Chapter Nine: The Media
At the beginning of Chapter Seven, I stated that there were many things going on in the years between 1975 and 1980. Let me, at this point, try to give you some idea of what I meant.
I was in private practice as a family physician. Although my primary obligation was to my family practice patients, I tried to take one hour in the morning and two hours in the afternoon three days a week to work with cancer patients. My waiting time for starting new cancer patients on the nutritional program was three months. This was terrible, but there were very few doctors doing nutritional therapy at that time. I was not in the office on Thursday, Saturday or Sunday. Almost all of my Thursdays were filled giving interviews, going somewhere to give a talk or to be on a television program. There were trips to Columbus, Ohio to testify before the Ohio State legislature and trips to Jackson, Michigan to testify before the Michigan State legislature. Many of my weekends were spent attending or speaking at seminars on nutrition.
Betty and our six children also needed some of my time. We had children graduating from high school, entering college and graduating from college every year during this period. The beginning and ending of the college year and college vacation time is still pretty much of a blur to Betty and me. None of our children went to the same college. Much of the time Betty would take off in one direction, and I would take off in the other to pick up, or deliver, whoever was in that direction. During this time, we also had the weddings of our oldest son and our oldest daughter.
For these reasons, I don't remember every newspaper or TV interview or even every television appearance. I would, however, like to tell you about a few which stand out in my memory.
There are some very intelligent newspaper and TV people out there. There are people like Alice Hornbaker from the Cincinnati Enquirer. There are people like the woman from the Akron-Canton area of Ohio, whose name I cannot remember. She had multiple sclerosis some years before and had managed, through good nutrition, to control her disease. In our interviews, both of these women understood what I meant by good nutrition and wrote excellent newspaper articles about how nutrition could help the cancer patient. There was a woman from one of the Dayton, Ohio television stations that had obviously done her homework on nutrition. My TV interview with her was delightful.
Then, there are the others. My first experience with "the other kind" was with a television station in Columbus, Ohio. This would have been in the Spring of 1977. The station had called and we had set an exact date and time for their interview. I had picked 1:00 P.M. because my office hours began at 2:00, and I figured that one hour would be sufficient time for the interview. The TV crew arrived thirty minutes late. On camera, I explained to the interviewer that Laetrile was not a miracle drug or a cancer vitamin or a cancer cure, but was just a small part of a total nutritional program. I explained that, while I could put into the body the nutritional ingredients that the body needed in order to allow its defense mechanisms to function, I had no way of knowing how efficiently that patient's body would use those nutritional ingredients. Thus, I said, I could not guarantee any patient anything. My only guarantee to the patient, I told her, was that I would do everything I could to get that patient into as good a nutritional shape as I possibly could in order to allow that patient's defense mechanisms to function as well as they possibly could.
By now, patients with 2:00 P.M. appointments were beginning to come into the office. Since we were doing the interview in my waiting room, I insisted that we move the interview to the sidewalk in front of my office. This was done. In watching the patients come into my office, the lady interviewer got the brilliant idea that the crew should film the patients in the treatment rooms while I was giving them their Laetrile injections. My reply was, "These are sick people. This is not a circus." This made her very unhappy, and she immediately concluded the interview.
Betty was there while all of this was going on. When we saw how the interview was presented on the 11:00 P.M. news that night, we were both flabbergasted. The lady interviewer did most of the talking. Nothing concerning the nutritional aspect of all of this, which I had so carefully gone through, was shown or even mentioned. This lady (and, perhaps, I use the term loosely) ended by saying, in a voice-over, that Dr. Binzel guaranteed that he could cure any patient with cancer.
Very early the next morning I was on the phone to the station manager. When I was finally able to get through to him, his tone was, to say the least, haughty. He just didn't have time to see me. When I suggested that it would probably take less time to see me than it would be to see my attorney, he agreed to give me an appointment. This appointment was for two o'clock that afternoon.
When Betty and I arrived for the appointment, he could not have been nicer. It seems that people from the Ohio State Medical Board had been there that morning. They watched the tape of the interview. The truth was in the tape. He was kind enough to show us the entire tape. At the end, he said that he just did not know how this woman had been able to make such a statement. He apologized for what she had done. I accepted his apology but told him that I might, because of what his station had done, be in trouble with the State Medical Board. He assured me that, if this were the case, his station would be more than happy to pay for any legal expenses that I might incur and to compensate me for any inconvenience. I never heard from the Ohio State Medical Board about this TV interview.
Perhaps the weirdest of my experiences with the media happened with a young female reporter from a Dayton, Ohio newspaper. (I'm not trying to pick on you girls. It just happened that way.) She called and made an appointment for late one Friday afternoon in the summer of 1977. I spent about two hours with her explaining nutrition and how nutrition was important in the body's defense mechanisms. I discussed Laetrile and its role in good nutrition. There was nothing unusual about the entire interview. What was unusual was the article that appeared on the front page of that Dayton newspaper on Saturday morning. There was absolutely no similarity between the article and the interview of the previous day. The article quoted me as saying that Laetrile was a miracle drug and would cure anyone's cancer. How was I so sure that there was no similarity? Because I had long been in the habit of making a tape recording of all interviews.
Early Monday morning I called my long-time friend and family attorney, John Bath, and explained the situation to him. John recommended that I first call the editor of the paper and demand a retraction. He said, "If that doesn't work, and if your tape is what you say it is, you and I may end up owning that newspaper."
I called the editor and stated my objections. He assured me that the article was probably quite correct. I then informed him about the tape recording and my conversation with my attorney. The editor promised to call me back. He did so within an hour. He told me what had happened.
The young lady who had done the interview had a date for a beach party that night. She wrote and submitted her article before she came to see me. She went from my office to her party without changing anything in her original article. The editor told me that there would be a retraction on the front page of Tuesday's paper. He was true to his word. Not only was there a full retraction, but the whole story was told. The article ended by saying that the young lady was no longer employed by the paper. John and I never got our opportunity to own a newspaper.
In 1991, a friend of mine was able to get in touch with the editor of a Columbus, Ohio newspaper. He told the editor that there was a story about the treatment of cancer that, perhaps, the paper should look into. The editor did send a young female reporter to my office. I spent several hours with her explaining why I was using nutritional therapy and telling her about the results that I had obtained. I told her that I would make all of the necessary legal arrangements which would permit someone from the paper to go through all of my patient files and verify the statistics. What I wanted was a series of articles explaining nutritional therapy and showing the results that could be obtained by its use. I told her it was not necessary that my name ever appear in the articles. What I wanted was to get this information to the public.
The young lady understood exactly what I wanted to do. However, she said her paper was an "establishment" newspaper, and it would rarely print anything with an opposing view. What I wanted to do, she explained, would be an attack on the medical establishment. She didn't think her editor would allow that. She promised she would talk with her editor about it and would contact me again only if he said, "Yes." (Don't call me. I'll call you.) She never called.
My last contact with the TV media was in July, 1993. A TV station from Columbus called and wanted to set up an interview. We set up a date and time. The interview was to be done in my home. When the crew arrived, the interviewer wanted to start filming immediately. I refused. I told her that we would not start filming until I said so. I spent the next forty-five minutes explaining what nutritional therapy was and why I was using it. I went through the whole routine of Laetrile, pointing out that, while it was an important part of nutritional therapy, it was only a small part of the total program.
She said, "Now can we film?" I told her that we would not film until we had gone through the questions that she was going to ask. She told me that she did not have any prepared questions and would just ask questions off the top of her head. She lied.
As soon as the camera began to roll, she turned to a page in her note book which was filled with prepared questions. Her first question was, "I assume from what you have said that you are the conduit for the transportation of Laetrile through the state of Ohio?" In my previous forty-five minute discussion with this woman, I had already told her that I had nothing to do with the buying, selling or distribution of Laetrile.
Her next question was, "How much do you charge for your services.?" I told her that, in all of the years that I had seen cancer surgeons, oncologists and radiologists on TV, I had never heard anyone ask them what they charged for their services. I went on to explain that I discuss my charges only with the patient, not with TV people.
There were several more questions about Laetrile, and then she said, "We want to take pictures of your patient files." I told her that this would be illegal, and that I would not even consider it. She said that unless she could see those files, she would not be convinced that any such files existed. I replied, "I couldn't care less whether you're convinced. You are not going to see my files." After she had left, I thought my reply should have been, "Well, I don't think you're wearing any underwear, and I won't be convinced unless you show me." I'm so glad I didn't think of that until after she was gone!
That night on the TV news, less than a minute or a minute and a half was given to this interview. She did most of the talking. Nothing was said about nutrition. Her final comment was, "Dr. Binzel says that he has had good results with his treatment, but he has no proof." I understand why so many people distrust the media.