NY Times reporter Stolberg's "News Analysis" of political impact of stem-cell discovery omits researcher's admonition
Research ››› ››› MARCIA KUNTZ
In a November 21 "News Analysis" examining the political significance of the announcement by scientists in Wisconsin and Japan that they had successfully reprogrammed skin cells to function like embryonic stem cells without having to destroy an embryo, New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg wrote: "The findings have put people on both sides of the stem cell divide on nearly equal political footing." She wrote that President Bush "has steadfastly maintained that scientists would come up with an alternative method of developing embryonic stem cells, one that did not involve killing embryos." She added: "[N]ow that scientists in Japan and Wisconsin have apparently achieved what Mr. Bush envisioned, the White House is saying, 'I told you so.' " But at no point did Stolberg mention what Gina Kolata reported in a separate New York Times article on the same day -- that Dr. James A. Thomson, who led the research at the University of Wisconsin, said that, in Kolata's words, "it would be premature to abandon research with stem cells taken from human embryos."
Stolberg reported that "[t]he president and his aides have been quietly monitoring the Wisconsin experiments for months." Notwithstanding the reported attention the White House gave to Thomson's research, Stolberg gave no indication that she asked the administration to respond to Thomson's reported admonition that embryonic stem-cell research should continue.
Stolberg also wrote that "[t]he new findings could defuse the issue in the 2008 campaign, or at least that is the hope of candidates like [Republican presidential candidate Mitt] Romney." The fact that at least one of the scientists responsible for the breakthrough is saying that embryonic stem-cell research should continue is relevant to an assessment of whether the issue will be, or should be, "defuse[d] ... in the 2008 campaign."