By Kim Stagliano
"We call upon CBS to issue a retraction of Sharyl Attkisson's report...."
Lisa Randall of Voices For Vaccines has sent a letter to Katie Couric about Sharyl Attkisson's piece last week that questioned the financial ties of the AAP, Dr. Paul Offit and "Every Child by Two" to the vaccine industry. Even The Wall Street Journal picked up the report in its blog, (we wrote about it HERE.)
Here's the letter:
Voices For Vaccines
325 Swanton Way
Decatur, GA 30030
July 31, 2008
Katie Couric, Managing Editor CBS Television Network
524 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019-2902
Dear Ms, Couric:
Voices For Vaccines objects to the defamatory allegations made by the CBS Evening News on Friday, July 25, against the American Academy of Pediatrics, Every Child By Two, and the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, with our colleague Dr Paul Offit singled out for baseless criticism.
It is our privilege to partner with these institutions in our mission to disseminate reliable information about vaccines. These groups advocate for immunization based on the overwhelming evidence for the lifesaving power of vaccination, and motivated by a sincere concern for the health of America's children. It is preposterous and deeply offensive for CBS to suggest otherwise by insinuating that the pharmaceutical industry improperly influences the views of these vaccine advocates.
An obvious starting point for an unbiased reporter assigned to investigate this possibility would have been to determine whether the advocates' recommendations were in accord with the scientific consensus on immunization, as articulated by neutral bodies such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (In fact, all three subjects of the CBS story do promote vaccination according to federal guidelines.)
In contrast, Sharyl Attkisson relied solely upon tangential observations in concluding that the judgment of these respected authorities has been co-opted by drug companies. Ms Attkisson's choice to pursue her story even after failing to uncover any evidence of malfeasance reveals not bias on the part of the story's subjects, but on the part of Ms Attkisson herself Professionalism required her to acknowledge that the targets of her story have done nothing other than emphasize to the public that which is well known to science. that vaccines allow children to grow up safe and healthy.
We call upon CBS to issue a retraction of Ms. Attkisson's report and an apology to the individuals and institutions whose good and honorable work in the field of immunization has been smeared. We further ask CBS to reflect upon the fact that it does not befit a user of the public airwaves to broadcast misleading claims about the most important public health measure of our time.
Lisa H. Randall
Interim Executive Director
lrandall cr voicesforvaccines.org
cc: Katie Boyle, Senior Producer
Jonathan LaPook, MD, Medical Correspondent
Sharyl Attkisson, Reporter
Click HERE to find the "contact us" page for CBS (scroll down toward the bottom) so you can send an email to Ms. Couric and others at The Evening News.
J.B. Handley wrote about Voices For Vaccines last spring in his post titled, Fools Rush In.
You know the response is coming. For anyone watching the news for the last two months, the “other side” (aka, The Vaccine Lobby) has been getting annihilated in the press, online, in the coffee shops, schools, watercoolers, and, of course, on Larry King Live. There’s too much power, profits, and prestige at stake for the other side not to fight back, at least a little.
With that as backdrop I was delighted to get an email from a friend with a link to a new, curious website called Voices4Vaccines.
The website is under construction, but the home page opens with this noble goal:
“Voices for Vaccines has only one goal to provide science-based, accessible, and clear information about the benefits and risks of vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases. Our leadership consists of scientists and concerned individuals who are totally committed to supporting continued efforts to eradicate vaccine-preventable diseases.”
This new organization also makes a veiled reference to you-know-who and our movement in general:
“But we also know that the loud voices and famous faces are not necessarily giving the best information.”
We posted a few pieces about Ms. Randall and Voices For Vaccines, including a post by Kelly Ann Davis, Tracy Stewart and one about the The Immunization Coalition, which sent out an "alert" prior to Jenny McCarthy's Green Our Vaccines rally, in June.
Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism.