NBC Television Program Accused of Biased Reporting on Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 6, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

NBC Television Program Accused of Biased Reporting on Stem Cell Research

by Maria Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
August 6, 2004

New York, NY (LifeNews.com) — NBC’s "Dateline" newsmagazine program is being accused of biased coverage, following a recent report on stem cell research.

Critics charge that a recent "Dateline" segment promoted embryonic stem cell research, while ignoring the groundbreaking successes of the ethical alternative, adult stem cell research.

A number of bioethicists, church leaders, public officials, scientists, and others have condemned embryonic stem cell research because it involves the destruction of living human embryos.

In contrast, using adult stem cell research, no human embryos are killed.

In response to the ‘Dateline’ segment, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins said, "NBC’s ‘Dateline’ hit an all-time low in reporting … when it covered the stem cell debate without even mentioning the successful, ethical stem cell research from adult stem cells."

The program featured an interview with Ron Reagan, the son of former President Ronald Reagan. Ron Reagan and his mother Nancy have been advocates of embryonic stem cell research, while Reagan’s other son, Michael, has been a strong opponent of the experiments.

"Next time they (NBC) should interview Michael Reagan who actually sits on the Alzheimer Foundation board of directors and who defends his father’s position of protecting life from its inception," Perkins added.

President Reagan was staunchly pro-life, defending the right to life from conception to natural death. Pro-life leaders say there’s nothing in the President’s record to suggest he would have supported embryonic stem cell research, since it involves the taking of a human life.

Perkins also notes that "Dateline" made a grave error in its approach to the ongoing debate over embryonic stem cell research.

"The show’s interviewer questioned the newly-appointed ‘scientist,’ (Ron) Reagan, about why Catholics and Evangelicals were so closed-minded in stopping the use of embryos for research," Perkins said.

"The success of over 40 diseases responding positively to the implantation of adult stem cells and zero successful embryonic cures seemed a point too far for this ‘news’ program," Perkins added.

Meanwhile, in a letter to NBC, physician Frank Joseph chastised the network for the piece, saying it was clearly slanted in favor of embryonic stem cell research.

"Adult stem cells have already been curing many diseases. Embryonic stem cells have not cured anything yet. As a matter of fact, embryonic stem cells have caused tumors in mice. Why didn’t ‘Dateline’ inform the public about the great advances in adult stem research?" Joseph wrote.

Joseph added, "It is obvious that you are putting politics above the health of Americans and you are trying to make President Bush look like a cold-hearted person."

LifeNews.com contacted "Dateline" producers for comment, but did not receive a response.

In 2001, Bush stopped federal funding of embryonic stem cell research beyond the lines of cells that had already been created.

Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry has made a campaign issue out of embryonic stem cell research, claiming that it holds the key to curing a number of diseases.

However, a number of bioethicists refute that claim, saying that initial research involving embryonic stem cells has proven disastrous.

Even Ron Reagan, who made a pitch for such research at the Democratic National Convention, has admitted that embryonic stem cells would be ineffective against Alzheimer’s disease, the disease his famous father was diagnosed with in 1994.

In contrast, Joseph says, adult stem cells have successfully treated a host of diseases, including cancer, anemia, bone and cartilage problems, corneal scarring, strokes, skin grafts, and autoimmune diseases.

Joseph says there’s even hope that adult stem cell research could provide a cure for blindness within the next five years.

And, Joseph points out, there are a number of people who have their own adult stem cell success stories to tell.

For instance, Laura Dominguez was a quadriplegic at age 16 after a car accident damaged her spinal cord. With the aid of her own adult stem cells, she can now walk with the help of braces.

Related web sites:
MSNBC – https://www.msnbc.com