Howard Kurtz on Gosnell Trial Coverage: 'Conservative Media Didn't Do Much Either'

Many media observers were wondering if CNN's Howard Kurtz was going to expose on his Reliable Sources program Sunday the press's horrible coverage of the Kermit Gosnell murder trial.

As fate would have it, Kurtz's reporting was just as pathetic as virtually everyone else's to date giving the matter a total of 90 seconds while sharing bogus statistics including the truly preposterous claim, "The conservative media didn't do much either" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

HOWARD KURTZ: Time now for the "Media Monitor," our look at the hits and errors in the news business. Well, the critics are right. The horrifying crimes that a Pennsylvania abortion doctor is accused of committing haven't gotten enough national media coverage.

Kermit Gosnell is on trial for allegedly running a house of horrors storing all kinds of mutilated fetuses, some of which were brutally killed.

Anyone notice Kurtz's first mistake?

He actually called these "fetuses." That's not what Gosnell is charged with.

Maybe Kurtz - as a so-called "journalist" - could have taken a moment and looked at the actual Grand Jury report to see - in the very first sentence! - what this case is about:

This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors.

I guess Kurtz was uncomfortable telling viewers that Gosnell is accused of killing babies and not fetuses:

KURTZ: Now some conservatives are saying these amounts to a blackout by the so-called liberal media, but it's more complicated than that. First, the Gosnell case has drawn some coverage since the FBI first raided that clinic back in 2010 in such outlets as "Time," NPR, the AP, the "New York Times," Slate and "The Daily Beast." Now since Gosnell's trial began, CNN has done a half dozen segments including one by Jake Tapper back on March 21st and Fox News did a story that same day.

Actually, according to LexisNexis, CNN has done five stories on this trial, but four of them happened on Friday as a result of pressure coming from reports by conservative organizations such as the Media Research Center.

That means that from March 18 through April 11, CNN did only one story on this subject. Kurtz should have been far more honest about his own network's negligence:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN: One by one witnesses are sharing horror stories in the trial of a Philadelphia abortion provider.

BRETT BAIER, FOX NEWS: An abortion doctor in Philadelphia is accused of killing babies after birth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: MSNBC like Fox has done a few stories. CBS and ABC carried evening news segments back in January, but there hasn't been nearly enough on the trial, almost nothing in the "Washington Post," not enough in the "New York Times." Perhaps the mainstream press is less attuned to a story that casts a shadow on abortion, but the conservative media didn't do much either.


Really?

According to LexisNexis, Fox has done at least twelve reports on this subject. It's impossible to give a completely accurate read because Fox only provides transcripts for its extended primetime shows.

As for print, NewsBusters has done 21 articles on this subject. Human Events has published nine. The Weekly Standard and National Review have been all over this as have conservative talk radio hosts, bloggers, and the Drudge Report.

As such, claiming "the conservative media didn't do much either" would be laughable if it wasn't so offensive.

Now let's compare that to the liberal media.

ABC and CBS have yet to do one report on the trial. The only mention of it on NBC was by the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan on the March 31 installment of Meet the Press.

NPR has done one report.

As for Kurtz's claim that MSNBC "has done a few stories," LexisNexis shows none. Of course, like Fox, MSNBC doesn't transcribe all of its programs. I'd like to know how Kurtz came up with his numbers.


KURTZ: And it's not like even the staunchest pro-choice advocate would defend what Gosnell is alleged to have done. This is a gruesome case that journalists on both sides of the abortion question have told me is hard to stomach. That is especially true on television. But since Fox's Kirsten Powers called out the media in a column in the "USA Today," the coverage is quickly picking up as it should.

Quickly? Maybe that's true of CNN, but through the Sunday morning programs, ABC, CBS, and NBC have yet to lift their blackouts.

Add it all up, and Kurtz's report concerning media coverage of the Gosnell trial was just as lousy as everyone else's EXCEPT those from conservatives.

As a so-called "media analyst," it would have been nice if Kurtz would have been more honest and accurate with his - ahem! - analysis.

*****Update: Kurtz spent ten minutes Sunday discussing the media’s coverage of the gun control debate, five minutes on Marco Rubio and immigration reform, seven minutes on Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen (D) tweeting about Cyndi Lauper being hot, six minutes on Anthony Weiner, and five minutes on whistleblowers.

Yet only ninety seconds on Gosnell.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.