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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

 
Visual Aids

Via Media Matters, here is a CNN chart showing the partisan differences in the Schiavo case.




WTF? Did Daryn Kagan have her boyfriend design that for her last night while she was changing into something more comfortable?


This isn't really surprising. Here is one issue about which the media seem to have absolutely no interest in what the public thinks. Usually, they'd be pulling polls out of every orifice to try to explain things. Not this time. Eric Boehlert discusses this in Salon:

Imagine how differently the televised debate would have unfolded over the past few days if journalists had simply done their job and asked Terri Schiavo's pro-life proponents why an overwhelming percentage of Americans disagree with them about this case. Indeed, polls taken over the past two years show that Americans are adamant that the spouse, and not the parents, should decide on a loved one's right to die. And in the past week, an overwhelming majority -- 87 percent -- of Americans polled by ABC News and the Washington Post said that if they were in the same state as Terri Schiavo, they too would want their feeding tube removed.

Just as every judge who has heard the Schiavo case so far has ruled in Michael's favor, so has every poll taken shown that the majority of the public supports the husband's position. In survey after survey dating from 2003 to the present, asked who should have the final right-to-die decision, the majority of Americans have answered: the spouse. From national polls (e.g., ABC News/Washington Post, 65-25; and Fox News, 50-31) to statewide polls (e.g., KING-TV in Washington, 67-19; and St. Petersburg Times in Florida, 75-13) to unscientific, interactive polls (e.g., CNN, 65-26; and MSNBC, 63-37), the response has always been the same. A 2003 poll by CNN/USA Today had a similar result: Eighty percent agreed that a spouse should be allowed to decide whether to end the life of a person in a persistent vegetative state.

Which is why it has been so startling to find so few mentions by major news outlets of the recent polls regarding the Schiavo controversy. For instance, last Friday at 11 a.m., a Fox News reporter referenced a poll from earlier this month conducted by Fox that found that a strong majority -- 59 to 24 percent -- would remove Terri Schiavo's feeding tube if they were her guardian. According to TVeyes, a digital, around-the-clock television monitoring service, that was the last time a Fox News reporter mentioned Fox's own poll. Then again, that's typical of Fox, which on Friday night's "Hannity and Colmes" invited six strident pro-life advocates to argue why Congress should intervene on Schiavo's behalf. No guests were booked to appear on the show and argue Michael Schiavo's side.

But perhaps even more peculiar are ABC News and the Washington Post, which, like Fox News, commissioned their own poll regarding the matter, and yet, again like Fox, seemed to downplay the findings once the story became a political one. On March 15, when ABC devoted its "Nightline" program to the Schiavo story, host Chris Bury informed the audience, "A new ABC News poll suggests that a clear majority of Americans, 65 percent, believe that husbands and wives should have the final say in family disputes over life support. Only 25 percent say parents should make that decision. And when asked, 'Would you want to be kept alive in Terri Schiavo's condition?' an overwhelming number, 87 percent, said no."


The article goes on to show how the papers have ignored this finding as well. It might have been helpful, however, if certain pundits had their assistants and interns google the question because they might not sound so dumb. Here's what passes for insight on this issue from the media sages, Chris Matthews and Tim Russert last night:

RUSSERT: It becomes this symbol that becomes irresistible to the politicians and then irresistible to the media. And I‘m quite interested to see how this plays out with the voters, with the public. What are they thinking?

And, again, I go back to the point of, I‘m so intrigued as to why a Democratic senator wouldn‘t stand up and say, I don‘t know the specific details of Terri Schiavo. I do know it was heard in court after court, judge after judge in the state of Florida. But I also know that these kinds of issues and these kinds of decisions are being made every day in practically every hospital in every state in the union.

And all of us in our own families have probably been affected by this in one way, shape or form.

MATTHEWS: I can tell you, when you have an Alzheimer‘s victim in your family, like my mom, you know all about this territory. It‘s terrible territory. It‘s murky, morally murky in terms of medical science, and yet, in the end, in many of these cases, where there is a supreme almost diminution of human life, that eventually, you stop feeding, you stop hydrating. These cases happen all the time, as you said.

Let me ask you a question. This is a tough one. Are we living in an era where there is no middle ground?

RUSSERT: That is a great question, because life is filled with complexity and contradiction. We live in middle ground.

MATTHEWS: But these parties don‘t seem to operate in middle ground.

I was thinking, if somebody came on the floor last night and said, let‘s use some common sense here. If this woman is a vegetable, let‘s leave it up to her husband. If she is not, if she has emotional life, let‘s hold back and restrict it. But nobody seemed to be talking about the clinical questions.

RUSSERT: Yes. The phrase we all grew up with, middle America.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

RUSSERT: That represents to me where most Americans really are. They live in the middle. And, on some issues, they‘re conservative, right of center, some left of center. They‘re not rabid ideologues.


Russert wonders what people are thinking even though there have been numerous polls taken in just the last few days telling him that a vast majority oppose the Republican right wing on this issue. There's no splitting the difference. It's clear. Even a majority of Republicans oppose it, for gawds sake.

Matthews wonders why nobody makes the common sense argument in this case. But the majority of the AMERICAN PEOPLE already hold the common sense position that Tim and Chris are advocating and the Democrats clearly are on the side of that common sense position. And who is backing this macabre sideshow? The Religious Right and the craven Republican leadership.

Don't expect these bozos to know that, however. Or care. They are too busy toasting each other's pumpkinheaded faux-populism to even look into it. Convinced of their intimate connection with the common man, these millionaire pundits proclaim from on high that this is a fiery partisan issue and then bemoan the loss of comaraderie in the senate cloakroom. Apparently, they just don't realize that the common men and women on both sides of the political aisle hold them both in utter contempt. You want common ground? I think I've found one issue even Hinderocket and I can agree upon. Kumbaya.





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