“Something with a Frightening Reputation”: 60 Minutes’ Accommodation of HIV in Gene Therapy for Sickle Cell Disease
Main Article Content
On March 10, 2019, 60 Minutes reported the development of a potentially life-altering gene therapy for Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). Despite this therapy’s potential for cure, SCD community members’ reactions ranged from skepticism to fear due to the use of deactivated HIV as a vector for transporting the corrected gene into stem cells, thus repairing the faulty gene in SCD. Using a mental models framework, we analyze how 60 Minutes attempted to explain this research and how audiences reacted on social media. Specifically, we show how 60 Minutes’ treatment of given versus new information, as well as the journalists’ failure to account for the specific audiences with the most at stake, led to misunderstandings that contributed to ongoing fear and mistrust of the scientific community. We conclude with recommendations for how journalists should approach accommodating science when that science has particular impacts on minoritized and marginalized groups.
Amend, Elyse & David M. Secko (2012). In the face of critique: A metasynthesis of the experiences of journalists covering health and science. Science Communication, 34, 241-282. doi: 10.1177/1075547011409952
American Society of Hematology (ASH) (n.d.). Sickle cell disease. http://www.hematology.org/Patients/Anemia/Sickle-Cell.aspx
Bauder, David. (2018, March 19). CBS’ 60 Minutes gathers audience week by week. AP News. https://apnews.com/057ba9dc57f84ba98314ddc113be575c/CBS'-'60-Minutes'-gathers-audience-week-by-week
Ceccarelli, Leah (2001). Shaping science with rhetoric: The cases of Dobzhansky, Schrodinger, and Wilson. University of Chicago Press.
Ceccarelli, Leah (2013). On the frontier of science: An American rhetoric of exploration and exploitation. Michigan State University Press.
Chakrapani, Venkatesan, Peter A. Newman, Neeti Singhal, Ruban Nelson, & Murali Shunmugam (2013). “If it’s not working, why would they be testing it?”: Mental models of HIV vaccine trials and preventive misconception among men who have sex with men in India. BMC Public Health, 13, 731-742. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-731
Condit, Celeste M. (2010). Public understandings of genetics and health. Clinical Genetics, 77, 1-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0004.2009.01316.x
Condit, Celeste M., Lijiang Shen, Karen L. Edwards, Deborah J. Bowen, Diane M. Korngiebel, & Catherine O. Johnson (2016). Participants’ role expectations in genetics research and re-consent: Revising the theory and methods of mental models research relating to roles. Journal of Health Communication, 21, 16-24. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2016.1193914
Eisenhart, Christopher & Barbara Johnstone (2008). Discourse analysis and rhetorical studies. In Barbara Johnstone & Christopher Eisenhart (Eds.), Rhetoric in detail: Discourse analyses of rhetorical talk and text (pp. 3-21). John Benjamins.
Fahnestock, Jeanne (1986). Accommodating science: The rhetorical life of facts. Written Communication, 3, 275-296. doi: 10.1177/0741088386003003001
Fahnestock, Jeanne (2004). Preserving the figure: Consistency in the presentation of scientific arguments. Written Communication, 21, 6-31. doi: 10.1177/0741088303261034
Gerzymisch-Arbogast, Heidrun (1993). Contrastive scientific and technical register as a translation problem. In S. E. Wright & L. D. Wright (Eds.), Scientific and Technical Translation (pp. 21-52). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/ata.vi.04ger
Gottweis, Herbert. (2002). Gene therapy and the public: A matter of trust. Gene Therapy, 9, 667-669. doi: 10.1038/sj.gt.3301752
Halliday, M. A. K. (1993). The construction of knowledge and value in the grammar of scientific discourse: Charles Darwin’s The Origin of the Species. In M. A. K. Halliday & J. R. Martin, Writing science: Literacy and discursive power (pp. 95-116). Falmer Press/Taylor & Francis.
Happe, Kelly E. (2018). Health communication methodology and race. In Lisa Melancon and J. Blake Scott (Eds.), Methodologies for the rhetoric of health and medicine (pp. 79-95). Routledge.
Harris, Randy Allen (2005). Reception studies in the rhetoric of science. Technical Communication Quarterly, 14, 249-255. doi: 10.1207/s15427625tcq1403_2
Hartelius, E. Johanna (2011). The rhetoric of expertise. Lexington Books.
Haviland, Susan E., & Herbert H. Clark (1974). What’s new? Acquiring new information as a process in comprehension. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 13, 512-521. doi: S0022-5371(74)80003-4
Henry J. Kaiser Foundation (2019). Poll: Most Americans Say HIV Is Serious Issue for the Country as Trump Administration Rolls Out New Plan to End HIV by 2030; Black and Hispanic Adults Report More Personal Concern than White Adults. https://www.kff.org/health-reform/press-release/most-say-hiv-is-serious-issue-for-country-as-trump-administration-rolls-out-new-plan/
Hinnant, Amanda & María Len-Ríos (2009). Tacit understanding of health literacy: Interview and survey research with health journalists. Science Communication, 31, 84-115. doi: 10.1177/1075547009335345
Hivon, M., P. Lehoux, J.-L. Denis, & M. Rock (2010). Marginal voices in the media coverage of controversial health interventions: How do they contribute to the public understanding of science? Public Understanding of Science, 19, 34-51. doi: 10.1177/0963662508088668
Holland, Brynn. (2018). The “father of modern gynecology” performed shocking experiments on slaves. History Stories. https://www.history.com/news/the-father-of-modern-gynecology-performed-shocking-experiments-on-slaves
hooks, bell (1989). Talking back: Thinking feminist, thinking black. Boston: South End Press.
Huckin, Thomas, Jennifer Andrus, & Jennifer Clary-Lemon (2012). Critical discourse analysis and rhetoric and composition. College Composition and Communication, 64, 107-129.
Ivy, Nicole (2016). A meditation on medical imaginaries and enslaved women. Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, 18(1), 11-31.
Johnstone, Barbara (2018). Discourse analysis, 3rd ed. Wiley-Blackwell.
Jones, James H. (1993). Bad blood: The Tuskegee syphilis experiment. Simon & Schuster.
Katz, A. J. (2018, September 25). Here Are Morning Show Ratings for 2017-2018 Season, Q3 and the Week of Sept. 17. https://www.adweek.com/tvnewser/here-are-morning-show-ratings-for-2017-2018-season-q3-and-the-week-of-sept-17/378199/
Maglio, Tony (2015, March 30). The 100 oldest and youngest TV shows: From ‘60 Minutes’ to ‘Family Guy.’ https://www.thewrap.com/the-oldest-and-youngest-tv-shows-from-60-minutes-to-family-guy/
Martínez Guillem, Susana and Christopher M. Toulas (2018). Critical discourse studies and/in communication: Theories, methodologies, and pedagogies at the intersections. Review of Communication, 18, 140-157. doi: 10.1080/15358593.2018.1480793
Morgan, M. Granger, Baruch Fischoff, Ann Bostrom, and Cynthia J. Atman (2002). Risk communication: A mental models approach. Cambridge University Press.
Nattrass, Nicoli (2013). Understanding the origins and prevalence of AIDS conspiracy beliefs in the United States and South Africa. Sociology of Health & Illness, 35, 113-129. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2012.01480.x
Newman, Peter A., Carmen Logie, Llana James, Tamicka Charles, John Maxwell, Khaled Salam, & Michael Woodford (2011). “Speaking the dialect”: Understanding public discourse in the aftermath of an HIV vaccine trial showdown. American Journal of Public Health, 101, 1749-1758. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300208
Newman, Peter A., Danielle S. Seiden, Kathleen J. Roberts, Lisa Kakinami, & Naihua Duan (2009). A small dose of HIV? HIV vaccine mental models and risk communication. Health Education and Behavior, 36, 321-333. doi: 10.1177/1090198107305078
Nutbeam, Don. (2008). The evolving concept of health literacy. Social Science & Medicine, 67(12), 2072-2078.
Paul, Danette, Davida Charney, & Aimee Kendall (2001). Moving beyond the moment: Reception studies in the rhetoric of science. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 15, 372-399. doi: 10.1177/105065190101500305
Parrott, Roxanne, Kami Silk, Judith Weiner, Celeste Condit, Tina Harris, & Jay Bernhardt (2004). Deriving lay models of uncertainty about genes’ role in illness causation to guide communication about human genetics. Journal of Communication, 54, 105-122. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2004.tb02616.x
Preda, Alex (2005). AIDS, rhetoric and medical knowledge. Cambridge UP.
Secko, David M., Elyse Amend, & Terrine Friday (2013). Four models of science journalism: A synthesis and practical assessment. Journalism Practice, 7, 62-80. doi: 10.1080/17512786.2012.691351
Segal, Judy Z. (2008). Health and the rhetoric of medicine. Southern Illinois UP.
Tomlin, Russell S., Linda Forrest, Ming Ming Pu, & Myung Hee Kim (2010). Discourse semantics. In T. A. van Dijk (Ed.), Discourse studies: A multidisciplinary introduction (pp. 107-125). Sage.
Van Dijk, Teun (2009). Critical discourse studies: A sociocognitive approach. In Ruth Wodak & Michael Myer (Eds.), Methods of critical discourse analysis (pp. 63-86). Sage.
Walsh, Lynda (2009). Before climategate: Visual strategies to integrate ethos across the “is/ought” divide in the IPCC’s Climate Change 2007: Summary for Policy Makers. POROI, 6, 33-61. doi: 10.13008/2151-2957.1066
Walsh, Lynda (2014). “Tricks,” hockey sticks, and the myth of natural inscription: How the visual rhetoric of climategate conflated climate with character. In Birgit Schneider & Thomas Nocke (eds.), Image politics of climate change: Visualizations, imaginations, documentations (pp. 81-104). Transcript.
Washington, Harriet A. (2006). Medical apartheid: The dark history of medical experimentation on Black Americans from colonial times to the present. New York, NY: Doubleday.
Wee, Lionel (2005a). Class-inclusion and correspondence models as discourse types: A framework for approaching metaphorical discourse. Language in Society, 34, 219-238. doi: 10.1017/S0047404505050098
Wee, Lionel (2005b). Constructing the source: Metaphor as a discourse strategy. Discourse Studies, 7, 363-384. doi: 10.1177/14614456052191