President Bush’s Campaign Says Media Biased on Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 5, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President Bush’s Campaign Says Media Biased on Stem Cell Research Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 5, 2004

Washington, DC ( — President Bush’s re-election campaign says the media is changing its tune in its coverage of the president’s decision to prohibit funding of any new embryonic stem cell research. It says the media is buying into the rhetoric put forward by Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.

In August 2001, President Bush made a decision to fund stem cell research for the first time with federal funds. However, the president put in place a policy prohibiting the federal government from using taxpayer dollars to pay for any new embryonic stem cell research.

As a result, the Bush administration has spent $190 million on research using adult stem cells, but funding of the more controversial research using cells from human embryos was severely limited.

At the time, media outlets more accurately reported the nuances of Bush’s policy.

On August 10, 2001, USA Today reported that "President Bush announced Thursday that he will allow federal funding for a limited amount of research on embryonic stem cells, in a compromise decision he said does not cross ‘a fundamental moral line.’"

A Los Angeles Times headline the same day read, "President Bush Announces He Will Allow The Federal Government To Fund Medical Research That Uses Stem Cells."

However, in August, Kerry accused Bush of banning all federal funding for stem cell research.

"Three years ago, the President enacted a far-reaching ban on stem cell research, shutting down some of the most promising work to prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, AIDS and so many other life-threatening diseases," Kerry claimed.

News reports have latched on to the Kerry "ban" language and made it appear the president prohibited all federal funding of stem cell research rather than limiting only embryonic stem cell research.

* In an editorial, the Boston Globe celebrated Senator Hillary Clinton "when she called for an end to the ban on federal funding of stem cell research."

* In reporting on the three year anniversary of the policy, CNN’s Carol Costello said the occasion marked the "three year anniversary of the president’s ban on some federally-funded stem cell research."

* A BBC correspondent on the "Chris Matthews Show" reported on a group of scientists who were "saying that the ban on stem cell research has to be overturned."

* A St. Petersburg (Florida) Times article discussed three candidates who "oppose President Bush’s ban on stem cell research."

* An editorial in the San Antonio Express-News labeled Bush’s policy a "misguided ban on federal funding of stem cell research."

"John Kerry has made a repeated effort to mislead the press and the public on the reality of the new federal funding for stem cell research that the President announced in August 2001," the Bush campaign said in a statement.

"Numerous media outlets have adopted their language, referring to the President’s new funding as a ban, or saying that the President took steps to limit federal funding without mentioning that the President announced the first ever federal funding of stem cell research," the statement said.