Isn't it nice to see the hammer of real journalism come down on the fringe lunatic crank ravings of the Three Blind Mice of Autism Epidemic Enablers -- profiteering vaccine-damage denier Paul Offit, cruel and credulous junk science-swallower Seth Mnookin, and sick-child tormentor Brian Deer?
Offit got the worst of it, with the Orange County Register calling out his "Liar! Liar!" accusations against Sheryl Attkisson of CBS. Offit has raked in millions off his totally unnecessary, universally recommended, pig-virus infested rotavirus vaccine. He also called Barbara Loe Fisher a liar; she sued but lost and decided not appeal; this new development ought to make her smile. Meanwhile our own J.B. Handley sued and Offit forked over money; and the British publisher of his most recent book had to shred them and print new copies because he had maligned one of the key players in the MMR saga.
Mnookin has a bad habit of reviling his elders and betters and sticking up for the dim bulbs of autism-vaccine reporting just before they get unscrewed. For instance, he was all about love for fellow feature writer Trine Tsouderos right before a respected independent science-watch group lambasted her coverage of Lyme Disease -- slamming the same snotty bias masquerading as "sound science" she has heaped on parents of vaccine-damaged kids. He also has appeared with Offit and has a callow error-laden misunderstanding of the autism epidemic that he seems to owe mostly to Saint Paul of the Syringe.
Wouldn't you know, just before the Orange County Offit smackdown he attacked Attkisson for picking up a recent study on ways that autism could occur. ONE of those ways was vaccine injury. ("More embarrassing anti-vaccine reporting from CBS News's Sharyl Attkisson.")
Now he's really gone and done it, blasting Robert MacNeil for his autism series on PBS, which included an open-minded segment about his grandson's autism. "An embarrassing, reckless, and irresponsible coda to Robert MacNeil's career" was the title of his first blog post. Seth, my man, you do project too much -- it is your career that will suffer those lasting judgments. Of course, The Mnew York Times liked your book. They also loved Bruno Bettelheim's "The Empty Fortress," the "Mommy is Homicidal and the Kids Know It" explanation for autism. That might make you the Bruno Bettelheim of our day. You say you never criticize parents, only the "moral and scientific bankruptcy of all those who'd encouraged the families of children with autism to blame vaccines." "All those" people are mostly parents! (And apparently grandparents like MacNeil are fair game -- one generation back and you're an irresponsible jerk for even discussing it.)
And speaking of projection, we must not overlook Brian Deer, the king of feces-flinging accusations that mirror his own “festering nastiness, the creepy repetitiveness, the weasly, deceitful, obsessiveness." (That was his description of parents who dared to disagree with him.) He got a nice reception at Johns Hopkins this week, where parent-blaming first came into fashion after they couldn't figure out the environmental clues that Mark Blaxill and I write about in "The Age of Autism -- Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-Made Epidemic." Deer is technically a rat, but for simplicity's sake I include him here.
There is nothing fun about autism, but it will be fun to watch their sinking ship go down.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.