The new (November 13) edition of People magazine is out with a sympathetic profile of the embryo-destruction lobbyist Michael J. Fox, nice slanted reading for the weekend before the election. Reporters Susan Schindehette and Mike Lipton concluded with how Fox "at one point even raises the specter of what his ultraconservative Family Ties alter ego, Alex Keaton, might think about his support for Democrats. 'I think he's probably tell me to put my tie back on no matter how hot it is,' says Fox with a grin. 'But I think he would tell me I'm doing the right thing.'" (Conservatives who remember that show could say of Alex, "Ultra-conservative? A guy with a Richard Nixon lunchbox??")
As you might suspect, People's account largely drained the partisanship out of the Fox crusade. The word "liberal" is never applied to him, and the word "Democrat" is sparse. In photo captions, we learn Fox appeared at an event for "pro-embryonic stem-cell candidate Tammy Duckworth." In another, he's "at an Ohio rally for Rep. Sherrod Brown."
But there's room for "conservative" and "ultraconservative" labels. On the second page of the article, People writes "Conservative critics like Rush Limbaugh [see box on page 72] accuse Fox of using the stem-cell issue as an excuse to shill for Democratic candidates; others decry his pro-stem cell position as not respectful of the sanctity of life." Fox then rebutted with the "majority of experts" believe it's the "most promising avenue" of research.
People also has real trouble directly acknowledging the obvious point that embryos are destroyed in embryonic stem-cell research. In that box on page 72, the text began indecisively:
Michael J. Fox calls embryonic stem-cell research "potentially life-saving." Pro-life critics say it destoryed the life of an embryo, or as Rush Limbaugh maintained, it offers "false hope for curing diseases."
Later, when exploring the "downsides" to embryo-destroying research (like tumors in lab rats), the fuzz continued:
Also of concern to critics: Is a human being sacrificed to obtain the cells? "'I think we need to give the ethical benefit of the doubt to the young embryo," says Dr. David Prentice, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council. To Fox, however, "the cells that are left over from in vitro fertilization...are not going to become life," as he told CBS's Katie Couric. "They're being thrown away."
People doesn't acknowledge that these embryos don't "become" life. They are each a human life. They may not "have a life," but they are human life.