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Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Star Struck by Michael J. Fox

-By Warner Todd Huston

The AP appears to be star struck by Michael J. Fox with the debut of his campaign ad for Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill and several other Dems this week. So star struck that the AP has pronounced him a great success in a puff piece today. But how can they possibly know for sure if his ads are working?

Michael J. Fox Makes Stem Cell Vote Push, by Jake Coyle.

The symptoms of Parkinson's disease that all but ended Michael J. Fox's acting career are making him a powerfully vulnerable campaign pitchman for five Democrats who support stem cell research.

"Powerfully vulnerable campaign pitchman"? But, what is this assessment based on?

Seemingly, it's based just on the AP's being star struck because the elections haven't happened yet to see if Fox's ads even worked! Worse, they have claimed Fox so successful but a few days after the ads debuted. By what measure are they proclaiming this "powerful" impact?

AP offers that Fox's Youtube.com ad has been seen by "more than 1 million people", making that seem a big number presumably. But there are more than 5 million voters in Missouri alone, so the percentage who have seen this ad must be small, indeed. Is that success? And, remember, this one million viewers number is from the whole country, not just Missouri. (It has also shown on TV during the World Series -- a new low for viewership at only just over 8 million nation wide -- making a possible total of around 10 million viewers or so)

The AP quotes Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director for the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center to the effect that Fox is a "powerful" spokesman.

"The reason that he's powerful is that he's comparatively young,"...

Jamieson notes that the issue of stem cell research has the potential to be an advantage to Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections since polls have shown the majority of Americans favor some form of stem cell research.

Now there is another problem with this puff piece. Stem cell research is going strong in this country if you are talking adult stem cell research. Yet, this AP report makes it seem as if there is a battle against "stem cell research", not making clear exactly what the issue is.

Now, it's true that embryonic stem cell research has been restricted by the Bush administration and is opposed by Conservatives and religious Americans. And it is embryonic stem cell research that people like Fox and politicians like McCaskill are trying to get approved.

But, embryonic stem cell research has not seen a single successful cure or even a possible cure as the Family Research Council reports.

With increasing frequency, American citizens and others from around the globe are experiencing newfound freedom from disease, affliction, and infirmity. Individuals' lives are forever changed with the strengthened faith and renewed hope that arise from healed bodies and physical restoration. These seemingly miraculous cures are the result of adult stem cell treatments. Yet the debates in the popular media tend to ignore and obscure the medical breakthroughs made by adult stem cell research--success that has conspicuously eluded embryonic stem cell treatments.

While the potency and success of adult stem cell treatments are becoming evident, treatments using embryonic stem cells have not produced any clinical successes. Rather, embryonic stem cell treatments tend to create tumors in numerous animal studies. The public should ponder these issues and ask why the media do not cover such results. In a world with limited funds for research, why are we arguing about unproven and often dangerous embryonic stem cell treatments when treatments using adult stem cells are today producing real results for real patients?

So, why does the AP report a story without revealing the utter lack of success of the type of research that Fox is advocating for? If the research he is advocating for has proven entirely unsuccessful, why did that go unmentioned in this discussion of how "powerful" Fox's campaign pitches are?

Of course, if they mentioned any of that, they might be tarnishing their beloved star's reputation!

And we can have that from such great fans, I suppose.

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