James Leroy Wilson's blog

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Why I Don't Trust Corporate Media

One example:

In 1999, celebrity film critic Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune died of a brain tumor. In 2003, Tim Weigel, well-known Chicago sports newscaster, died of a brain tumor.

Siskel and Weigel were college freshman roommates. At Yale.

When Weigel died, my first thought was, "Was there something in the water at Yale?" Something in their room? Floor?

Had they both weighed 300 pounds and died of heart attacks, I would have thought it was just coincidental that they died of similar causes at near the same age.

But, while brain tumors aren't uncommon, they aren't a leading cause of death either. I assumed that several Chicago tv and newspaper reporters would make their way to New Haven, to see if there were high incidences of brain tumors among their classmates and, especially, dorm mates. How difficult could searching alumni records be?

In another words, my first thought was not "It must be a coincidence," it was rather, "It could be a coincidence, but let's make sure. Maybe there was/is an environmental hazard at Yale."

Had Siskel's freshman roommate not been a celebrity himself and died of the same thing, it would have gone unreported and no one would have known. But since both were two of the most famous people in Chicago, I thought there would be some investigations to see if there was a common link.

But, it was not a big deal to me. As I'm not an avid watcher of local news or of the Chicago newspapers - all corportate media - I never came across the story, even if the "story" was that the deaths and the Yale connection were researched, and it all turned out to be a coincidence.

But the thought came back to me recently for some reason. I wondered, "What ever came of that?" So I did Google searches with various words like Yale, Siskel, Wiegel, brain. Yes, there are a small number of links, but no investigation into their deaths that I could see. (If you want to try it yourself, and find something substantive I missed, please let me know.)

I find that odd. No one in the Chicago media thought there was a story here, even just a story that affirms that there is no story? If I'm an editor or news director, I would have jumped on the story.

Now, it may have been coincidental. I will go so far as to say that it probably was. And maybe there was a report by somebody sometime which proved "coincidence" that never made it to the web, not even in a blog post. But am I the only longtime Chicago resident that was at all curious? You'd think that the definitive investigation into the matter would have led off any Google search of "Gene Siskel" and "Tim Weigel." Instead, I can't find anything at all.

Or, there was never an investigation by a Chicago media outlet: The thinking being, it was just coincidence and we are so convinced that it was a coincidence that we will not investigate.

If that is their attitude, then corporate media is, at best, lazy and untrustworthy. They will accept, for instance, anything the government tells them, just as they did in the run-up to the War on Iraq.

And that's the most charitable and least paranoid explanation. Where Yale is concerned, paranoia runs deep.


  1. Anonymous5:51 AM PDT

    Very well put,and that's the least we can expect of our media. But I wonder if it's because so many people are more interested in the latest Brittany Spears or Paris Hilton or MIchael Jackson fiasco than actual informative news. Not that there is any blame for no one having investigated the deaths, but I can't help but wonder of the media is giving us what the American majority wants/deserves. Too few people are thinkers out there. The death of the star is big news, but the information behind why they died isn't that big of a deal to most americans, unless there's some scandal or perversion involved.

  2. Investigative journalism is rather expensive, and corporate media outlets looking to maximize profits will often trim down that aspect of their outfit in favor of cheaper sources of stories and more of the type of infotainment that'll keep ratings higher and advertisers happy.

  3. I wouldn't suppose that the media might look at the obesity issue here - 300 lbs is quite a load to carry. We usually say heart - but ...
    The connection of brain tumors to Yalies - anybody up for checking the president for a brain tumor? It may be a better excuse than WMD

  4. Seventhson8:15 PM PDT

    I would venture the following IF I knew when they were at Yale.

    In the mid to late 1960's several commercial nuke planst opened up which could have sent radioactive particles in the direction of Yale. If these guys were prone to beach or activities in LI Sound they would have picked up even higher levels.

    I do not know precisely when Millstone and the Cooinecticut Yankee nuke plants went online, (it was in, I think 1966 and 1969 respectively) but I do know that two of my cousins who lived near or on the sound and spent LOTS of time there died of brain cancer in their early 40's.

    Research done by the Radiation and Public Health Project (see www.radiation.org ) shows the cancer rates as increasing HUGELY after these plants came online for the downwinders.

    Both plants are within 25-35 miles of New Haven and these guys would have been dosed heavily if they had lived there.

    But they would have goitten higher doses if they spent time in or on the Sound during this period.

    MANY people are dying from these exposures in Connecticut and all over the planet -- but some are more susceptible than others and some just get more heavily dosed by being in the wrong place (the wrong water current or air swirl) at the wrong time.

    I read abou this story at the rigoruous intuition blog which I highly recommend.

    1. Anonymous6:27 AM PST

      They both worked together at the old CBS building 430 N Mclurg court, an area rich in Thorium levels from the old Lindsay Light Co. The refining process produced a sand-like waste known as thorium mill tailings, which were used for fill in the low-lying Streeterville area of Chicago. Thoriuum causes brain tumors