June 12, 2007

Media White Wash of Vaccine Hearings

So the media coverage that I have looked at has been a mile wide but only an inch deep. Most outlets are just reporting the "no link" party line, with the notable exception of Sharyl Atkinson at CBS.

Fox's John Gibson interviewed Dr. Raj for his show. Dr. Raj did not know how to pronounce thimerosal but she was sure that it was safe. Not the kind of "expert" advice that I am gonna bet my child's brain on.

And can I ask, what sort of deal with the devil has Paul Offit has made that people still consider him a credible source for objective advice on vaccine safety? The man holds a vaccine patent with Merck! But no one seems to care! ABC's website quotes Paul Offit, again telling us that vaccines are made of bubble gum and raindrops, with out disclosing the conflict of interest.

But the prize for most egregious conflict of interest goes to NBC for their coverage of the vaccine trials with their expert Dr. Nancy Snyderman. Nancy, who is just looking out for our best interests, assures us that there is no connection what so ever and thimerosal is out of all vaccines except for one (she thinks) which only has a trace amount. (Check the CDC's web site to see if she is right). Also Nancy is a Vice President at Johnson and Johnson who are currently being sued for their Rhogam shot for pregnant women that contained thimerosal. NBC forgot to mention that.

[UPDATE: NBC's web site reporting that she is 'formerly' of Johnson & Johnson. Will get confirmation of this].

[Internet chatter had indicated that she had been suspended by NBC for making a Tylenol commercial, but she was reportedly on the air today the 13th.]

One story after another say "no evidence". Has any one in the media stopped to ask themselves, "Then what are these parents going to be presenting in court from 9am to 6pm for two weeks?" And if it is open and shut and there is no evidence to support the theory, then why will it take the Special Masters a year to render their decision?

"Hmmmm...", some smart journalist somewhere should be thinking. "I wonder if I should listen in on the hearings and see what the petitioners have to say".

Michael Dorausch has noticed reporting irregularities as well:

Vaccine Related Autism Cases Killed in Press
planetc1.com-news@11:24 am PST email to the editor
by Michael Dorausch, DC

When it comes to the press, the near 5000 parents suggesting vaccines were the cause of their child's autism and who are seeking compensation from a federal vaccine fund, have a better chance of getting Paris Hilton elected as president in 2008 than they do getting their stories told without bias in the news.

It was late Saturday night when I noticed the first 50 or so articles appearing on Google News, related to hearings that began on Monday, involving parents of autistic children that believe vaccinations are the cause of their child's disorder.

These were all pre-release articles and they were being distributed by major newswires, appearing in the most local of papers, both on Sunday and Monday. By Sunday afternoon there were about five hundred indexed in Google News, and the court cases had not even started.

The articles were written by different authors but nearly every one of them contained the same information, all content probably being derived from the same original source. You can do a Google News search to view articles that were published on Sunday, a day before the court hearings began.

The theme in nearly every article painted a picture of scientists versus activists. In every article I viewed there was a suggestion that scientists had strong evidence, citing government supported studies, that vaccinations have nothing to do with autism. In my opinion, the majority of articles also portrayed activists as hysterical parents that were not interested in science, but instead fear a government conspiracy cover-up.

In all articles I viewed, the scientific evidence cited comes from government supported studies and some even featured comments from "experts" that have ties to vaccine manufacturing. What I expect you won't see in the news are any independent studies that may suggest otherwise. However, what you may see in the news will be researchers and scientists that have taken a stance against the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal (thy-MEHR'-uh-sahl), having their credibility attacked.

Regardless whether who is wrong or right, both parties deserve an equal voice. In my opinion, methods used in creating and distributing current news, make this nearly impossible.

It would be nice to someday see an author actually do research on a topic such as this, and deliver a story that was equally weighted, providing unedited quotes from both governmental and nongovernmental scientists, parents, activists, researchers, and others knowledgeable on the topic. Getting it published and distributed in the major media is a whole other story.

UPDATE: After reading his article again, I have realized that no media outlets are reporting on the trial, just that there is a trial. Are the parents the only ones listening in on the trial?

Isn't this case is far more important than all of the celebrity trials of the last 20 years combined? Either parents are right and we are poisoning generations of children, or parents are wrong and we are threatening the vaccine program that can save lives.

Yet court TV's web site makes no mention of the hearings. They do however have a front page article on how fans were disappointed that Tony Soprano didn't get wacked.

UPDATE: About.com to the rescue! Lisa Jo Rudy is covering the trial and even interviewing a lawyer for the petitioners. Thanks for the balance Lisa.


Anonymous said...

Great observations regarding the media's slant against parents. If Nancy Synderman was in a Tylenol commerical, it could only have been in the role of playing the headache.

Anonymous said...

Thank YOU! It is a sick world we live in as I have come to know being a Mom of a vaccine injured child.

Mom of a Vaccine Injured Child

Anonymous said...

MSNBC.com had a story indicating that the hearing is occuring ... but by the next day the article was hidden so well that it's impossible to find by browsing. In otherwords, the only way to find it is to have known that it was there, and then use the search function. Unintentional? I think not.

nhokkanen said...

Thank you for pointing out what should be obvious to any reporter with a modicum of critical thinking skills. Theirs are errors of omission and commission.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has referred to the White House press corps as "emasculated stenographers," but I'd extend that moniker to most of the mainstream media. Special interests are holding them where their cajones used to be. (Sexist, yes, but hey -- this is just metaphor.)

Some reporters are ignorant, some are intimidated, some blinded by filters of bias, and some are bought. Most of the media subversives are careful to cover their financial arrangements with big business, but not Nancy Snyderman; she raises hubris to another level.

Snyderman’s paid position with RhoGam manufacturer Johnson & Johnson is analagous to other seductive forms of financial corruption, like insider trading. Everybody's doing it, why can't I? But because so many people are doing it, eventually their consumer victims reach the breaking point. And here we are.

Sure, it was clever to put a woman on national TV as the point person to oppose other mothers, who have sick children. But it was extremely stupid to choose one who was suspended by ABC in 2002 for shilling, a “journalist” who has a talent agent (!), and who is a high-level executive for a company facing lawsuits for selling a product that sent ethylmercury burning into the brains, nervous system and guts of unborn children.

Let the backlash begin.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind note! It's been interesting trying to get a real handle on these trials: the process is, like so many legal processes that involve our kids, incredibly ponderous and frustrating... here's hoping we get SOME kind of resolution as a result!

Lisa Rudy