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Asman Gets His Comeuppance

Reported by Nancy - March 23, 2005 -

On 3/22 FNL was in seventh heaven, bouncing happily from Terri Schiavo (barbaric!) to Red Lake (massacre!) to John Couey (horrifying monster!). David Asman got positively giddy over a hostage situatio "unfolding" in NJ. They even threw in some sleaze, with a segment about a "bump & grind ban" on cheerleaders in TX. But the "tops" (as FNL would say) were Asman's interviews with Jay Wolfson, Terri Schiavo's court-appointed guardian, & David Korn, editor of "The Nation".

Schiavo:

At 11:00am (all times ET) Brigitte Quinn noted that Judge Whittemore turned down the request & TSchiavo's family [comment: still not using "Schindler") calls it "barbaric" to intro an update from Kathryn Herridge on the situation. Herridge read a "reaction" from Sen Bill Frist (R-TN) [comment: but did not read a "reaction" from anyone who supports the judge's decision].

At 11:02am Quinn interviewed Representatives Tom Aiken (R-MO) & Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) [comment: Quinn made sure to announce that Aiken voted for the Schiavo bill, Pascrell voted against it]. Quinn asked Aiken how he felt about the judge's decision, & Aiken called it "tragic," describing Terri as "mentally incapacitated." He said "we're gonna starve her to death" & that's "illegal to do to a dog in Florida." Pascrell noted that all previous decisions support Whittemore's decision & pointed out that "no parent wants to bury their children" but we should be concerned about Congress meddling in personal lives, adding "I feel deeply about this too." Quinn asked if Congress has set a precedent, & Aiken claimed it does not, saying that every Congress deals with about 30 things re individuals. Aiken trotted out one of the reactionary lines, saying that Congress was extending to TSchiavo "what we'd do for a serial killer on death row." Quinn asked if that's a "fair comparison" & Pascrell said it's one we "should avoid", because "she is not on death row" & that comparison "only exacerbates the situation."

At 11:16 there was an ALERT to show a live statement by Paul O'Donnell (Schindler family "spiritual advisor") that likened Mary Schindler to "another Mary" & what's happening to Terri to "another Crucifixion". Quinn noted that Terri's parents are taking the case to the court of appeals in Atlanta & added that O'Donnell will be on Cavuto this afternoon [comment: Quinn didn't say whether Cavuto would "balance" O'Donnell with someone more rational]. Quinn then interviewed Stacey Honowitz (attorney) on Schiavo. Quinn asked if Whittemore's decision is "likely to be reversed" & Honowitz said you "never can tell" but she feels it's likely to go to SCOTUS. Quinn noted that this case has received a "HUGE amount of national attention" & wondered if, "like the Gore-Bush election" SCOTUS must be the "final arbiter" in such cases. Honowitz pointed out that "legally it's the husband's right" to make the decision & "that's what all the courts have said" so SCOTUS "will have to follow the law."

At 11:22am, noting that "lawmakers" & "even the President" have gotten involved in Schiavo, Quinn interviewed Elaine Kamarck (former senior adviser to Gore campaign) & Rich Galen (political commentator, "Mullings"). Quinn showed a quote from DeLay [comment: whining about how he's just a poor, persecuted victim] & they started discussing the politics of Schiavo. Galen tried to blow it all off ("all Congress did was give the parents access to federal court") but Kamarck got in one good point about DeLay (saying that a "lot of people" are turned off by DeLay using this for political reasons, to distract from his own ethics problems) & one good point about Congress (after 15 years, "suddenly they decide they need legislation?"). Quinn asked the obvious question ("Are Americans skeptical about the motivation of Congress?") but neither guest really answered that. Galen brought up a GOP talking point (about how 47 Dems voted with GOPs on this), which gave Quinn the opportunity to try to frame this as a "partisan issue" but Kamarck was quick & noted that a lot of people are "wondering about the timing" & repeating her assertion that DeLay was "way overboard" trying to paint himself as being "in the same situation as this family."

At 12:04pm Asman noted that TSchiavo's parents are appealing Whittemore's decision to intro a report from Phil Keating at the hospice. Keating repeated a lot of the info already reported & tried to replay the clip of O'Donnell's statement "comparing Terri Schiavo to Jesus Christ" but couldn't because of tech problems.

At 12:16pm Asman interviewed Bill Kristol (Weekly Standard) re Schiavo & must have thought he was terribly clever to attempt wordplay with the phrase "crystal clear" because he used it repeatedly. Kristol said that while it's a complicated legal issue "morally [it's] not a tough call." Asman said the question is do moral arguments trump legal arguments. Kristol rephrased it as "Do we want husbands to have this much power over their wives lives?" & trotted out the standard line about TSchiavo's expressed wishes ("how credible is an oral statement after watching a movie?"). He also claimed that "people in favor of euthanasia have written these laws." Asman said "Meantime she's dying" & called it "a miserable way to die". Kristol agreed, & said it's a "miserable thing to be happening in this great country." He said the legal system can produce injustice [comment: news flash! & wouldn't I love to hear Kristol or any other reactionary ideologue say this about a wrongly convicted prisoner on death row, since that's a metaphor they're fond of re Schiavo]. He also claimed that people in DC "are angry at people trying to keep her alive" & that "there are people who want her dead" which he finds "distrubing" & "sick" [comment: what's "sick" is his mischaracterization of other people].

At 12:32pm Asman said "the Schiavos" are taking their case to the appeals court [comment: it's the Schindlers who are appealing the decision], then interviewed David Korn (editor of The Nation). Asman continued being cute with the phrase "crystal clear" but Korn ignored that & started to point out that Congress was "trying to engage in judicial actiisim." Asman interrupted to trot out the line about half of Dems voted with GOPs. Korn maintained that it's "clearly political" saying it's a GOP initiative because GOPs didn't like the results obtained in previous courts so they tried to put it in federal court. Asman *really* didn't like that, & disingenuously said "They want judicial activism? I thought they were protesting Judge Greer's activism." Korn wearily suggested that everyone should read the statement Terri's guardian wrote. Asman persisted, saying her parents want to take care of her, so "why doesn't Michael just give her care to them?" Korn replied that Michael "can speak for himself", noting that Michael has publicly said he's acting on her wishes. Then Korn did the unforgivable: he brought up that fact that in Texas, in 1999, then-Gov George W Bush signed into law a bill permitting hospitals to remove patients from life support over the objections of family members (see my colleague Ellen's post for more info about this). Asman quickly interrupted to say that the question is "really her wishes" then pulled the classic gotta-go-breaking-news routine.

At 12:46pm Asman interviewed Jay Wolfson (former guardian for TSchiavo). Asman asked what his "final conclusion" was & Wolfson went into great detail about the process he used (review entire med & legal records, 30,000 pages of documents, suggest additionall tests, spent 4 hrs/day with Terri for 30 days, spent time with her parents & with her husband) so Asman interrupted to ask if he ever got a "sense of consciousness" from Terri. Wolfson said he tried to elicit responses & went into some detail about PVS (e.g., during wake cycles you make noises or move your head, but it's all random), then said there was "clear & convincing" evidence that she was in a PVS. Asman said that a "doctor" was on Hannity & Colmes yesterday who said she could be rehabilitated, so there "does seem to be a division of opinion." Wolfson was firm that she is in PVS, saying it's about the "competence of evidence" & Hammersfahr was "unable to produce competent evidence." The best Asman could come back with was that "33 doctors he references agree with him."
[Comment: see my colleague Ellen's post for more info debunking this charlatan Hammersfahr]

At 12:59pm the "Asman Observer" was, of course, about TSchiavo. Asman said it reminds him of Elian Gonzalez because for months we were "embroiled" in a debate re one life & who should control it, but finally the "legal purists" won that debate. He wrapped up by saying "We're lucky to live in a country where so many care so much about every living soul."
[Comment: Well, not exactly EVERY living soul. We don't seem to care too much about babies in Texas being disconnected from life support, or about senior citizens who can't afford the medicines they need to stay alive, or about US citizens being held indefinitely without charges because someone thinks they might be a terrorists. And that's just here at home. It doesn't begin to cover all "living souls" around the world that we don't care about, like the 20,000 children who die every day from hunger.]

Sleaze:
At 12:53pm Asman said cheerleaders in TX are facing a "bump & grind ban" & interviewed J M Farias (Austin Cheer Factory) & Al Edwards (TX state rep). There was plenty of video of cheerleaders [comment: not to mention sanctimonious posturing by both Edwards & Asman].

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (FNL's coverage of the Schiavo situation). O/T comments will be deleted. Please use the O/T category from the list at right to post unrelated comments. Thanks.