Letters to the Editor 

BROADCAST BOOS

To the Editor:
Well, thank you, Richard Byrne. No wonder my usual responses to stories on our local TV news stations are usually: "I don't care about that." "That's old." "Why are they showing that?" "Again?" "Still?" "That was stupid." "Who wanted to see that at all (much less for the 15th time)?"

It's obvious that TV news (and the printed stuff as well) is suffering from rampant inbreeding. The 9:30 a.m. meeting Richard Byrne describes going on at KDSK ("Fast Forward," RFT, Dec. 23) is no doubt mirrored at the other stations, and shows that the newsgivers take it upon themselves to decide want we want to see/hear. Where is the perspective? Where is the gatekeeping function? Where is the thought?

It's obvious that all the stations are out of touch with the people who actually watch the news. What KSDK (and the other stations) should do is, 10 minutes before their confabulations, they should walk out on the street outside of their studios and collar three to five normal humans and usher them into the meeting. When a story is proposed, these everyday barometers should be polled: "Is this something you care about? Is this something you would want to see on the news?" If a majority say no, the story should be dropped like a hot rock, even if they already do have five minutes of footage in the can.

Had this kind of reality check been administered in the past, I guarantee you that Monica Lewinsky would have disappeared last March. That latest gory death would have been shown once or twice, then shelved. And hundreds of other pointless (oh, but we've got video) tidbits of sensational "news" would have been put where they belong -- on tape cartridges that five minutes later would be erased.

Laura Kyro

To the Editor:
We've no doubt the pace at Channel 5 is hectic, but isn't it amusing to see a claim made for news judgment? News judgment is like taste -- you can have plenty of it, and all bad.

Using the term "news judgment" is like public radio's "intelligent talk"; these days, both are pretentious to an extreme (I'd say sophomoric if it weren't so demeaning to the second-year student).

Television-news coverage was ever so much better when only a fraction of the time was available, without time for fluff fillers and man-in-the-street reaction pieces (which home in unerringly on the uninformed and/or those favoring the station's political tilt).

Gosh, this is negative. Given the subject, how could it be otherwise!
Earl F. Birkicht

PLANE TRUTH

To the Editor:
The RFT reported in "Terminal Illness" (RFT, Dec. 16) that MidAmerica Airport is unused, and that Lambert's expansion was promoted by Missouri interests and MidAmerica by Illinois interests, but the article did not consider MetroLink's expansion in Illinois. Lambert's director, Leonard Griggs, is quoted as saying that MetroLink is scheduled to expand to MidAmerica "eventually," but an extension to Belleville Area College will be finished in 2001, and the final design of a further extension to Scott Air Force Base and MidAmerica will be ready in September. It will probably be built by 2003.

The existing MetroLink is 17 miles, and its most-used station, at Fifth and Missouri Avenue, is in Illinois. The Belleville extension will double that length, and there is significant private real-estate activity along the right-of-way, especially near the eight new stations. In relatively undeveloped southeastern Illinois, MetroLink will have different consequences than it has had since 1993, when it began operations. Most of the current system was based on old railroad lines in a developed area.

As MidAmerica director Floyd Hargrove says, the linking of the two airports "will then mean two major airports are directly connected by light rail, and there's no other place in the world that I know (where that is true)." MetroLink will be 43 miles long and have 29 stations, vs. the current 19. MidAmerica will be as accessible as Lambert is to downtown St. Louis, and the ride between the airports will be 85 minutes. MidAmerica will be useful for "commuter" airlines, for freight and charters, and as a supplement to Lambert's regular traffic on special occasions. In 20 or 30 years, it may be as busy as Lambert is now. It would be useful if Bi-State and the airports were under the same jurisdiction. That would be a real move toward a much-acclaimed "regionalism."

Mark Heyman

BABY TALK

To the Editor:
As a person with a "fancy college degree," I find Patrick G. McCarthy's reasoning ("Letters," RFT, Dec. 23) a bit faulty in several places.

He is correct that insurance companies cover damage from unforeseen circumstances. Lack of access to affordable birth control can cause the unforeseen circumstance of a pregnancy. However, insurers are willing to cover the birth and care of the consequence of their failure to cover contraception.

Insurance providers also cover treatments for infertility, which is a pre-existing condition. The use of Clomid, Pergonal and in vitro fertilization is as voluntary as elective cosmetic surgery, which isn't reimbursed by most health plans. If the cost of birth control is to rest solely on the user, then it is only just that insurers no longer subsidize prenatal care and birth. These expenses would be the responsibility of they who choose to have children.

Mr. McCarthy's solution for Ms. Duffy ("Letters," RFT, Dec. 9) is to "marry her boyfriend or not have sex with someone who is not her spouse." He assumes that only single women want birth control and that pregnancy within a marriage is always acceptable. Married couples also use pharmaceutical birth control to delay having children for the same personal and economic reasons Ms. Duffy states. There are also those, like myself, who have chosen to remain child-free by choice. We would prefer coverage of permanent surgical procedures such as tubal ligation, vasectomy and hysterectomy regardless of age, marital status or lack of children.

Ms. Duffy and myself are not looking for insurance to cover irresponsibility, as Mr. McCarthy suggests. We would like the choice to be nonparents recognized as valid, equal and as worthy of coverage as the choice to have children.

Erina Guardia-Bebar

To the Editor:
Christine Duffy's letter supporting Planned Parenthood's desire to require insurance companies to cover contraceptives sounds strange indeed. Why should insurance companies cover anyone's contraceptives?

Women are intelligent and can learn natural family planning which requires no contraceptives but a learned knowledge of their body's vaginal mucus, which tells them whether or not they are fertile.

Just because Planned Parenthood does not hire certified teachers of natural family planning doesn't mean nobody else does. Call the St. John's Mercy Hospital division of natural family planning for information. There are other centers too, in St. Louis. AWARE, founded by a group of women who decided women need something better than contraceptives, provides education at St. Anthony Medical Center.

Lorraine Bakalar

CREATURE DISCOMFORT

To the Editor:
Who cares about the residents of Town & Country's incomes? Justine Eiseman ("Letters," RFT, Dec. 16) is more concerned with deer on a "rampage." She is very concerned with the overpopulation and surplus of deer. But I wonder if the deer are concerned with the surplus and overpopulation of humans. I wonder if they are disappointed when a family has too many children that are "running wild" in the woods the deer lived in first. But Justine obviously thinks it is OK to put your home in a forest, call your new home Town & Country, and then complain about too many deer.

Ben Cody

NATIONAL LAMPOON

To the Editor:
As I follow the Clinton impeachment proceedings I am struck above all by the partisan mindlessness and utter banality of the debate on the part of both political parties. Even given that most political speech is nothing but posturing, the statements of both Democrats and Republicans have a depressingly parrotlike quality to them. Compare, for example, the impeachment debate with the Iran-contra investigation. Back then, it was Republicans who said that not all lying is wrong, that the investigation was nothing but a politically motivated witch hunt, and that the American people stood behind them. Then, it was Demo-crats who said that those who lied should face the severest of consequences, that they were doing their constitutional duty by conducting the inquiry, that they should obey the voice of conscience rather than the winds of public opinion. Blah, blah, blah.

What I have yet to hear from anyone in either party is a single word that reflects intelligence, creativity or courage. I have yet to hear one sentence that is not directly tied to the immediate self-interest of the speaker. Over the years I've learned to not expect much of politicians. The impeachment debate has done nothing to alter those expectations.

Mark Etling

To the Editor:
Excuse me! This do-nothing Republican Congress has been fornicating with prostitutes and married women for decades! How does this ship of fools have the gall to be divine-right authorities for impeachment of Bill Clinton? The pharisees! Give us some decent coverage for a change! We've had enough!

L. Jeude

To the Editor:
I believe this impeachment process is a battle this country must go through. Because in waging this battle, the GOP has decided, very clearly, to side with the Religious Right and join in their crusade to win over the moral hearts and cultural souls of the American people. And this battle will continue to be waged until we, the American people, either surrender to the dictates of conservative and fundamentalist religious dogmas or clearly reject these forces of religious fascism and intolerance.

Curtis E. Perkins

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