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Another media myth shattered

A gem of a story appeared in the Seattle Times yesterday.

How many times have you heard someone in the press or a politician claim that homosexual teen-agers are three times as likely to commit suicide as a heterosexual youth?

One of the latest and most prominent mentions came during Ellen’s much-hyped coming out party on ABC recently. At the end of an interview with Ellen DeGeneres on “PrimeTime Live,” Diane Sawyer had this to say: “And as we close, we’re going to repeat a government statistic that a gay teen-ager is some three times as likely to attempt suicide as another teen-ager. Ellen DeGeneres has said whatever happens to her, tonight’s broadcast was in part to hold on to them.”

Nice sentiment, but reporter Delia M. Rios of the Newhouse News Service shows the premise just ain’t true. There’s no scientific evidence for it whatsoever.

“That was the conclusion — back in 1994 — of representatives of the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institute of Mental Health, the American Psychological Association, the American Association of Suicidology and gay and lesbian advocacy and service groups, among others,” she wrote.

Those groups had met specifically to see whether there was a link between being homosexual and suicide attempts — a notion that had been promoted in an essay in a 1989 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report.

“There is no population-based evidence that sexual orientation and suicidality are linked in some direct or indirect manner,” they concluded.

Nevertheless, Rios points out, the myth has been cited so often by activists, politicians and the media that it has become part of the conventional wisdom of our day.

Clinton’s California numbers

A Field Poll in California hasn’t received much attention outside of the Golden State — and, of course, the White House.

It seems President Clinton’s job rating among members of his own party has plummeted. In a three-month period, Clinton’s overall job performance rating has fallen 16 points — from a 51 percent positive to a 35 this month.

So let’s not hear anymore suggestions that people out there in the hinterlands just don’t care about scandals. More likely they’re just hearing about them for the first time.

Validation for Chris Ruddy

I wasn’t sure what to make of reporter Philip Weiss after his strange New York Times Magazine cover story, “The Clinton Haters,” earlier this year. It was an ambivalent piece — and that title!

But Weiss has come a long way in a few months. His most recent effort for the New York Observer, published yesterday for the first time in WorldNetDaily, validates the work of our intrepid, yet much-maligned, reporter Christopher Ruddy, who has investigated Vincent Foster’s death for the last three years.

Even more importantly, Weiss reveals that it was Webb Hubbell, then Associate Attorney General, who hired Lisa Foster’s attorney, Jim Hamilton — the fixer who has helped the White House orchestrate an elaborate cover-up of the facts in the case.

“I don’t endorse all of Chris Ruddy’s suggestions about Foster’s death,” Weiss writes. “But all investigative reporters run a fever. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be investigative reporters. Meanwhile, his energies have put the mainstream press to shame. None of them has closely looked into the Foster death despite obvious discrepancies in the record for which no one has yet offered a logical explanation. Why were Foster’s glasses found 19 feet from his head? Why, if he drove to the park, were no keys found at the scene?”

Free press, China-style

The state-run China School of Journalism put together a survey for foreign reporters apparently hoping it could detect some anti-Beijing bias.

Instead, not a single foreign reporter would fill out the 16-part survey full of leading questions. So, the questionnaire was dropped.

What were the journalists worried about? China has expelled 18 foreign reporters in the last three years — some of them as “spies.”