COMMENTS: Andrews the Advocate

CBS continued its Cures, Costs & Controversies series on the overall War on Cancer. Wyatt Andrews abandoned the norms of objective journalism to become an advocate for the biotech sector. He noted that federal research funding through the National Cancer Institute has been essentially unchanged since 2003, after six years of previous continual growth. As a result, clinical trials are available to 3,000 fewer patients. Andrews quoted a scientist and senator lobbying for funding increases to resume and Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong equating cancer deaths with dropping a September-11th-sized "bomb"--whatever that means--"every two days." But Andrews presented nobody to articulate the contrary case for the current no-growth policy.

After the high profile cases of Edwards' breast cancer spreading to her bone and White House spokesman Tony Snow's colon cancer spreading to his liver, in-house physician Jon LaPook explained that cancer kills when it spreads to vital organs: "90% of cancer deaths occur because of where cancer ends up--not where it begins." That is why so many patients "even though their original tumor has been removed" are given chemotherapy, in an attempt to kill undetectable microscopic cells.

CBS closed with an in-house human interest profile of a cancer patient. Its own news producer Diane Ronnau returned to work, pancreatic cancer in remission, despite being given just a 10% chance of survival. Sandra Hughes showed us the harrowing before-and-after pictures of Ronnau at work…and burst into tears.


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