For example, an AP story that had 6 voices of people criticizing the new recommendations and only 4 who supported them.
Within that story there was more troubling imbalance and even inaccuracy. It allowed one woman to say “I don’t know how the US government or a panel of government officials can think they know better than the American Cancer Society.”
That statement went unchallenged.
The US Preventive Services Task Force is NOT “the US government or a panel of government officials.” The task force is made up of independent primary care doctors and others whose stated interests include: decision modeling and evaluation; effectiveness in clinical preventive medicine; clinical epidemiology; the prevention of high-risk behaviors in adolescents; geriatrics; and the prevention of disability in the elderly.
The AP story also included the perspective of one Chicago-based breast cancer advocacy group that opposed the recommendations, but didn’t include the perspectives of two much larger national advocacy groups that support the recommendations – the National Breast Cancer Coalition and Breast Cancer Action.
One of my local TV stations – KMSP Fox 9 in Minneapolis – had a story with a single patient anecdote: a woman who said her life was saved by a mammogram in her 40s.
Why weren’t there any anecdotes like the one I wrote about recently – from the Sunday Times of the UK – a story about harms and regrets from breast cancer screening.
And I already wrote last night about CBS’ physician-“correspondent” Dr. Jennifer Ashton concluding her story about the USPSTF recommendations by telling viewers she’d have a hard time accepting them and sharing them with patients.
This is not journalism. This is not how journalists can lead a discussion about evidence-based medicine. Rather, this is how journalism gets swept away by the one-sided rhetoric of rationing.
Already – once again – I see online commenters referring to the independent panel’s recommendations as signs of what’s to come with “Obamacare.” If we can’t elevate the discussion about evidence-based medicine any higher than that, we are doomed.