Presidents' Day created a vacuum of political and financial news and CBS' Katie Couric took the holiday off. In stepped the American Heart Association, which received full coverage for its publication of a set of guidelines for women about how to prevent heart disease. Much of it was frankly not newsworthy. Tips on improved diet, regular exercise, quitting smoking, losing weight are hardly headline grabbers. NBC anchor Brian Williams was not impressed: "A lot of this seems so basic," he told reporter Robert Bazell.
ABC's John McKenzie (subscription required) noticed that the AHA was standing up to the diet supplement industry: " Vitamin pills do not help prevent heart disease. Folic acid does not either." When CBS' in-house physician Jon LaPook covered recommendations to take preventative aspirin, substitute anchor Russ Mitchell asked if he had any cautions. "You have to check with your doctor before taking any new medicine, including aspirin," LaPook answered.
This is a pet peeve at the Tyndall Report. Medical correspondents routinely give such advice and, when they do, the follow-up question should always be: "What should uninsured patients who do not have a regular doctor do?" LaPook's assumption of universal coverage should not go unchallenged.
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