Killer AP

Until now I’ve taken lefty bloggers’ criticisms of the Associated Press with a grain of salt—okay, more like a lack of ambition to look into the substance of the complaints—but this is honest-to-God villainy.

I realize bylined writers don’t usually have a say in the headlines themselves, so I’m pretty sure Mary Foster ain’t the bad guy here, but someone needs to be held accountable for this. And by accountable, I mean they deserve to get cancer of the everything, and to be kept alive indefinitely, and to pay through the nose for the fuckin’ privilege. If whoever signed off on this vile propaganda has a living will, that shit oughtta be null and void.

I’ll stop short of saying his or her all-but-lifeless form should by left in a slowly-flooding abandoned hospital to drown, because hey, I’m not a monster.

I’ll be hammering the site with e-mails today, and at the risk of being the annoying Action Alert! guy, I would recommend others .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) If an apology’s not forthcoming, well, at least we’ll know that the AP’s editorial stance is anti-mercy and pro-demonization of medical professionals.

I refuse to tag this entry out of respect for the word “news.”

UPDATE: A fair-enough question is asked in comments:

Can you tell me why this strikes you as so much worse that all the other media distortions?

Because they’re smearing an individual. And yeah, poisoning the discourse, obviously, which one could easily argue is more harmful in the long run, but fuck, man, imagine you’re Ewing Cook and you wake up today to see your words being used against you like that.

Look, everybody knows (or damn well should) that people who deal on a daily basis with illness and death armor their souls with black humor and bluntness; a bit of selective quoting turns M*A*S*H into Hostel: The Series.

The AP made a good man look bad. That’s why this is, by my lights, worse than legitimizing right-wing talking points or whatever; it’s the difference between mainstreaming violence and throwing a brick at someone’s head.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/29/09 at 09:06 AM • Permalink

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This particular story aside (because I haven’t looked into it), I’ve been one of the “lefty bloggers” urging the intake of a large amount of salt with their stories - especially the ones around the health care debate this last month.

The AP having gone to shit is one thing. The lazy media that run its stories pretty well verbatim without doing their own factchecking is even worse.

Don’t get me wrong—I think the medical staff acted heroically under unbelievably horrific conditions. They deserve thanks, not legal harassment and a media circus. If I were writing that headline, it would not have “Doc: I ‘got rid of’ patient after Katrina.”

That said, the headline doesn’t strike me as especially odious and unforgivable—just cheap and sensational, as is typical of so many media outlets. They used a form of the doctor’s own quote in the headline, which is news (albeit of a sensational nature).

I think Fox News or any of a dozen tabloids like the New York Post would come up with something much worse. Can you tell me why this strikes you as so much worse that all the other media distortions? I may be missing something…

I should also maybe point out that given the AP’s stories’ slants during August, I suspect there’s a dogwhistle here about “death panels.” If that doesn’t get picked up - assuming it hasn’t been already - by HCR opponents, I’ll be astounded. (And yes, I know it’s irrelevant to the circumstances of Katrina.)

Can you tell me why this strikes you as so much worse that all the other media distortions?

Can’t speak for Gil, of course, but it struck me the same way as it did him because the AP is supposed to be a serious news organization, not Fox News or a supermarket tabloid.  Their reputation has already taken a lot of hits - it’s stupid for them to want to cheapen it even more.

This was my “WTF” AP headline today which was on my Comcast front page.  The lead-in to the link was “Hope Fades on Health bill” then the headline read “GOP senator signals fading hopes on health care”.  The article actually said a BIPARTISAN bill was less likely but if you just read the headlines you’d conclude health care reform was all but dead.  Tabloid stuff again.  Pretty pathetic.

This is a case where the hard facts bump up against the inexpressible truth: leaving that patient with staff to watch her slow, inevitable death in exquisite agony in 100+ degrees, would have been torture for her and life-imperiling for the nurses. But, sensationalistic as using that quote is, it’s factually accurate in the hardest sense. The doctor who risked his career and reputation to triage under unique, horrific circumstances was a hero, but that’s outside the realm of a wire service story.

In this country, patients who are obviously in the final stages, and by final, I mean within hours of death, can’t legally get enough morphine to ease their pain, because morphine has a depressive effect on breathing, and the doctors say, “that’s all I can give without pushing him over.”

There are doctors who quietly risk everything to keep their patients out of pain—even if the family is in wholehearted agreement, somebody somewhere in the hospital could make trouble—as mentioned in the article. My family didn’t have the luck to find one. So nobody could be more willing to slam the AP than I. But I have to agree with Betty.

The angry children, blinkered religious fanatics, cowards,and political opportunists in this country will continue to force the dying to go through this farce because they don’t recognize the word “inevitable.” They also don’t recognize that medicine has outstripped their teachings on death, which used to come without ventilators and tubes and brain scans.

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