MediaWatch: October 1997

Vol. Eleven No. 10

Sweden's Socialist Scheme

Most network news reports from Europe extol the virtues of socialism, so it must have been a surprise for viewers of Nightline to see the September 16 look at Sweden’s attempt to build the master race.

Ted Koppel opened: "Eugenics sterilization, this belief that we can protect or even improve the human race by social engineering, by deciding who should or who should not be permitted to have children has, it turns out, been fairly widespread. It was carried out to its most obscene limits, of course, in Nazi Germany. That, we knew. What most of us didn’t know was that it was carried out long after the end of the Second World War in a country renowned, as John Laurence now reports, as one of the most enlightened."

After outlining the socialist ideal of equality, Laurence continued: "There is also a dark side to Sweden. Now it is known that for 40 years, between 1935 and 1976, Swedish doctors routinely sterilized tens of thousands of people, mostly poor, mostly young, mostly women." Those seen as less desirable were identified, including gypsies and Jews.

As the show ended Koppel observed: "What is so mind-boggling about this, John, is we’re talking about the Swedes here. We’re not talking about a bunch of fascists in World War II Germany, and yet, this happened in this paradise of social engineering."

Good News About Guns

For all the stories filled with anecdotes about accidental shootings NBC actually aired a story on the upside of gun possession.

On the September 26 Nightly News Tom Brokaw introduced a Kerry Sanders piece: "As senior citizens become more and more visible in our society and with their rising level of affluence, the sad fact is they are also becoming more popular as targets of crime...But in Florida fair warning from the Jacksonville area. They are not afraid to fight back even if it means shooting back."

Sanders talked to a waitress at a restaurant that was robbed at gunpoint. After she described her initial fright Sanders went to a heroic customer: "As she marched with the gun in her back a security camera shows most of the 40 customers hiding under the tables. But not 69 year old Ryland Moore."

After Moore recounted his shooting of the robber Sanders noted how the elderly were taking advantage of the concealed weapons law. "Nationwide an increasing number of elderly are taking gun safety classes and then carrying pistols for protection."

Sanders did talk to a local deputy worried about the danger of gun use, but he gave the last word to a resolute Moore. "So when you replay this in your mind, any mistakes?" Moore replied he wished he had a bigger gun so, "I would have stopped him dead."