currently ignoring?

      D. Why should abortion be rare?Report

    • Dennis,

      I think I understood your point and I value it. I do believe that a lot of the pushback you’re getting is because this particular issue, with the undercurrents of media bias and the abortion issue, is so emotionally charged that a lot of people are going to latch onto it.

      I don’t want to excoriate you too much. I personally think there was an error of tone somewhere in the writing of your post–perhaps too much focus on the Gosnell case and not enough on the way we all tend to look the other way and exonerate ourselves before the universe (or god, or what have you).

      What I mean is, I’d like to see more posts from you!Report

    • Barry in reply to Dennis Sanders says:

      Dennis, you might want to look at how the right wing media covered this, which (IIRC) was pretty much not at all, until the campaign against the Liberal MSM not covering it started.Report

  6. Shazbot5 says:

    The story has been covered.

    I mean, the Penn State story got way, way, way, way, too much coverage, especially nationally. The only reason it got that much coverage is because it appealed to ratings by getting ESPN fans to watch the news. And since Paterno had defenders in the media and amongst the fans and students, you had a heated controversial debate. And that is what the MSM loves, because it creates ratings, with heated bickering on TV, and people at home thinking how they would argue with the people on TV. The issue became a sport or game.

    This Gosnell case just isn’t that sexy to overhype and debate. So it gets covered and mentioned, but it doesn’t become a national explosive media story. But that really, really, really, doesn’t mean that the liberal news media covered it up. It just means it was a story that would get presented, but not hyped, because it isn’t going to get ratings.

    I am sort of schocked that people don’t agree with me on this. This MSM cares nothing about liberalism, and everything about big events that draw ratings.Report

  7. greginak says:

    The inherent problem with “this story didn’t get enough coverage” is that what is “enough” is a projection based on personal beliefs. “Enough” to satisfy who? How many more pixels should have been spent? Would 1 more or 10 more articles been enough to say it was covered? Tons’o’things don’t get covered “enough” and lots of garbage gets far to much attention. Is there anybody who doesn’t believe this?Report

  8. Kazzy says:


    I think for your theory to be true, we have to know who knew, what did they know, and when did they know it.

    In order to value institutions over people, it must be demonstrated that people had the opportunity to make such a choice. I’m not sure you’ve demonstrated that that is the case.Report

  9. North says:

    I think that your overall post makes an excellent point Dennis but I have to agree with the others in the comments that your starting premise: that the left ignored this issue, steals a base. Lefties were talking about this issue back when Gosnell first came up when no one else was.

    If one conflates the media and the left (a common habit on the right) it seems self evident but the media has it’s own biases and interests that overlap very imperfectly with the left (and sometimes overlap with the right). But feminists and poverty advocates on the left were calling Gosnell a fisher who should be hung from a lampost early on.Report

    • North in reply to North says:

      That said I’d like to reiterate that, setting aside whether this specific case was “ignored” or not, your overall post is still quite excellent and correct. You could yank the Gosnell out of this and it’d still stand pretty well on its own and be applicable to any ideological group.Report

      • “You could yank the Gosnell out of this and it’d still stand pretty well on its own and be applicable to any ideological group.”

        Then he should. No one forced him to hang his post on Gosnell. He could have picked any number of topics where “liberals” ignore inconvenient facts and hung his post on them. Now, granted, finding such cases is difficult, especially compared with doing so for “consrvatives”. But if he wanted to make a “both sides do it” [yuck patoie] post, there are far better ways.Report

      • Barry in reply to North says:

        The whole point of the post was the allegation that the liberal media ignored this, for partisan reasons.Report

  10. Mike Schilling says:

    Marc Lamont Hill does not speak for me, or the press, or anyone but himself. And if what he said were true, you’d find a pattern of more conservative media (Fox, the Washington Times, the New York Post, etc.) having covered the trial more than the less conservative media *before* the firestorm about lack of coverage began. You won’t, because it’s not there.Report

  11. NewDealer says:

    “It’s story of how we tend to place faith in institutions and causes than we do in God and in caring for people around us.”

    Secular-Liberal pushback time.

    Whose God? There are seven billion people in the world and countless religions, major and minor. These religions are interpreted in countless different ways by their own adherents and also non-adherents. There have always been countless religions. There will always be countless religions.

    Why should I take it at axiomatic facevalue when an adherent of religion X (whatever X may be) practices the true faith or religion of me or a believer of religion Y. Especially when they say I need to take this statement on faith alone.

    Humans are not perfect. We never were and never will be. There is no such thing as perfection. The universe is a messy and chaotic place. But I do think we watch out for each other. We do this through institutions and norms and laws designed to protect and encourage safety, welfare, and liberty.

    I do not know whether there is an afterlife or not. But I do question the idea of an allegedly all loving God who would damn people to a life of eternal suffering because they were not perfect or did not take it on full faith that he sent the messiah. That is not compassion. Life on earth is hard and as far as I can tell it is the only life we have. We need to work towards making it less savage and hard for all. Appeals to faith in God do not do this. It simply tells people to behave now and take the shit for the mere hope of a nice life when they die. Bullshit.

    The lesson of Kermit Gosnell is what happens to the poor and those on the margins when they do not have access to a clean and safe medical facilities. There were always abortions even during the days when it was illegal. The wealthy had access to safe abortions through hushness and the poor did not.Report

    • greginak in reply to NewDealer says:

      Maybe God works through proper regulation and oversight by governmental authorities. By not having such oversight we are not fulfilling God’s will to care for our fellow dudes and dudetttes.Report

    • I admit that Dennis’s appeal to belief in god might cause problems for atheists, agnostics, and for those to whom the “whose god?” question resonates.

      But maybe Dennis’s argument can be repositioned. (I might be placing words in his mouth and explaining more my thoughts than his, so I apologize in advance.) Maybe there’s something to be said about placing too much faith in the system without taking on enough of the responsibility for ourselves. Furthermore, maybe there’s something to be said about looking into ourselves and seeing what we are capable of, for good but perhaps especially for ill.

      Again, I realize Dennis made this post about “god,” so me saying it can be “repositioned” along other lines might be more a threadjack on my part–an effort to comment the post as I wish it were written than to address the post as it was written–but repositioning the argument might make it relevant for the secularist who doesn’t share the starting assumptions about god.Report

      • greginak in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

        I know “The System” is always bad but its also pretty much a useless abstraction. In a large mobile modern society we can’t simply do everything ourselves. It takes organisations to keep track of things and to have the power to deal with some issues. As an example how can individuals or communities deal with child abuse. Do, or should, churches be investigating their own members or how does it investigate another church or groups of believers? If it is solely on communities to deal with child abuse than any abuser just has to pick up their home and move across town and they are free to do whatever. I could go on, but i think the point is clear. 200 years ago, maybe, maybe, communities and individuals could take care of most things, but not now.Report

        • You’re not wrong. And I do believe in systematic and institutional solutions to problems that call for them.

          There’s a “but” in there, but I won’t elaborate because I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this.Report

  12. Dennis Sanders says:

    Regarding the media coverage angle, I would first urge people to listen to the Huff Post Live video. Huff Post is hardly a beacon of conservative thought. Second, I consider myself a news junkie and I heard some coverage of this in 2011 on NPR and Slate, but nowhere else and not any place that is mainstream.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Dennis Sanders says:

      Liberals refused to cover it, which is why you only heard about it on NPR?Report

    • Chris in reply to Dennis Sanders says:

      I just don’t see evidence of anyone covering this up to protect an institution. In the Penn State case, the coverup was obvious, and it was clearly intended to protect Paterno, the football program, Paterno, the University, and Paterno. In the Gosnell case, who is actively trying to protect what institution or whom? As has been pointed out, the people who’ve refused to let this story die are feminists, who actually see it as evidence in support of their views on abortion.

      I think it’s undeniable that people try to protect themselves and their favored institutions over people. It’s an unfortunate part of human nature. However, that’s not what’s happening here. There is a similar part of human nature that I’ve seen a bit of, though: grabbing hold of an issue because it furthers one’s agenda, and forgetting that there are actual people involved (I don’t see you doing this, Dennis, but I’ve seen others doing it).Report

    • Bob2 in reply to Dennis Sanders says:



      The story was reported when it happened and I remember it clearly at the time. If it didn’t blow up, it’s because the conservative organs of the press didn’t pick it up or it happened during a week with bigger news. Furthermore, it’s not like poor people or minorities or both are really covered well in the national news, as in the case of every white girl kidnapped vs. any poor black girl who is kidnapped. I don’t think you’re going to find much there there in this case Dennis.
      I believe you’re conflating two types of journalism as well. Straight news reporting and opinion journalism. Straight news reporting largely covered it at some point while the opinion journalists, conservative and liberal, didn’t blow it up despite knowing about it.

      The “liberal” press has always been quick to blow up a story if it appears on Drudge Report or Rush, etc.
      Compare the disproportionate coverage of relatively sparsely populated Tea Party protests vs. MASSIVE ANTI-WAR PROTESTS BEFORE IRAQ because of internet driven complaints about lack of mainstream coverage of Tea Party protests, and because pre-election news cycles are slow slow horse races. Or any disproportionate responses from corporate when conservative “journalists” get caught versus the firings of “liberal” journalists when caught doing similar things.

      And now I just read a story in the New York Times from Saturday about the Koch brothers looking into buying the Tribune papers after a week of reading about the NY Post making a botch of things with Boston, and someone complaining about Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy being a rumor-monging mill.Report

  13. Damon says:

    The part of the story that hasn’t been covered, in my opinion, is how the state’s investigators responsible for policing this guy DID NOTHING FOR YEARS. After the prosecution goes after this guy, they should look into the state employees that failed to do their job.

    “I could go into a long diatribe about how liberals AND CONSERVATIES don’t pay attention to their own stink in their backyards while they are attacking conservatives for their garbage. ”
    –fixed that for ya. Upper case for emphasisReport

    • Morat20 in reply to Damon says:

      I noted upthread that that’s a really big part of the story. An important part. Worthy of coverage beyond the usual crime-beat stuff.

      It is, however, very local. State level at most. Nationwide, we generally don’t care about the state level failures of Texas or Massachusettes or whatnot. 🙂Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Damon says:

      That, to me, is really the biggest part.

      Criminals/bad people/evil doers/morons/whatever-you-want-to-call Gosnell are going to do what they’re going to do.

      But the investigators are supposed to stop them when they cross certain lines. And they didn’t, despite Gosnell crossing lines time and time again.

      We shouldn’t be shocked that such horrors occur, as horrible as they may be. But we should be shocked, and outraged, when the people sworn to prevent such horrors are not even asleep at the wheel, but haven’t even gotten in the driver’s seat to begin with.Report

      • Bob2 in reply to Kazzy says:

        Determining what’s newsworthy is a tricky thing, and anyone who’s spent some time examining media already can come up with many reasons this wasn’t covered nationally other than bad faith. Accusing people of ignoring an issue because of bias without evidence is perhaps the worst way to start. Speculation.
        If you want to bring up the issue, bring it up, but bring more evidence because it’s a tenet of conservative faith that the media is liberally biased, without really making a case for it. It’s much easier to use it as an empty rhetorical attack.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Bob2 says:


          I was speaking of government investigators. I’m not all that interested in what the commercial news media does or doesn’t cover. But when people tasked with investigating and regulating medical facilities aren’t doing that and people die as a result, that is a damn, damn shame… And should probably be considered criminal.Report

          • Shazbot5 in reply to Kazzy says:

            Yeah, it’s a state level crime story about failure to notice and prosecute.

            That hardly rises to the Michael Jackson level of newsworthiness.

            Here’s an analogy. How much media attention did Charles Cullen get in, say 2003, when he was arrested. Some, but not much nationally.

            Look him up, if you’ve never heard of him?


            • Brandon Berg in reply to Shazbot5 says:

              Sure, but when the media find a comparable story with a political angle they like, it becomes the MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER. The euthanasia angle was likely part of the reason the media chose not to hype the Charles Cullen case.Report

              • MikeSchilling in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                The most important things ever involve one of a few things:

                Celebrities (the OJ trial, Princess Di and JFK Jr. dying,
                White women in peril (The Central Park Wilding, Laci Peterson)
                Controversy (Trayvon Martin, Terry Schiavo)
                Terrorism (specifically, Muslims killing Americans)

                Or a combination of the above.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to MikeSchilling says:

                Also, I said this before, but the reason you didn’t see pictures of dead fetuses on the Washington Post for weeks after Gosnell’s clinic was discovered was the same reason you didn’t see pictures of dead Iraqi children in the weeks after the War started – people don’t want to hear truly terrible things, unless it’s so glamorized, they can pretend it’s part of a movie or TV show (OJ Trial, etc.) or it’s something so close to home, they can pretend they can be involved in it (Missing White Women!). Dead brown babies, whether in Iraq or a Philadelphia abortion clinic doesn’t help a medical claims biller from Sheboygan indulge in a little escapism after work.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                I suppose we should be grateful that Gosnell didn’t kill the babies with drones.Report

              • Barry in reply to Jaybird says:

                And how many mangled bodies from drone strikes has the WaPo posted?Report

              • Barry in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                “Also, I said this before, but the reason you didn’t see pictures of dead fetuses on the Washington Post for weeks after Gosnell’s clinic was discovered…”

                And it’s been pointed out that readers of the Washington Times/WSJ/NY Post would also not have seen such pictures, because the right-wing media was not covering the story.Report

          • Bob2 in reply to Kazzy says:

            Sorry Kazzy that response wasn’t directed at you. I hit the reply box next to yours by mistake after writing this. And it carried it down.

            To your actual point, there really aren’t a whole lot of government regulators and inspectors as people imagine or OSHA would have gotten to Texas or the FDA to a lot more pharm inspections or the SEC to various other finance issues or the IRS to audits of more suspicious accounts. I’m not surprised they missed this at all, sad as it is.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Bob2 says:

              No worries, good sir.

              I’m not going to act an expert on the issue of regulation, since I have neither much personal nor professional experience with it. But it does seem to me that the government does have the proper mechanisms to inspect (see: Dr. Saunders’ piece on his own run-in with investigators) but the execution is woefully inadequate.Report

              • Bob2 in reply to Kazzy says:

                Kind of a dead thing, but now that I have a number.
                Mike Elk, labor reporter and staff writer for In These Times Magazine, in the Washington Post:

                “After all, while it remains difficult to deduce the motives of the alleged Boston bombers, it is not so difficult to postulate what was behind the explosion at the West Fertilizer Co.’s plant: the failure to follow the science of workplace safety. The plant had 1,350 times the legally allowed amount of highly explosive ammonium nitrate, yet hadn’t informed the Department of Homeland Security of the danger. Likewise, the fertilizer plant did not have sprinklers, shut-off valves, fire alarms or legally required blast walls, all of which could have prevented the catastrophic damage done. And there was little chance that regulators would learn about the problems without the company reporting them: Not only had the Occupational Safety and Health Administration not inspected the plant since 1985 but also, because of underfunding, OSHA can inspect plants like the one in West on average only once every 129 years….”Report

  14. Brandon Berg says:

    This is kind of tangential, but since no one has mentioned it on this site yet…is anyone else struck by the lack of attention the Marco McMillian murder has received in comparison to the similar murder of James Byrd?Report