In a remarkable show of biased reporting, the major news networks in the United States have studiously avoided any mention of the controversial case of Charlie Gard, an 11-month-old British baby suffering from a debilitating genetic condition, sparking accusations of censorship.
Citing “Charlie’s best interests,” the European Court of Human Rights sentenced the child to death, ruling that he was to be taken off life support and barring his parents from pursuing experimental treatment in the United States.
The case has caused an uproar on social media, eliciting public commentary from both Pope Francis and President Trump, yet for some reason all the major U.S. news networks have decided to smother the story, which touches on crucial bioethical issues.
The ever-attentive Katie Yoder of the Media Research Center said that her organization had combed through network transcripts for mentions of “Charlie Gard” in the morning and evening news shows of ABC, CBS and NBC from June 27 to July 2 and found not a single reference to the child’s now celebrated case.
President Trump weighed in on the debate Monday, tweeting: “If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.”
For his part, Pope Francis issued a statement of support for Charlie’s parents, contradicting an earlier Vatican text from the Pontifical Academy for Life.
“The Holy Father follows with affection and commotion the situation of Charlie Gard, and expresses his own closeness to his parents,” read the statement issued by Greg Burke, the papal spokesman.
“He prays for them, wishing that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end will be respected.”
The Pope’s words clashed with a June 30 statement released by the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the pope’s advisory panel on bioethical issues, which seemed to sympathize with the court ruling that prevented the parents from pursuing a trial treatment in the United States, despite the fact that they had already raised over a million dollars in private money to do so.
In his statement, the academy president Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia said while the parents’ wishes should be “heard and respected,” they must also be helped to understand the “unique difficulty of their situation” that includes accepting “the limits of medicine.”
While Charlie was expected to die on Friday, the hospital announced that it now plans to give Charlie and his parents “more time together as a family,” following a public outcry in support of the parents.
In a tearful video released Thursday, the parents revealed that they weren’t even allowed to take their baby home to die.
“We want to give him a bath at home, we want to sit on the sofa with him, we want to sleep in the bed with him, we even want to put him in a cot that he’s never slept in, but we’re now being denied that,” Chris Gard said.
“If he’s still fighting, we’re still fighting,” the dad added. “And he’s still fighting over there, believe me, he’s still fighting, he’s little fighter, he’s a little trooper, he’s a soldier.”
As Katie Yoder noted, the story should have been prime material for the liberal mainstream media, given their “infatuation with death.” The problem, she observed, was that public opinion had swung firmly in support of the family, against the intrusion of the state.
“No one dares champion the death of a baby whose pictures everyone can see, a little boy whose life his parents are fighting tooth and nail for,” she wrote.
And so the networks opted for silence, acting as if the huge story simply didn’t exist. A timely reminder that fake news isn’t just what is said, but what is intentionally left out.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome