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Today Among Nominally Pro-Choice Conservertarians

[ 82 ] April 16, 2013 |

Glenn Reynolds has some Deep Thoughts:

And it’s also reminder that media bias exists not only in how the press covers stories, but in the choice of stories to cover and, in particular, the choice of stories not to cover. Bear that in mind, in the future.

Trite, but not wrong, and considering the source I’d say take the money and run. Entertainingly, however, Reynolds provides us with his very own example of the phenomenon earlier in this column:

Before Powers’ column, the [Gosnell] case wasn’t on the national radar. Oh, it was getting attention from pro-life writers, conservative media critics, and law bloggers, but in terms of national media, the story didn’t exist.

Media bias is indeed what you leave out, and by omitting not only the mainstream media coverage but the extensive attention the case has received from feminist writers Reynolds is certainly showing his hand. He cares about the Gosnell case because his interest in the abortion begins and ends with the issue allowing him to express some kind of MRA-style resentment and/or engage in idiotic criticisms of liberals for being actually rather than nominally pro-choice. Hence his need to lie by omission about whether pro-choicers have paid attention to the Gonsell case.

Speaking of which, he cites another allegedly staunch pro-choicer:

Pro-choice writer Megan McArdle of The Daily Beast notes that it’s about fear of where the story would go, and what it would require writers to confront: “Gosnell is accused of grisly crimes that I didn’t want to think about. … I understand why my readers suspect me, and other pro-choice mainstream journalists, of being selective — of not wanting to cover the story because it showcased the ugliest possibilities of abortion rights. The truth is that most of us tend to be less interested in sick-making stories — if the sick-making was done by ‘our side.’ “

“Our side,” eh? One rather obvious problem with McArdle’s assertion is that attacks on her alleged “side” constitute, as far as I can tell, the only occasions when she shows any interest in abortion rights at all. She’s apologized for Operation Rescue while poo-poohing anti-abortion terrorism, she opposes Roe v. Wade, and she not only (being a principled libertarian and all) supports mandatory vaginal ultrasounds but believes in all arbitrary impediments to abortion as positive ends in themselves.

Both Reynolds and McArdle, in other words, ignored the Gosnell case for the same reason that actual supporters of reproductive freedom didn’t ignore it — they’re “pro-choice” in the sense that they think it’s nice that any woman they know will be able to get a safe abortion irrespective of what their state’s abortion law looks like, and they couldn’t care less whether any woman of lower socioeconomic status enjoys the same rights and privileges. Why would McArdle care about the consequences of the arbitrary regulations she strongly favors for any reason other than to score (incoherent) points against her alleged pro-choice allies?

Comments (82)

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  1. c u n d gulag says:

    Curious how nobody on the right stayed on top of this story either, because it’s a perfect example of what this country was like pre-Roe, and would be like if Roe gets overturned – and also how all of these “late term” limitations, force women into the back alley’s, instead of allowing them to take place in safe an clean facilities.

    At least the right didn’t, until they figured out the perfect guilt-meme for the MSM to swallow and digest – the LIBERAL MSM isn’t covering this abortion story!

    And now, they are.
    Framed in such a way, that the right can live with this story going national.

  2. snarkout says:

    I don’t know; I think we’re very close to the Bob Casey threshhold, where this story just becomes a truthy example of the perfidy of the pro-choice movement regardless of facts as simple as “people identified with the pro-choice movement actually were reporting on this”. Ten years from now, I expect to see mainstream even-the-liberals offhandedly referencing it as a previous failing that must be corrected for somehow.

  3. I’m sorry, but how is it this butcher becomes a guy who’s on the side of pro-choicers. Exactly WHY is this guy our responsibility and our problem?

    • mds says:

      Because you pro-choice absolutists are the ones who devalue unborn children, thereby fostering a moral climate that allows for people like Kermit Gosnell to prosper. If you had your way, there’d be post-birth infanticide clinics available in all fifty states, just like State Senator Obama wanted in Illinois.

      … How was that? I tried to make it over-the-top the last time, too, but then Sebastian H showed up and reiterated a bunch of it.

    • BigHank53 says:

      What, didn’t you get the memo? Before making any public statement, you’re now required to categorically and personally denounce the following: Dixiecrats, Robert Byrd, job losses due to EPA regulations, Richard Nixon ’cause he’s a closet liberal, the Black Panthers, hippies, both smelly and otherwise, the New Black Panthers, Ward Churchill, Frank Church, Jimmy Carter, Frances Piven, and the Warren Commission.

      What’s that? I’m sorry, your five minutes are up. Please return to your seat and let the next person speak.

    • Shakezula says:

      ‘Cos it’s all they got.

  4. Bertie says:

    Meh, until last Friday there was scarcely any top-tier MSM coverage (meaning NBC, CBS, ABC, NYT, WaPo and such) of the trial phase, and their coverage of the initial revelations back in 2011 were pretty modest.

    That is discussion worthy, and yeah, when it comes down to it, the social liberalism of your typical MSM staff member probably is a factor.

    (None of this is to say that I think Gosnell’s case makes a great anti-choice argument in the broad sense, and I think those who say this clinic is a preview of a post-legal abortion world are right on. In the near term, unfortunately, this will strengthen the “regulate abortion out of existence” movement.)

    • brewmn says:

      “That is discussion worthy, and yeah, when it comes down to it, the social liberalism of your typical MSM staff member probably is a factor.”

      Why is it discussion worthy? What about this case warrants national coverage?

      • Bertie says:

        Come on. A hundred or more dead infants? Feet kept in jars? The guy was Joseph Mengele meets Jeffrey Dahmer. Serial killers are national news, and as the Nightline anchor said on Twitter, Gosnell might be the “most successful serial killer in the history of the world”.

    • Malaclypse says:

      That is discussion worthy, and yeah, when it comes down to it, the social liberalism of your typical MSM staff member probably is a factor.

      I’m sure neither race nor class was at all relevant. Liberalism is a far better explanation.

      • Royko says:

        Yup, it’s just like the way the abduction of one white American woman in Aruba got a lot more wall-to-wall coverage than the deaths of hundreds of women in Juarez.

    • Alex says:

      The largest reason it wasn’t being covered is that the system was sort of working. Gosnell was arrested following an investigation and then is undergoing a trial (with a gag order attached to it).

      Big trial stories require some form of sympathy for the defendant or a celebrity. For example, the Aurora shooter’s trial isn’t (or wasn’t?) really making national media stories.

      Note that the current Gosnell story still isn’t the trial. It’s all about the media.

      • spencer says:

        For example, the Aurora shooter’s trial isn’t (or wasn’t?) really making national media stories.

        Ooooooh, I know this one! That just proves that the average MSM staffer is actually pro-guns.

        Right, Bertie?

      • Djur says:

        Exactly. Nobody’s defending Gosnell (although I’ve seen a lot of wingnuts go through a lot of contortions to accuse people of doing so). He’s being tried and is likely to be convicted. His lawyer has claimed that it’s a racist witch hunt, but nobody believes that. So the only hook is “lots of dead babies”, and that’s too unpleasant to build continuing coverage around.

      • Alex says:

        And after posting this, I checked on the Aurora shooting trial stories. It is being covered – but only when “news” happens. Such as the plea that was given, is a death penalty being pursued, will a journalist have to give up her source, etc.

        It is not being brought up on a constant basis with a “Here’s what is currently happening” or whatever. People are not using the trial itself to argue for more or less gun control and they aren’t covering it up due to a pro-gun bias.

        When something happens that is “new” the media reports on it as “news”. Which is the case with the Gosnell trial. It started, so media reported on it. And then it proceeded as expected, so national media did not report on it.

    • spencer says:

      That is discussion worthy, and yeah, when it comes down to it, the social liberalism of your typical MSM staff member probably is a factor.

      Care to back that up with something stronger than your intuition?

    • wengler says:

      I had to remember what this was when I was banned from watching tv shows I liked, but then I remembered this was covered quite extensively when it was discovered and everyone was disgusted.

      It’s only the anti-abortion forces that are trying to frame this in a way that this case is somehow typical of abortion providers. Safe, fast, and convenient access to an abortion is what they have been battling against their entire lives. Unsafe so the mother has fear of dying, slow so the fetus is nearly fully developed, and inconvenient so the mother can’t even get an abortion. These are goals of the anti-abortion movement. These are illustrated in the Gosnell case.

      • Shakezula says:

        Which is why I say pushing to make this story above the fold national news is another own goal for Team Totalitarian.

        Before the year is out you’ll hear whining about the ghoulish liberal MSM giving the story too much coverage and how it is unfair that people think that is the result of the restrictive laws that somehow (no one is quite sure how) wound up on the books.

        • sharculese says:

          I want to believe you’re right but I think you’re severely underestimating the degree to which the elite media is ignorant about the actual state of abortion rights and willing to swallow anti-choice lies about how easy it is to get an abortion, and that this is going to color all of the coverage.

          • Shakezula says:

            I seem to recall that in a recent political contest the elite media did not back the winning horse. So there’s not a lot to suggest that intense ignorance by the EM impacts the way people act (and vote).

            Although I admit I’m only guessing at who/what you mean by elite media. It is a new term to me.

            • sharculese says:

              Was going to try to explain but Dr. K’s example from Morning Joe downthread is basically what I’m talking about.

              • Shakezula says:

                I see.

                Maybe I hang out with the wrong people but I know no one who takes that sort of “News” seriously. They either know it is full of shit because they know it is wrong; they think it is full of shit because it is liberal MSM or they instinctively recoil from the smell of full of shitness that oozes out the speakers when Joe and his peers are on screen.

                Ophrah (or now Ellen) have far more impact on public thought because people to some extent trust them.

    • Anonymous says:

      (meaning NBC, CBS, ABC, NYT, WaPo and such)

      I know you were in a hurry, but Fox News hardly merits being lumped into “and such.”

      the social liberalism of your typical MSM staff member probably is a factor.

      … Wait, you are including Fox News in “and such,” right?

    • If there is social liberalism inherent in most MSM staffers, it sure doesn’t show up in the reporting, as most MSM reporting leans conservative for fear it’ll be accused of…well…exactly what you accused it of.

      The MSM being liberal is a thing people say as an article of fact. Unfortunately it’s just flat-out not a fact.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Reynolds didn’t say that the story merited more coverage, which would be perfectly plausible. He said that the story “wasn’t on the national radar,” which isn’t actually true. And he ignored the extensive coverage by feminist writers entirely.

  5. comptr0ller says:

    The problem is not abortion or fetuses or scissors. Baby killers kill babies. Rather than change our long-established constitutional right to abort, shouldn’t we be focusing on the real issue here: the eroded state of mental healthcare in America? If only we had a registry of all the mentally unstable people we could make sure they never came in contact with our unborn babies in the first place. Other than that I oppose even discussing the possibility of debating whether we should do anything to suppress our right to bear scissors within arm’s reach of a potentially pregnant person.

  6. ema says:

    Baby killers kill babies.

    Philadelphia’s chief medical examiner, under oath, said he doesn’t have the evidence for infanticide. So you better contact the trial authorities and go and present your, you know, babies were killed evidence in order to refute the ME’s testimony.

    • rea says:

      When you look at this story more closely you see that some of the atrocity claims have been . . . inflated a bit.

      • LeftWingFox says:

        I was expecting that. I’m trying to remember the name of that one anti-abortion nurse who made a lot of increasingly gruesome claims about the hospital where she worked.

        There’s a long history of the anti-abortion groups lying to evoke feelings of disgust; from vivid (and false) descriptions of abortions to pretending images of fetuses are earlier along in development than they really are.

  7. Shakezula says:

    of not wanting to cover the story because it showcased the ugliest possibilities of abortion rights.

    Hmm. So if (just hypothetically speaking) a young man killed his mother with a gun and took his mother’s guns and killed a couple dozen other people (some of them children) with guns, are we allowed to say this is the ugliest possibility of the 2d Am?

    Of course not! Forgive me for asking such a silly question

  8. Dana Houle says:

    O/T, but I’m looking forward to Erik’s post on the Reinhart & Rogoff fiasco is yet another example of the damage Harvard has inflicted on the world.

    • sparks says:

      While I like Erik, I wish a hardcore statistician would hold forth on this. It smells of either confirmation bias or downright data massaging rather than error.

      • John Protevi says:

        See also: http://www.nextnewdeal.net/rortybomb/researchers-finally-replicated-reinhart-rogoff-and-there-are-serious-problems#.UW14rDQo2L4.twitter

        They find that three main issues stand out. First, Reinhart and Rogoff selectively exclude years of high debt and average growth. Second, they use a debatable method to weight the countries. Third, there also appears to be a coding error that excludes high-debt and average-growth countries. All three bias in favor of their result, and without them you don’t get their controversial result. Let’s investigate further:

      • bobbyp says:

        Even “polemical” does not do this justice. I’ll take “Lying Their Assess Off” for a thousand, Alex.

      • Dana Houle says:

        I’m not sure who much statistical expertise is needed to understand how much their conclusions depend on some questionable methodological choices. As Krugman explained:

        According to the review paper, R-R mysteriously excluded data on some high-debt countries with decent growth immediately after World War II, which would have greatly weakened their result; they used an eccentric weighting scheme in which a single year of bad growth in one high-debt country counts as much as multiple years of good growth in another high-debt country; and they dropped a whole bunch of additional data through a simple coding error.

        I’m not adept at any kind of sophisticated statistical analysis. But I regularly see suspicious claims made about polls or election results and other such things, and it’s pretty common to look at the numbers and quickly see something stupid or dishonest, like how the meaning of the numbers is dependent on context, or where important variables aren’t included.

        • sparks says:

          I’m only wondering if a professional statistician would call this a tragedy of errors, or cherry picking data for a conclusion. It looks like the latter to me, but I haven’t done any serious stat analysis in some years now.

      • firefall says:

        its both – they wilfully distorted and omitted data, AND they screwed the pooch on their Excel spreadsheet

  9. Rugosa says:

    For the record, the first place where I heard about this was on NPR last year, and a major part of the story(unmentioned by the anti-choicers, apparently) was how the regulatory agencies failed to stop the carnage, although they knew about it for years. I suspect that may have something to do with the victims being mostly poor and minority women, but then I’m a DFH.

    Oh, and Ms. McArdle – “abortion rights” include the right to have a safe abortion.

  10. actor212 says:

    First Google hit:

    The Times had full-length articles on this trial in 2011

  11. [...] by way of intellectual content to the case for abortion on demand.” Taranto — almost as staunch a supporter of reproductive freedom as Megan McArdle! — was unable to think of any reason why selectively enforced laws requiring women to carry [...]

  12. [...] came conservative bloggers, who used the case to screech about the media’s alleged liberal “bias” – how fresh! A few even claimed [...]

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