Monday, November 21, 2011

Media's double standard on human embryonic stem cell research

In the Weekly Standard, Wesley Smith writes about the shutdown of Geron's human embryonic stem cell experiments and the media's response to this news compared to the media's response to previous news promoting Geron's embryonic stem cell program.
You would think Geron's failure would be very big news. Instead, it turns out that the mainstream media pay attention only when embryonic stem cell research seems to be succeeding—so far, almost exclusively in animal studies. When, as here, it crashes and burns, it is scarcely news at all.....

Similarly, the San Francisco Chronicle, which had given front-page exposure to a local company when Geron's trial got underway, reported the failure of that trial in a small report on the back page of the business section. The New York Times, always quick to applaud embryonic stem cell research, placed a small story at the bottom of page two of the business section.....

No one should be surprised by the double standard. The media have always been in the tank for embryonic stem cell research, often breathlessly reporting hype and spin from company PR spokesmen as if it were hard news. This approach sprang largely from the media's antipathy for the pro-life movement, the most prominent opponent of research requiring the destruction of human embryos.