CNN’s Stem Cell Blinkers

(photo: AFP)

The lead story on CNN’s website this morning hailed a medical breakthrough: Creation of a new windpipe for Claudia Castillo, a Spanish woman suffering from tuberculosis.

But as is often the case in media coverage of stem-cell therapies, the article falsely implied that the treatment — which was accomplished using adult stem cells derived from the woman’s body — was related to the morally fraught issue of embryonic stem-cell research.

Said the third paragraph of the CNN article, “Castillo was given the stem cell surgery, the controversial branch of medicine that some say could lead to human cloning, after suffering a severe lung collapse.”

Nowhere in the rest of the article did CNN explain that the therapy has absolutely nothing to do with embryonic stem-cell research using cells derived by cloning human beings, which has been condemned by the Church because it involves the creation and deliberate destruction of human beings in the earliest stages of their life.

CNN’s readers consequently are left with the inescapable impression that opposing embryonic stem-cell research would unjustly deprive people like Claudia Castillo of breakthrough therapies that could restore them to health.

Why can’t a huge media outlet like CNN, which employs elite journalists who report exclusively on medical issues, distinguish properly between morally acceptable adult stem cell therapy and morally unacceptable, life-destroying embryonic stem cell research?

We don’t know. But we can’t help but harbor a suspicion that the cable news giant, like many other major media outlets, is biased in favor of promoting embryonic stem-cell research.

— Tom McFeely