There are currently lots of stories out on the outbreak of measles in Minnesota. It’s all tied to the Somalis in the Twin Cities and their fears over the MMR vaccine and autism.
The six news reports from major outlets that I cited below each dismissed any vaccine-autism link out-of-hand with trite phrases like “a discredited theory.” Regression after vaccination was tossed aside as mere coincidence, and no one even mentioned the horrific rate of autism, one in 32, among these Somali children.
I’m sure that no reporter has ever looked into the science they constantly reference that has supposedly answered the question: Do vaccines cause autism?
Emily Sohn at NPR is convinced that “abundant scientific evidence” disproves the claim of a link.
Lena Sun at the Washington Post cited Andrew Wakefield as the “founder of the modern anti-vaccines movement,” saying, “He maintained that he bears no fault for what is happening within the [Somali] community. ‘I don’t feel responsible at all,’ he said.”
Christopher Mele at the New York Times also cited the quote from Dr. Wakefield as coming from the Washington Post in his coverage.
Aric Jenkins at TIME repeated the same Wakefield statement and said that Wakefield had given the statement to the Washington Post on Friday, which he never did.
Lena Sun at the Washington Post didn’t actually talk to Wakefield himself about the Somali measles outbreak in Minnesota. All she was interested in was trashing him with the statement, ‘I don’t feel any responsibility at all,’ that she got from some other source that she didn’t name.
I talked with Dr. Wakefield and what he actually told the reporter who contacted him from a Minnesota publication was that he felt no responsibility because Merck stopped making the single doses of measles vaccine in 2008, after his recommendation for single vaccines instead of the MMR combination. These three leading news outlets in America left this out of the story. Clearly, Lena Sun at the Washington Post, Christopher Mele at the New York Times, and Aric Jenkins at TIME had their own agendas here, and they didn’t intend to honestly cover Andrew Wakefield’s side. They only wanted to discredit him.
No reporter at the Washington Post, the New York Times, TIME, ABC News, the Chicago Tribune, or NPR ever actually contacts Dr. Wakefield. It’s so much easier, as Lena Sun, Christopher Mele, and Aric Jenkins just showed us, to twist his words in order to blame him for any measles outbreak.
My questions for these big time reporters:
How do you know that the science is settled? Have you ever looked at ANY of the research that officials use as proof of no link between vaccines and autism?
Have you looked at studies that challenge the safety claims?
How come you NEVER use the word “independent” when you talk about the science on vaccines?
Why do we never hear about the conflicts of interest that are rampant in such studies?
He was talking to reporters about the STUDIES that they continually reference, the ones that have supposedly disproven a link between vaccines and autism.
“We’ve known for many years that the junk science, the tobacco science coming out of that department, [the CDC], was crooked, and one of the reasons we knew was that the Institute of Medicine told them you got to do biological studies, clinical studies, animal studies, toxicological studies, pharmacological studies, cadaver studies—We want all of those.
“They didn’t do any of them. The only thing they did was epidemiological studies. …I know, from my profession, those are notoriously easy to fix. They’re population studies. You look at an exposed population and unexposed, and you look at health outcomes. … You can design an epidemiological study to prove that sex does not make you pregnant. How would you do that? You just get rid of all the pregnant people before you study the population. You have a lot of people having sex, and nobody’s getting pregnant, and you can prove sex doesn’t make you pregnant. And that’s what they did. It’s easy to get rid of the autistic kids, you just get rid of the boys. All you have to do is get rid of one or two of them in order to dim the statistical signal.
“So you get rid of the older kids, and you focus on younger populations before the diagnosis takes place. …You get rid of black kids because they’re more likely to get autism. You figure out ways to exclude the populations that you think are going to pose a higher risk. And that’s what they did.”
So why does the media only tell us about easily manipulated population studies as proof of vaccine safety? When are we going to hear about the biological, the clinical, the toxicological, the pharmacological, and the cadaver studies?
Kennedy also asked:
“Why does the press not cover Poul Thorsen?
“Why is the press not covering Bill Thompson?
“Why is the press not covering all of these phony Danish studies?”
Any reporter covering vaccines and autism who has to ask:
Who is Poul Thorsen? Who is Bill Thompson? What are the Danish studies?—
There’s no question—they’re all complete failures as journalists.
They only write what they’re told. They perpetrate the lies and the cover-up. They have no idea what they’re talking about.
This is DELIBERATE IGNORANCE. They don’t want to know what’s really going on. They don’t want to know the truth about vaccines. They will never interview people like Andrew Wakefield or Robert Kennedy, Jr. or read their books.
By Lena H. Sun
…Salah no longer believes that the MMR vaccine triggers autism, a discredited theory that spread rapidly through the local Somali community, fanned by meetings organized by anti-vaccine groups. The advocates repeatedly invited Andrew Wakefield, the founder of the modern anti-vaccine movement, to talk to worried parents. …
Although extensive research has disproved any relationship between vaccines and autism, the fear has become entrenched in the community. “I don’t know if we will be able to dig out on our own,” Nuurali said. …
“The Somalis had decided themselves that they were particularly concerned,” Wakefield said last week. “I was responding to that.”
He maintained that he bears no fault for what is happening within the community. “I don’t feel responsible at all,” he said.
By Christopher Mele
…The state has reported 41 confirmed cases of measles since April 11, and the outbreak is the largest this year in the United States, which had essentially eradicated the disease in 2000 before discredited research stoked fears of a link between vaccines and autism. …
Members of the community came to believe incorrectly that they had an unusually high rate of autism and that the cases were related to vaccines. But later studies showed that their autism rates were not out of line with those of the state’s white population, he said. …
Though the medical research has debunked the connection of vaccines to autism, the notion is deeply rooted in the community, Mr. Noor said on Friday, adding that the “main fight” was combating that perception.
The Washington Post reported Friday that the fear was so entrenched that parents in the community believe the risk of measles is preferable. The Post reported that one of the anti-vaccine movement’s founders, Andrew Wakefield, was among those who had met with the parents. Asked if he felt at fault for the outbreak, he replied: “I don’t feel responsible at all,” according to The Post.
By Aric Jenkins
Measles is highly contagious and cause severe illness and death. Andrew Wakefield, founder of the modern anti-vaccine movement, told the Washington Post Friday that he doesn't "feel responsible at all."
By Gillian Mohney
Patti Carroll, the director of outreach for the non-profit group called the Vaccine Safety Council of Minnesota, said the goal was to inform parents of their rights and that they could decline recommended vaccinations even during an ongoing measles outbreak.
"There is this huge fear-mongering and frenzy of fear over measles without any information over measles vaccine," Carroll told ABC News. She said the group is not "anti-vaccine," but that they want to bring up potential vaccines risks.
Among the risks she cited is the claim that vaccines are linked to autism, despite numerous academic studies involving millions of children that have found no association between the two. The group's website states their goal is to protect "people from injuries and deaths from vaccines."
By Amy Forliti
Research that links the vaccine to autism has been widely discredited. But Anab Gulaid, a University of Minnesota researcher who worked on the autism study, said autism is often diagnosed in children around the same age as they receive their measles vaccine, so some fears persist.
By Emily Sohn
Even in the midst of the outbreak, Somali resistance to vaccination remains strong in Minneapolis. Minnesota is home to the largest Somali population in the United States. It's a relatively recent attitude that emerged alongside escalating fears about links between MMR and autism among the immigrant group.
Understanding the history behind those fears — and the culture that reinforces them, contrary to abundant scientific evidence — is an important step toward overcoming them, research suggests, and not just in Minnesota. …
Around the same time, Andrew Wakefield, a British scientist who used fraudulent research to argue that the MMR vaccine causes autism, visited Minneapolis….
On May 6th Emily Willingham at Forbes joined the “blame Wakefield for the measles in Minnesota” coverage, with her story, Yet Another Measles Outbreak Traces Directly To Antivaccine Autism Panic.
Willingham also stated that Wakefield had talked to the Washington Post—which again was completely untrue.
In this case, the usual actors, in particular Andrew Wakefield, brought the bad information directly to the Somali American community in Minnesota. Wakefield, however, seems to be insouciant about any role in the current outbreak, telling the Washington Post, "I don't feel responsible at all."
The truth is, when the issue is vaccine safety, all that matters is that the press shuts it down immediately. Twisting Wakefield’s words to make it sound like he has no concern for children sick with the measles was a clever tactic to demonize him. The press is willing to use a lie to do it. And if this lie works, imagine what other bogus claims are coming out of the Washington Post and repeated everywhere …
Here’s where the simple statement: ‘I don’t feel responsible at all,’ first published by the Washington Post, ended up:
At the New York Times, TIME, and Forbes.
It seems that the real purpose in covering the measles outbreak among the Somalis in Minnesota is to place the blame on Andrew Wakefield and deny any link between vaccines and autism.
Thomas Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seized the moment on twitter where he suggested that Wakefield could be criminally prosecuted because of his remarks in the Washington Post story and his position on the MMR vaccine.
Heartbreaking article about human costs of anti-vax lies. Should Wakefield be prosecuted criminally?
Of course that will never happen. Frieden would never want that to happen. Thomas Frieden, the Washington Post, and all the other minions in the media would never want to see Andrew Wakefield defending himself in public.
Wakefield will never be given the opportunity to explain to the American people that after he questioned the safety of the combined MMR vaccine and urged parents to ask for a single measles vaccine, Merck stopped making it.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.