NBC Shutdown Story Ignores Harry Reid Rejecting GOP Plan to Fund Cancer Research

On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams introduced a full report on cancer research at the National Institutes of Health being stopped under the government shutdown: "And there are the millions who are feeling the impact of this shutdown very close to home and across this country, including some for whom this standoff feels very much like a matter of life and death for them."

In the story that followed, correspondent Tom Costello declared: "The NIH funds research nationwide. At its headquarters, a lack of funding means 200 patients, including 30 children, each week will be turned away from clinical studies." What he failed to mention was that congressional Republicans proposed a bill to provide the needed funding, but were rebuffed by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

A sound bite was included of Dr. Louis Weiner of the Georgetown University Medical Center ominously warning: "For every day that we are unable to provide potentially life-saving new treatments to people with cancer, there's going to be an impact on health and there's going to be people who might die."

In a report just prior to Costello's, Williams denounced the "anger" and "hypocrisy" of a Republican Congressman confronting a park ranger over barricades being erected around the World War II Memorial.

What he decided to skip was the fact that the Republican National Committee offered to use its own funds to keep the memorial open during the shutdown.

The Washington Times quoted one frustrated park ranger saying of the White House Office of Management and Budget order to barricade such memorials: "It's a cheap way to deal with the situation. We've been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It's disgusting."


Here is a full transcript of Costello's October 3 report:

7:10PM ET

BRIAN WILLIAMS: And there are the millions who are feeling the impact of this shutdown very close to home and across this country, including some for whom this standoff feels very much like a matter of life and death for them. NBC's Tom Costello is standing by just outside the campus of the National Institutes of Health near Washington tonight. Tom, good evening.

TOM COSTELLO: Hi, Brian. The NIH conducts some of the most cutting edge research into diseases like cancer. But right now, much of that research is on hold, the campus largely closed down. And people hoping for new clinical drug trials, they have to wait.

In California, Michelle Langben is desperate, waiting for a drug trial that she hopes will save her life.

MICHELLE LANGBEN: Every day counts. Every second. I've always promised my daughter that I refuse to let her grow up without a mom. And I'm going to make that happen, no matter what I have to do.

COSTELLO: The mother of an 18-month-old has been told her rare sarcoma could be terminal. But without funding, any new NIH clinical drug trials are on hold.

LANGBEN: I'd just like to let Congress know that this decision needs to be made quickly because we don't have the time to wait.

COSTELLO: The NIH funds research nationwide. At its headquarters, a lack of funding means 200 patients, including 30 children, each week will be turned away from clinical studies. Though, if a patient is already in a trial, their care will continue. Furloughed, nearly 14,000 NIH employees, including scientists looking for cures and medical breakthroughs.

DR. LOUIS WEINER [GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER]: For every day that we are unable to provide potentially life-saving new treatments to people with cancer, there's going to be an impact on health and there's going to be people who might die.

COSTELLO: Meanwhile, most of the operations at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta are shut down. 9,000 staffers furloughed, no monitoring for infectious disease outbreaks, reduced critical lab work, no one watching the seasonal flu. Across the country, waiting on Washington.

LANGBEN: This clinical trial may just give me hope that I can see my daughter grow up, and that is so important to me.  

COSTELLO: More than 1,400 clinical trials are under way here involving patients. And those trials will continue, but no new clinical trials and most research on hold. Brian.

WILLIAMS: Tom Costello, outside NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, with another part of this story. Tom, thanks.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC