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Despicable Media Coverage of Schiavo Case

Newsmax | March 31 2005

Much of the mainstream media coverage of the Terri Schiavo case has been nothing short of outrageous.

For days on end, we've been hearing reports of polls showing that Americans overwhelmingly side with Terri's adulterous husband, Michael, who persuaded the courts (another institution that has abused its powers and has not covered itself with glory in this situation) to discontinue his wife's feeding tube and let her starve to death.

Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hit the nail on the head on "Fox News Sunday" when he attributed the lopsided poll numbers to a public misunderstanding of basic facts surrounding this innocent woman who has been granted less mercy than that accorded to mass murderers on death row.

Here's how ABC News handled its push poll (for that was exactly what it was).

The poll started out by falsely claiming that Mrs. Schiavo was on "life-support."

Wrong. Terri was on a feeding tube. She can breathe without "life support," and her parents – backed by professional caretakers – believe that she can ultimately chew and swallow.

No wonder ABC got the answer it was after, that the public disapproved of any government intervention to save Terri's life.

Then the Los Angles Times ran a story on March 27 citing the 1988 death of the father of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, pointing out that the family had allowed him to die. For ten paragraphs the story gave the impression that the two situations were comparable and noted that DeLay had taken the lead in congressional efforts to try to save Terri's life.

Not until paragraph eleven did the Times quote DeLay's office as pointing out the differences between the two cases.

"The only thing keeping her [Terri] alive is the food and water we all need to survive," said a DeLay spokesman. DeLay's father [on the other hand] "was on a ventilator and other machines to sustain him."

On a personal note, a few years ago one of my own family members was in a situation not unlike that of DeLay's father. She was gone. No way could anything have saved her at that point. So I know and understand the difference between a person like that and Terri Schiavo.

What really made resurrecting the DeLay family story so despicable was that although the newspaper itself mentioned (way down in the piece) the clear differences in the cases, other media – notably rip-and-read broadcasters and instant-analysis commentators – failed to mention any difference whatsoever, leaving the impression of hypocrisy on Congressman DeLay's part.

DeLay, a compassionate man, and his wife, Christine, have been foster parents. He is passionate in defense of the ethic of life.

During the debate over offering congressional help to Schiavo, he dared to declare, "One thing that God has brought us is Terri Schiavo to elevate the visibility of what's going on in America."

That was enough to send liberal media elites running for the smelling salts.

"Oh my God, we really are in a theocracy," wailed Maureen Dowd in the New York Times.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt met with American troops in the midst of World War II and joined them in singing "Onward, Christian Soldiers," and President Harry Truman once said that the U.S. "is a Christian nation." But that was in the mid-20th century.

In the early 21st century, any congressional leader who invokes God in saying that an innocent woman has brought us face to face with the culture-of-death slippery slope is – all together now – "imposing his values on the rest of us" and the ever shopworn oldie "violating the wall of separation of church and state."

This again shows that the leftist obsession with taking aim on Tom DeLay is about the simple fact that he's one of the most effective conservative leaders of our time. This attack on him is not about a "theocracy." Its about a leader who is doing his job all too well for them.

Media Research Center (MRC) spotlighted so-called "objective" reporters cheering for Terri's death by siding with her husband and against her mother, father and siblings.

ABC's Jake Tapper: "Whatever your beliefs, Terri Schiavo and her family deserve better than the way Congress worked this week" in ordering a de novo trial in federal court.

CBS's Elizabeth Kaledin: "[T]his [congressional action to save Terri] is exactly the kind of scenario doctors are worried about. It's sad enough that this case had to play out in the courts, but to get politics involved now, I think they would say, is just bad medicine."

MRC says "not a single story [on network news] was devoted to a skeptical look at [husband Michael] Schiavo and whether he was acting in his wife's best interests, but all three networks ran stories rejecting Mr. and Mrs. Schindler's view that their daughter could possibly be helped."

Now comes a development in all this that could equal Dan Rather's forged documents fiasco for sheer scope of a scandal.

In the midst of the buildup to the Palm Sunday congressional action to save Schiavo, the media were abuzz with a story about alleged "Republican talking points" in the case. The memo supposedly circulated on the Senate floor. The public was led to believe that Republicans were giddy at the prospect of using the tragedy as a political issue.

Here was the chance for the liberal media to publicize this and cause a backlash.


There was just one problem: Closer examination by The American Spectator, talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, The Weekly Standard, and Accuracy in Media (AIM) indicates that the memo is a fraud – a political dirty trick, if you will, specifically aimed at causing public revulsion at Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said he had not seen the memo and condemned its contents. His only interest, as that of many others in both parties, he said, "is to assure that Mrs. Schiavo has another chance at life."

ABC News broke the story of the memo, followed in print by the Washington Post, which syndicated it throughout the country. The story was picked up by the Los Angeles Times, the Tennessean, the Seattle Times and others.

CNN's Candy Crowley reported that the unsigned memo was "generated out of a Republican office, but rejected by the Republican leadership." However, it turns out that no one in the Republican leadership had heard of it until it was publicized in the media. Moreover, Schiavo's name was misspelled, and there were some factual errors included.

A spokeswoman for Senator Rick Santorum, R-Pa., the third-ranking Republican in the Senate, told me her boss had nothing to do with the memo. Similar denials have come from McConnell and other Republicans. There were reports that some GOP lawmakers were trying to piece together bits and pieces of information that may lead to the originator of this apparent dirty trick. AIM's Cliff Kincaid is definitely pursuing the case.

What's far more important is that an innocent woman is dying and the media join other elements of the left in a seemingly obsessive drive to see her die as soon as possible. What on earth is the rush? Why the fanaticism and intensity in pushing for Terri's demise?

Congressman DeLay is on to something when he speaks of "what's going on in America."