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Kevorkian's Attorney on MSNBC: He Will Be Remembered as a 'True Hero' and 'Martyr'

As news broke of Dr. Jack's Kevorkian death on Friday, MSNBC anchor Chris Jansing invited on defense attorney and friend Geoffrey Fieger to praise the convicted criminal known as 'Dr. Death': "Dr. Jack Kevorkian will be looked at as a hero, a true hero, and as a martyr for what they did to him for nine years. Putting him in prison..." [Audio available here]

Jansing began the interview by wondering about Kevorkian's legacy: "Was he a dying patient's savior or a cold-blooded killer?" As soon as she introduced Fieger, he immediately argued: "I doubt very many people will ever remember him as a cold-blooded killer. Obviously there's some on the fringe, but I think most of us would recognize his, not only his greatness and his kindness and his beneficence and his importance."


Even Jansing seemed to buy into Fieger's apologist rant: "There is still an ongoing debate, though, about assisted suicide....What was it about this cause that made him [Kevorkian] willing to go to prison?" Fieger proclaimed: "Well, he was a historic man who believed absolutely from the bottom of his soul in the right of the patient before him to make decisions about his or her own life and to be able to make decisions about ending one's own suffering, even if that meant ending the patient's life. He thought that was the role of the physician and he was right."

Fieger further asserted that opponents of assisted suicide had been "marginalized" and even suggested that efforts to reform Medicare would mean that "you can't just spend money limitlessly to keep people alive based upon a philosophical or religious belief."

Here is a full transcript of the June 3 segment:

10:42AM

CHRIS JANSING: Was he a dying patient's savior or a cold-blooded killer? Those questions will probably always be asked about Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the man known as 'Dr. Death,' who allegedly assisted in as many as 130 suicides. Kevorkian died this morning at the age 83 and the man who defended him at trial, Geoffrey Fieger, joins us live from Detroit. Geoffrey, good to see you. I'm so sorry for your loss. Thanks for being with us.

GEOFFREY FIEGER: Thank you, Chris.

JANSING: You know-

FIEGER: And I doubt very many people will ever remember him as a cold-blooded killer. Obviously there's some on the fringe, but I think most of us would recognize his, not only his greatness and his kindness and his beneficence and his importance.

JANSING: There is still an ongoing debate, though, about assisted suicide, as you well know, and I remember our conversations when he went to prison and when he was released. And you knew him so well. What was it about this cause that made him willing to go to prison?

FIEGER: Well, he was a historic man who believed absolutely from the bottom of his soul in the right of the patient before him to make decisions about his or her own life and to be able to make decisions about ending one's own suffering, even if that meant ending the patient's life. He thought that was the role of the physician and he was right.

And I really think that the debate about it, at least in terms of his opponents, has been marginalized. There hasn't been the slippery slope that was predicted. Oregon and Washington state have permitted it for years and there haven't been any of the dire predictions. And now with the Medicare and Medicaid debate, the fact that you can't just spend money limitlessly to keep people alive based upon a philosophical or religious belief. In the coming decades, Dr. Jack Kevorkian will be looked at as a hero, a true hero, and as a martyr for what they did to him for nine years. Putting him in prison, in the deepest holes of Michigan's prison system, and holding him incommunicado.

JANSING: And he had been in the hospital for the last couple of weeks. I wonder, Geoffrey, when the last time was that you spoke with him and did you talk to him about his legacy?

FIEGER: No, he didn't - Jack was never a guy who liked to look back and as a result, neither he nor I have ever written about it. He and I were together a lot during the making most recently of the Al Pacino movie and the documentary. He had entered the hospital several weeks ago and gotten out and I spoke to him just before he went back in. Since he's been in the hospital, no one's spoken to him. The doctors wanted him to be, to not have any guests. I spoke to his physician everyday, his personal physician Stan Levy, but I had not spoken to him since he went back in the second time. He's been there about ten days.

JANSING: Again, Jack Kevorkian died this morning at the age of 83. Geoffrey Fieger, his defense attorney and friend, good to see you again. Thanks so much for coming on and again, our sympathies.

FIEGER: Thanks, Chris. Thanks for having me. Thank you.

- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.