The Hollywood Reporter got an exclusive glimpse of a film mainstream Hollywood wouldn’t touch this week.

So why would the site all but hide it from readers? In a way, it’s the latest chapter of media negligence tied to the subject at hand.

Gosnell tells the harrowing story of “America’s Biggest Serial Killer,” Dr. Kermit Gosnell. The Philadelphia abortion doctor is currently in jail after being convicted five years ago on three counts of first-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. The full story is even grimmer.

“Sat through a full day of testimony at the Kermitt Gosnell trial today. It is beyond the most morbid Hollywood horror. It will change you.”

That’s how J.D. Mullane of the Bucks Country Courier Times, one of the few reporters who covered the trial, described the grand jury testimony. The trial revealed how the abortionist snipped the spinal cords of live, viable babies in their third trimester.

The barbaric details shocked the nation, or at least citizens who were able to find reporting of Dr. Gosnell’s crimes.

Conservatives pounded the press for not giving Dr. Gosnell’s ghastly crimes more attention. A famous photograph taken by Mullane showed an empty courtroom section dedicated to reporters.

Even The Atlantic decried the lack of media attention, saying the horror on trial deserved to be front-page news.

Mullane’s image spoke volumes. So does The Hollywood Reporter’s attempt to play down its own exclusive.

Even the article’s headline sounded mundane: ‘Gosnell’ Abortion Doctor Movie Releases Trailer

The entertainment site broke the trailer-based story Aug. 15. This reporter saw someone share the link on Twitter, so I went to the main site to see the story’s placement on the site’s home page. The Gosnell article appeared on the site’s Most Popular stories sidebar (no. 4) … and nowhere else on the main page which features dozens of articles.

The article’s strong showing clearly came from users sharing the article on social media. The film’s director, Nick Searcy, boasts a large Twitter following (more than 60,000 strong) and he quickly shared the article when it went live.

Later, the story dropped out of the top 5 and didn’t reappear anywhere else on the site. A few hours passed, and the story reappeared in the top five listing and nowhere else.

The disappearing act feels like a companion piece to a moment in the trailer where the camera pans the courtroom’s press section.

“A story nobody would cover…” the trailer says, later showing an image similar to the one Mullane captured during the trial: Empty seats where the media could have gathered, but didn’t.

“When you get to the courthouse you’re going to be swarmed by reporters,” Michael Beach’s character warns his client in the trailer. Only the same empty seats Mullane captured await them.

Gosnell, featuring Dean Cain, Nick Searcy and Earl Billings as Dr. Gosnell, hits theaters Oct. 12.


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