One of the worst stories by a major news organization on a health care topic was turned in by CBS’ 60 Minutes last Sunday with a piece it entitled on its website, “The Kanzius Machine: A Cancer Cure?”
The story was reviewed on HealthNewsReview.org and given one of the lowest ratings possible. The review summary stated, in part:
If the report were to be done and broadcast on 60 Minutes, it would have benefited considerably from additional context provided by other credible researchers. Did CBS look for and fail to find anyone skeptical of this technique? None was interviewed.
The story has elements that make it appealing as an act of infotainment: a lone-wolf outsider who can cure cancer with pie pans and hot dogs, a man motivated by his desire to help “hollow-eyed kids” with cancer, and hopeful researchers with impressive institutional affiliations, including a Nobel laureate said to have turned from skeptic to believer by the time he died from cancer.
But good stories don’t always make good journalism. This is such a case.
The segment is likely to raise hopes, clearly prematurely if not falsely, of millions of people affected by cancer, or even cancer risk. This is the opposite of public service.
The most disturbing aspect of the segment was its one-sidedness, its lack of context and independent perspective. And given that these segments run about 15 minutes, CBS can’t hide behind the excuse that this is TV and we don’t have enough airtime to go into great depth.