CNN Reignites Death Panel Myth, Sparking My “Network” Moment

When will we change the course of corporate media? When will sane Americans take media to task? Can’t we end this media madness before the fabric of our society irreversibly tears?

Across America people suffer end-of-life illness. They agonize in pain. They agonize in fear. They’re in drug-induced stupors. Modest people soil themselves in front of friends and family. They avert their eyes in shame. They lose and regain consciousness. They welcome the unconscious moments that shield them from feelings of helplessness and burdening those they love.

This is no way to live. This is no way to die.

Throughout the recent debate on the health care bill, the media – in particular cable TV and talk radio – inflamed the rhetoric on the bill; on the bill’s size, its number of pages, its fiscal impact, its social impact, excluding abortion, surviving death panels…


The bill had no death panels. There was simply a plan to consult a doctor every five years for end-of-life planning. That was it. Sensitive, helpful, humane, necessary, professional end-of-life planning to comfort and protect the dying and guide their families through a difficult time.

But corporate media perverted the plan. It afforded Sarah Palin, media’s most caustic creation, round-the-clock amplification of her death panels misnomer. Rather than quell Palin’s toxic distortions and present the plan factually by name and content, corporate media appropriated Palin’s death panel fabrication and amplified it even more, spending weeks misrepresenting the plan and rendering it unrecognizable from its original form.

Eventually, corporate media’s constant drumming of death panel lies resulted in Section 1233 (which allowed Medicare to provide advance planning doctor visits every five years) being eliminated from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that passed in 2010.

On Christmas Day, the New York Times reported that President Obama would issue a Medicare regulation January 1st, which provides that “the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.” Sadly, but not surprisingly, corporate media didn’t hesitate to jump on this report and revive the death panel deception.

Witness CNN reporter Randi Kaye, sitting in for Anderson Cooper, ignite the death panel rhetoric between Democrat Maria Cardona and Conservative Nancy Pfotenhauer:

(Video by Linda Milazzo)

Enough, CNN! Enough! Stop trivializing and dramatizing critical issues and pitting one hack against another. These women speak for no one. Report the news. Report the truth and stop whoring your twisted wares in the name of journalism. This isn’t journalism. This is media destruction, fact distortion, and public denigration. Americans don’t need this. Our nation’s sliding into ruins and you ruin it even more.

This is my Network moment. I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore from CNN, MSNBC, Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS and talk radio. We-the-people deserve better.

This wretched corporate media cheered us into Iraq. It’s made downtown Manhattan the flash point for xenophobia and racism over the building of a community center intended to unify neighbors. It’s given a platform to birthers. It’s undermined global warming. It’s created the monster Sarah Palin and it craves creating more. It’s desecrating the living and it’s desecrating the dying.


My mother died in 1977. She had cancer. Before she died, I flew to her hospital bed in New York. When I arrived at the hospital, I ran down the hall and charged into her room. I hadn’t seen her in months. She was surrounded by family. My knees buckled the instant I saw her. A relative caught me and carried me into the hall. I shook from head to toe. My mother was a skeleton.

We took her home from the hospital. Her sister flew in to help care for her. The last months of her life were living hell. She was robbed of her dignity. She was ashamed of being helpless, of needing to be fed and bathed, of being seen naked. She couldn’t look us in the eye.

After a while, the weak pain killers the doctor prescribed couldn’t stop her pain. I drove to her doctor’s office in the snow and demanded a stronger medication. He prescribed injectable morphine. I took the prescription and had it filled. Later that day, a visiting nurse came to teach me to inject my mother. We rehearsed on the skin of an orange. That night my mother cried in pain. I went to her with the syringe and told her to relax; that it would be okay. She was semi-conscious.

I filled the syringe and positioned myself to inject her. I was shaking. My tears clouded my eyes. I held the syringe to her skin and I MISSED. At that moment, my mother came to. She looked at me and said, “It’s okay.” I was never able to inject her. Her suffering went on…

Linda MilazzoMy family’s story is not unique. This happens every day to families across our nation. Millions have similar stories, and yet our media, our whoring media, for ad revenue and ratings, trivializes and falsifies the truth. About death. About war. About our planet. About what we really believe.

It’s time for this madness to end!

Linda Milazzo

Published by the LA Progressive on December 29, 2010
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About Linda Milazzo

Linda Milazzo is a Los Angeles based participatory journalist and educator. Since 1974, she has divided her time between the entertainment industry, government organizations, community development projects and educational programs.

Linda began her writing career in advertising and promotions. From 1976 to 1989, she operated an independent public relations service providing specialty writing for individual and corporate clients. A socio-political activist since the Vietnam war, Linda has focused on political writing since 2002. Her essays, letters and commentaries have appeared in domestic and international journals, newspapers and magazines. She's an educator and creator of a writers' program she's taught privately and in public schools.

Linda has facilitated an advocacy writing workshop and has developed an advocacy writing program for implementation in public and private educational institutions and in community based organizations. She's a regular contributor to numerous high profile and highly respected news and opinion websites.