Wall Street Journal and The Today Show
In December, the Wall Street Journal ran yet another editorial lacing into those of us with CFS - if we are sick, we can't possibly fight for quality medical care and social security benefits; so, since we're fighting, we must not be sick, right? To support their position that we really aren't sick, they cite Dr. Elaine "CFS can't exist - I couldn't find any medical literature on it" Showalter, an English professor with delusions of being a medical historian. As usual, no response, publicly or privately, was forthcoming from the WSJ.
Letters to the Editor
"Chronic Disability Payments", Wall Street Journal, 12/23/98
So, tell me: which one of you is sleeping with Dr. Showalter, or who has an ex-spouse to whom you are paying alimony because s/he's "too lazy" to work, claiming s/he has this non-existent disorder? One of the two must be going on - how else to explain the WSJ having published such a piece of drivel?
Dr. Showalter claims to be a medical historian. She has proven on national television that she is merely a poor researcher. When asked how she researched CFS, she stated that she went on the World Wide Web and found nothing. This was most interesting as there are not only thousands of sites dealing with CFS, but some of the sites provide literally thousands of bibliographical citations to medical, research and other journal articles dating back more than 15 years. I am sure that, by this time, you have received numerous letters, faxes and email containing documentation and articles on the reality of CFS, including the CDC's latest report that the disease is more severe and widespread than they originally thought. With any luck, given that white women are more likely to get CFS than HIV, lung or breast cancer, Dr. Showalter will have a chance to find out first hand just how unreal this devastating disorder is.
Perhaps the Library of Congress will do the public a favor and reclassify this book so that it is shelved where it belongs: under "Fiction" - or, better yet, "Fantasy". I strongly suggest the WSJ stick to writing about finance and business, and stay out of sociomedical issues about which you so clearly lack knowledge.
/s/ Melissa Kaplan
In January, comedian/actor Al Franken made a personal appearance on the Today show where he was interviewed about his new book by Matt Lauer. It was not amusing to those suffering from CFS nor from depression...
I thought that, with the departure of Bryant Gumble, there would be an end to disparaging remarks about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome on the Today show.
Needless to say, I was not amused upon hearing Al Franken today joke about "first I got Chronic Fatigue Sydnrome, then I got depressed...", nor was I amused at hearing you and the studio staff laugh after both the CFS name and after the mention of depression.
CFS is not a joke. It is a devastating disease from which no one recovers completely, and most do not significantly regain their former cognitive and physical function at all. The CDC has recently been raked over the GAO coals for misuse of CFS research funds. They also released the results of a recent surveillance study (Witchita KS) which found that CFS is far more widespread than they previously thought.
Depression secondary to terminal or serious chronic illness is also not a laughing matter. Does anyone tell a cancer patient to snap out of it? Someone struggling with emphysema? Alzheimers? COPD? Then why is a serious, widely documented neuroimmunoendrocrinological dysregulation so (you should pardon the expression) hysterical?
Any disease which is more likely to strike the general poplulation - and women in particular - more frequently than HIV, lung and breast cancer is not something to laugh about. A disease which is now screened for to keep potentially infected blood, marrow and organs out of the donor programs is not a joke.
/s/ Melissa Kaplan
Unlike the WSJ or even the Today show staff, Mr. Franken did issue an apology for his remarks.
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