ABC's and CBS' evening news broadcasts have ignored the story of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's (R-TX) own experience with end-of-life decisions regarding his father, even as it gained significant attention across major newspapers and cable television channels.
The Los Angeles Times reported on March 27 that when DeLay's father was "badly injured in a freak accident at his home," leaving him "in a coma, kept alive by intravenous lines and oxygen equipment ... the congressman quietly joined the sad family consensus to let his father die." The paper noted DeLay's prominence in advocating the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube.
The Associated Press filed a story on March 27, as did The New York Times. Reprints of the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press stories appeared in newspapers across the country, including the Seattle Times, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and The Washington Post.
The cable news channels discussed the story as well. CNN featured the story numerous times, once on March 27 and then more often on March 28, including on its American Morning, Inside Politics, and Crossfire shows. Fox News Channel's Special Report with Brit Hume discussed the story on March 28. The story appeared on the March 28 editions of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews and Countdown with Keith Olbermann.
But the story did not air on the evening news broadcasts of either ABC or CBS from March 27 through March 31; during that same time period, it was mentioned only briefly on the March 27 edition of NBC's Nightly News. The story appeared on the network morning shows on staggered days -- ABC's Good Morning America on March 27, NBC's Today on March 28 and CBS' The Early Show on March 29.*
From the March 27 Los Angeles Times article:
More than 16 years ago, far from the political passions that have defined the Schiavo controversy, the DeLay family endured its own wrenching end-of-life crisis. The man in a coma, kept alive by intravenous lines and oxygen equipment, was DeLay's father, Charles Ray DeLay.
Then, freshly reelected to a third term in the House, the 41-year-old DeLay waited, all but helpless, for the verdict of doctors.
Today, as House Majority Leader, DeLay has teamed with his Senate counterpart, Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), to champion political intervention in the Schiavo case. They pushed emergency legislation through Congress to shift the legal case from Florida state courts to the federal judiciary.
And DeLay is among the strongest advocates of keeping the woman, who doctors say has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, connected to her feeding tube. DeLay has denounced Schiavo's husband, as well as judges, for committing what he calls "an act of barbarism" in removing the tube.
In 1988, however, there was no such fiery rhetoric as the congressman quietly joined the sad family consensus to let his father die.
"There was no point to even really talking about it," Maxine DeLay, the congressman's 81-year-old widowed mother, recalled in an interview last week. "There was no way [Charles] wanted to live like that. Tom knew -- we all knew -- his father wouldn't have wanted to live that way."
Correction: This item originally failed to note that the story regarding DeLay's father was mentioned briefly on the March 27 edition of NBC's Nightly News and in a full story on the March 29 edition of CBS' The Early Show. The CBS transcript was not available in the Nexis database until after the item was posted online. We regret the error.