Mauled by '60 Minutes.' (January 24, 1993 Misleading 'Animal Rights' Segment)

Article excerpt

On January 24, 1993, I joined an exclusive club--the small but growing number of people who know what it's like to stand by and watch the truth get mauled by 60 Minutes.

"You must understand that programs like 60 Minutes are not news, they are theater," one journalist told me when I explained how the show had misrepresented an issue in which I was deeply involved. "A lot of good reporters go into the television-news business, but they are corrupted by the process and end up becoming little more than theater producers." The 60 Minutes segment that left me reeling concerned $2.1 million in Army-funded cat-shooting experiments at Louisiana State University. I was the lead investigator for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in the inquiry into the scientific merit of these experiments. The inquiry, which began in 1988, led three years later to the cancellation of the Army contract that funded the work.

I circulated Dr. Michael Carey's head-trauma research protocols to more than a dozen neurosurgeons, neurologists, trauma physicians, and other medical experts in the area of head trauma. Their unanimous opinion was that the research was seriously flawed, wasteful of tax dollars, and cruel to animals.

"The study under question is superfluous and extraordinarily expensive. It does not justify the effort or animal sacrifice on the basis of potential yield," wrote Dr. Michael Sukoff in his evaluation of Carey's research protocols. Sukoff, a neurosurgeon, treated brain-injured soldiers as a military doctor during the Vietnam war.

Carey's major "finding," that head-wounded individuals should be given respiratory support, has been an applied medical fact for nearly a century.

These medical critiques and letters from hundreds of concerned constituents prompted Representative Bob Livingston, Republican of Louisiana, to request a General Accounting Office investigation of the project. After a two-year probe, the GAO found serious problems with the research. Among the shortcomings cited in the GAO's December 1990 report on Army brain-wound research were: reporting data that was "beyond the realm of possibility"; excluding data from large numbers of cats; utilizing an unreliable model for head trauma with a high

failure rate; poor record-keeping, and imprecisely controlling and improperly administering anesthesia, calling into question the validity of experimental results. …