Believe it or not, vaccine industry spokesman Seth Mnookin blocked me on Twitter from responding to his tweets, not for citing anything from Age of Autism, but for citing – of all sources – the CDC. Linking to a recent CDC media release, Seth Mnookin decided to take advantage of the ongoing pertussis epidemic in Washington State to advance his own agenda, by tweeting:
9 deaths so far in largest pertussis outbreak in 50 yrs; unvac'd kids 8x higher risk for infection, says CDC. http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2012/t0719_pertussis_epidemic.html
Mnookin was apparently paraphrasing the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the agency's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, who cited the elevated risk, but in that same quote, exonerated people who weren’t vaccinated:
"However, we don't think those exemptors are driving this current wave."
When I responded to Seth Mnookin's tweet with the exact, above quote by Dr. Schuchat, he blocked me from being able to respond to any more of his tweets. In effect, he censored the information that would not serve his agenda, even though it came from the CDC, not from any of his designated “anti-vaccine activists.”
It all started when I opened my new Twitter account; I had stepped into a heated battle between Rob Schneider and Seth Mnookin. This exchange started with a blog post written by Seth Mnookin responding to a comment Schneider left underneath an article Mnookin wrote for a GE-owned site called “Txchnologist.” On that site, Mnookin lambasted HuffPo for re-posting a news segment of Schneider speaking out against a state law in California aimed at requiring doctor's consent for children to forgo a vaccination.
Mnookin's blog post urged Schneider to read books by millionaire vaccine industrialist Paul Offit, linking to a page on Offit's vaccine indoctrination center saying an infant can receive as many as 10,000 vaccines at one time. Mnookin also cited the IOM's latest report attempting to white-wash the vaccine-autism link and asked Schneider if he would like to speak to families of children who died of whooping cough, even though the current outbreak is not driven by vaccine exemptors as even the CDC admits. Seth Mnookin then tweeted the blog post to Rob Schneider on Twitter, provocatively boasting:
A pt-by-pt rebuttal to @robschneider 's comments on my @txchnologist piece about his anti-science lunacy http://ht.ly/ckqPp
Then Rob Schneider called Mnookin out:
@sethmnookin You have to attack and call names. Yet you won't admit that Children get irreparable harm from vaccines.
Mnookin then tried to schmooze Schneider by offering him a free copy of his book “Panic Virus.”
So I decided to leave some tweets of my own to Schneider, which among other things, told him of Seth Mnookin's forced removal of me from his lecture last December when I tried asking him a question, and also described his friend Paul Offit telling me to “Get the fuck out of here! Piece of shit!”
Rob Schneider re-tweeted both of those tweets to his 80,000+ followers, who now know what Paul Offit said to me last April and that Seth Mnookin threw me out of his speaking engagement. Despite later claiming he played no role in my ejection and that he probably would have preferred that I'd stayed, Seth Mnookin blocked me from responding to him on Twitter after I reminded him of CDC's admission that vaccine exemptions were not behind the whooping cough outbreak in Washington State. This fact would not serve the special interests of vaccine manufacturers well, or those of Seth Mnookin either, apparently.
Seth Mnookin’s obnoxious censorship of me on Twitter was far outweighed by a delightful DM exchange I had with Rob Schneider, who taught me a very wise quote by the late M. Scott Peck, who told Schneider:
"If the Devil exists he is saying, 'Don't make waves!'"
I thanked Rob Schneider for making waves. He replied, “You too, pal!”
HuffPo did not at all side with Rob Schneider in his denunciation of the California law, and in fact attempted to mock him. In particular, HuffPo seemed to get a kick out of the fact that Schneider said the California state law was “against the Nuremberg Laws” (formally known as the Nuremberg Code). They are international laws; they are still in effect and apply to every UN member state. The United States is no exception.
So what was Seth Mnookin's problem? Well, the sheer fact that HuffPo mocked Rob Schneider. The title of Mnookin's Txchnologist piece speaks for itself:
Vaccine Denialism Isn’t Funny, So Why Does HuffPost Give Rob Schneider A Forum?
I guess Seth Mnookin does not agree with millionaire vaccine industrialist Paul Offit, who proudly proclaimed while patting himself on the back for his appearance on Stephen Colbert's show:
Even stranger is that there is probably no better example of a website that has gone from providing a forum of open debate to becoming just another dumping ground for vaccine industry talking points than The Huffington Post. Ever since Arianna Huffington hired former cbsnews.com executive editor Neil Katz to become HuffPo's executive news editor last summer, HuffPo has censored vaccine safety information. While at CBS, Katz posted a gallery full of talking points co-opted by Seth Mnookin, wrote an article defending the vaccine-autism scandal and worked alongside Dr. Jon LaPook, the vaccine industry-tied HuffPo blogger and CBS Evening News Chief Medical Correspondent.
CBS Evening News is now anchored by Scott Pelley, who co-chairs the International Rescue Committee’s Overseers while the group's board of directors includes a top Pfizer executive. Similarly, Dr. Jon LaPook previously edited the Journal of the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons where Dr. Michael Gershon – husband of Merck chicken pox vaccine developer Dr. Anne Gershon – was listed as a contributing writer. Since Pelley took over as anchor and his predecessor Katie Couric joined ABC, not a single report on vaccine safety has been produced by CBS investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.
After joining HuffPo, Neil Katz hired one of his old CBS colleagues, former WebMD writer David Freeman, to be the “Senior Science Editor” of HuffPo's new “Science” section, which includes a column by Seth Mnookin himself. Working under Freeman is an employee named Cara Santa Maria who currently works as HuffPo's “Science Correspondent” and just recently posted a HuffPo videocast interviewing and lauding Mnookin. In the meantime, I contacted HuffPo's head of media relations, Mario Ruiz, asking him how he can claim the website still values varied opinions when it clearly does not, I received no reply.
But all this was not good enough for sore winner Seth Mnookin, who seems to think he is not only entitled to telling media outlets to shill for the vaccine industry, but also how to shill for that industry. Yet there is seemingly no limit to Mnookin's sense of entitlement in telling the media how and what to report about the vaccine-autism controversy, given that he will censor the CDC's position on the whooping cough outbreak in Washington State on top of all the lying and censoring he has done already.
Without question, the fact that vaccine exemptions are not driving the whooping cough epidemic could not well serve the interests of the vaccine industry front group run by Alison Singer, whose mother-in-law is colleagues with Seth Mnookin's uncle, Robert Mnookin. I guess it is no surprise that Seth Mnookin would censor a U.S. federal agency - CDC.
Seth Mnookin has no need for Uncle Sam; he's got Uncle Pharma.
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 and currently attends The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he is studying for an MPH in epidemiology.