Schiavo Coverage Criticism

I am still amazed by the volume of your e-mails about Terri Schiavo (search) — thousands of them.

On “DaySide” Wednesday we had a political debate over whether it is right for all these politicians to get involved in this case. Judging by your e-mails today, it doesn't seem that you all agree with the national polls (which found that Americans don't want politicians involved):

We have a right to petition our government for a redress of our grievances. Congress getting involved in a case that the courts provided no relief [from' is constitutional and required by our Constitution.
—Jeffrey, Clearwater, Florida

...The courts are cowards. I can understand [Florida Governor] Jeb Bush more than the courts. They are making life and death decisions on hearsay.
—Sue Brantley, Atlanta, Georgia

Some of you out there are criticizing us in the press for covering this story beyond what you feel is appropriate. I can understand where you're coming from — this is a heartbreaking family dispute that has exploded. But — until every last judicial and legislative appeal is exhausted, I think we have to keep covering it.

At this hour, as I write this (3 p.m. ET Wed.), how can any of us be sure what the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (search) will do? How can any of us be sure what the Florida State Senate will do? (Don't put it past Jesse Jackson (search) to cajole black senators there to change their votes and support the bill to restore Terri's feeding tube. He's pulled off other things before that were long shots.)

Some of you are also criticizing us for the pictures we are showing of Terri:

...Why is Fox News leading the way in showing very old and inaccurate TV clips of Terri? These clips, showing her in all ages, even before her illness, and also showing reactions from her bed that are no longer current, well, they merely inflame the loonies... I expected more sensible behavior from Fox, which is, by the way, the best and most honest network...
—Dr. Anthony Ruffino, Delray Beach, Florida

Doctor, thanks for the compliment, and here's my answer about the pictures. The old photos of her are worth showing because they remind us all that she was once a vivid, happy young woman with every reason to live. Showing photos of her slack-jawed in a hospice bed do not do justice to her life history. If something were ever to happen to me, I'd want people to remember how I looked and acted when I was vibrant and healthy, not just feeble and bed-ridden — wouldn't you?

And as for the outdated video — well, that's a problem. The Schindlers have been asking the court to let them take camera crews into Terri's room to obtain more recent footage of her. The courts have said no. So we do the best we can with what we have.

See you all Thursday.


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