Tuesday, October 28, 2003

CNN and Larry King Play Host to Schiavo and Felos

Last night Larry King Live featured a full-hour interview with Michael Schiavo --looking for all the world like a downtown Miami coke snorter with fake Rolexes to sell-- accompanied by geeky Newage lawyer George Felos.

Of course, with maybe one notable exception (about which in due course) King asked no hardball questions and to date has made no plans to give Terri’s parents equal time. Even the call-in segment, which lasted less than 20 minutes instead of the usual 30 or more, was typically bland with the deck stacked in favor of callers sympathetic to Schiavo: Of the six callers aired, only one posed anything approaching a skeptical query.

Our initial impression of King's interview with Schiavo and Felos can be summed up in two words:


--When asked by a skeptical caller if he would be willing to take a polygraph test to back up his claims and "settle" this controversy "once and for all," Schiavo hemmed and hawed and evaded, saying that the "nineteen judges" who believed him were "enough" of a test."

--When asked by Larry King if CNN would be allowed to take a camera crew to the hospice to document Terri's condition for themselves, Schiavo declined with Felos replying that they wanted to "respect Terri's privacy” (a little late for that, ain’t it, George?)

--When Schiavo claimed that Mr. Schindler –with, conveniently, no witnesses within earshot-- demanded to know where his share of the malpractice award was, Schiavo neglected to mention the fact that the Schindlers were never a party to the malpractice suit to begin with. Therefore, they would have had no rational expectation of receiving a share. King should have asked Schiavo about that but failed to do so.

--When King played a tape of an interview with Terri’s brother, in which the brother asserted that Terri had responded to him and tried to communicate with other family members, Schiavo called him a “liar,” claiming that he could “count on one hand” the number of times her brother visited her over the past 13 years. Schiavo’s only “evidence” for that claim was that those were the only times he saw him there. King let that one slide as well.

--When Schiavo made the preposterous claim that Mr. Schindler had received a letter from "an inmate" offering to kill Schiavo, and implied that Mr. Schindler welcomed the offer by not releasing the letter to the police, King failed to pursue Schiavo with some obvious questions, such as "how do you know?"

--However, and to his credit, King finally asked Schiavo something approaching a probing question and elicited a very telling response from Schiavo:

When King asked Schiavo why he thought Terri's parents were so intent upon opposing his decision to kill their daughter, he replied that they were trying to "just make [his] life Hell" because they were influenced by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

Never mind that by his own admission in a 1993 deposition Schiavo tried to have his wife killed waaaaay back in 1993 --long before the VRWC showed up on Terri's doorstep-- by instructing Terri's caretakers to refrain from giving her antibiotics for a severe urinary tract infection. About which King, of course, said nothing.

Not very impressive.

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