CNN continues ratings countdown to the death of young Brittany Maynard

Let's face it. At this point CNN owns the Brittany Maynard "death with dignity" story. At this point, we are watching the final steps by in her pilgrimage to Nov. 1.

As always, when the rules of "Kellerism" journalism are being followed (click here for background on this salute to former New York Times editor Bill Keller), there is no need for any other point of view on this highly divisive issue. It would be hard to do otherwise, when the story literally began with the 29-year-old Maynard writing an exclusive essay for CNN.

This short update is the latest:

Brittany Maynard, the terminally ill woman who plans to take her own life, has checked the last item off her bucket list. She visited the Grand Canyon last week.
"The Canyon was breathtakingly beautiful," she wrote on her website, "and I was able to enjoy my time with the two things I love most: my family and nature."
Photos showed her and her husband standing on the edge of the canyon, hugging and kissing. 

But in real life, there is pain on the other side of these kinds of moments.

But her cancer reasserted itself.
"Severe headaches and neck pain are never far away, and unfortunately the next morning I had my worst seizure thus far," she wrote on her website. "My speech was paralyzed for quite a while after I regained consciousness, and the feeling of fatigue continued for the rest of the day."

It is especially interesting to note that, once again, there is no need to mention the links between the organization with which she is linked -- Compassion and Choices -- and the earlier end-of-life network known as the Hemlock Society. Note that it would be inaccurate to claim, as some activists do, that the Hemlock Society simply changed into Compassion and Choices. At the same time, it is strange not to mention (perhaps in a story longer than this update) the real connections inside this movement.

In a longer piece in CNN's Maynard campaign, there was a brief glimpse of viewpoints on the other side -- a very brief glimpse.

The so-called "death with dignity" movement is opposed by many religious and right-to-life groups, which consider it assisted suicide. But polls have shown that most Americans support having a say in how they die, especially if the process is described not as doctors helping a patient "commit suicide" but as ending a patient's life "by some painless means."
"I think there is something of a movement here," Arthur Caplan, professor of bioethics at NYU's Langone Medical Center, told CNN's Don Lemon. "When you push Americans to say, 'Do you want choice on this matter?' I think a lot of them are going to say yes."
When surveyed about why they wished to end their life, Oregon's terminally ill patients said they most feared losing their autonomy as their illnesses worsened.

Actually, I think the first sentence in that part of the story was supposed to say: "The so-called 'death with dignity' movement is opposed by right-to-life organizations and many religious groups, which consider it assisted suicide." I think it is safe to say that there are no right-to-life groups that support "death with dignity." If anyone knows of such a group, please let me know.

The poll results on this issue are, of course, all over the place and the results -- as stated -- tend to vary with the wording of the question.

In this case, I think the language "polls have shown that most Americans support having a say in how they die" is extraordinarily vague, even by CNN standards. A few specific poll questions and specific results would have been nice. You know, as journalism. And if the goal is journalism, it would also help to quote at least one real person -- perhaps a person facing the same life-and-death decision -- who is on the other side of this debate. Maybe a sidebar?

Just saying. That is, if the goal is journalism.

Please respect our Commenting Policy