“What can be done to break Big Pharma’s growing control of our minds and bodies? I wish I knew,” a critic of the pharmaceutical industry wrote recently on a media blog. But the author of that post was an ostensibly unbiased investigative journalist: CBS correspondent Armen Keteyian.
“No matter how you slice it Wednesday was not a great day for the FDA,” Keteyian began his blog post, recounting how the December 13 “Evening News” presented “back-to-back stories” on a new FDA warning label for antidepressants and congressional criticism of FDA’s handling of Ketek, an antibiotic that can result in liver damage to some patients.
While December 13 might not have been FDA’s finest hour for public relations, the CBS reporter failed to account for how his bias could color his perceptions.
Keteyian, a former sportscaster, peppered his blog post with more anti-industry commentary, insisting that “Big Pharma seems in control [of] much of Congress, or at least its legislative agenda” before praising Iowa Republican Charles Grassley as a “straight-talking” senator who has “stood up and called out” pharmaceutical companies.
As the Business & Media Institute documented on December 14, CBS presented a decidedly sensationalistic look at the FDA’s decision to require a “black box” warning on drugs like Paxil and Zoloft when prescribed to patients up to the age of 25. In that December 13 report, Keteyian’s colleague Sharyl Attkisson focused heavily on the grief of distraught widows of suicidal patients while finding no air time for expert medical testimony.
Of course, medical experts such as NBC News’s chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman have noted that many psychiatrists find medication a crucial part of treating depression for some patients, albeit one with risks that require careful monitoring.
That dose of reality is a bitter pill to swallow for Keteyian, who lamented in his blog post that “America is a drug dependant [sic] nation” that takes pills “for just about every illness known to man or woman.”