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Addendum: Five months before Dr. Wakefield's interview on AC360, Thomson Reuters announced that BMJ Group had selected Thomson Reuters' product, ScholarOne Manuscripts, as the peer review workflow management system for all of its journals. The company press release put out by Thomson Reuters quotes the BMJ Group's publishing director, Peter Ashman, as saying “We are excited to expand our partnership with one of the world’s leading publishers...By serving all of the journals published by BMJ Group, our customizable and flexible ScholarOne Manuscripts will standardize the organization's review process, adding to its effectiveness and efficiency in journal administration.” This is a direct partnership between the Merck/GSK-funded BMJ Group and the Merck-managed employer of an AC360 writer/producer's husband. The reason for Anderson Cooper leading the US media to support the BMJ's sham allegations of fraud against Dr. Wakefield within hours of their publication should now be crystal clear.
The following is a letter I sent to CNN after the January 5th televised abuse of Dr. Andrew Wakefield by the network’s mascot, “Silver Fox” Anderson Cooper, whose pale face regularly haunts the channel. I didn’t receive a response.
With the BMJ’s prime example of Wakefield’s alleged misconduct proven false followed by the collapse of the BMJ's fraud claim, it is especially timely that we revisit this abhorrent example of coverage by the media in light of its deafening silence. Whatever happened to “keeping them honest”? You know, “challenging authority and exposing corruption”?
Dear Anderson Cooper 360,
I am writing about your show on January 5th of this year in which Dr. Wakefield was repeatedly cut off, interrupted, berated and called a "liar" while Brian Deer was allowed free reign to bluff his way through his interview the next day.
I hope you will understand that the conflicts of interest below thoroughly compromised your show's credibility, especially in light of the fact that Anderson Cooper was evidently not willing to read Dr. Wakefield's book. I hope he will be more willing to watch a lecture Dr. Wakefield gave at Brandeis University in which he spent the first 20 minutes addressing fraud allegations and thoroughly exposing what turned out to be Brian Deer's fraud. Every statement Dr. Wakefield makes is documented and verifiable. You owe it to your viewers to watch this video.
The conflicts of interest on the January 5th show were especially serious in light of that fact that they were not disclosed on your program.
First, the BMJ - which alleges Dr. Wakefield committed fraud - is in partnership with Merck and GlaxoSmithKline - manufacturers of the MMR vaccine. Its editor-in-chief Fiona Godlee admitted the BMJ failed to disclose these connections even though they should have.(1)
Secondly, Brian Deer is a freelance reporter; he is not employed by The Sunday Times as he claimed in a related interview on your network . He was put on this story by an editor named Paul Nuki whose father George Nuki knowingly approved a dangerous vaccine in 1988 that caused meningitis. Brian Deer was assisted by MedicoLegal Investigations - a front group of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry - and was the original complainant in the GMC hearing against Dr. Wakefield yet was allowed to continue to write about the story Deer created.(2)
Finally, to add to the litany of failures to disclose COIs on your program, a writer/producer for your show named Cate Vojdik is married to a medical reporter named Dr. Ivan Oransky.(3)
Dr. Oransky is executive editor of Reuters Health - Thomson Reuters' CEO Thomas Glocer - Oransky's boss - is on the board of directors of Merck.(4) Oransky is also a longtime and major contributor to The Lancet, which retracted Dr. Wakefield's paper.(5) Dr. Oransky's father was a pediatrician who was personally responsible for vaccinating many children born between the years of 1972 and 1998.(6) The latest national prevalence estimates by the CDC show that children born in 1998 have an autism prevalence of 1 in 110.(7)
Below is a link to the recent video of Dr. Wakefield's lecture at Brandeis University. Later in the lecture, Dr. Wakefield also shows that there is still evidence linking vaccines and autism - including from a CDC study claiming to show the exact opposite of all things.
I hope you will view this video of Dr. Wakefield's Brandeis lecture.
All the best,
Age of Autism
After sending the above letter, I learned more troubling information about Oransky, who dropped out of the medical profession to become a reporter. In addition to being married to a writer/producer for Anderson Cooper 360, he also happens to be a college buddy of the vaccine industry’s newest spokesman Seth Mnookin, who appeared in the same AC360 episode as Andrew Wakefield. The Oransky-Mnookin friendship was disclosed on Oransky’s own blog, Retraction Watch:
Full disclosure: Ivan and Seth are friends from college, and they’ll be talking about his book [Panic Virus] on a Reuters webcast on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
Offit's connections to that industry—he's quick to note that he shares a patent on a rotavirus vaccine that has just been submitted by Merck to the FDA for licensure, but has never received any salary or consulting fees from the company—have made him a target of the loud US anti-vaccine lobby.
In 2003, Oransky wrote the Lancet’s flattering obituary for a colleague who, with Stephen Barrett, coauthored the book The Vitamin Pushers. Notorious for the questionable practices of his pharma front group Quackwatch, Barrett is currently campaigning against the practices of two doctors who are helping children with autism. Despite the fact that Barrett has not passed his board certification exams, Oransky freely quoted him in the Lancet article.
Oransky continues to maintain his ties to prominent spokespeople in the vaccine industry. At the annual “Health Journalism” conference, where the Chicago Tribune bought its award with CDC’s help (which was attended this year by Alison Singer and Amy Wallace), Oransky moderated a two-person panel on medical fraud. One of those panelists was Brian Deer, who wrote of Cooper’s coverage:
Nailed: Upon publication of Deer's first report in the BMJ series "Secrets of the MMR scare", on 5 January 2011, CNN's Anderson Cooper leads the US media in the biggest-ever story about the vaccine.
Despite more developments clearing Dr. Wakefield, Anderson Cooper isn’t paying any unexpected visits to confront Brian Deer as he gave the keynote address at a pharmaceutical conference on immunization policy housed in the luxury villa of Les Pensières of the Fondation Mérieux on the banks of Lake Annecy in the French alps.
Anderson Cooper 360 will continue to spin.
Jake Crosby has Asperger Syndrome and is a contributing editor to Age of Autism. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a BA in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy. He currently attends The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he is studying for an MPH in epidemiology.