New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg took a cheap shot at Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann in Wednesday’s “Bachmann Says Severe Migraines Have Never Incapacitated Her” (notice how the print headline works in the danger words "severe" and "incapacitated") jumping off an anonymously sourced report from the Daily Caller on Monday alleging Bachmann had been “incapacitated” and “hospitalized” by migraines.
Stolberg emphasized disorders linked to migraines, including “work loss,” “depression,” and “fatigue,” loaded traits when it comes to questioning a candidate’s fitness for the office of the presidency. A search of Nexis and Google News suggests the Times is the sole newspaper that has so far linked migraines and depression in its Bachmann coverage.
Representative Michele Bachmann suffers from migraine headaches so intense that she has sometimes sought emergency medical treatment, but the congresswoman said Tuesday that the condition would not preclude her from serving as president if elected.
The American Migraine Foundation, a nonprofit group devoted to research, says 36 million Americans, or about 12 percent of the population, suffers from migraines, a neurological disorder characterized by severe-to-moderate headaches and often nausea. The headaches, which the group says can be “extremely disabling for sufferers, painful enough to cause work loss” typically last 24 hours; most people have only a few attacks per month, but chronic sufferers can have many more. Migraines are three times more common among women than men, the foundation says, adding that those who get the headaches are “more likely” to have depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, other pain conditions and fatigue.
A Nexis search suggests that of 1,360 stories published by the Times since 1969 containing the word “migraine,” a grand total of four bother to mention a causal link between migraines and depression; Stolberg’s piece today, and three articles by health columnist Jane Brody, the last one in 2006, the other two from 1988.
Also, this marks the first time the American Migraine Foundation's findings have been cited in the Times, according to Nexis. The group’s laudable mission is pushing for more research and better treatment, so it will of course emphasize the problems people with migraines suffer, as opposed to emphasizing coping mechanisms like drug treatment.
# # #