by Steven Ertelt
December 9, 2007
In today’s political culture, exploitation has unfortunately become more common.
We see it with politicians who are using the tragedy of millions of Americans with various diseases to try to force the state and federal government to pay for embryonic stem cell research. We see it with lawyers who advertise on late-night television and call them ambulance chasers.
Unfortunately, we’re seeing it again with the tragedy of the euthanasia death of Terri Schiavo.
Like many other reputable news agencies with a pro-life perspective, such as World Net Daily, CNS News, or NewsMax, LifeNews.com has published hundreds of articles about Terri and her parents’ efforts to save her life. They came both before her former husband Michael was allowed to take her life and afterwards.
We’ve featured exclusive stories as well as articles covering popular topics that both mainstream and pro-life media outlets have followed. Through it all, Terri’s family has worked very closely with LifeNews.com and very much appreciates our efforts to help them.
The North Country Gazette is a New York-based web site run by June Maxam. Since Terri’s death, NCG has published numerous lengthy articles investigating key players in the debate — including Michael Schiavo, Judge George Greer and other Florida officials who paved the way to Terri’s death.
Those articles have been helpful. Unfortunately, NCG has been repeatedly attacking LifeNews.com and other news sites that report on the aftermath of the debate about Terri.
Maxam’s antics began when, in 2006, LifeNews.com posted a well-written editorial she penned concerning Michael’s political action committee and his efforts to defeat pro-life politicians who supported Terri and her parents.
Irate that LifeNews.com would afford her column a wider distribution, Maxam emailed a scathing letter asking that the column be removed. We complied immediately.
In an email exchange afterwards, Maxam made it very clear she was not supportive of Terri Schiavo or her parents’ efforts to protect her life. Though she had written strong investigative pieces concerning the major players, she appeared to be more interested in the investigative journalism than the cause of protecting disabled people like Terri.
Maxam also publicly indicated she is not pro-life and, in a post on her web site attacking LifeNews.com, wrote, "We are not affiliated with any pro-life [or] right to life group" and added "His causes are not necessarily ours" referring to LifeNews.com’s support for Terri and her family.
In emails to LifeNews.com and public posts on her web site, Maxam also made it clear she has contempt for other pro-life news sources that cover the Terri Schiavo saga. It appears Maxam wants a stranglehold on reporting on Terri and the debate that still exists about euthanasia that received national prominence because of her plight.
When told that news sources like WorldNetDaily, CNS News, NewsMax and others have been extensively reporting on Terri, she accused them of taking away her readership and claimed they sometimes plagiarized her web site.
Maxam said it’s "incredulous" to see other news outlets cover Terri Schiavo.
Maxam has also decried the fact that web sites covering Terri Schiavo have advertisements or accept donations from readers to help cover the cost of reporting the news.
Yet, Maxam’s web site contains dozens of advertisements that appear to pay her based on the amount of traffic her site generates.
Maxam wrote previously that when other web sites publish news stories about Terri Schiavo "it obviously directs readers and potential patrons of our advertisers away from The North Country Gazette and adversely affects our statistics for daily readership and ultimately affects potential income."
She also touts the sale of a book of her articles concerning Terri Schiavo and the top of the NCG web site and includes a link soliciting ads.
Maxam previously indicated that, unlike LifeNews.com and other pro-life news sites that cover Terri, NCG would soon charge for access to its web site and news stories. In fact, NCG planned to charge $2.95 for readers to read stories on the web site and as much as $39.95 annually for access to a member area to read selected stories.
Maxam wrote that, while news stories related to other topics would remain free, "access to investigative features such as the Schiavo case … will be accessible by membership only."
However, it now appears Maxam has shelved the idea as no mention of the membership charges appear on her blog.
LifeNews.com and other media outlets that cover Terri from the pro-life perspective make web site articles available at no cost and I expect that will continue to be the case.
NCG also attacked LifeNews.com when we published an editorial written by Pamela Hennessy, a former media representative for the Schindler family, about how euthanasia advocates are slickly marketing their message.
Hennessy held the copyright to the article and gave LifeNews.com permission to reprint it. However, because the editorial supposedly appeared on NCG’s web site earlier in the day, Maxam assumed LifeNews.com must have "stolen" it from her web site, despite the copyright not belonging to NCG.
"We are definitely going to clash Mr. Ertelt, publicly," Maxam threatened in an email to LifeNews.com after she saw we had published Hennessy’s op-ed.
After she sent the threatening email, a member of the Schindler family told LifeNews.com about contacting Maxam to urge her to quit attacking LifeNews.com based on her false allegations.
Maxam continues to send harassing emails to LifeNews.com each time we report on Michael Schiavo’s TerriPAC and recently wrote another attack piece criticizing LifeNews.com for covering fines he’s received from the FEC.
In the past, Maxam has tracked the identifying information from visits from LifeNews.com to her web site to read her attack articles. Maxam prides herself on being a muckraker, but she can see for herself that no one from LifeNews.com viewed her news articles on TerriPAC despite her claims that her articles have been stolen.
Maxam fails to realize that other news sources can interview the same people or find the same documentation (in this case publicly available FEC data) that she can. Again, Maxam feels entitled to be the only one reporting on Terri or Michael and attacks others who bring the truth to light.
Maxam appears to have a history of clashing with others about news journalism.
Maxam feuded with former partner Ginger Berlin when the two ran the Empire Journal, the NCG’s predecessor. They fought about a familiar topic — the ownership of news stories and money — and were embroiled in a legal battle over it.
LifeNews.com’s interest is making sure people get the latest pro-life news and are informed about these life and death issues. Our purpose is not to make money from reporting on pro-life topics — and our budget remains very small.
Reading our news or subscribing to our email list has been free since 1993 when LifeNews.com first started as the Pro-Life Infonet and that will always remain the case.
We are in this for the cause.
People like Terri Schiavo deserve to live. When their right to life is abrogated by abortion, euthanasia or embryonic stem cell research, whether some people like it or not, LifeNews.com will tell the story that the mainstream media often refuses to report or covers up with biased or inaccurate stories.