Is it ignorance, laziness, bias, or ineptitude, or all of the above? Not Dead Yet’s Stephen Drake exposes why so many people no longer trust so much of what media report: Journalists just can’t–or won’t–get the facts right, at least about cultural flash issues such as assisted suicide.
Drake, who was interviewed for the article, points out that Time’s writer Paige Bowers stated that Kevorkian assisted the suicide of the “terminally ill,” when as I have written about so many times, he never once claimed that his assisted suicide activities would be so limited. Moreover, none of the first three assisted suicides were terminally ill as that term is usually defined. Indeed, Marjorie Wantz’s autopsy, K’s second assisted suicide, showed she (along with at least four others) was not sick at all.
As we have also discussed here at SHS, the FEN explicitly offers to “counsel” suicidal people who are “chronically ill.” And yet, Time’s reporter made the same false “terminal illness” claim about the group as she did about K. Moreover, as Drake points out, and I have here, the case for which the arrests were made involved a man who had been successfully treated for cancer! From NDY’s blog, quoting Drake’s letter to Time seeking a correction:
This article could have been something to present a real debate rooted in the current news–whether or not one’s perception of one’s “quality of life” is a reason for suicide. Instead, the issue has been totally misrepresented as a case in which a group has “helped” terminally ill people in their “right to die” in states that haven’t legalized the practice.
In fact, the kind of people this group helps wouldn’t be eligible for assisted suicide in Oregon or Washington State…Time magazine failed miserably in its duty to present basic facts accurately. The debate that followed within the article was worthless since it had nothing to do with the story it was supposed to be covering.
I think the public deserves better. Everything I’ve read about journalist ethics would support that view. I hope that you agree.
I just checked the story to see if it had been corrected. Whaddya know! It has not. From the Time story:
Rather, the group argues that it merely provides a “compassionate presence” for terminally ill people, giving them information about suicide if they request it.
Drake’s hope is in vain: Apparently Time’s editors don’t think the public deserves better.