Last week, PE learned that Dr. Bill Law Jr., president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, recently sent a letter to Michael Bass, executive producer of "The Early Show," regarding a segment from the broadcast on Sept. 19 during which anchor Rene Syler interviewed Dr. Steven Hotze about thyroid disease.
You can watch the segment below:
In the letter, Law expressed the organization's "extreme concern and disappointment with the unchallenged and scientifically erroneous comments" that Hotze made about the disease during the segment "and the effect that this information may have on the health of patients with thyroid disorders."
From the letter:
"Many of Dr. Hotze's claims about the incidence and development of an underactive thyroid condition, commonly referred to as hypothyroidism, were completely erroneous and unsubstantiated, and are readily refuted by a large body of solid scientific evidence."
Law then cited several examples of such statements that Hotze had made during the segment, and continued:
"It was truly astonishing and puzzling that Ms. Syler, an educated professional journalist on a national television program, would not challenge the validity of Dr. Hotze's statements in any fashion. His self-serving performance amounted to a thinly veiled infomercial for his practice and book, and the fact that it was permitted, and even invited, does not reflect well on your network."
AACE believes strongly that the national forum CBS provided to Dr. Hotze was a great disservice to your viewers, particularly those seeking and needing scientifically substantiated medical advice on the treatment of hypothyroidism. AACE would be happy to provide legitimate professionally-recognized medical experts to appear on CBS to discuss thyroid and other hormonal disorders in the future. In the meantime, we encourage you to view AACE's guidelines on thyroid disorders at www.aace.com."
We contacted Bass, who had already received the letter and was working on a response. He informed us yesterday that he had personally responded in a letter to Law. In it, Bass wrote that he agreed with Law that "The Early Show" "definitely should have done a better job of challenging [Hotze's] opinions, and also that much of what [Hotze] proposed falls far outside the accepted norms and, according to our Dr. Emily Senay, could be potentially harmful to some patients. Dr. Hotze is of course entitled to his opinion, but we should have done a better job of countering his perspective and offering more accepted alternatives, so that our viewers would have sufficient information to take with them to their own doctors."
Bass also said in the letter that "The Early Show" would be broadcasting a segment, which aired this morning, in which Senay would "specifically counter many of the points made by Dr. Hotze."
You can watch this morning's segment here:
Below is the letter he sent to Law yesterday:
October 25, 2005
Dear Dr. Law,
As previously noted, I received your email and fully appreciate the concerns you raise.
In our effort to present to our audience a wide variety of information, we often invite guests and book authors who come on with unique or controversial points of view. In this case, Dr. Hotze presented his medical opinion about thyroid disease.
I agree with you that we definitely should have done a better job of challenging his opinions, and also that much of what he proposed falls far outside the accepted norms and, according to our Dr. Emily Senay, could be potentially harmful to some patients. Dr. Hotze is of course entitled to his opinion, but we should have done a better job of countering his perspective and offering more accepted alternatives, so that our viewers would have sufficient information to take with them to their own doctors.
As a result, and in light of the concerns you raised, we are airing a segment tomorrow in our Healthwatch on thyroid disease with our own Dr. Senay, which will specifically counter many of the points made by Dr. Hotze. Dr. Senay has done multiple segments on thyroid disease on our program. I hope you will tune in for her follow up on this story tomorrow.
And let me say again how much we appreciate your letter and take to heart your concerns. Our goal is to present the best information and news for our audience -- and while we of course can not avoid controversy, we must also do everything we can to present both sides regarding a controversial issue. We failed to do that in this case.
Thank you again for bringing this to our attention.
Senior Executive Producer
CBS News "The Early Show"
Kudos to Bass for acknowledging and investigating the AACE's concerns and for responding to them by further clarifying the issue for viewers this morning.