Speaking from Cancer

Update: Here’s Murray’s own take.

It almost seems like Howie didn’t have the heart to do it, to insinuate that Murray Waas’ past struggles with cancer influence his current reporting. But true to his smarmy self, Howie musters up several suggestions that the cancer has compromised Murray’s reporting.

For a reporter whose specialty is digging out secrets, Murray Waas has been keeping one about himself for a long time.


It’s hard to say where the line should be drawn when it comes to suchan intensely personal disclosure. Did Waas’s near-death experience, andsubsequent complications, affect his journalism? How could such asearing experience not change your outlook on work and life?


Waas acknowledges that the disease influenced him in the late 1980swhen he was writing for the Boston Globe about the collapse of Floridahealth care facilities where some cancer patients had died. "I wrotethat as someone who my family and doctors thought was certainly goingto die from cancer," he says. "Is it relevant to my work when I reporton national security, foreign policy or politics? I don’t think so."

But the lines are not so easily drawn. In one of several conversations,Waas says his near-death experience made him more determined to reporton how the country got into both Persian Gulf wars, with theirlife-and-death stakes. After watching on Capitol Hill when the Gulf Warresolution was approved in 1991, Waas interviewed two men at theVietnam War Memorial who said two of their friends had died in that warand questioned why the United States was getting into another one. Hesaw in this "the mirror image of my own life" — the unresolvedquestions about why his cancer was missed — and vowed to fullyinvestigate the war.

As someone who has a pretty good understanding of where Murray’s coming from, let me just tell Howie to fuck off.