Right-Wing Media's Cognitive Dissonance Persists In "Baby Joseph" Case


The right-wing media has consistently portrayed the medical case of Canadian baby Joseph Maraachli as a fight for survival, claiming he was "rescued" from the Canadian hospital treating him, thus "sav[ing]" the child's life. In fact, Maraachli's condition is incurable -- a fact conceded even by the conservative priests who facilitated moving Maraachli to a Catholic hospital in the U.S. -- and the Canadian hospital had agreed to all of his parents' requests to discharge and transfer the child.

Right-Wing Media Falsely Claim Maraachli "Has Been Given The Chance To Live"

Doocy: "A Canadian Health Panel Wanted To End His Life" But Now He's Getting A "Second Chance." On the March 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy teased an upcoming segment by claiming, "A Canadian health panel wanted to end his life. But now Baby Joseph, who we've been telling you about, is getting a second chance after being whisked off to the United States." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 03/15/11]

MacCallum: "The Terminally Ill Child Known As Baby Joseph Getting A Second Chance At Life Here In The United States." Later on Fox & Friends, guest host Martha MacCallum introduced a segment with the child's father, Moe Maraachli, by claiming, "The terminally ill child known as baby Joseph getting a second chance at life here in the United States...Joining us now are the men who saved baby Joseph's life." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 03/15/11]

The Blaze: "A Canadian Baby Has Been Given The Chance To Live." A March 14 post on Glenn Beck's website The Blaze claimed, "A Canadian baby has been given the chance to live after a Catholic group secured his transfer to an American hospital on Monday." The post credited the group Priests for Life for flying Joseph "from Ontario, Canada to SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis." [The Blaze, 03/14/11]

FoxNews.com: "'Baby Joseph' Gets Second Chance At Life In U.S." A March 14 FoxNews.com article, titled "'Baby Joseph' Gets Second Chance At Life In U.S.," claimed, "The baby who was hours from being pulled off life support at his Canadian hospital has been rescued by the national director of Priests for Life and taken to the U.S. for treatment." [FoxNews.com, 03/14/11]

But Maraachli's Condition Is Incurable, Even With Transfer To Missouri Hospital

Canadian Baby's Condition Irreversible; He Remains In A "Persistent Vegetative State." According to the Canadian news agency Postmedia News:

Joseph has been at London's Victoria Hospital since October, suffering from severe and progressively deteriorating neurological problems.

His brain is losing function and he can't breathe on his own or swallow.

After a battery of tests and various examinations, specialists in London concluded that Joseph has no prospect of recovery and is in a persistent vegetative state. [Postmedia News, 2/17/11]

Numerous Specialists Concluded That Joseph "Has No Prospect Of Recovery." According to Postmedia News:

One-year-old Joseph Maraachli has been at the Victoria Hospital in London since mid-October, suffering from a "severe and progressively deteriorating neurological state," according to medical reports.

Joseph's brain is losing function, his reflexes and responses to stimulation are abnormal, he can't breathe on his own or swallow. Over the past three months, he has been examined by various specialists, including pediatric neurologists who ordered MRIs and brain scans. The doctors have concluded that Joseph has no prospect of recovery and will only continue to deteriorate. A decision was made to remove Joseph's breathing tube, which is keeping his airway clear of fluids and secretions on which he would otherwise choke. [Postmedia News,1/28/11]

Even Groups Advocating For Transfer Admit Maraachli's Condition Is Incurable

Pavone Admits Joseph's Condition Is "Incurable." In the same interview on Fox & Friends, Father Frank Pavone, the director of Priests for Life who arranged Joseph's transfer to a Missouri hospital, told MacCallum:

PAVONE: Just because a condition may be incurable, that doesn't mean you can't do things that benefit the patient. And that was the issue here. They were saying, well, because this child is going to die anyway, we're not going to give this additional care that parents are requesting. But guess what? We're all going to die anyway. So the idea is, not that we cure something. My glasses aren't curing the blurriness of my vision -- they're giving me a benefit. And that's all the parents were saying -- we want a second opinion and we want some additional care for our son. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 03/15/11]

Pavone Has Made Several False Or Misleading Claims About Joseph's "Rescue" And Medical Condition

Pavone Attacked Canadian Hospital For Refusing "Additional Care" That Would "Benefit The Patient." On Fox & Friends, Pavone claimed, "Just because a condition may be incurable, that doesn't mean you can't do things that benefit the patient. And that was the issue here. They were saying well, because this child is going to die anyway we are not going to give this additional care that parents are requesting." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 03/15/11]

FACT: Doctors Opined That The Procedure Parents Requested Would "Likely Cause Much Discomfort" And "Increase The Risk Of Infection And Pneumonia." Prior to requesting their child be transferred to a hospital in the United States, Maraachli's parents sought a procedure giving Maraachli a tracheotomy and ventilation so that the child could be released from the hospital in order to return home to pass away surrounded by family. According to the Toronto Sun:

The baby's father and mother, Sana Nader, 35, wanted the same treatment for Joseph as was given to their daughter before she died, eight years ago at 18 months -- give Joseph a tracheotomy and ventilation, and allow them to take him home to die what would be a peaceful death.

But Joseph's doctors say while a tracheotomy -- an incision is made in a patient's airway, to help breathing -- may prolong the baby's life, it's futile in this case and would likely cause much discomfort. It would certainly also increase the risk of infection and pneumonia, they argue.

"The medical officials would not want this little boy to suffer," [Superior Court Justice Helen] Rady said. [Toronto Sun, 2/18/11]

Pavone Claimed Joseph "Rescue[d]" By "Covert Mission" "Under The Cover Of Darkness." In a March 14 press release on the Priests for Life website, Pavone claimed he led a "covert mission to rescue Baby Joseph" which was conducted "under cover of darkness." McCallum echoed this claim in introducing Pavone on Fox & Friends, describing Maraachil's transfer as an "overnight rescue." [Priests for Life, 3/14/11; Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/15/11]

FACT: London Hospital Had Agreed To All The Parent's Requests To Transfer The Child

  • Globe And Mail: The London Hospital Responded Promptly To The Family's Discharge Request." According to the Canadian newspaper Globe And Mail, "The family's lawyer Claudio Martini noted Sunday's transfer was not as dramatic as portrayed by Father Pavone and his Priests for Life group, who used the phrase 'under the cover of darkness.' The London hospital responded promptly to the family's discharge request, Mr. Martini said." [Globe and Mail, 03/14/11]
  • London Hospital: LHSC "Is And Always Has Been Willing To Organize And Pay for A Medical Transfer" For Maraachli. In a February 28 press release, the London Hospital of Ontario noted that it "is and always has been willing to organize and pay for a medical transfer home to Windsor for Baby Joseph, accompanied by LHSC physicians and staff." The hospital further pointed out:

The transfer would not involve performing a tracheostomy, which is not a palliative procedure. It is an invasive procedure in which a device is installed in a hole cut in the throat. It is frequently indicated for patients who require a long-term breathing machine. This is not, unfortunately, the case with Baby Joseph, because he has a progressive neurodegenerative disease that is fatal. [London Health Sciences Centre, 02/28/11]

Posted In
Health Care, End of Life Issues
Fox News Channel, FoxNews.com
Steve Doocy, Martha MacCallum
FOX & Friends, The Blaze
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