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I'm not sure my blood pressure could take the viewing habits required of the good folks at the Media Research Center. That's my conclusion, anyway, after a half-hour of uncharacteristic television watching tonight.
Appropriately enough, the segment of ABC's Primetime Thursday that aired directly before Reagan daughter Patti Davis's report on a teenage activist for embryonic stem-cell research was called "The Joy of Selling." ABC ought to have run a disclaimer before Davis's segment admitting that it was an unpaid advertisement, not to be mistaken for reportage.
The segment profiled Tessa Wick, a thirteen year old daughter of Hollywood producers, who was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age eight. Sadly, somebody is leading Tessa to false hope:
"Nobody can tell you, tell a kid to their face, 'I don't care about you enough to help you,' " she said. "The science did their part, now it's [President Bush's] part to take a chance on it and he hasn't."
In fact, the scientists have not yet accomplished anything definitive, something that stands as a huge silence in the report: viewers would have no sense of how "potentially" (Dr. Gary Small's word) it is that "a stem cell could be developed that produces normal pancreatic cells, and those could be injected into somebody like Tessa who has juvenile diabetes, and in a sense she could grow a new pancreas." Even more resoundingly absent from the report is any mention of the fact that there's an alternative, thus far more promising, way of procuring and using the technology: adult stem cells.
President Bush, it merits mentioning, could represent the entirety of the opposition movement, as far as Primetime makes its viewers aware, so the segment is sort of a bias twofer support embryonic stem-cell funding, don't vote for Bush. The online text version does acknowledge that private funds can still back the research, although it reads like an afterthought, and I didn't catch the factoid on the televised version. What did come through loud and clear was the mother's response to President Bush's stem cell speech a few years ago (emphasis added):
"We sat in front of the television as a family and sobbed," Fisher said. "Every single one of us, as we watched him talk about taking years off our child's life."
Increasingly, I've noticed a recurring discussion in the comments sections of some of the posts on this blog, about the appropriateness of equivalence between liberals and conservatives. While it is of course true that, for any given person on the Left, one can find an individual on the Right to stand as an antipodal representative, and vice versa, at this point in time, any sense of proportion and of perception belies assertions of broad balance. Primetime, if its handling of the stem-cell issue is any indication, is certainly no more "neutral" than Rush Limbaugh, and Rush's biases are headlined, rather than hidden. (Going by this segment, I'd actually place Rush a bit higher on the fair and balanced scale.)
Moreover, watching the flashy, polished presentation of the news shows, one gets a sense of the degree of production behind them. There are crews and professionals working together to make the shows happen. There's money. Power. And when those who wield it decide that they want some policy or other, well friend, let's just say that one shouldn't consider himself informed based solely on the "news" that they provide.Posted by Justin Katz at August 12, 2004 11:53 PM