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The New York Times’ Indefensible Defense of The Drug Industry

Mainstreammedia By Jake Crosby

A few months ago, I wrote about New York Times health reporter Gardiner Harris, his reprehensible coverage of this important health issue - whether or not vaccines cause autism - and his undisclosed familial conflict of interest: his brother sells lab equipment to pharmaceutical companies. (HERE)
 
Then, after reading about an abusive letter Gardiner Harris sent to an autism parent in an email exchange, and following the advice of readers, I decided to lodge a formal complaint with The New York Times against Harris and the paper’s coverage of this controversy, which has been overwhelmingly in favor of the government and pharmaceutical industry. In the meantime, I also learned the following fun facts about a few of The Times’ board of directors and top executives, which would at least partially, if not fully explain their position:
Dawn G. Lepore was elected to the Board of Directors of The New York Times Company in 2008.  

Ms. Lepore has served as president, chief executive officer and chairman of drugstore.com since October 2004. (HERE)   

Raul E. Cesan was elected to the Board of Directors of The New York Times Company in 1999.   

Previously, Mr. Cesan served as president and chief operating officer of the Schering-Plough Corporation from 1998 until 2001, culminating a 24-year career at the company.  

He joined Schering-Plough, which is engaged in the discovery, development, manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceutical and health care products worldwide, in 1977 as director of finance and administration for the company's Latin American region. He subsequently held positions of increasing responsibility, including president of operations in   Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and was appointed president of Schering-Plough International in 1988. In 1992, he became president of Schering Laboratories, the U.S. pharmaceutical marketing arm, and in 1994, became president of Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals.   



Committee Memberships: Audit (Chair) and Finance (HERE)   

Ellen R. Marram was elected to the Board of Directors of The New York Times Company in 1998. Since 2006, Ms. Marram has served as the board’s presiding director.

Ms. Marram also serves on the board of directors of…Eli Lilly and Company.  (HERE)  
Susan J. DeLuca became vice president, organization capability for The New York Times Company in January 2007. She began her business experience as…a medical representative at Pfizer.  

Ms. DeLuca held key leadership and organizational development roles at Glaxo Wellcome where she managed the Glaxo Business School and directed Executive Education. At SmithKline Beecham she was the director of human resource and organization development for consumer healthcare, North America.  (HERE)
  
This could explain why The New York Times has held such a strong position on this controversy, in spite of their superficial grasp of basic facts regarding the debate and complete inability to defend their own positions as evidenced in my exchanges with the newspaper staff. To give you an idea of just what to expect, these folks do not talk like journalists or reporters, not at all. They talk like PR men. 

The following is the letter I have sent to Clark Hoyt, NYT public editor, then forwarded to his boss, NYT publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., responses I received from Clark Hoyt and NYT Senior Editor for Standards Greg Brock, along with my rebuttals.  
 
  from Jake Crosby <jcaofa@gmail.com>

  to public@nytimes.com

  date Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 11:14 PM
  subject Complaint About Coverage of Important Health Issue
  mailed-by gmail.com

   hide details Feb 21
 
Dear Mr. Hoyt,

My name is Jake Crosby. I am a college student at Brandeis University who suffers from an autism spectrum disorder, and I am a contributing editor to Age of Autism: Daily Web Newspaper of The Autism Epidemic, an online consumer advocacy newsletter of the autism community. I am writing to file a complaint against a particular journalist at your paper, Gardiner Harris, as a result of his coverage of the vaccine-autism controversy. His articles are inaccurate by omission and commission. His behavior is grossly unethical, and has become increasingly unprofessional.
 
He also has an undisclosed conflict of interest after years of writing smear campaigns against parents who have seen their children regress after their vaccines. His brother, Crane Harris, has a long history working for pharmaceutical interests, his previous job being at La Jolla Pharmaceuticals, where the current top executives and members of the board of directors have worked for vaccine manufacturers. He now works for a medical devices company called Illumina Inc, whose primary customers include the pharmaceutical industry, according to the business' website. 

Gardiner Harris is not a journalist who should be representing your paper in its coverage of the vaccine autism controversy. He's a conflicted journalist with an undisclosed COI after 5 years of claiming that there is no controversy. Here is the latest example of his extreme bias and lack of objectivity, not to mention arrogance, as exhibited in an e-mail to a reader:

From: "Harris, Gardiner" <
gardiner@nytimes.com>
To: "
ljgoes2006@yahoo.com" <ljgoes2006@yahoo.com>
Sent: Fri, February 19, 2010 8:00:42 AM
Subject: Re: READER MAIL: Gardiner Harris
Thanks for your note. I'm sorry for your children's difficulties, your anger and your willingness to believe wild conspiracy theories about the roots of autism.
http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/02/nyts-gardiner-harris-wear-white-and-black-hats.html#more

Mr. Hoyt, there is ample evidence that the vaccine-autism controversy is anything but a wild conspiracy theory. A few examples:

1. According to the CDC website on autism:
There is some evidence that the critical period for developing ASDs occurs before birth.  However, concerns about vaccines and infections have led researchers to consider risk factors before and after birth.
http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html
 
2. According to Dr. Bernadine Healy, former NIH Director, speaking of the vaccine-autism hypothesis:
"There is a completely expressed concern that they don't want to pursue a hypothesis because that hypothesis could be damaging to the public health community at large by scaring people. First of all, I think the public’s smarter than that. The public values vaccines. But more importantly, I don’t think you should ever turn your back on any scientific hypothesis because you’re afraid of what it might show."
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/05/12/cbsnews_investigates/main4086809.shtml

3. According to Dr. Geraldine Dawson, Chief Science Officer for Autism Speaks: 
“We believe that the question of whether immunization is associated with an increased risk for ASD is of extremely high priority... studies point toward subgroups of children with ASD with genetic vulnerabilities than can amplify the adverse effects of environmental exposures, including vaccinations, on brain development and function...There is a need to describe the nature and prevalence of vaccine adverse events in children with metabolic disorders and assess risk factors for these events...Many fundamental questions have not been addressed, such as whether the use of combination vaccines confers increased risk for adverse events and whether there are subgroups in the general population that are more vulnerable to serious adverse effects of vaccines, including ASD...pediatricians [could] identify subgroups of children who may benefit from a different vaccine schedule or for whom careful monitoring of adverse effects is warranted...it will require an on‐going process of scientific discovery as medical science continues to uncover individual differences that predict differential responses to vaccines and other medical interventions. ”
Full text here:
http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/01/parents-vs-the-science-ask-geraldine-dawson-and-autism-speaks.html

4. According to former CDC director Julie Gerberding, from an interview by CBS on the Hannah Poling case:
"If a child is immunized and has a fever or other complications from the vaccine,  then if you're predisposed with a mitochondrial disorder, it could certainly set off damage. Some of the symptoms can be characteristics of autism."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh-nkD5LSIg

5. According to Dr. Peter Fletcher, former Chief Science Advisor for the UK Department of Health, on the MMR vaccine, a major suspect in autism causation:
"There are very powerful people in positions of great authority in Britain and elsewhere who have staked their reputations and careers on the safety of MMR and they are willing to do almost anything to protect themselves."
"It is entirely possible that the immune systems of a small minority simply cannot cope with the challenge of the three live viruses in the MMR jab, and the ever-increasing vaccine load in general."
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-376203/Former-science-chief-MMR-fears-coming-true.html

So, as you can see, the vaccine-autism link is not a wild conspiracy theory, not even close.  
Furthermore, when Gardiner Harris was confronted with the fact that Julie Gerberding supported conducting a  vaccinated vs. unvaccinted study on autism in an email exchange with an Age of Autism reader, Harris replied:
thanks for your note. there is no credible way to compare autism rates in vaccinated and unvaccinated children.  and dr. gerberding made no such statements. david kirby got his story  entirely wrong. thanks, gardiner
http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/07/did-gardiner-ha.html
 
Dr. Gerberding did, however, state that a vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study "could be done and should be done," when asked about it by my editor, Dan Olmsted, at a news conference in 2005, which was later written about by Age of Autism and Huffington Post contributor David Kirby. So it was Gardiner Harris who got his story entirely wrong, not Kirby.
Recently, the CDC has stated that autism now affects 1 in 110 children. So this is an issue that demands coverage from objective journalists, not the likes of Gardiner Harris. (His article from last year on vaccine-related conflicts of interest in the CDC as reported by the HHS does not directly relate to to the `vaccine-autism controversy.)
Gardiner Harris' most recent article that reflects his lack of objectivity covers The Lancet journal's retraction of a 1998 study lead by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that first raised the possibility of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism in the aftermath of the General Medical Council verdicts against him. Harris quoted The Lancet's editor-in-chief, Richard Horton, as saying "This is a damning indictment of Andrew Wakefield and his research."
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/03/health/research/03lancet.html

What he did not report was that Richard Horton is also accused of giving false testimony against Andrew Wakefield at the GMC Hearing by Jim Moody esq, who represents 21 autism and vaccine safety organizations in the US and UK, including Age of Autism:
http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/01/attorney-jim-moody-describes-false-testimony-at-gmc-hearing-video-here.html

Though Gardiner Harris did quote Jim Moody in the article as saying The Lancet's retraction was about suppressing research, the above critical detail about Horton was left out of the article entirely.

In this same article, Gardiner Harris then persisted in bashing parent and consumer advocacy organizations in the autism community as "anti-vaccine groups" without including their point-of-view. He completely omitted the fact that no parents complained in the GMC case against Wakefield, and most are totally supportive of him.

Unfortunately, such skewed reporting is the norm for Gardiner Harris, which dates all the way back to a June 25, 2005 article he co-wrote entitled "On Autism's Cause: It's Parents vs. Research." He claimed in the article that autism rates continued to go up after thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative in vaccines, was removed in Sweden Denmark and Canada. In reality, Swedish autism rates relied solely on hospitalizations, which are useless for studying autism. There was NO study from Canada that made such a claim in 2005, and the Danish data has been widely condemned for artificially inflating autism rates when thimerosal was removed.

In a critique, the non-profit group Coalition for SafeMinds, Sensible Action For Ending Mercury-Induced Neurological Disorders, reevaluated the Danish data and found that when the bias was removed, autism rates dropped following thimerosal removal, this has never been reported in The New York Times.
http://www.safeminds.org/research/Hviid_et_alJAMA-SafeMindsAnalysis.pdf

Gardiner Harris also cited a study done by a CDC researcher Thomas Verstraeten to show that the rates of autism were not associated with vaccines, and dismissed earlier versions of the study obtained through FOIA requests that found considerable associations between thimerosal exposure and autism, quoting the CDC as  calling the study "evolving over time." He further quoted CDC officials as saying that the earlier versions failed to control for factors like low birth weight, which would increase the risk for neurodevelopmental disorders. Yet,  low birth weight has nothing to do with explaining why increased doses of thimerosal would be associated with neurological disorders. Further, he omitted the fact that the original data behind Verstraeten's study was not open to independent researchers for replication.   

Harris also cited a British study to attempt to show that people with the lowest incidence of neurodevelopmental disorders received the highest dose of thimerosal, neglecting to say that over 90% of the participants in the study received the same maximum dose of thimerosal, which would make the results too diluted to be useful. 

He also made no reference to the fact that some of the researchers involved in the above studies received funding from the vaccine industry. 

Finally, he cited the Institute of Medicine's 2004 report as an independent review to further deny the link between thimerosal and autism. What he didn't report were the statements of IOM panelists which clearly suggested that they came to predetermined conclusions about whether thimerosal caused autism and related disorders. In a closed meeting in January 2001, before any evidence was submitted to the panel, IOM Chairwoman Marie McCormick said, "[The CDC] wants us to declare, well, that these things are, well, pretty safe." She also said, "We are not ever going to come down that [autism] is a true side-effect."
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/7395411/deadly_immunity/

It would take a whole other email to go into studies linking autism to vaccines that Harris never made reference to, which I would be more than happy to do, if you wish.
I look forward to your response to this critical problem.

Sincerely,
Jake Crosby, Age of Autism, Contributing Editor
www.ageofautism.com/jake-crosby

After two weeks, he never writes back, so I forwarded the message to his boss, NYT publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., to see if he would act on my letter. 

  from Jake Crosby <jcaofa@gmail.com>
  
to 
publisher@nytimes.com
  
date Sat, Mar 6, 2010 at 6:26 PM   
subject Fwd: Complaint About Coverage of Important Health Issue   
mailed-by gmail.com

hide details Mar 6
 
Dear Mr. Sulzberger,

Below is an email I sent to The New York Times public editor, Clark Hoyt, concerning your newspaper's coverage of the vaccine-autism controversy. I received a form letter reply minutes later, but not an actual response. So I presume he has not read my email, which is why I am sending it to you. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
Jake Crosby
Age of Autism, Contributing Editor
http://www.ageofautism.com/jake-crosby/
 
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jake Crosby <
jcaofa@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 10:14 PM
Subject: Complaint About Coverage of Important Health Issue
- Show quoted text -


Two days later… 
  
from Public/NYT/NYTIMES <public@nytimes.com>

to jcaofa@gmail.com

date Mon, Mar 8, 2010 at 7:28 PM
subject Re: Complaint About Coverage of Important Health Issue
mailed-by nytimes.com

hide details Mar 8

Dear Jake Crosby,

Thank you for writing, and I apologize for not responding to your message sooner.  The public editor gets a large volume of e-mail, and I cannot give personal answers to all who write.
I will look into the issues you have raised and get back to you.

Best,
Clark Hoyt
Public Editor
The New York Times
Note:  The public editor's opinions are his own and do not represent those of The New York Times.
----- Forwarded by Public/NYT/NYTIMES on 03/08/2010 11:20 AM -----
Jake Crosby <
jcaofa@gmail.com>
02/21/2010 10:14 PM
To 
public@nytimes.com

cc 
Subject Complaint About Coverage of Important Health Issue
 
As if he would’ve ever gotten back to me had I not alerted his boss first! Not surprisingly, Hoyt waits until the autism omnibus decisions are handed down to get back to me: 

  from Public/NYT/NYTIMES <public@nytimes.com>

to jcaofa@gmail.com
 
Fri, Mar 12, 2010 at 7:47 PM
subject Re: Complaint About Coverage of Important Health Issue
mailed-by nytimes.com

hide details Mar 12
 
Dear Jake Crosby, 
 
Thank you for writing regarding the controversy over autism, related disorders and childhood vaccines. 
 
You charged that Gardiner Harris has a conflict of interest in covering the issue because his brother works for a company that includes pharmaceutical firms among its customers.  His brother works for a company that sells genetic testing equipment to academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies.  Gardiner Harris said he does not know if any of the customers are makers of vaccines but assumes some are.  I find your notion that this constitutes a conflict of interest to be too much of a stretch.  The brother is not himself involved in vaccine production or sales.  The connection you are trying to make is too tenuous to be credible

 
I have looked into the autism-vaccine controversy before - 
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/17/opinion/17pubed.html  
- and there is no credible scientific evidence to support the notion that vaccines cause autism or ASD.  As I’m sure you know, the latest development in this controversy was the complete retraction - 
http://press.thelancet.com/wakefieldretraction.pdf 
- by Lancet, the British medical journal, of the study that started the theory of a link in the first place.  Since that original article a dozen years ago, repeated peer-reviewed studies have found no link.  The so-called vaccine court has rejected - 
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1218720720100312 
- the link.  If one accepted the original premise that the preservative thimerosal in vaccines was the culprit causing rising rates of autism, one would have expected the rates to decrease after thimerosal was removed nine years ago.  They have not.  I confess that I find the debate frustrating because facts seem unable to dent the conviction of those persuaded that the link exists. 
 
I appreciate hearing from you but do not agree that the reporter has a conflict or interest or that coverage of this subject by The Times has been inaccurate or in any way irresponsible. 
 
Best,
Clark Hoyt
Public Editor
The New York Times
 

After receiving Hoyt’s unsatisfactory response, I wrote a letter to Sulzberger:

From  Jake Crosby jcaofa@gmail.com
To   publisher@nytimes.com

Fri, Mar 26, 2010 at 12:25 AM

subject  Follow-up Re: My Correspondence with Mr. Hoyt

Dear Mr. Sulzberger,

Thank you so much for bringing my letter to the attention of the public editor. I am extremely grateful that you made my concerns known to Mr. Hoyt.

Unfortunately, he did not respond to any points I made beyond the second paragraph of my email. As someone afflicted with an autism spectrum disorder myself, I am especially dismayed by this.

Primarily through health reporter Gardiner Harris, The New York Times has held a firm position on the side of the government and industry regarding a vaccine/autism link, and The Times all but excludes opposing viewpoints, dismissing them as "anti-vaccine" (vaccine safety is not synonymous with anti-vaccine).  For the sake of its own credibility and the health of a generation of Americans, however, The Times' should re-examine, with an open mind, its stance on this controversy and be equally receptive to the clear safety concerns expressed by scientists, doctors and parents regarding the government's most heavily promoted drug. My letter to Mr. Hoyt (below) highlights irrefutable evidence that the vaccine/autism link is not only real, but is acknowledged by leading health authorities here and abroad. I implore you to read this.

There is precedent for The New York Times reversing its position with regard to autism causation. The Times portrayed psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim, who championed the claim that autism was caused by "refrigerator mothers," as the premiere expert on the disorder - right up to the day after his death. In fact, on February 12, 1967, Bettelheim contributed a major article to The Times entitled "Where Self Begins," prompting a letter in response: "Bettelheim has the right to express his beliefs, but when they are presented in the public print he ought to label them as personal opinions, not to be confused with reality." That letter was written by the late Dr. Bernard Rimland, founder of the Autism Research Institute, who has testified before Congress on the link between autism and vaccinations. The Times has since come around on one of his viewpoints - that autism is not caused by the parents -  but has given no consideration to the latter, that vaccination can cause it.

The refusal to consider evidence for an autism/vaccine link is obvious throughout Mr. Hoyt's brief response to me. The only issue I raised that he even acknowledged was the conflict of interest of the reporter in question, Gardiner Harris, whose brother sells lab equipment to drug companies.

Mr. Harris has been writing articles that have overwhelmingly favored government and industry, while criticizing and suppressing the consumer side and the side of proven science. Mr. Hoyt's defense is based solely on government and industry-funded sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

He starts by citing a column he wrote two years ago, where he takes the American Broadcasting Company to task for airing an episode of its fictional legal drama, "Eli Stone," during which the main character successfully sues a pharmaceutical company for making a flu shot that contains mercury, causing a child to develop autism. Mr. Hoyt essentially concludes that vaccines do not cause autism, because the government says so.

Ironically, one week after Mr. Hoyt's column ran, David Kirby, author of NY Times Bestseller "Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic, a Medical Controversy,"  broke a story in The Huffington Post about the family of an autistic child, Hannah Poling, being compensated by vaccine court because the government conceded that the five shots she received at once caused her autism. Two of the vaccines contained thimerosal, a total bolus exposure of 50 micrograms of mercury. That's twice the amount in a typical flu shot.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/government-concedes-vacci_b_88323.html

This story was eventually reported throughout the mainstream media:
http://www.cbsnews.com/8300-501263_162-501263.html?keyword=Hannah+Poling
http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/conditions/03/06/vaccines.autism/index.html
http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1721109,00.html
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,335451,00.html
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/story?id=4402930&page=1
http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-03-07-3676631517_x.htm

Including your newspapers:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/08/us/08vaccine.html
http://www.boston.com/news/health/articles/2008/03/07/analysis_vaccine_payment_no_landmark/

Particularly disturbing is that in my original letter to Mr. Hoyt, I provided a link to a clip from CNN in which the CDC director at the time, Dr. Julie Gerberding, explains to medical reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta that if children are predisposed like Hannah Poling was, they may receive an adverse reaction to vaccines by way of fever or other immune mechanism, some of the symptoms of which will manifest into characteristics of autism. In other words, she conceded vaccines do cause autism, because the disorder is solely defined by characteristics.

Moreover, Hannah Poling has classic autism as defined in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manuel. Yet, Mr. Hoyt still maintains there is no credible evidence linking vaccines to autism.

Here is credible evidence linking the vaccine preservative thimerosal to autism:
http://www.autism.com/triggers/vaccine/thimerosalreferences.htm  

Here is more credible evidence linking MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccine to autism:
http://www.chem.cmu.edu/wakefield/pro.html

Mr. Hoyt seemed to time his response to me to follow the Reuters report on the recent autism omnibus decisions regarding thimerosal as a possible causal factor of autism. This is a decision all in the autism community were anticipating to come down against the plaintiffs, given the way vaccine court is set up: a system designed to completely shield drug companies from vaccine litigation as it has since the Reagan Administration.

One of the major studies cited in the autism omnibus decision was the well-known Denmark study. One of the coauthors to this study disputing a link between thimerosal and autism, Poul Thorsen, is now under criminal investigation for forgery and fraud. He disappeared with $2 million in expropriated funds, as NBC 11 Atlanta reports, but The New York Times did not report this, even though The Times had previously relied on this study to exonerate thimerosal:
http://www.11alive.com/video/default.aspx?menuid=149#/News/A+New+Twist+In+The+Controversy+Over+Autism/49906865001/50317397001/71272069001

Despite this news story, Clark Hoyt states:

If one accepted the original premise that the preservative thimerosal in vaccines was the culprit causing rising rates of autism, one would have expected the rates to decrease after thimerosal was removed nine years ago.  They have not.

First of all, Mr. Hoyt displays a very basic lack of knowledge concerning this controversy. Thimerosal was not the original premise for the rise in autism rates, the MMR vaccine was. The paper in The Lancet in 1998 which first raised the possibility of an MMR-autism link was published a year before the public even knew that thimerosal was in vaccines, or that it was partially composed of mercury, and three years before studies linking thimerosal to autism even showed up in the medical literature.

Furthermore, his fallacy that autism rates kept increasing after thimerosal was removed so thimerosal cannot cause autism is wrong on both counts.

Autism rates have in fact gone down; artificial changes in the reporting systems, however, skewed new cases towards the youngest age groups, creating an artificial rise in the relevant autism cases. Nonetheless, the decrease is still indirectly seen in the system as a whole. What's more, thimerosal was not immediately removed from some vaccines; it was phased out, and during that time the flu shot became routinely recommended for children. To this day, most flu shots including those given to children still contain the mercury preservative. In fact, I wrote about this for Age of Autism very recently.
http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/03/the-fallacy-of-thimerosal-removal-autism-increase-a-failure-of-science-a-bigger-failure-to-children-.html#more

In Conclusion

Mr. Hoyt is not even acknowledging glaring errors in government and industry studies attempting to exonerate vaccines, nor does he acknowledge studies linking vaccines to autism, the links for which I posted earlier. I am a college blogger with a disability and had no problem tracking down those links. The fact that the public editor of The New York Times is not privy to them suggests he is cherry-picking the facts surrounding this debate.

He then sums up his letter by claiming that the reporter in question, Gardiner Harris, neither has a conflict of interest, nor that The Times' coverage has been in any way inaccurate or irresponsible.

With respect, I disagree. The public editor is not representing the public.  I request that you personally investigate this important matter which impacts the health of millions of Americans - and examine it from all perspectives - not just that of government and industry.  My original email to Mr. Hoyt and his response are included below. Please read them.

Very Sincerely,

Jake Crosby
Age of Autism, Contributing Editor
http://www.ageofautism.com/jake-crosby/

(PS) Please forgive my misstating of the link to Julie Gerberding on CNN as being on CBS below.


Then I responded to Hoyt:

from Jake Crosby <jcaofa@gmail.com>

to Public/NYT/NYTIMES <public@nytimes.com>

Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 8:33 PM
subject Re: Complaint About Coverage of Important Health Issue
mailed-by gmail.com
 
hide details Mar 30 (13 days ago)
 
Dear Mr. Hoyt, 

Thank you for taking the time to respond to me; however, you did not reply to a single one of my links which I provided as evidence that vaccines and autism are connected. You seem to be working hard to uphold a particular position taken by The New York Times. 

Many in the autism community feel that the government has successfully influenced the media to suppress information related to this issue. The words of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are proof of the government's efforts: 

"There are groups out there that insist that vaccines are responsible for a variety of problems despite all scientific evidence to the contrary. We have reached out to media outlets to try to get them to not give the views of these people equal weight in their reporting to what science has shown and continues to show about the safety of vaccines." - Reader's Digest, February 5, 2010 

It appears The New York Times has been very cooperative with the government's agenda. 

Again, please review my letter below that contains the links, thank you.

Sincerely, 
Jake Crosby
Age of Autism, Contributing Editor
www.ageofautism.com/jake-crosby

Then Greg Brock, Senior Editor for Standards at The New York Times, writes me: 
 
 from NYTimes, Senioreditor <SeniorEditor@nytimes.com>

to "jcaofa@gmail.com" <jcaofa@gmail.com>

cc  "nytimes, public" <public@nytimes.com>

Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 3:06 PM
subject FW: Complaint About Coverage of Important Health Issue
mailed-by nytimes.com

hide details Mar 31 (13 days ago)
  
Dear Mr. Crosby: 

Clark Hoyt shared your complaint with me. I am the senior editor for standards in the newsroom, so I oversee issues like corrections of factual errors or violations of our standards and ethics policies. 

I read your original complaint, Mr. Hoyt's thorough response, and your rebuttal. 

I agree with his ultimate conclusion that he does not agree with you that "the reporter has a conflict of interest or that coverage of this subject by The Times has been inaccurate or in any way irresponsible." 

Like Mr. Hoyt, I appreciate your taking the time to give us your feedback.  But in this instance I see no problem.  

Best regards,  
Greg Brock
Senior Editor/Standards   

from Jake Crosby <jcaofa@gmail.com>

to SeniorEditor@nytimes.com

cc publisher@nytimes.com,
Public/NYT/NYTIMES <
public@nytimes.com>

date

Thu, Apr 1, 2010 at 1:45 AM
subject Re: FW: Complaint About Coverage of Important Health Issue
mailed-by gmail.com

Dear Mr. Brock,

Thank you for responding to me. I appreciate that you've read the exchange between Mr. Hoyt and myself. 

I beg to differ with you about Gardiner Harris' conflict of interest, having read The New York Times guidelines for Ethics in Journalism which very specifically states:

"Similarly the journalist may be asked to affirm that to the best of his or her knowledge no household member or close relative has financial holdings that might reasonably raise doubts about the journalist's impartiality. If such conditions arise, the staff member must alert newsroom management."

The close relative in this case is Gardiner Harris' brother, and the financial holdings that might raise doubts about the journalist's impartiality are his brother's sales of medical devices to pharmaceutical companies, some of which are assumed to be manufacturers of vaccines as Gardiner Harris himself stated, according to Mr. Hoyt. 

The Times' guidelines also state, under "Avoiding Conflicts Over Family":

"A brother or a daughter in a high-profile job on Wall Street might produce the appearance of conflict for a business reporter or editor."

Quite frankly, I do not understand how you could say there is no conflict of interest here when the "Ethics in Journalism" policy of The Times clearly shows there is. 

Mr. Brock, you have also addressed none of the issues raised in my letter concerning the possibility of a vaccine-autism link:
Former NIH Director Dr. Bernadine Healy on CBS saying autism-vaccine research avoided by public health authorities:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/05/12/cbsnews_investigates/main4086809.shtml 
Dr. Geraldine Dawson, Chief Science Officer of Autism Speaks, question of vaccine-autism link is of extremely high priority:
http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/01/parents-vs-the-science-ask-geraldine-dawson-and-autism-speaks.html 
CDC - autism-vaccine concerns precipitating pre and postnatal autism research:
http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html 
Former CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding on CNN conceding vaccines can cause autism:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh-nkD5LSIg 
 
Former Chief Science Advisor of UK Department of Health, Dr. Peter Fletcher - powerful people staked reputations on MMR will do almost anything to protect themselves. MMR may cause autism and GI disorder in vulnerable subset.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-376203/Former-science-chief-MMR-fears-coming-true.html 
False Testimony Given by editor-in-chief Dr. Richard Horton against Dr. Andrew Wakefield, author of paper that first mentioned temporal link between MMR and autism:
http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/01/attorney-jim-moody-describes-false-testimony-at-gmc-hearing-video-here.html 
SafeMinds critique of Danish study, the data of which show a link between thimerosal and autism:
http://www.safeminds.org/research/Hviid_et_alJAMA-SafeMindsAnalysis.pdf 
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. investigates the mercury-autism cover-up:
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/7395411/deadly_immunity/ 
 
Links not specifically addressed in my letter, but also of relevance:
NBC 11 Atlanta Reports: Danish Scientist Absconds with $2 million, Poul Thorsen "Proved" Vaccines Don't Cause Autism
http://www.11alive.com/video/default.aspx?menuid=149#/A+New+Twist+In+The+Controversy+Over+Autism/71272069001  
The Fallacy of Thimerosal Removal & Autism Increase
http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/03/the-fallacy-of-thimerosal-removal-autism-increase-a-failure-of-science-a-bigger-failure-to-children-.html
 
On a different note, one concerning Gardiner Harris specifically, he abusively responded to an autism parent:

Thanks for your note. I'm sorry for your children's difficulties, your anger and your willingness to believe wild conspiracy theories about the roots of autism.
http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/02/nyts-gardiner-harris-wear-white-and-black-hats.html#more 

Please address these issues, thank you. I await your reply.
Sincerely,
Jake Crosby
Contributing Editor, Age of Autism
www.ageofautism.com/jake-crosby

I’ve received no word back since.

Jake Crosby is a college student with Asperger Syndrome at Brandeis University who is double majoring in History and Health: Science, Society and Social Policy, and is a contributing editor to Age of Autism.

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I found a lot of links to big pharma and chemical companies and non-profits like American Council on Science and Health or ACSH and Quackwatchers.com and Quackbusters.com and Dr. Stephen Barrett and Dr. Ronald Gots and Dr. Thomas Allems and etc and AAAAI and etc. All opposition to MCS.

ACSH is a special interests non-profit group that does bogus studies for special interests.

I have a MS type autoimmune condition caused by my work environment. I worked not trained for chemical exposure proper protection in a air born chemical soup for over 16K hours with no real protection.

Many years later, and thousands of dollars later, when a doctor finally diagnosed me with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or MCS and later found this Multiple Sclerosis or MS condition that was not genetic I started my own research. 1995-present.

You are on the tip of the iceberg. This coverup and conspiracy that is harming and killing citizens is way more massive than you even have a clue of.

I am politically neutral but health related issues are a major issue for me.

To me any conspiracy to hide life saving research and facts and that in doing so and kills one US citizen is the same as treason. Right now literally millions are dying or dead because of them and their greed and hunger for power. When you have the media and government doing it it is time for a overhaul of both.

If it was me I would put anyone and everyone of them in court and charged with conspiracy to commit treason against the US Citizens and mass murder charges.

Read the book "Politics in Healing" by Former New York Assemblyman "Daniel Haley". Your fighting a machine that has been entrenched in our politics and medical system for over a century.

Thanks to articles like yours and the internet people are beginning to see the depth of this monster riding the backs of government and the media. It itself is a murdering parasite.

What is the main causation if you want my input are the patent laws themselves. Anything of nature is not suppose to be patented. That is why they make synthetic drugs out of chemicals. Because they can't patent natural cures. You want to get technical chemicals come from nature themselves and should not be patented.

As for cures, I do not see it. They only prolong your death and coverup symptoms. The real cures come from nature. Genetically Modified or GM products are nothing more than splicing of one or more genetic materials from one natural source into another and should also not be allowed to be patented. It can be patented as a formulation but that is all and it should not be hidden what ingredients are in that formulation.

That being the case taking away their rights to patents for things such as seeds and chemicals and etc? Do it and they will lose most there exclusive rights to chemicals and thus start going back to the real cures and patenting formulations instead.

Other than a complete overhaul of these corrupted systems I would look into legalizing plants that have been found to be curative in nature that this same corrupted system has knowingly outlawed or persecuted and shut down.

For example In the 1930's media mogul Hearst demonized the Marijuana plant and him and DuPont started their attacks on it but it was also being attached in the medical front. It was already in use for medicinal treatments then by pharmaceutical companies. They knew it had many health benefits before it was outlawed under perjury and false testimony.

This plant has been found to have protection against genetic mutations. Which means it can pretty much prevent and cure any autoimmune type disease including Cancer and Multiple Sclerosis or MS and I am sure it helps with brain diseases since they also are mutated cells and destruction of cells. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJ4QR2NqgWU

CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO ABOVE! The answer may not be attacking them head on but getting this cure all legalized on the federal level since it should never have been made illegal to begin with.

Hearst's reason was to stop them from making paper out of hemp and he had interests in logging. DuPont was to introduce his synthetic textiles into the market place and hemp was his main competitor. Pharma's reason was they can not patent it so let it go just like all the other natural cures that they are still fighting. Read Daniel Haley's book and be ready to be outraged, I was.

The hell with them. Block them from blocking natural cures and they will be put out of business and the medical community will be back in business really curing people instead of prolonging our deaths by covering up symptoms instead of curing the medical conditions.

If I was political about this I would say it is time the people take back their government and prosecute all those committing treason against us. These Conspiracy Theories are actual factual conspiracies. The conspirators are mega rich and can fight you forever in court.

You first take away their way of funding their battles and they will lose by attrition just like the US did to all the Native American Indians when they wiped out there Buffalo herds which was their main food supply. When they where weak and starving and dying from sickness the US Government took their lands and threw them on reservations otherwise they would not have beat them.

(In fact the majority of our original US Constitution came from A federation of Native North American Indian Nations, the Iroquoian Nations (or Federations or something like that?) Constitution. It was used, some 200 or more years before the US Constitution, by the Native American Indian's including the Sues, Blackfoot and Shawnee and Etc ... Tribes. We can't even claim the US Constitution as ours technically speaking. But we should give honor to those that where this Nations US Constitution true Founders. The Native American Indians) Sorry, I get side tracked easily.

Marijuana has been used medicinally for over 5,000 years. Just juicing one plant a day keeps the doctor away. There is your answer friends Because right now we are weak and sick and they are throwing us into poverty and getting rich killing us with their chemicals in the air, water, food and medicines they give us.

Get this one plant legalized for everyone and you will do more damage to them than anything else. And don't let them get back control of this plant or we are sunk permanently.

Oh and you can not get high from juicing it or in it's raw state. It has to be cooked or vaporized or smoked to bring out the psychogenic affects.

This plant could actually save this economy. It makes the same amount of bio mass as a equal acre of trees and has up to 15' long fibers. Wood only has about one inch long fibers. Textile wise nothing else comes close to this plant, not even synthetic fibers which are shorter than wood fibers. It also has Natural UV and rot resistance. It grows way faster than trees and can make more and better paper than wood. It's seeds are the best natural plant source of complete proteins. It is like a weed so needs very little water. It reconditions soil for farming. Ford even had a car covered with hemp derived plastics and to demonstrate its ability to withstand damage they hit it with a sludge hammer and it did not even crack it or scratch it for that matter. The hammer head bounced back off it. Hemp canvas and hemp rope use to be our US Navy's best friend. It is way better than nylon and polyester rope and fabrics. Levi's where hemp in the gold mining days. It was the first president of the United States, George Washington's main crop.

Now medical research on this plant is finding it can cure many deadly mortal conditions. Plus getting high is fun for recreational use and it is not bad for you like alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs and street drugs (other than Mary Jane.) It doesn't cause hangovers and if you use to much you just fall to sleep. It won't let you keep functioning in a drunken state like Alcohol will. (When I was young and drunk I got a DUI. I did not even know I was driving until I was being pulled over by the cops. Weed would have just made me fall asleep, instead of blacking out and driving without knowing it like when I was drunk that night.)

Making this plant available to everyone, you will be wiping out the synthetic medications and synthetic textile industries somewhat by bringing this plant back into everyday use. But this plant alone can steal the war from them and cure everyone. They need to suffer like they are making us suffer for their greed and control and power hunger.

Oh and the FDA is like the Federal Reserve. It hardly gets any of it's funding from our tax dollars. It gets paid by the very industries it is suppose to police. It does not work for the people but for special interests just like ACSH. They need to be shut down. Or replaced with a agency that is completely looking out for the peoples best interests. Not big businesses.

Just like the media is misinforming the people about those vaccines they are also misinforming people about this miracle plant and cure to most diseases and autoimmune injuries and our economy.

Leave this plant in the hands of the people. Don't allow large corporations to control it or the government since it is obviously not working by our constitution. If it was these murderers would have been prosecuted for conspiracy and treason and mass murder a long time ago.

We have the cure so lets make it legal and untouchable by government and corporations. Besides in the raw form it is far more potent medicinally speaking but not psychogenically though. I know I want to use it in the juicing method myself like in this video above to cure myself of all my ailments. To me it is to prevent ADS and any other ailment. Even cancer. Every citizen should have a glass of this a day at least.

In short: You can go after them or you can undermine them and when they are in ruin and weak you can get justice.

I like the undermining them because it is like playing chess.

My first move would be to track down which mega billionaire benefits from our enemies profits. Then bring him or her to this country for trial. I would freeze all their financial accounts so they can not hire a sneaky slick lawyer who himself would kill for the right price.

I would also find their gold and jewelery and cash stashes before the arrests and confiscate that income source also.

You have to cut them off from buying their way out of justice. And believe me when I say I have seen this first hand. Judges can be bought directly or even indirectly. It could be paying your granddaughters college education and all other expenses or a trip to Fiji and all other expenses or it could be a envelope full of cash, plain and simple. It could be just taking them out for lunch or dinner in a nice restaurant and that would sway them to help whichever side you want helped. Any way this is a different situation I rather not talk about at this time.

TAKE CARE!

Sincerely,
Joe Hawkins

Thank you all for your support everybody; The New York Times has been in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry for a long time. Any plan to put pressure on this newspaper would be more than worthwhile. Perhaps most importantly, however, is that their publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., can never use the excuse that he was unaware of his newspaper's atrocious representation of this issue. From here on out, every story The Times runs about this controversy is directly his responsibility.

Good job, Jake! Kudos to you! Hope to see more writing like this from you. So very thankful for your efforts.

BTW - Look into Gardiner Harris' father, his profession, the magazine that he started/runs and where their funding comes from and you're going to be surprised (another piece of the puzzle and yet another connection to his "autism is not biomedical because my family's livlihood depends on it continuing to be perceived as psychological thus treated with pharmaceuticals" agenda. ;-)

PS - yes, I know the answer...I did the original investigation into this matter over 5 years ago. :-)

Lujene G. Clark

This was excellent. The stonewalling going on at the times would be obvious to an eight grader. They cannot and will not respond to the cogent points you made about both conflicts and evidence.

This isn't new. Next time, sign your letter, "Archibishop Oscar Romero"-- just to remind them of another deadly mass injustice that they perpetuated through misreporting and outright lies, all on behalf of institutional interests.

Jake, I just had another thought that maybe has already been suggested, I don't know. We need a "grass root" effort to ask as many people as we can to refuse to buy the NYT and to write to their advertisers and tell them we will not buy their products as long as they advertise with the NYT. Many stores in New York are also on line. Please let me know what you think or if this would not work.

Jake, it is a honor to read what you are working on! My prayers are with you. Please do not give up. Hammer away at them. We need the world to know about the NYT and how important it is to NOT ever buy one of their rags. One thing they cannot run away from is that the Almighty God is the One that will judge them. I think He has all kinds of special things for people that aid in or hurt children. They maynot believe there is a God but that won't save them from judgement! Please keep on keeping on and God Bless.

Go Jake!! Rock on! You are amazing and so talented. We are in utter awe of you and your accomplishments....

We are overwhelmingly grateful to you as well.

Good job on the NYT expose! You need to look at AP writers next... I did some checking, and discovered that at least one pro-pharma WebMD writer is married to an AP writer.

Absolutely BRILLIANT, Jake!

Seems to me you could teach the NY Times staff a few lessons about communication skills, not to mention honesty...

AnaB, they never REALLY removed thimerosal.

My daughter nearly got a thimerosal-preserved shot in 2003, 2 full YEARS after they had supposedly "removed" it. Yes, they were beginning to PRODUCE thimerosal-free vaccines. They were also using up old stores.

And they have ADDED yearly flu shots AND h1n1 shots to the recommended schedule for all children over 6 months old, and most of those DO contain thimerosal.

So now we have kids getting up to 100 micrograms of mercury EVERY year, in their supposedly thimerosal-free vaccination schedule.

What do you want to bet that they will continue to bleat, "Oh, look, the rate of autism is still climbing even though we removed thimerosal from children's vaccines, so obviously thimerosal is not involved?"


Who needs a conspiracy when everybody and their brother is somehow, someway connected to pharmaceutical industry.

Really impressive work Jake. Thank you

Jake, I second Josh Day's recommendation. The former 60 Minutes producer played by Al Pacino in The Insider is now working for Frontline--maybe they'd be willing to listen to you.

Fantastic and amazing work again. I am even more impressed by your work, knowing that you are a full-time college student. Keep it up!

Wow! Thank-you for revealing so much information, Jake. I actually think that is it much more telling about where the upper echelon at the NYTimes is coming from when it comes to which stories are written and how they are conveyed. The set up there seems just as conflicted as Rupert Murdoch's story. Brothers may only see each other periodically or maybe not at all after they leave the nest, but a person has to see and report to the boss every day of his work life. Your next story should be about them instead of Harris. Hey, might as well go for broke! And while you're at it, I wonder if getting groups like Factcheck and Sunlight Foundation involved in cross referencing some of the vaccine conflict statements made in some political arenas. I read today that the Sunlight Foundation can fact check live stream on the web for public policy decision discussions and apparantly did it successfully for the health care discussions, including where the speaking politician gets his funds.
I just love your work, Jake. Keep it up!
Sunlight Foundation

Wow-great information here. Thanks, Jake.
The last time there was a decent unbiased article in the NY Times about this issue was way back in 2002, an op ed piece by Bob Herbert about that ghostly addition to the Homeland Security bill exempting Eli Lilly from any culpability in vaccine damages.
Maurine

Jake,

I am so glad I took the time to read your letters and all that followed. I must say that you are certainly an inspiring individual and I certainly applaud you for your persistence. Although I don't believe its likely, I certainly would love to read a response from Mr. Brock. I am a parent of twin 5-year old boys on the Spectrum and although my boys were not vaccinated, that certainly does not in any way negate the effects other families have witnessed and will continue to live through due to the harmful effects of vaccines. Keep up the amazing work - I look forward to so much more from you.

Great research, Jake! I think there's a really big story in this -- the cross-pollination of media execs on the boards of pharma companies (Reuters, Murdoch) and vice-versa.

Thanks, Jake, for supplying your NYT correspondence in exacting detail. How perverse that these editors ignore the submitted questions and instead replace their own chosen subject matter -- a tactic Harris uses.

The New York Times employs the same weapons of intellectual dishonesty found in Arthur Schopenhauer's "38 Ways To Win An Argument." But then again, those manipulations are indispensable parts of the CDC toolbox. Distract, deny, perpetuate an argument -- but never admit the truth.

So rather than acknowledge vaccine injury reports and learn to prevent them, the "acceptable losses" status quo continues. So much for scientific advancement.

Hi all, for those who've read my post earlier in the day, I have since added in a letter I sent to Arthur Sulzberger Jr. which was not in-meshed with my other correspondences to between him and his staff. I encourage you to read it, it's right after Hoyt's response. Thank you for reading.

-Jake

If you own stock in any company use your votes. I just voted against every board member of my company who has any ties to the Pharma industry (it was about 1/3 of them -- and I work in telecomm).

Wow. Great reporting, Jake. The NYTimes board is filled with former pharma execs. No wonder Gardiner hasn't been fired or reprimanded or redirected to more balanced reporting on the autism-vaccine controversy. He, like his bosses, is another cog in the pharma propaganda publishing machine.

How come no one at the Times responded to the complaint about the terrible and unprofessional email that Harris sent to that parent? No one should be writing to readers like that.

Jake, you give me so much hope for my autisitic son. You are way smarter than I was in college (and now!).

It appears to me, as pointed out by Clark Hoyt, NY Times Public Editor, that Gardiner Harris could be asked to reconcile a possible conflict of interest when one considers "His brother works for a company that sells genetic testing equipment to academic institutions..." and that, for the most part, news media report that autism is genetic and the majority of research dollars go toward genetic research.

I will always remember the Spectrum Magazine article describing Robert F. Kennedy jr meeting with the New York Times:

"Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s watershed moment occurred in 2006 when he visited the New York Times headquarters to discuss an editorial piece he submitted on the link between vaccines and neurological disorders in children. Ushered into a small room for what was set to be a private meeting with an editor, he instead found the space crammed with people, overflowing onto the arms of old leather chairs, with expressions ranging from boredom to disdain.

“'I expected a discussion with the editor of the Times, but when I went in to meet, they had assembled a group of science editors that were so hostile and antagonistic, it was like talking to a brick wall,' Kennedy remembered. 'They were absolutely determined that there would be no public discussion in their paper about mercury and neurological disorders.' His sentences were cut short by rapid retorts, as if the room was laced with invisible mines. Despite Kennedy’s information, and the phonebook-sized stack of articles that Dr. Boyd Haley had perched on his lap ready to share, the editors quickly shut down any discussion of thimerosal’s dangers - one person near the door sighed and rolled his eyes. The meeting progressed for 30 minutes, Kennedy offering DNA, animal, genetic, epidemiological and biology studies, and being met repeatedly with the statement, 'The CDC says the vaccines are safe.'”
http://www.spectrumpublications.com/index.php/magazine/rfk_jr/

Like a brick wall, indeed. Thank you, Jake, for showing us some of the reasons why this brick wall exists.

I remember after the "Parents vs. Science" article I emailed the NYT and received a response from the editor saying that the article couldn't possibly encompass all the information that was available and Harris had to select what he thought was most important. I asked, like the Geiers' "wall-to-wall carpeting and faux wood paneling"?

Thank you also, Jake, for writing to the NYT and trying to expose them to some good sense. You never know when something you write may have more effect than it seems at the time.

It is especially frustrating to me that people I know and respect -- family, friends, and acquaintances -- read and trust the NYT, and so believe that the Wakefield/Murch/Walker-Smith case is closed, vaccines don't cause autism, thimerosal is safe, etc.

NYT, you should be ashamed of yourselves. You are aiding and abetting a tragic epidemic of immune system, GI and neurological disorders left largely unstudied and untreated by our government and mainstream medicine due to corrupt vested interests. That's not conspiracy theory; it's the truth. Look into it. Look into it without prejudice. Go to a DAN! conference and to the AutismOne conference. Talk to parents and DAN! doctors and scientists. Don't limit yourself to the CDC/pharma CYA perspective.

Jake, I'd consider passing on the entire correspondence to a competing national paper or papers-- namely the conservative Washington Times, a paper that is certainly no friend of the NYT. One suggestion: Email the correspondence to the editor of the online division, as well as his boss, and also certify mail a print copy to a reporter/editor (I've found this technique works best when you "shotgun" out numerous letters to various people). If you need any financial assistance in this endeavor, I'd be happy to donate -- as I'm sure a number of my fellow commenters would be -- via Paypal portal.

I know the days of Woodward and Bernstein are long dead, as well as the investigative edge of 60 Minutes, but this Thorsen story is just too huge and promises too much press for every single major paper to ignore.

This is some amazing work you're doing.

well, it seems that the board of directors at the New York TImes are all pharma sluts. Thanks for revealing this.

Dear Jake,
The only way to make the rats and cockroaches scatter is to continue to turn on the lights! Gardiner, don't look into the light. Good work Jake.

Jake,

Thank you so much for another eye opening column.

I’ve gotten my fair share of abusive responses, non-responses, form letter responses. Cold ain’t it? (What is really cold is when you get a form letter from a close family member.)

And yet I’m told we’re the ones with autism, the ones with the communication disability. I find it ironic.

Great investigative reporting and calling the NYT on their own policy, Jake. If they continue to deny the conflict and support Gardiner, I would think there should be a state or national ethics in media orgainization that would hopefully not be connected to these biased and corrupt media personnel. I love it - Full speed ahead!

Jake,

I could just kiss you, you are such a breath of fresh air. Understand, the media have never been objective or nuetral. The "Gray Lady" is dying a slow and painful death as the general population has finally woken to the bias' of the media world and will no longer contribute to their retoric.

But at least they stepped up during autism awareness month with this stupid story about how kids with autism can have crap get in their eyes while swinging. Thanks for nothing.

http://thelenseofautism.blogspot.com/2010/04/perhaps-stupidest-new-york-times.html

Jake:

Your piece is an excellent update on the New York Times's long imbalanced reporting on the thimerosal controversy. The Times has failed in its coverage of this important public issue going back to its first major article on the thimerosal debate published on the Times's front page on June 25, 2005. While proclaiming the "power of parents" (a slogan later utilized by parents who organized the "Power of Parents Rally" in Washington, D.C.), the article pitted "Parents vs. Science", an ill-conceived dichotomy used ever since in journalistic treatments of this subject. Later in 2005 the Columbia Journalism Review published an excellent treatment of the subject, "Drug Test" by Daniel Schulman.

It is worth rereading the CJR piece, which I quote here part of the Columbia Journalism Review article that describes the New York Times performance in covering the thimerosal debate and the response to the Times, led in part by A-CHAMP, a parent advocacy group:

'On June 25, The New York Times addressed the thimerosal controversy in a front-page article, the product of five months of reporting by Gardiner Harris and Anahad O’Connor. Appearing less than two weeks after Robert Kennedy’s piece, which would later have a list of corrections and clarifications appended to it, the Times article had been eagerly awaited by proponents of the thimerosal link, some of whom had been communicating regularly with the Times reporters over the previous months. Believing that the heft of the paper’s reputation would help to propel their cause into the mainstream, they expected a proper airing of both sides of the question — that, after all, was the impression O’Connor gave at least one of his sources, the mother of an autistic child and a member of an autism advocacy organization, when he approached her in late January. “I’m thinking of a 2,000-word story, essentially saying that an array of studies over the years (the Institute of Medicine report, I would think, being the most prominent) were intended to settle the issue of autism and vaccines once and for all,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Yet it seems that the question is still very much open . . . and evidence for the case against vaccines has been mounting, despite many researchers’ insistence that the issue is dead. I think, for now at least, I’d like to just present the evidence on both sides and let the readers decide.”
'The result was much more one-sided. Headlined ON AUTISM'S CAUSE, IT'S PARENTS VS. RESEARCH, the story cast the thimerosal connection as a fringe theory, without scientific merit, held aloft by angry, desperate parents. The notion that supporters of the theory were disregarding irrefutable scientific findings was an underlying theme, drilled home several times. “It’s really terrifying, the scientific illiteracy that supports these suspicions,” Dr. Marie McCormick told the Times. Readers were left with little option but to believe that the case against thimerosal was scientifically unsound.
The piece did note the work of Mark and David Geier, a father-son research team who believe that mercury exposure is linked to autism. The Geiers’s research has been a lightning rod for criticism, and their methodology has been called into question by some in the scientific community. But before the reporters even discussed the Geiers’s science, they had already painted the researchers as eccentric outsiders: “He and his son live and work in a two-story house in suburban Maryland. Past the kitchen and down the stairs is a room with cast-off, unplugged laboratory equipment, wall-to-wall carpeting and faux wood paneling that Dr. Geier calls ‘a world-class lab — every bit as good as anything at N.I.H.’” Omitted from the story was the work of Dr. Mady Hornig, a Columbia University epidemiologist; Richard Deth, a Northeastern University pharmacologist; Jill James, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas; and others whose work suggests that thimerosal may cause neurodevelopmental disorders in a subset of susceptible children (those who are not able to eliminate mercury from the body in the ways that most people do). The story alluded to Boyd Haley, chairman of the department of chemistry at the University of Kentucky and an ally of thimerosal activists, in the same sentence as a Louisiana physician who believes “that God spoke to her through an 87-year-old priest and told her that vaccines caused autism” — leaving Haley, it would seem, guilty by association of lunacy. Several reporters I spoke with who have covered the thimerosal controversy described the Times story as a smear. One called it a “hit piece.”
"The Times’s O’Connor told me he had looked at the research linking thimerosal with autism, including the work of Hornig, Deth, and James, but ultimately found the epidemiological studies cited by the IOM more persuasive. “The larger scientific community has rejected a link between thimerosal and autism,” he said. “You do have some scientists who are convinced that there’s a link, but then you have the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization — it’s not a stretch to say that the scientific community has rejected this link.”
The article prompted a massive reader response. One organization, known as A-Champ (Advocates for Children’s Health Affected by Mercury Poisoning), organized an e-mail campaign directed at top editors at the Times, as well as the public editor, Byron Calame. O’Connor personally received dozens of e-mails and letters. “There were a couple that were threatening. There were some that were pretty harsh and others saying that I was part of the conspiracy. A lot of people responded saying there must be some link between the Times and the pharmaceutical industry.”

http://www.cjr.org/issues/2005/6/schulman.asp?printerfriendly=yes (4 of 9)11/15/2005 6:19:37 AM
CJR November/December 2005 - Drug Test

Gardner Harris’s has a conflict of interest by the NYT’s written policy definition allright. But the policy also apparently says “If such conditions arise, the staff member must alert newsroom management.” In other words--the underling fox must alert the head fox, both of whom are watching the henhouse, when the underling fox, and his brother fox, have been eating the chickens.

Never the less, Jake you have done a fantastic job here. Your talents exceed those of the NYT editors, but more importantly, you retain your integrity.


Dear Jake: I found your file on Gardiner Harris and the New York Times completely compelling. There is no doubt in my mind that this kind of detailed work has to go on continuously, so that our specific and detailed evidence builds up. The work is valuable academically and for active campaigning.

I admire the way in which you kept a cool head while keeping up the pressure. When one considers the kind of problems that the so called quality press have had over the last decade, with journalists in the US making up stories and presenting fictional accounts of sources and with tabloid journalists in the UK tapping phones, one might imagine that the newspapers might be wary of these conflicts of interest and thorough bias's becoming public- apparently not!

Can I recommend Nick Davies's book Flat Earth News to you and, perhaps more importantly in terms of investigative method and th recording of these exchanges, Serge Lang's book 'Challenges' published by Springer 1998. This book is a godsend to people like you and John Stone who are committed to revealing political vested interests in the way you are.

Keep up the pressure.

However, I do agree that the fact that Gardiner Harris' brother works in a pharma oriented business is not a conflict of interest for Gardiner. That is his brother, not Gardiner Harris himself.

1. )"If one accepted the original premise that the preservative thimerosal in vaccines was the culprit causing rising rates of autism, one would have expected the rates to decrease after thimerosal was removed nine years ago. They have not"

--This statement incenses me. We cannot possibly know if Autism rates declined after Thimerosal was removed UNTIL CDC begins using in their annual calculations data from children born AFTER 2001, when Thimerosal was removed. These most recent 1 in 110 numbers were from children born in 1998, when Thimerosal in vaccines was in still full swing. Either reporters know this and are being disingenous or the don't know it and aren't doing the research!

2.) This whole notion that a vac/unvaccinated comparison study is untenable is a lying joke. They act like it would be unethical because it would leave children in the control group unvaccinated, thus putting them at risk. Hogwash! There are tens of thousands of unvaccinated homeschooled kids, Christian Scientists, Autism sibs, etc out there. The government knows who each and every one of these is because the families must file vaccine exemption forms with their local health departments. AND...the government commissioned a study a few years ago to determine who, what groups of people are not vaccinating and the reasons. Therefore, it would be very easy for them to find a control group in a most ethical way because those parents have chosen not to vaccinate their children. So, these are lies, lies, and more lies.

Good for you Jake!

You hit them with the facts. Apparently, they can't handle that. And they won't be bothered addressing the facts in their correspondence with you.

And all those pharmacuetical ties the NYT's execs and BOD's have are disgusting.

I doubt you'll ever hear back from them again.

What's your next step?

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