Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fox News, NRO, Limbaugh run with "death book" smears

Following false accusations that Democrats' health care reform legislation would institute "death panels" for the elderly, H. James Towey claimed in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that the Obama administration revived a Veterans Health Administration (VHA) booklet on advanced planning directives that would "steer vulnerable individuals to conclude for themselves that life is not worth living," calling the booklet a "death book." As with the death panel smear, conservative media -- particularly Fox News -- have promoted Towey's false "death book" claim, ignoring facts that undermine Towey's rhetoric.

"Your Life, Your Choices" is not a "death book." The booklet emphasizes that "your wishes will direct future health care decisions" and presents preserving one's life "using any means possible" as an option to consider. An August 23 post by blogger Richard Smith criticized Towey's assertion that "Your Life, Your Choices" presents "end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions," writing: "Really, if the document was really trying to get veterans to pull the plug on themselves, then first suggesting to them that their life should be prolonged at all costs is a pretty stupid way to do it."

Towey's organization is selling "Five Wishes" booklet on end-of-life issues. As Media Matters for America noted, the organization Towey founded, Aging with Dignity, sells "Five Wishes," a booklet that, like "Your Life, Your Choices," is designed to guide people in the creation of a living will. Huffington Post news editor Marcus Baram reported on August 22 that "Towey seems to have his own axe to grind" in criticizing "Your Life, Your Choices" in that Towey "has repeatedly tried to get the government to spend millions to purchase his 'Five Wishes' book," citing "VA sources."

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