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« Let Us Praise Good Doctors | Main | Sam Miller of OC Register's "Inside Autism" Blog and Voices for Vaccines »

Vaccine Industry Group Calls on Couric and Attkisson for CBS Retraction

Zip_lipsBy Kim Stagliano

"We call upon CBS to issue a retraction of Sharyl Attkisson's report...."

Lisa Randall of Voices For Vaccines has sent a letter to Katie Couric about Sharyl Attkisson's piece last week that questioned the financial ties of the AAP, Dr. Paul Offit and "Every Child by Two" to the vaccine industry. Even The Wall Street Journal picked up the report in its blog, (we wrote about it HERE.)

Here's the letter:

Voices For Vaccines
325 Swanton Way
Decatur, GA 30030

July 31, 2008

Katie Couric, Managing Editor CBS Television Network
524 West 57th Street
6th Floor
New York, NY 10019-2902

Via Facsimile

Dear Ms, Couric:

Voices For Vaccines objects to the defamatory allegations made by the CBS Evening News on Friday, July 25, against the American Academy of Pediatrics, Every Child By Two, and the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, with our colleague Dr Paul Offit singled out for baseless criticism.

It is our privilege to partner with these institutions in our mission to disseminate reliable information about vaccines. These groups advocate for immunization based on the overwhelming evidence for the lifesaving power of vaccination, and motivated by a sincere concern for the health of America's children. It is preposterous and deeply offensive for CBS to suggest otherwise by insinuating that the pharmaceutical industry improperly influences the views of these vaccine advocates.

An obvious starting point for an unbiased reporter assigned to investigate this possibility would have been to determine whether the advocates' recommendations were in accord with the scientific consensus on immunization, as articulated by neutral bodies such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (In fact, all three subjects of the CBS story do promote vaccination according to federal guidelines.)

In contrast, Sharyl Attkisson relied solely upon tangential observations in concluding that the judgment of these respected authorities has been co-opted by drug companies. Ms Attkisson's choice to pursue her story even after failing to uncover any evidence of malfeasance reveals not bias on the part of the story's subjects, but on the part of Ms Attkisson herself Professionalism required her to acknowledge that the targets of her story have done nothing other than emphasize to the public that which is well known to science. that vaccines allow children to grow up safe and healthy.

(page 2)

We call upon CBS to issue a retraction of Ms. Attkisson's report and an apology to the individuals and institutions whose good and honorable work in the field of immunization has been smeared. We further ask CBS to reflect upon the fact that it does not befit a user of the public airwaves to broadcast misleading claims about the most important public health measure of our time.

Sincerely,

Lisa H. Randall
Interim Executive Director
(404) 592-1.408
lrandall cr voicesforvaccines.org
cc: Katie Boyle, Senior Producer
Jonathan LaPook, MD, Medical Correspondent
Sharyl Attkisson, Reporter


Click
HERE to find the "contact us" page for CBS (scroll down toward the bottom) so you can send an email to Ms. Couric and others at The Evening News.

J.B. Handley wrote about Voices For Vaccines last spring in his post titled,
Fools Rush In.

You know the response is coming. For anyone watching the news for the last two months, the “other side” (aka, The Vaccine Lobby) has been getting annihilated in the press, online, in the coffee shops, schools, watercoolers, and, of course, on Larry King Live. There’s too much power, profits, and prestige at stake for the other side not to fight back, at least a little.

With that as backdrop I was delighted to get an email from a friend with a link to a new, curious website called Voices4Vaccines. 

The website is under construction, but the home page opens with this noble goal:

“Voices for Vaccines has only one goal to provide science-based, accessible, and clear information about the benefits and risks of vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases. Our leadership consists of scientists and concerned individuals who are totally committed to supporting continued efforts to eradicate vaccine-preventable diseases.”

This new organization also makes a veiled reference to you-know-who and our movement in general:

“But we also know that the loud voices and famous faces are not necessarily giving the best information.”

We posted a few pieces about Ms. Randall and Voices For Vaccines, including a post by Kelly Ann Davis, Tracy Stewart and one about the The Immunization Coalition, which sent out an "alert" prior to Jenny McCarthy's Green Our Vaccines rally, in June.

Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism.

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I'm confused about why Voices for Vaccines is being called an industry group. I don't know anything about them, but I'm not getting that from their Web site. Can someone explain?

Dr. Paul Offit Responds

Paul I feel it is time for you to stop talking… It might be time to start running. Parents will love the exact quote…“what I actually have said is at least 10,000. It’s probably closer to 100,000.” Why don’t you retire and use some of your money, ties, and influence to help the parents staying up all night with their autistic children. If you created an environment of partnership with the pharma and parents maybe they would be less vocal. I know I for one could be bought if you gave me some money for my vaccine injured sons therapy, respite, education, treatment, supplements, tests, assistive devices, tracking devices, fences, locks, GFCF foods, and more. Paul thanks for playing… Time to take your ball and go home. I think at this point I feel you are doing more damage to your cause than helping it. On second thought… Keep talking!

http://autism.freedomblogging.com/2008/08/04/dr-paul-offit-responds/

Hi Kelly--

No problem. Ironically, Megan has been playing Raffi's, "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands" all day.... ;)

Paul Offit is in Philadelphia, and Lisa Randall is either in Paul, MN or Decatur Ga... maybe it would be nice for their local papers (The Philadelphia Inquirer, for ex.) to have full page ads disclosing their "work".... the ties to pharma, whose payroll they're on, and for Offit, his reprimand by Congress.... then, we could organize local groups to rally, with signs outside of the hospital where Offit works... let his co-workers see the other side of his "reputation"... maybe hand out flyers, and call the local news- channel Action News

Surely, Ms. Attkisson's next reort will mention Paul Offit's being reprimanded by Congress?

Here's an email you can use to contact CBS evening news directly:

Evening@cbsnews.com

And here is some other contact information:
Sean McManus, Pres. CBS News: 524 W 57th St. NY NY 10019
Linda Mason, Vice President CBS News: email LSM@cbsnews.com
Rick Kaplan, Exec. Producer CBS Evening News: 524 W 57 St. NY NY 10019
Katie Boyle, Sr. Producer CBS Evening News: kbs@cbsnews.com
Chris Isham, Washington Bureau Chief email: Isham@cbsnews.com

All the best,
Sandy

Nothing CBS reported is untrue. Offit blew off his chance to appear in the report. He declined interview.

So why did the "expected cases" of telescoping bowels contemporary to Offit's vaccine trials suddenly multiply.

The number of anticipated cases clinically reported went from like 22 to over 50, right?

"I think Sheryl Attkisson's next move should be this...Run a segment regarding Voices For Vaccines' request for a retraction, then uncover who is behind Voices For Vaccines."

These guys must be in panic mode - otherwise you'd think they would have thought this through and realized that this "retraction" letter circulating in the public domain is as damning as the CBS story that sparked it.

Sharyl Attkisson tells us that Offit will not disclose his share of the $182 million sale of the rights to Rotateq, and Randall calls that defamatory. We are not supposed to know that directions in public health policy, influenced by these "unbiased" views, may have multi-million dollar consequences for certain players / proponents. We are expected to believe that they are all "above all that". Anything else is defamatory. Right.

Part II indeed - right on, Pamela - go Sharyll...

Thanks, Teresa. My apologies!

Hi Kelly-

Just to clarify that it was Karenatlanta who made the comment regarding the world and God.

Teresa

Regarding the comment by Teresa asking what the world is coming to, and tthat God help us all:

The God I know is on our side...that of Truth. I truly believe He is for our children, and that He stands ready to fight those who would put profit before the safety of our children.

Big Pharma is no match.

Tanner's Dad said:

"Now ABC is getting into the story... Check out the "100% antidote" line....They wish:) Go Jenny!!!"

Celebrity Showdown on Vaccines for Kids
Amanda Peet Joins the Fray in Public Debate Over Childhood Vaccination

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/AutismNews/story?id=5483159&page=1

I'm sure you know that Offit and the AAP went directly to the other networks. Wonder if NBC will air anything? Offense and defense has been going on for years. Ten years ago the parents of vaccine injured children were treated like gnats flying around their shoulders. A couple years later like flies around their faces. We were so underestimated at the time, that now they are going in full all out defense. I'd say they are scared!

If it is the best they can do then Randall's letter is a pathetically lame fight back. Encouraging to read. Not much better than sticking her tongue out.

If Mr. "10,000 vaccines at once" cannot take the heat, then he'd better get out of the proverbial kitchen.

"As more and more parents are out there saying vaccines are responsible for their child's autism, officials and experts like Paul Offit pretend that an autism rate of one in 150 children/one in every 94 boys is nothing new."

I am so tired of hearing this,where are the 1in150, 20,30 and 40 year olds with this damage?
I did not choose to call my child Autistic, That honor goes to his Neurologist and the officials within our school district. If they want to minimize this epidemic by continuing to say there is no increase, we should all start insisting that our children be called "Vaccine injured" my son is damaged enough to continue to get the services from the school district without the label of Autism. What other special services could he possibly be talking about?
Facts are facts...what do they want CBS to retract? Did CBS mistate Sir Offit's profits by a millionor so?

Rather than a retraction and appology, I think Sheryl Attkisson's next move should be this...Run a segment regarding Voices For Vaccines' request for a retraction, then uncover who is behind Voices For Vaccines. Maybe she could include their open letter to Congress and their failure to honestly disclose who is behind that organization in that letter.

I think that would make a great part two the her expose.

The CDC is a "neutral body"?

Hahahaha....

My guess is that these people are scared,Sheryl just hit the tip of the iceberg.I am sure if she keeps looking she will find the rest of the iceberg and this has the mercury defenders terrified!!!!!
This was an attempt to shut her up before she strikes the real gold,millions of dollars in bribes and payoffs to Congressman,Senators,Medical Industry leaders,Judges.....................

You know what, this is a good thing. Do you know why? Because Sharyl cut close to the bone. This makes the Vaccine-thugs look scared! Let them keep sending the threatening letters, and I hope that Ms. Attkinson and CBS run with this story, outlining the veiled threats of the Vaccine Industry puppets. The more the threats come, the more desperate the pHARMa-scum (tm) seems.

First their vaccines were their sacred cow. Now it's the money.

What I love about this is that Lisa Randall just opened herself up for CBS's "defamatory allegations" and "baseless criticism."


Lisa Randall is still listed as the Policy Director of the Immunization Action Coalition in Paul MN, yet implies she is writing from Decatur, GA. She implies that Voices for Vaccines is independant, yet she works for IAC, which is 50% funded by Drug companies and 50% funded by the CDC?????

Wow, If I am not mistaken she just said to CBS "Come and get me!" It will be great when she is then shown to be "The next contestant on The Price is Right"!!!

I live in Minnesota and I think she is in for a shitstorm.

Lisa, welcome to hell.

Here's what I sent to CBS:

What Voices for Vaccines objects to is the fact that Sharyl Attkisson pointed out a well-kept secret: The industry is financially tied to those individuals who pretend to be independent experts vouching for vaccines. Countless times in the news we've been told that Paul Offit is "head of infectious diseases at Philadelphia Children's Hosp." He then announces to the public that there is no proof that vaccines cause autism. Almost never in these reports do we hear that he's making money off the mandated vaccine schedule.

We expect the press to tell us the truth. Parents who don't hear that Offit has big reasons to deny harmful side effects believe that this unbiased children's doctor is giving us his honest opinion. It is not legitimate journalism is cover up Offit's industry ties, but it happens routinely.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and Every Child by Two may present themselves as the promoters of children's health, but Sharyl Attkisson told us about the pharmaceutical ties that these organizations have. They both claim that the industry has no influence over what they stand for, but shouldn't the public at least be told about them? And if Paul Offit is a vaccine patent holder, a member of ACIP, the group that recommends vaccines to the CDC, and is a board member of Every Child By Two, doesn't it begin to look like everyone is a bit too cozy with the vaccine makers?

Lisa Randall says that Attkisson's report amounts to "defamatory allegations" and "baseless criticism." She denies any wrong-doing on anyone's part. The problem is while Offit and the AAP can't say enough good things about vaccines, they haven't noticed the autism epidemic yet. As more and more parents are out there saying vaccines are responsible for their child's autism, officials and experts like Paul Offit pretend that an autism rate of one in 150 children/one in every 94 boys is nothing new.
Last year, after the CDC announced the "new" rate based on studies of eight year olds done back in 2000 and 2002, Offit was on ABC's 20/20 where he was billed again as chief of infectious diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He explained that the increase in autism is due to the fact that "people that we once called quirky or geeky or nerdy are now called autistic."

He further stated that with a label of autism, it would "allow that child then to qualify for services which otherwise they wouldn't be qualified to get."

The AAP finally got around to addressing autism at their annual meeting in San Francisco in Oct. 2007. And while they attribute the epidemic number of children with autism to "better diagnosing" by doctors, they told their pediatricians in San Francisco that they should be looking for the signs of autism at well-baby checks. Their leadership even went so far as to list the five symptoms to look for.

What is obvious to parents is the fact that the same people who tell us vaccines are safe and claim that there's no link to autism, can't tell us why so many children are disabled. They show little if any interest in this health care crisis, as if their denials and apathy will make the issue go away. To also learn about the money ties to the very industry they're promoting has got to raise serious questions about their objectivity. Randall may not like the publicity all these conflicts are attracting, but she better get used to people pointing them out. This is the biggest controversy in medicine and it deserves fair and thorough coverage.

Thank you Sharyl Attkisson and CBS for telling us the truth.

Anne Dachel
Age of Autism media editor

Didn't all of them decline to be interviewed? They had their chance to get their $.02 in. And what's this, "...after failing to uncover any evidence of malfeasance..."? Are those financial ties NOT considered malfeasance in her world? I didn't notice anything that was "baseless" in those reports. Randall's letter is another story.

Now ABC is getting into the story... Check out the "100% antidote" line....They wish:) Go Jenny!!!

Celebrity Showdown on Vaccines for Kids
Amanda Peet Joins the Fray in Public Debate Over Childhood Vaccination

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/AutismNews/story?id=5483159&page=1

Amy Pisani, executive director of ECBT, says she hopes Peet's advocacy is "a 100 percent antidote" to McCarthy's position that the current vaccine schedule places children at a higher risk of developing autism.

Pisani says that the issue is too important to be reduced to a showdown between celebrities.

Then what are you doing by trotting out Amanda Peet... Looks like you Every Child by Two created the Celebrity Showdown... Which we know our list sadly is growing everyday and are not being paid the big bucks to enter the ring. They are having their hearts ripped out and served up on the skewer of a syringe.

Please, PLEASE do something about the vaccine issue. Sign the petition below, and keep forwarding to all you know. We have over 500 signatures now. Let's keep going.
http://www.petitiononline.com/Kids1st/petition.html

Ms. Attkisson never even implied malfeasance. But the American public can pretty well figure out that if you're taking money from a group, there is a possibility that your opinions will be biased toward that group. That's the very foundation of lobbying isn't it?

Paul Offit will be in the news even further when his book about autism treatments comes out this fall. For an infectious disease specialist he sure spends a lot of time thinking about autism, doesn't he? Has he successfully treated a child with autism. Gotten a child to say, "Mom" or learn a new skill? What on earth does he have to do with autism except for the fact that our community has exposed some of the potential problems with HIS INDUSTRY?

KIM

HA HA HA HA... What defamation??? The point of the CBS report was that these so called independent researchers aren't so independent (the title was "Conflict of Interest"). It's all facts. All of the parties named were invited by CBS to comment and they declined. They had their chance to respond to the facts and they clammed up -- for obvious reasons.

I agree with Beth, I'll be the CBS lawyers already filed this letter where it belongs.

Ahh...the defamation allegation strategy. Will it work to shut up the smart and daring young journalists at CBS?

Let's hope not.

I'm sure the lawyers at CBS aren't afraid of Voices for Vaccines' letter full of nonsense.

They easily have the "justification defense" for making these defaming remarks over the public airwaves and that justification is that the financial ties between pharma and AAP, Offit, etc are true.

As long as CBS's comments are true or substantially true then there have been no defamatory allegations in the legal sense. They don't have a case.

Of course the bigger issue will be the withholding of pharma revenue for advertising on CBS and well, that, unfortunately may have a more chilling effect on any further reporting on this subject. And that is a shame.

Excuse my typo--that should read --the ship is starting to sink...but I have bad spelling when I am sickened by these people ;{

What a scary time in which we live.
A talk show host can spew hate on disabled children and Pharma can silence the free press.
Somehow it is all socially acceptable.
What is this world coming to?
God help us all.

The feeling I got reading that letter was creepy. Basically, Ms Randall is saying,,ok, we got caught but if Ms Attkisson had not gathered the facts, then she would not have been *biased* (their strange and improperly used word)..I do not think following leads to a scandalous story involving the health of millions of children is biased. Ms Randall is trying really hard to do the old switch-a-roo, which is to blame the person who caught you. Also, her dragging in the *neutral bodies*, WHO and CDC to somewhow put all their shenanigans on the up and up is a sign of their fear. The mice are climbing to the highest point as the sink is starting to sink. I have little sympathy and soon they will be climbing on each other to survive.
PS-is Decatur,GA just a satelite office for CDC?

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