Marketing Terri Schiavo
Undoubtedly one of the most bizarre aspects of the Terri Schiavo right-to-life / right-to-die case is the marketing campaign which not only continues to unfold but is also being exposed on a daily basis.
"Terri Schiavo deserves our sympathy and our Godspeed. ... She was just an innocent bystander to a political, Elmer Gantry circus of GOP political opportunists and religious hucksters. ... with the help of the infamous Randall Terry and the GOP hypocrisy machine, a case long ago settled by the courts, was hijacked to advance Republican fortunes and fill the pocket books of celebrity fundamentalist preachers." BuzzFlash editorial, March 28, 2005.
"The parents of Terri Schiavo have authorized" the conservative direct-mailing firm Response Unlimited "to sell a list of their financial supporters, making it likely that thousands of strangers moved by her plight will receive a steady stream of solicitations from anti-abortion and conservative groups. ...
"'These compassionate pro-lifers donated toward Bob Schindler's legal battle to keep Terri's estranged husband from removing the feeding tube from Terri,'" says a description of the list on the firm's website, "which is asking $150 a month for 6,000 names and $500 a month for 4,000 e-mail addresses of people who responded last month to an e-mail plea from Ms. Schiavo's father."
Conveniently keeping the exploitation in the family, Phil Sheldon, co-founder of conservative online marketing organization RightMarch.com, "acted as a broker for Response Unlimited." [See "Fund-Raising" below.] New York Times, March 29, 2005.
- World O'Crap, Salon's weblog, pointed out that the Times made a misread, as "RU is actually charging $150 per thousand names for a one time use, so to rent the entire Terri's Fight list for one mailing would set you back about $6570." March 29, 2005.
"Videotape of Terri Schiavo blinking at her parents has inspired donations from people around the country to the foundation set up to help pay for the family's legal battle. But many other groups are soliciting donations in her name as well, some for a much broader agenda."
"Help Save Terri Schiavo's Life!" exhorts the website of the Traditional Values Coalition, the "Christian conservative group best known for its campaigns against gay rights." Conveniently located next to the plea is a pitch to "become an active supporter of the Traditional Values Coalition by pledging a monthly gift."
Coalition founder Rev. Lou Sheldon says "What this issue has done is it has galvanized people the way nothing could have done in an off-election year ... That is what I see as the blessing that dear Terri's life is offering to the conservative Christian movement in America.'"
And galvanized it has. In fact, Lou Sheldon's son Philip and William Greene's Right March website pleads "Save Terri Schiavo From Starvation!" ... CLICK HERE to help pay for our efforts and our nationwide ad to save Terri..." New York Times, March 25, 2005.
But then, it would appear that Right March has never seen a "pro-life cause" it didn't like. Terri Schiavo now tops the list, right above "Stop U.N. Tax on U.S."; "Emergency: We MUST Stop Specter!"; "ACLU Forces Boy Scout Ban on U.S. Military Bases"; "Liberal Vote Fraud Must Be Stopped"; and "RightMarch.com Says Fight Back Against Liberal 'Hand-Wringers of America'" ... CLICK HERE.
"There is a con man's technique that politicians sometimes use to manipulate the public and never has it worked better than with Terri Schiavo.
"The scheme involves making a very big deal about the plight of a single person to get us to ignore the plight of hundreds, thousands or even millions of others.
"Two-bit hustlers use distraction and diversion techniques to lift your wallet or empty your bank account. Political flimflammers use the tragedy of a single family to distract you from the horror they are inflicting upon your friends and neighbors." azcentral.com, March 29, 2005.
- "Gary McCullough, a media adviser to activist Randall Terry, says the Schiavo case grew from 10 pickets and a couple of TV cameras at her parents home to a national debate in 18 months because of careful 'packaging'. And the save-Terri forces made an early tactical decision to focus on Gov. Jeb Bush, who has been adamant in his support of reconnecting the stricken woman's feeding tube." Now editor of the Christian Wire Service/Christian Communication Network, McCullough "sends as many as five news releases on the Schiavo case to 6,000 recipients every day."
- "'But now,'" said McCullough, "'you have the Internet, blogging, Web sites, discussions groups, organizations like NewsMax and talkshow hosts like Sean Hannity whose producers don't have to be called by someone like me. They see the groundswell and get on board. It's a whole different ballgame.'" Tallahassee Democrat, March 24, 2005.
Petitioning to Change Public Policy
- "Since Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer last month ordered Terri Schiavo's tube removed [March 18, 2005], the Governor's Office has received more than 50,000 e-mails about the Schiavo case, and more than 107,000 petitions urging him to take immediate action to stop her 'forced starvation.'
- The Center for Reclaiming America -- the outreach program of Dr. D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries -- "completed the petition drive in 48 hours, often collecting 5,000 names an hour - a record for the Broward County-based group dedicated to mobilizing Christian grass roots." Bradenton Herald, March 14, 2005.
- Rev. Pat Mahoney was formerly with the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue and is now executive director of the Christian Defense Coalition, "an informal but growing network of conservative, religious and disability organizations who, with the click of a computer mouse, are enlisting hundreds of thousands of people in Bob and Mary Schindler's fight to keep their daughter Terri Schiavo alive."
- "The first goal of the campaign, Mahoney said, is to save Terri Schiavo's life. But he and others also hope to roll back the laws and ethical and medical guidelines that have evolved since 1990, when the U.S. Supreme Court recognized artificial sustenance and hydration as medical treatment." Knight Ridder, March 14, 2005.
- John Stemberger, president of the Orlando, FL,-based Florida Family Policy Council, says that "Food and water is not medical treatment. It's ordinary care, ... Our primary interest is what the law should be, not what the law is, and this will be one of our top priorities: to create new public policy." Bradenton Herald, March 14, 2005.
- 11th Hour Coalition to Save Terri Schiavo's Life, Paul Schenck, L.H.D., 703-928-9695.
- Terri Schiavo: External Links
- Terri Schiavo: Key Legal Arguments Timeline
- Terri Schiavo: Political, Social & Judicial Implications
- Maya Bell, "Sophisticated tactics aid Schiavo's parents," Knight Ridder, March 14, 2005.
- "Schiavo case puts spotlight on Florida politics," Tallahassee Democrat, March 24, 2005.