Media ignored reports that representatives of Florida “agencies answering directly” to Gov. Bush planned to seize Schiavo

The media have largely ignored a March 26 Miami Herald report that representatives of “agencies answering directly to Gov. Jeb Bush” were headed to Terri Schiavo's hospice on March 24 “to take her to a hospital to resume her feeding.” According to the Herald, “a team of state agents were en route to seize her [Schiavo] and have her feeding tube reinserted -- but they stopped short when local police told them they would enforce the judge's order” that the feeding tube not be reinserted. Journalists have also neglected to press Bush on the story, despite having the opportunity to do so.

The story was reprinted in several other Knight Ridder newspapers, including the San Jose Mercury News and The Charlotte Observer, and was picked up by the Associated Press. The Los Angeles Times mentioned the report in a March 26 article on the status of the case, but to date the story has gone unreported in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and (save a mention about the lack of coverage of the story in Paul Krugman's March 29 column) The New York Times. On cable news broadcasts, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough noted on the March 27 edition of Scarborough Country that “there were actually state agencies that were going toward a hospice on Thursday night to remove her [Schiavo's] body,” and Fox News host Juliet Huddy mentioned the Herald report on the March 26 edition of Fox & Friends.* There was no mention on network news broadcasts.

Prior to the Herald report, The New York Times ran a March 25 article of the possible impact of the Schiavo case on Bush's political career, titled “In Polarizing Case, Jeb Bush Cements His Political Stature.” But the Times did not see fit to follow up by noting that Gov. Bush's administration reportedly acted to remove Schiavo from the hospice and reinsert her feeding tube, a highly controversial action explicitly opposed by the presiding judge in the case, who in response directed “each and every and singular sheriff of the state of Florida” to enforce the court order that the feeding tube not be reinserted. On March 29, the Los Angeles Times reported on the ramifications of the case for Bush and other Republican politicians in Florida but did not mention the story either.

Additionally, journalists with the opportunity to question Bush about the state's reported attempt to “seize” Schiavo have apparently not done so. Bush has spoken with the press at least once since the March 26 Herald report -- a March 28 interview with CNN -- but he has not been asked to address the substance of that report.

This item originally failed to note that the Herald story was mentioned on the March 26 edition of Fox & Friends. We regret the error. The story was also discussed on the March 29 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, which aired after the original item was posted online.