Spin Doctor

Grim Diagnosis for Times Science Scribe

But isn't it possible that fewer mammograms would delay detection, and thus turn up more breast cancer patients who are ripe for drug treatment?

"To suggest that I would sacrifice women because I think less mammography would make for more profits for a company I consult for would be character assassination!" cried Berry via e-mail.

A spokesman for Bristol-Myers Squibb said, "As a company, we encourage prevention and early detection. To do otherwise would be unconscionable."

Perhaps fewer mammograms will neither benefit drug companies nor reduce costs for insurance companies, as some have suggested. But the Times stories never ask "Cui bono?" or disclose any financial ties that might pose a conflict of interest for experts in the mammography debate.

Times spokesperson Toby Usnik had no comment on Berry's financial ties. He called Kolata's initial story "newsworthy" and denied that the Times had turned mammography into a yes-or-no proposition, saying, "We are merely presenting the arguments of reputable parties as fully as we can." He questioned the value of a "polemic" focusing on Kolata as an individual, given that breast cancer reporting is an ongoing tradition that involves many staffers at the Times.

Finally, he said, "We don't have an ulterior purpose. We report newsworthy events as they occur, and we will continue to do deeper reporting of our own over time."

Kolata did not return calls for comment.

Also in this week's Voice:

"Protester Non Grata: 'Nightline' Spikes a Segment About Peaceful Protesters" by Cynthia Cotts


« Previous Page
New York Concert Tickets