New Republic article calls
Kevorkian a 'public relations
"Journalists legitimize Kevorkian's activities as medical practice by
calling him a doctor, without mentioning that his medical license was
revoked in 1991 and that the only remedies he "prescribes" are poisons.
They call his customers "patients," though people come to him to be put
away, not cured. . . . .
"The selling of Kevorkian and the distortion of his program constitute
. . . . a public relations triumph for a man who has spent the past seven
years as Kevorkian's attorney . . . Geoffrey Fieger . . . . [who] has
transformed his client from media devil to media darling. In this, his
biggest asset has been The New York Times . . . .
[It has been] is the norm for the press to report as fact whatever Fieger
says. Someone has died with Jack Kevorkian at the bedside. the
coroner has ruled the death a homicide. In any other circumstances, the
death would be treated in the press as such. but in this case, the
headline reads "ASSISTED SUICIDE." Why are the media so willing to
suspend disbelief and accept the view of the man accused of
participating in the homicide? The answer, ultimately, is about the
biases that journalists bring to their jobs . . ."
From "The Selling of Doctor Death: How a Savvy Lawyer and a Pliant
Media Turned a Mad Scientist Into a Public Hero," by Michael Betzold in
the May 26 New Republic.
Betzold's harshest words are reserved for reporter Jack Lessenberry, who
covered Kevorkian for The New York Times. According to Betzold,
Lessenberry did much more than "cover" Kevorkian." Lessenberry
"admits he edited an article Fieger wrote for Penthouse," that he "passed
on to The New York Times, via his own computer, an op-ed piece Fieger
wrote, and the Times published"; that he "threw a party with Kevorkian
and Fieger as the guests of honor" and that he got a job as a reporter for
a Frontline documentary on Kevorkian because of Fieger's
Betzold writes that Lessenberry reported Judith Curren's death as being,
in Kevorkian's words, "her decision."
"No critics appeared in the [New York Times] story to question
Kevorkian's claim," writes Betzold. " . . . . Boston and Michigan papers,
wire services and many other publications reported that Franklin
Curren, a psychiatrist, was being probed for improperly prescribing
drugs to his wife. Three weeks before his wife's death, Curren had been
arrested on a domestic assault charge. . . . The Times reported virtually
none of this. . . ."