I am often involved in public controversies reported about in the New York Times. In my more than ten years of such work, the repeated examples of biased reporting in that newspaper are almost beyond recounting.

What drives me the most nuts is not so much the sneering or condescending tone the paper’s reporting often takes, but the paper’s nasty habit of leaving out important facts that do not further the story line the Times wants to push. For example, Times’ stories almost never mentioned the highly relevant fact that Michael Schiavo was living with another woman and had two children by her as he sought Terri’s death.

Along these same lines, today’s Times has a front page story on Woo-Suk Hwang’s ethical lapses in obtaining eggs for therapeutic cloning, which I blogged on yesterday. Toward the end of the article, the story shifts from describing his bad ethics to defending therapeutic cloning. While the story mentions cloning embryos when describing the egg issue, it leaves that fact out entirely when actually describing the process of “therapeutic cloning,” which, readers are told, consists merely of “converting one of a patient’s adult cells into an embryonic cell, and then converting that cell into new adult cells to replace any damaged tissue.”

This description omits the crucial point: In somatic cell nuclear transfer, the nucleus of the adult cell is fused with the egg to create a new human embryo through asexual means—the act of human cloning. The embryo is developed for about a week and then destroyed to obtain its stem cells. This is not merely reverting an adult cell to a stem cell. It is creating a new human organism, a human life, for the purpose of destroying and harvesting it.

The point of the inaccurate reporting is to conveniently skip past the part that causes people to be wary of the therapeutic cloning enterprise. This is bad journalism and an example of bias-by-omission for which the New York Times is becoming infamous.

Articles by Wesley J. Smith

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