Skip to comments.The Interview That Wasn't Michael Schiavo got the usual Larry King softballs.
Posted on 10/28/2003 8:39:33 AM PST by aculeus
Here are the questions King should have asked.
MICHAEL SCHIAVO, Terri Schiavo's husband, finally went on national television last night to tell the world his side of the story. Appearing on "Larry King Live," he strived mightily to play the loving husband. Until more than half way through the interview, when King got around to tentatively asking Schiavo whether or not it is true that he has a girlfriend. (King, who must have known the answer, somehow failed to mention that Schiavo has already sired two children with this woman, who he calls his fiancé.)
The loving husband answered, "I'm lucky. I have two great women to love." He then paused to take a swipe at Terri's mom, "My girlfriend has done more for Terri than her own mother." Asked what that might be, Schiavo answered, "She washed her clothes."
THAT EXCHANGE should have opened the door to some very interesting conversation. King could have asked Schiavo if he is raising children with another woman--a matter finally brought up by a caller near the end of the show--why he should continue to have any say over Terri's care, given that the sanctity of the marriage vows he took are no longer operable. King didn't, of course, which is precisely the reason why people in the center of heated public controversies like to go on his show.
There are a number of questions King should have asked Schiavo:
(1) Why did Schiavo tell a medical malpractice jury in 1992 that Terri would live a normal life span? After Terri's collapse, Schiavo sued for medical malpractice. Under civil law, the longer Terri was expected to live, the larger the verdict would probably be. This fact of legal life could explain why Michael presented evidence to the malpractice jury not only that Terri would likely live a normal life span but also that he intended to be a good and loyal husband and care for her for the rest of his life.
(2) Why did Schiavo have a rehabilitation expert testify in front of the malpractice jury to present a detailed plan of therapy for Terri? Schiavo and his lawyer claimed that Terri is incapable of improving physically, but during the 1992 trial, a rehabilitation plan and its anticipated undertaking provided one of the underpinnings for the jury's $1.3 million award. Of that money, Schiavo received $300,000, lawyers' fees were paid, and about $750,000 was put in trust to pay for Terri's rehabilitation.
(3) Given that the jury awarded $750,000 to be used in part for Terri's therapy, why hasn't Schiavo provided any rehabilitation for her since 1991? When asked by King about the issue of rehab, Schiavo described some early efforts to help Terri, such as an experimental surgery in 1990. But he never identified when this rehab took place.
Which is an important point. The only efforts ever undertaken to improve Terri's condition took place in 1990 and 1991. They had ceased by the time of the malpractice trial in 1992 because her insurance coverage had run out. Indeed, the pressing need to restart therapy was an urgent part of the malpractice case. It could have--and should have--paid to restart the rehabilitation that had been abandoned due to lack of funds.
Once Terri's $750,000 was in the bank, however, Schiavo would not approve a single cent of it to be spent on rehabilitation. Not only that, but once the money was in the bank, Schiavo ordered a "do not resuscitate" order placed on Terri's chart so that if she had a cardiac event, the doctors would not attempt to save her. And within a few months of the money being deposited, Schiavo also refused to permit curative treatments, such as antibiotics for infections. If Terri had died during the early or mid-1990s, as Schiavo's orders were designed, he would have inherited somewhere around $700,000.
The issue of Terri's money did come up several times during last night's interview. Schiavo assured King he isn't in it for the money because there is only about $50,000 left in Terri's estate.
(4) Is it true that Terri's money has paid for attorneys to make her dead, instead of therapists to make her better? The answer is, unquestionably, yes. According to court records, George Felos, the dutiful "right to die" attorney who sat at Schiavo's side on King's show, has been paid over $350,000 from Terri's trust fund. Another of Schiavo's attorneys, Debra Bushnell, has received about $90,000. These two lawyers alone have received more than half of Terri's entire trust.
According to court records, when Schiavo began his quest to pull Terri's feeding tube in 1998, she had more than $700,000 in the bank. This was primarily because Schiavo generally refused to authorize payments for any nursing home services on Terri's behalf beyond the basics of room and board. Thus, only about $50,000 was paid on her behalf in the five years following the jury verdict. Since 1998, about $650,000 (not taking into account any earnings from the fund) has gone out--not for therapy, but primarily for lawyers.
And yet on "Larry King" Schiavo went so far as to suggest that Bob Schindler, Terri's father, is fighting to save Terri's life because he wants her money.
(5) So how could Terri's father make any money off the case? Schiavo's story is that once Schindler became Terri's guardian, he would get her a divorce, and then he would stop her food and fluids. The alleged point of such a scheme being that as next of kin, the Schindlers would inherit their daughter's money.
This sounds like a mighty stretch, particularly given that Bob Schindler has spent every nickel he has--including his entire retirement fund--desperately trying to save his daughter's life. If Bob Schindler is a venal man, he has a funny way of showing it.
Schiavo told King that his falling out with his father-in-law occurred in February 1993, when Schindler demanded a share of the proceeds in Terri's trust fund. But Schindler and his wife Mary tell a different story. They claim that the argument was over their insistence that the long-suspended rehabilitation recommence, since there was finally money available to pay for it. They contend that the breach of relationship occurred because Schiavo refused. The behavior of both parties since seems much more consistent with this story than with Schiavo's version of events.
Too bad Larry King didn't ask.
Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and an attorney and consultant for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. He is the author of Forced Exit: The Slippery Slope from Assisted Suicide to Legalized Murder."
© Copyright 2003, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.
An article from the St. Petersburg Times today says:
[Schiavo] recalled the exact date - Feb. 14, 1993 - when he split with the Schindlers in what he said was an argument over money that nearly ended up in a fight with Mr. Schindler.I say....big deal...Of course he remembers the date.
Valentine's Day is a very memorable date.
Michael was probably upset that the argument delayed his date to see his sweetheart.
Schiavo: 'Nothing's going to stop me', [excerpt]
On CNN, he criticizes lawmakers and his wife's parents for prolonging the fight over her life.
By WILLIAM R. LEVESQUE, Times Staff Writer Published October 28, 2003
Michael Schiavo has generally avoided interviews, but spoke with Larry King on Monday.
Breaking his silence, Michael Schiavo on Monday defended the decision to end his wife's life, despite a blistering emotional and legal battle with her parents.
"I love my wife and I'm going to follow her wish [lie?] and nothing's going to stop me," Schiavo said on CNN's Larry King Live.[ironic title]
Schiavo, who hasn't commented in recent weeks as controversy swirled around his wife's right-to-die case, said it was Terri Schiavo's wish during their marriage that she not be kept alive by artificial means.
Schiavo also criticized Florida lawmakers for passing "Terri's Law," the measure that allowed Gov. Jeb Bush last week to force doctors to reinsert Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube.
"The House and Senate never looked at any evidence," Schiavo said. "They made their decision based on e-mails."
Schiavo, 40, of Clearwater, who faced death threats in recent weeks that forced him out of his house, last spoke to reporters at an August press conference and has generally declined interviews during the past two years.
But on Monday, he used the national forum provided by King's show to recount the failed efforts he made to help his severely brain-damaged wife. He expressed anger at Mrs. Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, for challenging his decision in the courts.
"Mr. and Mrs. Schindler know exactly what condition she's in," Schiavo said. "They were there in the beginning. . . . Now they're being fed all this information from these right-to-life activists."
Everything's always about him, isn't it?
That's why I asked about his testimony for O.J. I hated that freaking circus so much, I couldn't pay attention. Had no idea what Baden had said.
So OK, maybe we should forget about Baden as a credible source. All the more incumbent on Michael Schiavo that he allow unquestionably independent doctors, and Terri's family, full access to her medical records, not just a CAT scan of dubious provenance, flashed briefly on national TV.
Why doesn't Schiavo allow independent doctors to conduct new scans and tests, if he is so dead set that Terri has no chance of recovery? And why has he ordered her cremation, without autopsy, upon her death, which cannot come too quickly for him?
MARMEMA ADDED: "The issue is really, not can she improve, but do we kill the disabled if they cannot improve?
I AM RESPONDING: "BINGO!!!---And the answer should be no!!! Otherwise, we should just grab a copy of Hitler's MEIN KOMPF in our left hand, look in the mirror, raise our right hand and say SIEG HEIL!!!
MARMEMA ADDED: "Since we are perhaps not disabled, we can't really make this choice in a very educated manner for ourselves. Perhaps we would be at a place where we could not walk or talk but could see our grandchild and smell the baby smell of this child. That might be enough to make life worthwhile for many of us. There is some balalaika music that I find to be so incredible that I would find much of life worthwhile if I could hear it."
I AM RESPONDING: "I don't know if you have seen any of my other posts, but I have a severely mentally and physically disabled 19 year old daughter, who neither walks nor talks, who does not feed herself, who wears diapers and has a very rare type of dwarfism."
I AM ADDING: "She has almost died SEVEN TIMES. She was trached and on a respirator and oxygen---in our house with round-the-clock nursing---for over 3 years. She no longer needs it. During that time, she had a "feeding tube" just like Terri's. She no longer need it either."
I AM ADDING: "Needless to say, I UNDERSTAND what it is like to have a severely disabled adult child. And I am STILL PRO-LIFE!!! Terri's life and death should be left up to GOD, not man, just like OUR lives! (BTW, that does NOT mean we don't give medications or food or water!!!) We should NOT be able to discriminate against someone on the basis of what WE think of a disability or what WE think WE would want!
I AM ADDING: "Terri MADE her choice! She had the opportunity to make a Living Will---and chose NOT to---the effect being that she CHOSE LIFE---WITH intervention!
MARMEMA ADDED: "That said, there are some facts about life with a serious disability available."
I AM RESPONDING: "You provided some very interesting data. Another interesting tidbit is that something like 90% of all marriages fail in which there is a child with serious disabilites. My husband and I have had our own difficulties, but we have been married 22+ YEARS!
I AM RESPONDING: "I agree. However, when the opposing PRO-LIFE side cannot even ACCESS the patient with their own Doctors and specialists, it makes it kind of hard to compete with ones who are being PAID by the PRO-DEATH side. And there is a BIG difference between a Doctor who is PAID by the PRO-DEATH side who just superficially visits and a PRO-LIFE one who has had a former Doctor/patient relationship with the patient."
I AM ADDING: "The next best choice would be NON-CONFLICTED former Doctors or Nurses of the patient, who are NOT being paid by EITHER side, who decide to come forward at their own risk, e.g. Carla Sauer Iyer, Heidi Law and Carolyn Johnson."
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