Juggling Act

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Thursday was a juggle. We wanted to bring you the latest on the Terri Schiavo (search) matter — and we did — but we also had our eye on Rome (search). Up until the end of the show last night, we were watching to make sure that if the pope's condition changed, that we would bring you that information. Although the show we put on the air was as planned as live news gets, behind the scenes there was much conversation about the pope. I also spent hours reading about the pope — something I had done before when he had a health crisis.

The "trick" in cable news is to strike the balance — how much do you do on any given topic? When do you break away from a given topic for another? I assure you that everyone has an opinion — whether it be members of our staff or viewers e-mailing. Simultaneously I get e-mails that say, "Thank you for doing so much on Terri Schiavo" and "enough of Terri Schiavo!" The discussion about how much to do about any topic goes on among the staff all day long — from our first call at 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. when we say good night to you. We also can change mid-show — called "breaking news" of course. There is no magic formula about how much to do about any topic — just our effort to do the best job we can.

There are few stories that generate as many emails as the Terri Schiavo story. I try and answer all my e-mails, but it is physically impossible to answer all in this instance. So, for those of you who wonder why you have received no response, understand that I am literally getting thousands and thousands of e-mails. Each day I spend about two hours answering e-mails, but two hours simply is not enough. I do read them (which takes only seconds), but responding to them takes so much longer. Here are some I have grabbed from the show account so that you get some idea of the mix of e-mails:

E-mail No. 1

Where in the Bible, where in the Constitution does it say we have to be hooked up to tubes to keep our dead bodies alive for 15-50 years? Terri would have died 15 years ago before feeding tubes were invented.
Letty Bromenschenkel
Minneapolis, MN

E-mail No. 2

I haven’t heard this question yet — if Terri told her husband she didn’t want to be kept alive by artificial means, why was the feeding tube inserted in the first place? Also, it would be interesting to know the value of personal property Terri and her husband shared … that now becomes his property.

E-mail No. 3

Let me first say that I am really on the fence concerning Terri Schiavo's circumstances. I'm not terribly convinced that anyone really knew what Terri's truly wishes were.
I do feel that it is likely she would not have wanted the people she most loved torn apart in this way. I also suspect she would have wanted all her loved ones present and with her in her passing. I find it disturbing that her husband, who adamantly stated he was acting upon her wishes, would deny her the comfort of her family as she passed on. Yes, the relationship between him and Terri's family was quite strained but the door could have been opened to allow them to be with their daughter in the last moments of her life. Terms for keeping the peace for Terri's sake could have been set forth to allow their presence. They at least deserved that opportunity.
There are no winners here. I truly hope Terri is now at peace.

E-mail No. 4

Anyone that says it's a 'right to die' issue has got their head in the sand. No one truly knows what Terri's wishes were. Maybe she wanted to die ... but maybe she wanted to live. What are we then?
Michael Weix
Whitewater, WI

E-mail No. 5

I am very sorry for all of the people involved in the Teri S. treatment and death. I do feel that her wish not to live with the help of machines/tubes should be honored. Do people really feel that living as a vegetable is really "living"? I do not feel that it is. That would be the most gut wrenching decision anyone could ever make, but I hope if it was me, my family would not let me exist in that state. But I do think that Michael S. could have been more feeling to her family and let them spend the time with her. I do feel that was very wrong on his part. That was very little to give them, the time to say their good-byes, it might have gone a little easier for all. I also think her family, the religious brother etc. would have had an entirely different take on the governor, judges etc. if they had all been on their side!
Becky Frees
Bemidji, MN

E-mail No. 6

As the mother of a 27-year-old daughter, if anyone did to her what has been done to Terri, I would fight till the bitter end. I hope Michael never has to go through as a parent what he has put Terri's family through. But you know the old saying: What goes around comes around.

E-mail No. 7

How dare you play the tape of that poor person suffering have to watch a public murder in our country. How dare you!
We all should be shouting from our rooftops. With no place to address our grievances, it is very understandable that this poor person called the Schiavos. The Schiavos are to blame. They were wicked to not give Terri to the Schindlers. We can see what good, holy people the Schindlers are! Why would we believe the evil side? Why would we listen to your awful opinion? Today was a murder in America and we should all be up in arms from the president down! Unfortunately the president didn't have all the facts — like the major error in the Greer court.
Don't you dare play that tape again! You will illicit more trouble when people hear the truth finally coming through a stricken soul's grief!
Patricia Hammond,
Nine Mile Falls, WA

Thursday night we had Pat Boone (search) on our show. Before the show, I do lots of research and often learn interesting facts. Did you know that Pat Boone was student body president in high school in Nashville?

And, one final note, can I brag? My sister-in-law Maria Calta (search) has a new book out — part text, part cookbook. Here is information about it that I copied from Amazon.com:

"Barbarians at the Plate : Taming and Feeding the American Family"
By Marialisa Calta
Product description: A wry and practical guide to the family meal.
Veteran food writer and columnist Marialisa Calta offers advice, strategies, and recipes from families across the country, addressing the peculiar challenges and delights of enjoying dinner as a family.
Part cookbook, part survival manual, part humor book, part voyeuristic peek into our neighbors' kitchens, "Barbarians at the Plate" is a field guide to an all-too-endangered species these days: the family meal.

"Barbarians at the Plate" covers:

Last-minute meals
Slow-cookers and other effort-saving appliances
Making the most of leftovers
Accommodating picky eaters
Creating mealtime traditions
Getting everyone to participate in cooking and clean-up
Insights into the ways families survive and thrive around the dinner table

If the foregoing inspires you, click here to read more about it on Amazon.


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