January 8, 2010

Barbara Loe Fisher Sues Paul Offit, Amy Wallace and Conde Nast for Defamation in the Wired Article

Last year Paul Offit was sued by JB Handley for lying about him in his book, "Autism's False Profits". Offit wrote an apology letter and had to donate money to Jenny McCarthy's favorite charity.

This represents the second such suit in about a year, and stems from the claim that Offit made in the atrociously biased November 2009 Wired Magazine article, "An Epidemic of Fear: One man's battle against the anti-vaccine movement" in which Dr. Offit claimed that Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center "lies".

"Kaflooey theories' make him (Offit)crazy, especially if they catch on. Fisher, who has long been the media's go-to interview for what some in the autism arena call 'parents [sic] rights,' makes him particularly nuts, as in 'You just want to scream.'The reason? 'She lies/ he says flatly.' "

Now if Dr. Offit truly believes that Fisher is lying to the public and passing on "Kafloey theories" that are catching on, then certainly it is his duty to list them and correct the record. But that is not what he does here. He calls her a liar, fails to tell us what bad vaccine info she is passing on, and then retreats back into the St. Paul the Oppressed martyer stance that we have come to see so often now.

"Barbara Loe Fisher inflames people against me. And wrongly. I’m in this for the same reason she is. I care about kids. Does she think Merck is paying me to speak about vaccines? Is that the logic?” he asks, exasperated. (Merck is doing no such thing). But when it comes to mandating vaccinations, Offit says, Fisher is right about him: He is an adamant supporter."

Ms. Fisher's opinions and research are among those that I have listened to over the years. If there is something that she is lying to me about, then Offit should be telling me, right? So if she is lying, why isn't he telling me where?

This may be to be a repeat of the episode wherin Offit claimed that CBS news correspondent Sharyl Attkisson lied in a piece about him in this story:

Offit's response to the story:

“Did (reporter Sharyl Attkisson) lie about whether or not we provided materials? Of course,”

...but when the Orange County Register spoke to him and...

"Asked whether any specific facts in the story were wrong, he said it was primarily the tone he objected to."

Is the same thing happening with Fisher? I guess we will find out.

Amy Wallace and Conde Nast are also named in the suit for publishing the information. Wallace interviewed Fisher, and had every opportunity to both require Offit to provide proof of his charge, and allow Fisher to defend her self against specific charges of lying. But if this happened as it should have if it was being properly researched and written by a responsible journalist, none of that seems to have made its way into Wired. Fisher charges it never happened at all. From the suit:

"Before publishing the article, Wallace engaged in a lengthy interview with Plaintiff Fisher by phone and in communications with her via electronic mail. She never questioned in that interview Plaintiff Fisher's honesty or integrity and did not thereafter confront her with the Offit charge that she was a liar and invite her to respond."

Merely a charge of telling lies, with out even mentioning what lies she is telling.

On this blog I called the head of the AAP a liar mitruther, and then I spent a significant amount of time detailing the lie and the documentation showing that he was full of bologna. Certainly Dr. Offit should at least be required to do what a little blogger like me must do when attacking public figures.

Personally, I am no fan of law suits, but at this point, I want people under oath when talking about things, because the BS is so thick in this debate, and the accountability for flat out lying so thin, that something has got to put the breaks on the corruption.


Robin Nemeth said...

'Under oath' should have happened many years ago.

Unknown said...

Interesting post. Glad I happened on to it.