March 20, 2005

Permanent Vegetative State

Idiotic reporting from FOX news:

    Felos said Michael Schiavo went to be with his wife, who is in a persistent vegetative state, after the tube was removed. No person has ever come out of a persistent vegetative state.
Bias and ignorance. Yes, those in a PVS do not come out of it, by definition. If somebody is diagnosed PVS and comes out of it then it doesn't mean they recovered from PVS, it means the PVS diagnosis was wrong. If Terri Schiavo recovers then it will be obvious she was never in a PVS.

Seventeen doctors have signed affidavits stating that Terri Schiavo is NOT in a PVS. Judging by the information of health care providers connected to Terri, she is EMPHATICALLY NOT in a PVS. Let me emphasize that again: TERRI SCHIAVO IS NOT IN A PERMANENT VEGETATIVE STATE.

She has been declared to be in one by some people and declared not in one by other people. Her ability to move and respond to stimuli shows that she is not in a PVS. So it is a lie to say she is, or at best it's bad reporting.

The report ought to mention that it's disputed by doctors, but it only tells us that the "very religious" parents of Terri oppose it - totally suggesting that they have no scientific basis for their belief, only an irrational, religious opinion. I think it's unnecessary to say that they're religious, let alone "very religious." What if a report said "cynical atheist Michael Schiavo..." or something similar?

Michael Schiavo says she is PVS, and has doctors that agree. The Schindlers say she is not and have doctors and nurses to back them up. Whether she's in a PVS is disputed.

More critically, it's important to point out that people do come out of supposed-PVS. It just means the PVS diagnosis was wrong. It was unethical or just fucking dumb to say otherwise. You'd think the supposedly right-wing Fox would invest enough time to ask some pro-Terri doctor or source about people coming out of supposed PVS.

By mentioning only that PVS is permanent and never mentioning that PVS is mis-diagnosed, they create the impression that Terri will never recover or be rehabilitated. This is inaccurate and biased reporting.

Wanna know why "right-wing" Fox didn't post a balanced or pro-Terri report? Because Fox didn't write it. The AP wrote it. Fox news put it out because news agencies are forced to rely on groups like the Associated Press, Reuters, AFP, and the like for wires. It's easier than being real reporters.

You'll also notice a strong bias to Michael Schiavo's perspective. His lawyer, George Felos, is mentioned by name eight times in the article (six appearances of 'Felos said' and one each of 'Felos indicated' and 'Felos called'). I can understand having to use Felos to complete a story or to give facts nobody else could easily give. I don't blame them for having a lot of Felos references. I blame them for referencing Felos' perspective and opinions but never once quoting the parents' opinion. They quote the parents' website for facts, but never for perspective or opinion.

Felos is quoted giving biased perspectives five times. The Schindlers are never once quoted giving a bias perspective - even though their website is chock full of their opinions.

It also mentions this as a "right to die" issue - even though Terri Schiavo did not make this request in any legally binding way. It's more like a "right to abort your wife" case. This is not a right to die case.

Of course, they also never mention that Michael Schiavo has been engaged to another woman since 1997. They never mention that he lives with her and that they've had two children together. The article never mentions the possible conflict of interest for a man with another family. The report never repeats the suggestion that Michael Schiavo could get a bundle of money when Terri dies. The report never mentions that Michael Schiavo promised to rehabilitate his wife in order to get huge jury awards but then didn't follow through (he lied).

Remember that whole thing about Scalia being biased for going fishing with Cheney? The journalists were all up in arms about that, saying it meant he couldn't be unbiased in his opinion on the issue. It's funny how one fishing trip is over the line on an ethical issue but in a matter of life and death they can't see how having a whole new family and standing to inherit money might be conflicting interests. They're blind, lazy or stupid. I'm guessing laziness is a heavy factor; why research when you can rely on your prejudices against supposedly "very" religious people to inform your views?

I'm not asking for a perfect parallel or walking a tightrope here, but I think I've offered very important points that deserve addressing:
1) Terri being PVS is heavily disputed
2) Many doctors support the Schindlers
3) It's biased and unnecessary to call the Schindlers 'very' religious
4) Getting direct-quote perspective so often from Felos must be somewhat balanced by direct-quote perspective from the Schindlers
5) Point out that Schiavo has been engaged to another woman for almost a decade, and that they live together with their two kids
6) Remind that Schiavo might have some financial interest in Terri's death
7) Note that Schiavo had promised to rehabilitate her in 1990
8) Stop calling it a right-to-die debate when the person hasn't officially asked to die; Stop referencing Kevorkian, who helps those in pain die - if Terri is really PVS then she's in no pain at all

This is incredibly weak reporting; the AP ought to be ashamed for such shoddy, under-researched, biased work. Fox is irresponsible to post this unprofessional, persistently biased reporting as ‘news.’


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