Sunday, March 13, 2005

Clueless CNN Anchor

What just happened falls under the "You had to be there to believe it!" category. As I'm flipping through the channels, I get to CNN where they're interviewing an author. In my ongoing quest to get a clue about book promotion, I decide to watch for a bit, to see if I can learn something useful.

The author is Martha Nibley Beck, daughter of mormon Hugh Nibley; she wrote a memoir accusing her father of sexual abuse. The host is one Tony Harris [transcript not online yet], and he asks the author what type of abuse she suffered. She obviously didn't want to go into too much detail, and answered (I paraphrase): Let's just say that today doctors think I tore during childbirth; they think I had an unassisted delivery.

Mr. Harris was totally confused by her reply, and, get this, quite annoyed. He launched into a mini-tirade, something to the effect: "What?"..."What does that mean?"..."I have no idea what you just said!"..."You have to explain!". The author managed to keep her composure. She went on to spell it out for our clueless anchor: the abuse caused the vaginal area...severe enough...that doctors mistakenly assume I had an unassisted delivery.

Mr. Harris' reaction was just bizarre. You're an anchor, discussing the topic of sexual abuse, and your interlocutor mentions tearing during childbirth. In this context, even without knowing too much about repro organs, giving birth, and even if you're a male, what part of her anatomy do you think the woman is taking about--her spleen, her torn earlobes? Not only that, but to then turn around and chide her for your inability to comprehend simple concepts takes the cake. Ignorance and arrogance: the stuff of TV anchors.

And on a book promotion note, it has just occurred to me that critiquing TV interviewers is probably not the way to go about it. Back to the drawing board. [I blame my opinionated little self on my mixed brain, and appendaged heart:

Your Brain is 53.33% Female, 46.67% Male

Your brain is a healthy mix of male and female

You are both sensitive and savvy

Rational and reasonable, you tend to keep level headed

But you also tend to wear your heart on your sleeve

(via Pharyngula)


At 2:11 AM, Anonymous Shamhat said...

Not to diminish the suffering of the woman who was abused, but--giving birth unassisted is more likely to result in an intact perineum than the typical American obstetrician-attended delivery.

At 8:12 PM, Blogger Dr. Charles said...

c'mon shamhat - that was uncalled for (and quite likely false, where are you getting that info? unassisted deliveries don't do so well in third world countries, and the majority of recent studies show that active management of labor by obstetricians/family docs leads to better outcomes than passive) In any case I doubt our news anchor in question was thinking along those lines

At 4:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. If you write a memoir describing one's sexual abuse, why should you be hesitant to talk about it on TV? If you don't want to be asked difficult questions, don't go on self-promoting book tours.

2. Dr. Charles, PULEEZZZZ!!! Episiotemies continue to be almost ROUTINE in many parts of the country. The doctor slices the perineum in the procedure-- remember? THus, you are far more likely to get an intact perineum in a non-medical birth. shahmat is absolutely correct. Why are you covering up the facts to make your profession look better?

3. Please link your claim that "active management of labor by" medical doctors produces better outcomes. I think that's wrong. See, e.g., MacDorman, Marioan, Midwifery care, social and medical risk factors, and birth outcomes in the US. J Epidemiology and Public Health, May 1998 Vol. 53:5;310-317


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