Danny Gans and media sensationalism

To the editor:

Speaking as a physician with more than 30 years of experience and training in the medical specialty of addiction medicine, I am concerned with the circus of speculation and inference associated with the untimely death of entertainer Danny Gans.

The cause of death was acute hydromorphone toxicity, polycythemia vera (thickening of the blood caused by too many red blood cells), and hypertensive cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure and thickening of the heart muscle) as per the coroner’s office. Hydromorphone is the generic form of Dilaudid, a drug reportedly seven to 10 times more potent than morphine and used as a narcotic analgesic for acute pain.

The cause of death does not imply that Mr. Gans was an abuser of, or dependent on, narcotics. However, speculation and conjecture to the contrary by some medical experts and members of the media are the responses to the coroner’s report.

One of the roles of a medical expert is to offer a medical opinion based on objective data, and, in the absence of this data, there is no opinion. We do not speculate or conjecture in the media.

Does the public have a right to know the details? If the family so wishes, then the answer is yes. However, how many of us would want the intimate details of a family member’s death made public?

Abuse, dependence, accidental overdose and death due to the effects of narcotic drugs are epidemic in this country and, quite frankly, can happen to anyone who uses these drugs.

Perhaps we should simply take a moment to honor a good man and refrain from tarnishing his reputation based on sensationalism.

Michael S. Levy


No guns

To the editor:

Americans: Look at what is happening to the people in the streets of Iran who have no right to own firearms. Remember their helplessness when groups in the United States try to eliminate your right to own firearms under the Second Amendment.

Your right to own firearms is a major reason we have little tyranny in the United States. A well-armed population cannot be dominated by a few with guns.

William G. Evans


Free money

To the editor:

Want to boost the economy? It’s simple. Develop a federally backed program that will allow individuals who are now upside down on their mortgages by more than the 20 percent threshold that currently exists, and allow them to simply refinance at the current lower interest rate.

Example: A homeowner owes $250,000 on his first mortgage at 7 percent and $50,000 on his second mortgage at 11 percent. Let them re-finance the total amount owed at the current interest rate. If you run the numbers the homeowner would save roughly $900 per month. Multiply this by 1,000 valley residents and the savings would be more than $10 million in 12 months.

What could $10 million do for the valley economy?



Fact checkers

To the editor:

Sandy Hogan’s Sunday letter to the editor reveals an appalling ignorance of just how news organizations treat unsolicited news submissions from unverified sources.

Fox News and the reporter involved have producers, fact checkers and in-house legal people, among other resources, who analyze things like the letter from this “aggrieved” husband and pass judgment as to their provable veracity, any possible legal entanglements if published and if second-party confirmation possible.

Ms. Hogan should be reminded of what happened to CBS News and Dan Rather when Mr. Rather forged ahead with “breaking news” about George W. Bush’s Air National Guard service based on a letter mailed to him that was never vetted for any type of accuracy at all and turned out to be a forgery and a fake.

Mr. Rather’s long and distinguished career as a newsman came to an end with his dismissal from CBS News, and all as a result of a rush to bring scandal based on an unverified or tested letter.

Michael C. Maze


Just garbage

To the editor:

In response to Jane Ann Morrison’s column of June 18: I never thought I would find myself standing up for Democrats. But Ms. Morrison compares Republicans who would re-elect John Ensign to adulterers and hypocrites. Isn’t this, in effect, accusing those who re-elected Bill Clinton of being the same?

This is not journalism. This is garbage.

Hans Bohn


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