Jack Kevorkian, the former pathologist and convicted murderer, was released from prison last week. It’s been interesting to see how the mainstream media have treated him and the euthanasia issue he is associated with. They’ve largely touted him as a compassionate, passionate doctor who helped terminally ill people in need of being put out of their misery. Any voices, such as those in the disability advocate group Not Dead Yet, that note that most of those who were killed with Kevorkian’s help weren’t terminally ill so much as disabled or depressed — were silenced.
60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace hugged Kevorkian upon his release from prison. Hugged him. Of course, 60 Minutes edited that affection out of the final broadcast. Wallace might not be the best choice for the interview, considering he’s been an advocate of Kevorkian and made the decision to air the original
snuff film of Kevorkian murdering a man with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
60 Minutes‘ story was anything but journalism. It was embarrassing. I’m not exaggerating. He literally asked this question:
“You’re a happy man, aren’t you?” Wallace asks.
It’s really hard to see why some people think the media are biased on human life issues, isn’t it? Can you imagine the ridicule a reporter would face for asking asked Dick Cheney that question? The interview was so bad and so fluffy that Kevorkian had to ask Wallace to toughen up:
“I want you to live up to your reputation,” Kevorkian tells Wallace.
“What’s that, tough?” Wallace asked
“You’ve got to strafe me,” Kevorkian says.
“Oh, all right,” Wallace remarks. “You regret helping Tom Youk?
Oh. My. Goodness. Disgusting and scandalous. So Wallace is asked to be tough — by his subject — and he comes up with a question that refers to the murder of Tom Youk as help? I understand that certain people believe some lives aren’t worth living and that people with these lives should be killed and that such killing should be protected by the state. I get that. But Kevorkian was convicted of murdering Tom Youk. That Mike Wallace sees the ending of a man’s life as helping him says a lot about mainstream coverage of this and other cases of people ending others’ lives. No matter what your perspective, the question is anything but balanced.
Of course, Wallace is just a more extreme version of what happened in most stories about Kevorkian. Reporters steadfastly avoided the use of the wordkill to describe a convicted murderer who has admitted to helping kill 130 people. They chose the term “physician-assisted suicide” or “assisted suicide.” I think the latter term is fine, but both are euthanasia euphemisms. Whether you support people killing themselves or killing other people for various reasons is irrelevant. Avoiding the term for what’s happening is silly, though. We don’t deny that some people on death row are killed, even if there are conflicting views about whether such killing is morally permissible.
There were also few opposing views in articles. No articles mentioned any of the significant criticism of Kevorkian’s views or writings, such as his support for vivisection. Many mentioned religious opposition, although few delved into the issue. The New York Times‘ Monica Davey had this brief mention:
In recent days, religious leaders and opponents of assisted suicide have expressed outrage at Mr. Kevorkian’s release from prison and at the avalanche of publicity that has followed. Ned McGrath, an official with the Archdiocese of Detroit, which represents 1.4 million Roman Catholics, issued a statement comparing Mr. Kevorkian’s actions to those of a “pathological serial killer.”
All in all, the religious coverage of this issue — which couldn’t be more imbued with religious drama — was lacking. Did any of you see any particularly good or bad coverage of the issue?