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October 21, 2008

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Ms Tamar Charney,

You have stated - 'if you regret your membership with Michigan PR let me know'. I regret supporting MI PR broadcast of Lessenberry's bigoted racial & religious slurs. This is part of an email to the executives @ MI PR:

It is interesting that WUOM finally got around to posting the audio interview within hours after I sent them this email.

To Steve Schram, Vincent Duffy, Larry Jonas, and Steve Chrypinski (Executive Staff at Michigan Radio a PBS station):

I support free speech. Even if I disagree with someone else's opinion I will even support use of public funds and private donations to allow access to public airways to voice that opinion. If the speech is irrationally intolerant, offends multi-cultural relations, and is mean spirited, it offends me and I will not support it financially.

I perceived yesterday's (October 20, 2008) commentary on Proposal 2 by Jack Lessenberry 'Stem cell lies' as mean spirited, an offensive religious slur and shallow superficial reporting. Mr. Lessenberry could have objectively voiced his opinion about his limited set of facts but, he chose to use bigoted stereotypes and personal assaults. This gutter level editorial is not the level of quality I have come to expect from Michigan Public Radio (WUOM, WFUM, and WGVU) . His superficial reporting was obviously biased and he is guilty of the same charges (misrepresenting facts) he levels at MI-CAUSE. I can't believe he actually claims to teach journalism. During your current fund raising spots, you frequently raise the point that you pride your station on objective reporting. However, you allow Jack Lessenberry to spout his pompous political rhetoric without any attempt to provide equal air for opposing views.

Unfortunately, you have not yet posted his comments on michiganradio.org so that I can quote him exactly. His commentary 'Stem cell lies' published in the Metro Times (10/8/2008 Politics & Prejudices http://metrotimes.com/news/story.asp?id=13325)provides much of the same ranting. (It is appropriate that it was printed in the Politics and Prejudices section.) I can summarize the religious slur he made: He attributed membership and financial supporters of MI-CAUSE to be 'a majority of Roman Catholics' and their opposition to Proposal 2 as the views of 'extremist religious fanatics.' He then went on to compare these fanatics to the Taliban:

'How could anyone oppose using them (embryonic stem cells) for potentially life saving research instead? Simple: Religious fanaticism. The same impulse that made the Taliban destroy the lives of women in Afghanistan. And the nuts are pouring money into an effort to defeat Prop. 2.' He further stated 'Not supporting this amendment is insanely irrational and stupid.' This leads me to believe that Jack Lessenberry believes Roman Catholics and other Pro-Life Religious groups are 'extremist religious fanatics' equivalent to Taliban Terrorists and are 'nuts', 'stupid',and 'irrational'.

Used in this context, Mr. Lessenberry reminds me of 1960 bigots that argued that President Kennedy and all Roman Catholics would be completely submissive to teachings of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church.

Why did Mr. Lessenberry choose to cite the Taliban as an example of religious oppression of women? North American history (white or Caucasian history) is full of examples of how white religious groups oppressed and still continue to oppress women in basic civil rights (and Mr. Lessenberry has a masters degree in history from U of M). Is it because Jack Lessenberry besides being a bigot is a racist? I am surprised that he didn't lump the the Taliban and Afghan's together as Muslims.

'So if the fanatics who oppose Prop. 2 succeed in defeating it, everyone with a brain ought to look for the nearest entrance ramp to southbound I-75.' It will mean we are dooming ourselves to become a scientific backwater.' Evidently, Mr. Lessenberry failed to research the facts as his alma mater (U of M) is currently conducting embryonic, adult, and umbilical stem search. The embryonic stem cells they use are from donors outside the state of Michigan. See link to U of M website touting their embryonic stem cell research. http://www.umich.edu/stemcell/overview/ It would be interesting to see U of M's financial records as to whether any state funds support embryonic stem cell research. (So much for not costing the citizens of Michigan any tax payer dollars.)


Mr. Lessenbery claims to have interviewed the leader of MI-CAUSE(David Doyle). By his own account, Mr. Lessenberry summarized the interview by his statements: 'He just lied, as does their advertising. Openly, brazenly lied...' 'When I asked Doyle about that he merely blustered and tried to talk over me.' It doesn't sound as though Mr. Lessenberry understands that reflective listening is an essential skill for objective investigative reporting. Usually, people try to talk over someone who is argumentative and hasn't demonstrated that they understand the point they are attempting to communicate.

In researching the issues surrounding Proposal 2, I found the following newspaper articles(from The Monroe Evening News, The Bay City Times, San Francisco Chronicle - attached) on the MI-CAUSE website that provide very sound non-religious arguments against Proposal 2. It appears that Mr.Lessenberry never took the time to research the issues from a broader perspective, he seemed to have already made up his mind. With a closed mind and his arrogant style (my perception of the tone of his commentaries aired over the years - although I agree with a majority of his editorials), I question if his interviewing style is argumentative and thus taints the interview and thus limits the quality of information.

I am a practicing Roman Catholic (converted as adult) and Pro-Life supporter. However, I don't blindly march in step with the Church (I read and pray about Church teachings and make an informed decision) nor do I blindly believe in political advertisements, talking heads, or self proclaimed 'objective' editorialist's. I don't need to cite religious dogma to state that Proposal 2 presents some very serious risks and I am skeptical of many of the claims of supporters. I am not a fan of big government bureaucracy but the current financial disaster causes me pause in throwing open the doors to unregulated big Pharma and Biomedical. To publish that failure to blindly jump on the embryonic stem cell research wagon would 'position Michigan as a scientific backwater' is ludicrous and devalues the adult and umbilical stem cell research currently being conducted here. It appears that adult and umbilical stem cell research has yielded and continues to yield the quality of life results that is still hoped and dreamed for embryonic stem cell research.

Mr. Lessenberry ends his ranting with two note worth statements:

'Nevertheless, the forces of darkness are trying to stir up conspiracy theories to distract voters from the real issue.'

'Let's stand with every great scientist who these kinds of people made suffer, and prove them wrong.'

Even Dr. James Thomson , embryonic stem cell research innovator (Univ. of Wisconsin. He the developed the technique for identifying embryonic stem cells), stated 'If human embryonic stem cell research does not make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, you have not thought about it enough. Those who seek to allow destructive research on human embryos, should reflect more.'

It appears that Mr. Lessenberry has created his own camp of darkness to cloud the real issues.

My support for public radio will not go to Michigan Radio. Mr. Lessenberry if you can't commit to professional journalism, why don't you pack your bags and find the closest on ramp to I-75 South so I can again support Michigan Public Radio.

Jack Lessenberry is one of the most valuable resources the people of Michigan have - I daresay he is Michigan's Edward R. Murrow. This coverage of the upcoming election is no exception.

Nothing of what Jack said is racist or bigoted in any way. It's true that the primary objections to this legislation are religious in nature; and the comparison of one brand of intolerant fundamentalism to another brand is perfectly apt (and provides an important juxtaposition for us to consider).

Jack (like Murrow) is exactly right that reporters seem nowadays to define objectivity as deferring equally to both sides as "stenographers," allowing bald-faced lies to be repeated unchallenged. That sort of practice is what now has us mired in Iraq and enduring a shattered economy.

You can tell opponents of Proposal 2 are in the wrong because up until this week, their misleading ad campaign has ignored the actual thrust of the debate (religious objections to scientific advancement) and focused on what was certainly a focus group-tested issue: taxes. They know their beliefs are way out of step with the vast majority of the public on stem cell research - so they're trying to squash reasonable legislation with fear-mongering about a completely unrelated issue.

Mr. Kuehl can rant and rave and twist Dr. James Thompson's words all he wants, but the good doctor still supports stem cell research. As he said in 2004 "I still think [stem cell research] is the most important, is that this is a important new research tool to understand the human body." Like all responsible scientists, he retains his healthy sense of skepticism and proceeds with caution.

Mr. Kuehl actually has the gall to invoke John F. Kennedy's speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in 1960 in spite of the fact that Kennedy was arguing against precisely the type of religious intermingling with government that Mr. Kuehl is apparently a proponent of. To wit:

"I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference--and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America [...] where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials--and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

[...] I do not speak for my church on public matters--and the church does not speak for me.

Whatever issue may come before me as President--on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject--I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates."

One need only drive by any of the numerous Catholic churches that currently have large anti-Proposal 2 signs in front of them to see exactly what Kennedy was guarding against.

Indeed; Jack did do his research (like Steve Wilson at WXYZ) - much to the chagrin of the MiCAUSE spokespeople who were no doubt hoping to run into more compliant members of the media that would allow them to regurgitate their falsehood-ridden talking points unchallenged so they could pollute the airwaves and distort the issue.

Luckily for us all, there are still a few great journalists around.

Thanks Jack.

Mr. DeVries:

Wouldn't it have been nice, and fair, and good journalism, for Jack Lessenberry to have asked this question of Dr. Sean Morrison:

"Dr. Morrison, I know that you are not directly involved in a certain advertisement supporting Proposal 2, but I need to ask you about the medical science behind it. The ad features a teenager who was paralyzed in a cheerleading accident. The advertisement talks about 'hope' for people like her. Is that, from your perspective, a fair claim, insofar as such patients and their families are justified in having 'hope' for a paralysis cure developed through embryonic stem cell research? Put another way, after several years of legal (and in many cases government-funded) embryonic stem cell research, in other states and across the globe, have we gotten close to a cure or a solution thanks to embryonic stem cell research?"

The honest one-word answer, I expect, would be, "No." I wouldn't expect, however, that Dr. Morrison would be confined to a one-word answer, and he'd probably (as someone whose professional interest is clearly aligned with more stem-cell research) say something like, "the ad talks only about 'hope,' and there is always 'hope.' So that part is not misleading."

Seriously, no fair-minded person can possibly think that the Pro-Prop 2 advertisement featuring the teenager is anything other than an oblique promise to paralysis victms, their families, and voters at large that the answer to paralysis is embryonic stem-cell research, and that all that is preventing a cure, or "hope" for improved outcomes is just a bad Michigan law. Which is pretty plainly a lot of b.s.

David Doyle was forced to fence with Jack Lessenberry about the terms of campaign advertising by the No on 2 forces. One might easily presume that the reason Mr. Lessneberry did that, was because average voters are not in a position to adjudicate highly complicated bioethics issues, but voters are faced, on a daily basis with campaign advertising. It is just a shame that one side's ads were attacked by Mr. Lessenberry without any question of the other side's ads. It was a crappy and dishonest way to approach this story, but it was the way Lessenberry chose.

Indeed there is hope eventually, for such a cure. But Mr Anonymous might want to be careful going down that road. Someone might ask President Bush's presidential candidate if we were close to "Mission accomplished": in Iraq.

There is "hope," eventually, for a cure for cancer. And the common cold. There is hope for an end to global poverty, and for world peace, and for cars that run on solar power.

I just don't remember any serious person running political ads promising such things. Unless of course it might be the Democrats.

Mr. Lessenberry is right on the money with Proposal 2. The proposal is supposed to be about lifting the ridiculous ban on embryonic stem cell research so that Michigan scientists can begin developing cures and treatments for diseases like juvenile diabetes, cancer, Parkinson's, ALS, and Alzheimer's. Instead, it's become defined by the lies and mudslinging of the religious right - lies that are threatening to keep Michigan locked in the intellectual dark ages, where scientific advancement is punished and potential cures are thrown out in the garbage like yesterday's newspaper.

Don't listen to radical stooges like MiCAUSE. Vote "yes" on Prop 2, and say "yes" to cures. Michigan patients and their families will thank you for it.

"David Doyle was forced to fence with Jack Lessenberry about the terms of campaign advertising by the No on 2 forces."

Dave Doyle is the cair and lead spokesperson for the group MiCAUSE, the group that is putting out the anti-2 advertising (though it should be noted that all of MiCAUSE's money is coming from the Catholic Conference and Right To Life). He damn well should have to defend his advertising.

In this day and age tv advertising is often the only way many voters get their information. MiCAUSE has put all of their money into making ads whose main thrusts are lies, fear mongering, and race baiting. Every reporter in this state should be asking the same questions Jack is. They should be demanding accountability from MiCAUSE's leaders. Here you have a group that is assaulting the people of Michigan with some of the most audaciously erroneous advertising seen in a long time, shouldn't someone stand up to it so that all those people who are just trying to make informed votes have that chance?


I remain confident that the people of Michigan will see past these lies. They will read the ballot for themselves and make the rational choice to stop throwing away extra stem cells and start allowing couples to decide if they want to donate them to research. That, after all, is the key debate here.

I will be voting yes on 2.

Let's here it for Prop 2! (Very honestly, I'll probably vote for it.) But fer crissakes, this business about curing Michael J. Fox's parkinson's, or Alzheimer's, or Lou Gherig's disease, or paralysis is such a lot of nonsense.

I challenge the supporters of Prop 2 to come up with a single disease in which medical doctors have anything more than a theoretical "hope" of curing any one of those diseases, with embryonic stem cell research.

Again, what Jack Lessenberry did with these two paired interviews was (1) politely and cooperatively introduce to his audience a pro-embryonic research scientist and (2) pointedly confront an anti-embryonic research political activist.

I suggest that this would have been a proper debate if Lessenberry had challenged (a) both sides' campaign ads, OR (b) introduced scientific researchers on both sides of the embryonic stem cell debate. He did neither.

Lessenberry did what best suited Lessenberry's political agenda.

Jack,

What is this phrase of your's supposed to mean: "Someone might ask President Bush's presidential candidate if we were close to "Mission accomplished": in Iraq" relative to the question of Prop 2? Who is "Bush's presidential candidate?"

I presume you're referring to Senator McCain, but the manner in which you phrase the reference reflects just how biased you are in your whole approach to journalism.

As far as Anonymous's line of argument of "no cures yet" (if I might summarize it that way), I suggest that this is a dead-end argument and really misses the core problem with embryonic stem cell research. That is, it is intrinsically wrong to kill human embryos. Certainly, some treatment of something will result with enough effort, time, and money. Honest and sincere opponents, one of whom I believe I am, would like all concerned to understand that the moral argument does not depend on the cures that might result. You just don't kill one person to treat another. You just don't do it.

It is quite a different thing and a separate category of moral question altogether to consider whether one can OFFER ONESELF (or parts of oneself) to treat another. That, my friends, is true love and compassion, but not what we're talking about when we consider extinguishing the lives of these embryos without their consent. And, their "parents' consent" is not their consent.

Roy apparently fails to notice that by "saving the embryos" from research, they are guaranteed to be poured down the drain. Personally, I'd rather be donated.

Jack,

I find it interesting that you have twice now attributed to me what I fail to notice or fail to mention. In fact, you fail to read closely or choose to ignore what I have written, and you simply do not reply to the questions put forward to you. But, then, you are used only to asking questions and never having to provide answers - this, I believe, is what irks many people about journalists.

As I wrote before, two wrongs don't make a right.

I will resort again to an analogy, and as an example, it really isn't that far from what proponents of embryonic stem cell research are advocating - perhaps a bit worn, but nevertheless true.

Condemned prisoners in Nazi concentration camps were experimented upon, ostensibly by bright, forward thinking medical doctors, ostensibly for pushing forward the frontiers of medical science, and ostensibly for the benefit of some nebulous group of patients somewhere. Just like embryos, those people were treated as things and not as humans with the same dignity accorded to you and me, Jack. Personally, if I was condemned to die, I'd just like to die peacefully, neither experimented upon nor flushed down the drain.

I can hear the lamentations of the pro Prop 2 folks already... Roy, you are some sort of backward Neanderthal, how can you compare this with Nazism, etc.! Search your innermost depths folks, and realize that these embryos are human beings. Do a thought experiment if you can't bring yourself to actually believe they're humans - just make that leap as a temporary assumption. Then follow it through. Apply all your personal standards of how people should treat you, and how you know you should treat others, and then think about what the implication of obtaining those stem cells is.

I stated before that I don't have a solution for the "condemned" embryos sitting in fertility clinics or about to be disposed of. That in itself is a terrible moral problem. Taking them for their raw material is not a corrective, moral path to follow. And again, though I'm repeating myself, there are other stem cells being used to good effect (adult stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells) without necessitating killing little tiny children.

the moral problem, as I see it, is what it always has been; religious fanaticism, and some people seeking to impose their morality on other people.

Jack, isn't it true that all law is the imposition on general society of someone's morality? After all, why is murder, theft, assault, etc., against the law?

The question of the humanity of embryos is neither a moral question nor one of religious fanaticism. It is a question of science, and it is well established - by science - that human embryos are human.

Why do you resort to calling people fanatics or at least ascribing religious fanaticism to me?

Can you answer a direct question?

The embryos are small clumps of undifferentiated cells which have potential, in this case to do great good for mankind. They are not "human," and in this case, have no potential to become human. Some religions believe otherwise. That is their right, but has no place interfering in secular legislation

People, let's face it; we will not dislodge Jack Lessenberry from his political views. Indeed, I have no desire, much less any hope, to do so.

What bothers me, and what Michigan Radio can't seem to answer, and won't answer, is why its "Senior Political Analyst" is entitled to slant the political conversations?

Michigan Radio may be kept in business by listener donations. Okay. But its entire infrastructure is based upon the funding of a public university, and those donations receive special tax-credit status by the state. If Michigan Radio were a public school (it is, in many respects) and it used its resources to promote a particular political party, or to assail a particular religious philosophy, it would be an outrage that would garner widespread press attention.

There was a time, when Michigan Radio served the legitimate goals of public broadcasting, providing high-quality alternative arts and information programming. There was jazz music, and classical music. There were local interview hosts who weren't as hopelessly wedded to left-wing politics as is Jack Lessenberry.

Michigan Radio, as well as Wayne State University's WDET, have both now joined the group of public radio stations that operate as little more than "Air America without commercials." Gone is virtually all arts programming. Gone are many of the local on-air hosts. Replaced by left-slanting nationally-franchised programming. Thanks to the wisdom of Michigan Radio and Wayne State's WDET, southeast Michigan radio listeners can hear the wonderfully anti-American BBC on two different stations at once. And so much other identical NPR news and NPR-affilated programming, that more than 80% of the programming is common to both stations.

So to those who think that Jack Lessenberry's "Senior Left-Wing Analysis" is a source of frustration, I suggest that you not waste your time on debating him; instead make your voices known to the University's leadership. The Board of Regents of the University of Michigan, under whose copyright this website is published and under whose "ownership" Michigan Radio is operated is dominated by Democrats. But this year there are two superbly-qualified Republicans to vote for, to return some balance to the board -- Susan Brown and John Lafond.

Make your voice heard at the ballot box this year.

Mr./Ms. Anonymous,

The question is a red herring. First of all, the claims made by Cure Michigan regarding the promise of stem cell research are accurate whereas the claims made by MiCAUSE (that proposal 2 will lead to higher taxes) are not.

Second, stem cell research hasn’t been around long enough with enough resources focused on it to be as mature as other scientific disciplines. Though the current age of rapid innovation has made us less patient, most revolutionary treatments take decades to produce. If artificial heart researchers like Bill Sewell, Dr. John Heysham Gibbon, or Dr. Robert Jarvik had given up on an artificial heart on the timeline you’re expecting ESR to produce results, they would have quit well before the first successful human transplant.

Nevertheless, there’s no reason Dr. Morrison’s answer would have been “no.” The vast majority of the medical and scientific communities believe that stem cell research (especially embryonic stem cell research) holds the best hope for curing conditions like paralysis. While there haven’t been any treatments for humans developed yet - current research is already showing benefits in animals (en route to advancements for humans):

http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20060621/stem-cells-help-reverse-paralysis
http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/02/stem-cell-advan.html
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stem-cells/CA00081 http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/health.asp

I would have liked to have heard Jack ask David Doyle about the slate of race-baiting ads his group has been running in Detroit, but we can’t all have what we want. The mass media has only limited space (and those ads came out after the interview took place).

The Prop 2 advertisement is a promise to paralysis victims, because that’s what stem cell research is. The argument you seem to be making (that Michigan should continue to ban ESR because other countries or states will produce a cure) is a non-starter because it’s like claiming that individuals shouldn’t bother raising money for breast cancer research because eventually someone else will produce a fix elsewhere. It’s a matter of resources and time; the more resources that can be applied to a field of research – the quicker the treatments will come. ESR is no different.

The only b.s. is the claim that just because ESR hasn’t produced any life-changing treatments yet, it won’t ever produce such treatments.

Doyle was forced to fence with Lessenberry because his campaign has made a number of untrue claims about Prop 2 and he couldn’t answer the straight-up questions honestly without undermining his campaign (like he made the mistake of doing in the Detroit Free Press) – he had to give a mealy-mouth response that his group wasn’t actually claiming that the proposal increases taxes.

Roy,

Jack is making a perfectly legitimate comparison; big problems take time to solve. If John McCain and the Bush administration were expected to work on the same timeline that the anti-Prop 2 side is holding embryonic stem cell research to, we would have packed it up and come back from Iraq by now.

“Bush’s presidential candidate” is John McCain. Do you dispute the fact that he received Bush’s endorsement?:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/03/05/mccain.bush/index.html

Mr./Ms. Anonymous -

Your attacks on the quality and balance of NPR's news coverage are utterly bereft of merit. NPR/PBS listeners/viewers consistently rank as the most well-informed of all the major news outlets:

http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/international_security_bt/102.php?nid=&id=&pnt=102&lb=brusc
http://www.livescience.com/culture/081015-political-news.html

Not only that, but the public is overwhelmingly satisfied with NPR and PBS (much to Ken Tomlinson's chagrin):

http://www.cpb.org/oig/reports/602_cpb_ig_reportofreview.pdf
http://www.cpb.org/aboutcpb/goals/objectivity/pollsummary.html

No, Mr. DeVries, you have it all wrong and you've mischaracterized just about all of what I have been writing.

I haven't advocated one side or another. Personally, I am inclined to vote for Prop 2. You missed the part where I said that, right?

What I was pointing out was the absolute asymmetry in the way that Jack Lessenberry chose to present this story. A political voice from one side, with whom Lesenberry felt he was able to argue; and a scientific voice from the other side, for whom Lessenberry only had worshipful questions.

THAT was my point, Mr. Devries, and no one has answered it. Not Jack Lessenberry, not Michigan Radio, and not you.

Moral choices inform all of our votes in the public arena. Faithful Catholics say that their moral compass mandates a certain kind of voting. Jack Lessenberry's personal moral compass apparently determines a different vote. I don't have a problem with that much of it. But for someone to say that personal morality can play no role in voting is just nuts. If Mr. Lessenberry really wants to claim that a person's religious faith and reading of scripture cannot form the basis of a vote, I'd like to suggest that his reading of the New York Times cannot form the basis of his vote either. Both prohibitions are an exercise in futility. As usual, hoever, Mr.Lessenberry only gets (and gives!) one side of that equation.

Mr. DeVries,

I am not, nor am I aware that the anti-prop 2 side, is desiring to hold embryonic stem cell researchers to ANY timeline. It is my opinion that NO results on ANY timeline will justify the use of embryos for medical research. NONE. It is morally unacceptable to kill embryos, and it makes no sense to argue "they're going to die anyway" (i.e., as Mr. Lessenberry has pointed out, "they're going to be flushed down the drain").

To your question about Bush endorsing McCain - of course, I'm aware of that. My point is that Jack Lessenberry's phraseology of calling McCain "Bush's candidate" is just one more example of Lessenberry advocating rather than analyzing or reporting. I'm sure you would agree that Lessenberry is simply trying to tie McCain to Bush to leverage Bush's current unpopularity to disparage McCain. McCain is not Bush, McCain is McCain, and he has a name, and Lessenberry would do well to show some respect by actually using the senator's proper name, even if it just the common respect necessary for civil public discussion.

Since he doesn't, though, it is fair to conclude he only wishes to use his "analysis" to advocate, rather than to educate.

Roy, I guess the only other response to Jack Lessenberry is to point out that Barack Obama is "Bill Ayers' candidate."

Mr./Ms. Anonymous,

I haven’t mischaracterized anything; I replied directly to the criticism of the interview and all of the subsequent points articulated. Yes, I did catch the part where you said you’re inclined toward supporting Prop 2 – and none of my post assumed you didn’t; it just answered the questions you asked.

- You wanted Jack to ask a detailed question of Dr. Morrison about an ad he had nothing to do with and then followed up with a presumption about what Dr. Morrison’s answer would be.
- I responded that the question was illegitimate because MiCAUSE deserves to be held to a different standard because they’re making untrue claims about prop 2 (which is not the case for Cure Michigan).
- I continued with a rebuttal of the argument that stem cell research hasn’t produced any treatments for humans (which contains in it the implication that it won’t produce any in future).
- I also responded with an explanation for why your presumption about Dr. Morrison’s answer was fallacious.

The interview was lopsided because MiCAUSE has made the debate lopsided by lying. Jack had nothing to take Sean Morrison to task for because Cure Michigan hasn’t lied in its campaign ads.

This same thing happened a couple of years ago in two interviews Terri Gross (of “Fresh Air”) conducted with Al Franken and Bill O’Reilly. Franken was on the program first talking about his book, which cataloged debunked lies that O’Reilly had told about his personal biography throughout the years. The next week, Gross asked O’Reilly to respond to Franken’s claims and he blew his stack and walked out of the interview, claiming the interview was unfair. It wasn’t – and for the same reason these interviews were legitimate. True, Franken had an easier position to defend – but that’s because (like MiCAUSE) O’Reilly took the initiative in putting out false information – to which he should rightly be held accountable.

You’re also holding Jack responsible for MiCAUSE’s apparently poor handling of its campaign; it could have presented a medical expert of its own (like it did for Steve Wilson of WXYZ), but it didn’t.

Jack never said that morality and religion shouldn’t be allowed to inform individual decisions on public policy. What he’s said, however, is that one group’s individual religious sacraments need to also have a secular justification before they’re applied to the rest of a society that doesn’t necessarily share those beliefs.

The campaign that MiCAUSE has waged (which has silenced the religious/moral rhetoric in spite of the fact that the Michigan Catholic Conference is the single biggest financial backer of the opposition at $2.79 million) has affirmed the legitimacy of Jack’s argument because it’s focused on taxes and oversight (neither of which gets to the core of why the MCC actually opposes ESC research). They know that an argument based solely on a particular religious worldview is unpersuasive.

Mr. DeVries you have REALLY stepped in it this time.

The Terry Gross example is one of the worst examples you could have picked, since it resulted in her having been criticized by NPR's then-Ombudsman, Jeffrey Dvorkin, saying that Terry Gross had been unfair to O'Reilly and had not allowed the interview to "develop." Dvorkin was probably disappointed to have had to criticize Gross for her bias, but he did.

I'm no great fan of Bill O'Reilly, but I had the chance to ask Terry Gross about this episode, and she really could not answer the question, which went something like, "You say you have different interviewing styles, one for artists, and one for politicians and political writers. And you say that you would like to challenge every political figure in an interview, although you wouldn't claim to do that with artists. But which liberal politicians have you 'challenged' a la O'Reilly?"

Clearly, Terry Gross has one style of interviewing for liberals and a completely different one for conservatives. Liberals get the "Franken" treatment; warm, fuzzy and funny. Conservatives get the O'Reilly treatment; a form of hostile cross-examination, really.

And it shows in the Fresh Air editorial decisions as well. If Ron Suskind writes an anti-Bush book, you can bet he'll be interviewed by Terry Gross, Tavis Smiley, "Morning Edition," "All Things Considered, Dianne Rehm, Bob Garfield, Amy Goodman, and any number of a half-dozen other NPR-affiliate programs. Any equivalent conservative's book; not so much.

NPR basically provides a steady 24-hour drumbeat of liberal orthodoxy, with taxpayer support. Michigan Radio (quite unlike WKAR or WCMU, or the Northern Ohio public radio stations, or Interlochen's public radio station) is no longer an "alternative" anything, since it is doing the same as what CNN or MSNBC is doing with respect to liberal-slanted news programming.

Back to Jeffrey Dvorkin's criticism of Terry Gross; here's the link:

http://www.npr.org/yourturn/ombudsman/2003/031015.html

Mr. DeVries,

I just want to clarify one misrepresentation or mis-statement from your last comment:

"What he’s said, however, is that one group’s individual religious sacraments need to also have a secular justification before they’re applied to the rest of a society that doesn’t necessarily share those beliefs."

The Roman Catholic church has seven sacraments: Baptism, Communion (Eucharist), Reconciliation (Confession), Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick (sometimes called Last Rites or Extreme Unction). So, none of the discussion of the opposition to embryonic stem cell research has anything specifically to do with our sacraments.

Is your mis-statement a big deal? No, not in and of itself. But it is indicative of a general trend - many people make public statements, claims, and criticisms of the Catholic church from a position of ignorance - sadly, even many Catholics (Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi come to mind as egregious examples).

The Catholic church's opposition to this proposed amendment is that it is immoral to take the life of the embryonic child to explore possible cures. The church is not opposed to other stem cell research - just embryonic stem cell research. That opposition is fully consistent with our other pro-life positions.

So, I would only request persons putting forward strong statements (pro or con) about what they think the Catholic church is doing would take a little time to educate themselves first. There's enough mis-information out there already. I suspect that most people, if they truly found out what the Catholic church stands for and why, would agree with most or all of it.

Finally someone understood my initial point in response to Mr Lessenberry's article in the Metro Times and his short version aired on Michigan Radio. Thanks to: Anonymous | Posted October 26, 2008 at 02:37 PM. My point was that I don't object to Mr. Lessenberry arguing for or against Proposal 2. His commentary started by intoning Edward R Murrow as a champion of the press for standing up to distorted logic and half truths being spewed by Joseph McCarthy and terrorizing those who would not bend to his cause. Mr Lessenberry then tells us Mr Murrow let Mr McCarthy hang himself with his own words. With this recitation of history Mr Lessenberry then tells us he is going to pick up Edward R Murrow's mantle and bring to light the lies being spread against Proposition 2. But what does Mr Lessenberry do? He chooses to make sweeping statements that: Catholics are behind these lies (makes no attempt to qualify this as to who these Catholics are - Bishops, Priests, Parishioners or factions within any of these groups) He then refers to them as religious fanatics comparable to the Taliban (who use violence e.g. murder/mutilation to threaten and coerce others to accept their views). He states that failure to adopt Prop 2 will "doom Michigan to the position of intellectual and scientific backwater".
So much for a lesson on the virtues of Edward R Murrow. Mr Lessenberry's hyperbole has just clouded the issues (or the true arguments behind opponents or proponents positions) even more than the all the advertising about Prop 2.

I confronted Mr Lessenberry in person tonight at Grand Valley State Univ. in GR (face to face) He had just successfully finished serving as a moderator for state politicians and academicians on the impact of either outcome in the presidential election on issues in Michigan (Economy, Health Care, and Energy).

I asked him on what basis did he justify comparing Catholics exercising their rights as citizen to oppose Proposal 2 to the Taliban in light of their use of murder and mutilation as a form of coercion. Mr Lessenberry stated that he never made such a comparison. I recited to him the statements that he made about Catholics being the primary opponents of Prop 2, they are telling lies, are not honest in their opinions, are first and foremost religious fanatics, and their actions are comparable to those of the Taliban. I explained that I was disappointed his commentary turned into mud slinging versus accurate reporting of what he had researched. He then recanted and said that he was repeating statements he heard in conversations with Joe Schwarz (Mr. Schwarz is the former Republican Congressman from Michigan's 7th District and was a panel member tonight at GVSU).
There were several witnesses to our conversation (WUOM employees). While walking to my car I was surprised to find that I had parked directly beside Mr Joe Schwartz. He was approaching his car as I was mine. I explained to Mr Schwartz the conversation I just had with Mr Lessenberry and how Mr Lessenberry had attributed his statements of Catholics being religious fanatics regarding Prop 2 and that Catholics exercising their democratic rights were comparable to the Taliban. Mr Schwartz denied ever making any statements close to that and emphasized "Why would I say something like that? I'm Catholic."
I referred to Mr Lessenberry previously as a bigot and a racist. I call him a bigot because of his careless use of arguments (over generalized) and lack probative value to the issue but serve to denigrate another (race, ethic group, sex...) with stereotypical arguments, comparisons, or name calling. I refer to him as a racist because he hides behind "white privilege" in making a statement about Afghan's and the Taliban (it is easier for him to gain sympathy for his argument or comparison by citing another racial or ethnic group than it would be to look into white U.S. history to find an example of religious or government oppression that used force or violence to coerce others to accept another's belief. Those of you who object to the word racist need to reflect on how you would react or feel if Mullah Mohammed Omar had made the comparison U.S. Citizens treatment of the Cheyenne Tribe, Japanese American Citizens WWII Internment, or The Tuskegee Syphilis Study. We don't have too look outside our own country or the majority race to point a finger at oppression

For all of you that have differing opinions on whether to vote Yes or No on Prop 2, I suggest that you follow anyone of these links to have a fair, objective and honest expression of several viewpoints regarding issues and the pros and cons.

www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/miracle/stemcells.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stem_cell_controversy

Make sure to check the sources but they appear to be reporting both side fairly.

I'll take the high ground and let Mr Lessenberry's own words hang him as to whether he is an objective reporter really trying to get to the issues and ethical or unethical behaviors of those opposing or supporting Prop 2.


I believe that Mr Lessenberry and WUOM's station management in relation to Mr Lessenberry's WUOM's broadcast commentaries on Proposal 2 and his editorial 'Stem cell lies' published in the Metro Times (10/8/2008 Politics & Prejudices http://metrotimes.com/news/story.asp?id=13325) are violations of NPR News Code of Ethics and Practices. The information posted below are portions of NPR News Code of Ethics and Practices and are copied from NPR's Ethical Code at:
http://www.npr.org/about/ethics/

Emphasis added.

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I look forward to your transparent, affirmative (open-minded, sensitive, civil recognition of the diversity of the country and world), and timely public response to these ethical concerns and any others raised on this blog site.

Sincerely,

Thomas Kuehl

Roy,

When I use the word "sacraments" (note the lower-case "s"), I'm referring to the dictionary definition of "sacrament" as "something regarded as possessing a sacred character or mysterious significance." I did not reference or refer to the Catholic faith; indeed, I referred generally to all religions (because the opposition to stem cell research extends to a variety of faiths outside even Christianity). Thanks for accusing me of being ignorant though.

I'm reasonably well aware of what the Catholic Church stands for; and I give it credit for being progressive and forward-thinking in some of its positions on issues of science (it's true many people don't know that the church has a considerable history supporting scientific inquiry). That said, however, it retains a great many positions I disagree vehemently with from legalizing assisted suicide, to same-sex rights, to contraception, etc.).

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