With the murder trial of West Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell likely to go to the jury this week, the leader of Philadelphia's Catholics has weighed in on the side of critics of national media coverage – or the lack thereof – of the trial of the 72-year-old physician.
While commending The Inquirer's coverage of the two-year-old case and the trial, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput wrote on April 26 in his weekly column that "most prestige national media have seemed remarkably eager to ignore the story until shamed into covering it.
"Gosnell is much more than a 'local' story," wrote Chaput. "Forty years after the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, resistance to permissive abortion remains high. And the vivid details of the Gosnell clinic tragedy have the kind of salacious appeal that few national media would normally avoid - if the issue were anything else. But abortion is too often, and in too many news rooms, exactly the kind of topic that brings on a sudden case of snow blindness."
Chaput is something of a late-comer to the Gosnell trial. Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of the Staten Island, N.Y.-based Priests for Life and president of the National Pro-life Religious Council, has attended the trial regularly and commented to reporters about the implications of this trial for the anti-abortion movement.
As I've told more than a few media critics who have asked me about this over the last few weeks, I thought The Inquirer was part of the "liberal mainstream media." At least that's what politically conservative readers tell me on a pretty regular basis. I can't speak with knowledge about any other media company but at The Inquirer there was never any question but that this was an important story that had to be covered regardless of our readers' views about abortion.
I've said this to several people over the last few weeks of this trial: come and see for yourself. The courts in the United States are open to the public. Philadelphia has plane, train and bus service. We have hotels. Come see for yourself.