By J.B. Handley
I’m grateful to the producers of The Doctors for running their show on Jenny McCarthy’s new book Healing and Preventing Autism and the debate over vaccines and autism(Details HERE). It takes courage in today’s media environment to put a show on national TV like that – hats off to them.
About two weeks before the show, I had an interview with one of the producers over the phone. This is a pretty normal part of preparation for any TV appearance where you discuss your plans for how to approach the show and the producers share some guidelines with you on their goals for the show, etc.
I did my best to explain to the producer that we would be bringing some serious energy and knowledge to the show. Specifically, I told her:
“You need to tell your doctors that they better be prepared and know their stuff. If we show up and they start making sweeping statement like ‘the science has shown that vaccines don’t cause autism’ we will kneecap them on their own stage.”
To further my point, I encouraged her to pass along a newly created website, Fourteen Studies, where the doctors could review all the science on vaccines and autism in one place and get a better understanding of our arguments. She took notes, wrote down the name of the new website, thanked me for all the background, and our call was done.
Knowing that background, you can imagine my surprise and disappointment in sitting in the studio audience and listening to Dr. Sears and Travis annihilate the truth. It was hard to hold back my disgust for their ignorance, particularly with the fair warning I had given the show, and you see some of that in the way I challenge them.
Frankly, I was equally shocked that they actually showed our exchange on TV. I really thought, in the interests of preserving the positioning of the doctors as experts, they wouldn’t want to show Travis having a meltdown (like one of our kids!) and being so completely clueless. Kudos again to them for showing the exchange.
The only edit that I found a little frustrating was during my initial question to the doctors when I asked them how many vaccines had been looked at for their relationship to autism. On the show, it looks like I gave them no time to respond. In reality, there was a very, very long pregnant pause as I waited for them to answer my question. They both shifted in their seats and looked clueless, neither willing to answer. The show edited out this pregnant pause and didn’t show the 2 of them squirming in their seats. Such are the risks of a taped show.
While I’m heartened that Travis’ meltdown shows the world what kind of crap we all have to deal with in the medical community, I really hope it didn’t take away from what I thought was the show’s truly magical moment: meeting Ethan Kurtz. I don’t care who you are, if you weren’t moved by Ethan’s beautiful eyes, smile, heart, and recovery, than you ain’t human. Even worse than the ignorance and false reassurances that the medical community gives parents about the science on vaccines and autism is this pervasive notion of RECOVERY DENIALISM. How long can doctors, scientists, and groups like Autism Speaks continue to pretend that recovered children don’t exist?
As an example of this, we provided The Doctors with clips and the rights to show excerpts from Generation Rescue’s documentary, Autism Yesterday. As many of you probably noticed, they used excerpts from our movie to show children with autism, but failed to show any of the clips from our movie after the kids had recovered! What’s up with that?
Finally, I’d like to give a special shout out to Jenny McCarthy. If it wasn’t for her, Stan, Dr. Jerry and I would be telling our story on public access cable channel 15. However smart you think Jenny is, she’s smarter. However devoted to our kids you think Jenny is, she’s more devoted. However committed you think Jenny is to winning this war, she is more committed. Guys, Jenny is our national treasure, and she is doing more to help our kids than most of us could ever comprehend.
Thanks again, producers of The Doctors, for airing an unforgettable moment in our fight to save our kids.
J.B. Handley is co-founder Generation Rescue.