Not Another Terri Schiavo Column

Posted March 31, 2005 at 10:39am

I don’t know if there is an insatiable appetite in the public for media coverage of Michael Jackson and Terri Schiavo, but I’m ready for the baseball season.

Schiavo’s story has been indeed a sad one, even with her passing, with no winners. It features feuding family members (most of whom are unappealing), loud-mouthed activists and spokesmen who seem to possess more opinions than facts, and media reports that play on emotion and ignore serious legal, moral and philosophical arguments. [IMGCAP(1)]

The only truly sympathetic person throughout the controversy was Terri Schiavo herself, who became a pawn for pro-life activists and a cause celebre for their opponents.

I can’t believe that the same old film footage was recycled again and again on television, without any comment (except for tiny dates in the corner of the screen) about its age. Or that cable TV networks believe that every public utterance from a Schiavo family member or a political activist merits a microphone.

Then there are those predictable stories about how the Republicans are going to suffer at the polls in 2006, 2008, 2012 or 2040 because voters don’t like what Congress did to try to keep Schiavo alive.

Apparently, it never occurred to some people that other events during the next 20 months might have an even bigger impact on voters before the midterm elections. The elections aren’t next week or next month; they are next year. Don’t you think something even more noteworthy than Terri Schiavo might just happen between now and next November?

I must admit, though, that I have been impressed by the way that Democratic leaders have wisely stayed clear of the Schiavo subject, preferring instead to allow some high profile GOPers to dig their party into a hole. All the Democrats would need to turn the issue in the Republicans’ favor is Michael Moore to start opening up his mouth.

The Schiavo case has raised serious questions. But the coverage has been more circus than substance, and I stopped being interested in all of the back and forth arguing and simplistic posturing sometime last week.

Then there is Michael Jackson and his trial.

Wouldn’t we all be better as a people, as a country and as a species if everyone just ignored Jackson? He’s just a really, really, really weird person whose face would scare my dog, if I had one. I’d prefer he wasn’t on my television set.

Yes, I know, watching Michael Jackson is a little like watching a car wreck. We are all drawn at least a little to the bizarre, and Jackson himself is the definition of freak. But enough is enough.

I believe that I could go the rest of my life without seeing another Michael Jackson story and not be the worse for it. While the United States is helping spread democracy around the world, could we please also try to spread some sanity by cutting back on the Jackson trial coverage by about 90 percent?

Which brings me to baseball, and to the 2005 season that is about to begin in a couple of days.

Yes, that sport has its share of jerks, its shadier side (steroids, anyone?) and its problems. But when you get right down to it, the sport is about hitting a ball, throwing a ball and catching a ball. And it’s about running around the bases. Pretty simple, straightforward stuff.

How refreshing. Play ball.

Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.