The NY Times resumes its comical "coverage" of the Terri Schiavo story by looking at how the story was handled by the talking head shows over the weekend. Their focus was on the video of a seemingly-responsive Terri Schiavo, but Ms. Heffernan also wrote this:
Ms. Schiavo's case is complex, and the complicated dynamics of her family life, as well as her medical history, have been a subject for the courts, but rarely for television.
The networks missed a chance to do the story right, to cover its full arc and give viewers more than a few snapshots on which to base their discussion of this pressing moral issue.
"The complicated dynamics of her family life?" Times readers who bought the subscription but lost the decoder ring must wonder what that means.
Let's see if we can help - put your hand up if you are aware that Michael Schiavo has a very complicated personal life, since he is now living with another woman, by whom he has two children. Do you suppose this influences, if only subconsciously, his desire to see Terri continue to live? Once she dies, he can marry the mother of his children - what does he want, and what does his new love interest want?
This is all gibberish to Times readers, of course - in eight bylined stories about the Schiavo situation since March 17, the "other woman" has not been mentioned. Cherchez la femme, but don't cherchez in these pages.
Anything else? Well, since you ask, raise your hand if you knew that there was some malpractice award, and a trust, and that Michael Schiavo stood to pocket anything not spent on the care of Terri Schiavo. Oh, if your hand is up, you are getting your news from outside of Timesworld. Their only mention of a possible financial angle is here:
The battle between Mr. Schiavo and his wife's parents began with a rift over a $1 million malpractice settlement. In 1998, when Mr. Schiavo went to court for permission to remove his wife's feeding tube, the Schindlers challenged him.
Now, does this mean that Michael Schiavo's judgment must be warped by love, or greed? Of course not. But is it part of the story? We are trying to understand why this man is so determined to see his wife's life ended - surely a bit of basic background into his own situation is appropriate. Or surely not, at the Times.
MORE: These are the major Times stories - I dropped the wire service and some local color reports.
UPDATE: Ask, and ye shall receive: on Mar 22, the Times puts this in the last two paragraphs of their lead Schiavo story:
In Tallahassee, Gov. Jeb Bush said he was grateful to Congress for passing a law but said he still wanted the Florida Legislature to pass a measure tightening the requirements for guardianship. Mr. Schiavo lives with a girlfriend with whom he has had two children, and Mr. Bush said that presented a conflict of interest.
"I think our state ought to change our laws to say in those circumstances, that that guardian needs to be changed," Mr. Bush said.
Meanwhile, Times readers with a long memory will remember their profile of Michael Schiavo from Nov 2003. The print version, and the on-line archive, are titled "With His Wife in Limbo, Husband Can't Move On"; apparently somebody realized that this story is about more than Michael, so the revised headline is "Schiavo Case Brings Unwelcomed Spotlight". It could have been titled "Schiavo - Saint or Monster", because it tries to present both sides (but guess which way it leans). The key tidbit - Schiavo's attorney claims the malpractice award is essentially exhausted.