Nothing to See Here: CNN's Toobin Denies Media Bias In Gosnell Blackout

On Friday's Anderson Cooper 360, hours after CNN finally covered the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell for the first time in weeks, CNN's legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin scoffed at the notion of a liberal media bias responsible for the cover-up.

"Well, the people making those criticisms by and large are conservatives, who are saying the liberal media is trying to protect abortion rights by not showing this horror show. I don't buy that at all," Toobin asserted.

He defended the blackout as a "business decision":

"They don't cover a story, it's a business decision. We are not operating with the political agenda here. We pick stories, by and large, for reasons that we think people will be interested. I don't think we're covering this up."

Just two days later, CNN's media critic Howard Kurtz lamely downplayed the network's Gosnell blackout by noting that they covered it a "half dozen" times. Except that of the five mentions of the Gosnell trial on CNN in 2013, three came on Friday, after widespread outrage over the media blackout catapulted the issue into the news. For over three weeks, between March 18 and April 12, one mention was made of the trial on CNN – on March 21.

So between March 21 and April 12, there was a legitimate weeks-long blackout. CNN.com had just one article on Gosnell in calendar year 2013, on March 4.

Network anchors were certainly questioning CNN's lack of coverage on Friday. "Our 'Buried Lead.' This is a story that we think is not getting enough attention," host Jake Tapper announced on Friday's The Lead.

And anchors weren't denying that the story was sensational. Tapper called the testimony "horrifying" and added "I've heard that from other reporters covering this story that it really is shocking them to their very soul." Erin Burnett remarked "This is a disturbing story," and added "is a case with allegations that truly are unimaginable."

Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on April 12 on Anderson Cooper 360 at 8:14 p.m. EDT:

ANDERSON COOPER: Joe, you have been in the courtroom. You have been following this trial. David, obviously, you picked up on this a long time ago. There's been a lot of criticism of mainstream media, Jeff, for not covering this in the same way they covered the Jodi Arias trial or, you know, it's not front page news in a lot of places. This is the first night we are covering it. Why do you think that is, that it hasn't received the kind of front page coverage of it?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN senior legal analyst: Well, the people making those criticisms by and large are conservatives, who are saying the liberal media is trying to protect abortion rights by not showing this horror show. I don't buy that at all. You know, I think, I can only speak for CNN, and my knowledge of sort of this part of the media, the New Yorker where I work, I have some sense of, you know, mainstream New York Times. They don't cover a story, it's a business decision. We are not operating with a political agenda here. We pick stories, by and large, for reasons that we think people will be interested. I don't think we're covering this up. So, I just think that's a way of trying to ginning up their supporters.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014