Where are they now?

Teri Schiavo

Deafening silence in medialand

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The autopsy results for Teri Schiavo were released today. One might expect that cable news would be all over the story. After all, three months ago they gave us all-Teri, all-the-time, 24/7 coverage of every sordid twist and pathetic turn of the end of her life.

You remember the spectacle— The priest in his Friar Tuck robe. The clutch of family members shuffling back and forth across the street. The sign-carrying, taped-mouth vigil keepers. The midnight flight of Air Force One so W could sign a special law. The Senator Frist and Representative DeLay making dramatic statements about the Culture of Life and Erring on the Side of Life. Jesse Jackson (Lordy! That man is drawn to TV cameras.)

Surely CNN would be advertising an hour-long prime-time Larry King special.

Certainly MSNBC would be on the scene.

Fox News would have a fair and balanced special alert.

Nope. When I tuned in, the talk-mongers were all on other important stories:

• CNN was telling the story of Percy Arrowsmith's death at the age of 105 in London and recalling that Percy and the Mrs. had just celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary. There wasn't even a crawler on the bottom of the screen.

• MSNBC was telling flogging the story of the northern California earthquake and, since this was a non-event, interviewing people about the tsunami in 1964 in the same area.

• Over on Fox News, Shepard Smith was recounting the story of a bear that stole a cooler of Coors from campers in West Virginia but only drank three cans of the Coors, apparently preferring Bud Light.

Only Wolf Blitzer tried to stir the embers of this long-dead story. He showed a clip from the Florida pathologists releasing the report. He interviewed a forensic pathologist and asked the usual inane "what-if" questions about the hypothetical benefit of unspecified treatment she didn't receive at the time. And, he played a clip of a lawyer for the parents who insisted that there were still unanswered questions, such as an unexplained 7-minute gap between the original incident and when her husband called 911. "Very suspicious," he maintained.

Actually, I rather admire Wolf for even revisiting the story. Who can blame the others for keeping their distance? It was not one of their finest moments. But then, Wolf is totally shameless.

Update: Since originally writing this, a few others have had short stories on Schiavo's autopsy results, including that guy with two last names and no first name, Anderson Cooper. But none has revisisted the talking heads who were so adamant she could recover if they would just give her a little therapy.

But now that the results are in, I think some follow up questions might well be in order:

  • Senator Dr Frist: Now that Teri Schiavo's autopsy shows that she was functionally blind, would you care to modify your long-distance diagnosis that she was responsive to visual stimuli?
  • Representative DeLay: Teri Schiavo's brain was half the normal size for an an adult woman. Do you still believe she just needed a little therapy?
  • President Bush: Was the midnight flight of Air Force One erring on the side of life, or erring on the side of stupidity and political opportunism?

Where are they all, these seekers of truth and justice we call the media?

That's easy— They're in Aruba hyping the latest missing young blond woman story!

Natalee Car with slogans Parents Her aunt