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Autism Father to Chicago Tribune: "Cancel My Subscription."

Cancel_subscription By Sym and Wade Rankin

My wife and I subscribed to the Chicago Tribune soon after moving into the area a little over three years ago.  Recent articles led us to the conclusion that their editorial bias hindered, rather than aided a productive debate on the most important issue in our household:  our response to the growing autism epidemic.  We therefore took that most American of steps; we cancelled our subscription and made sure the paper knew why we did so. Here's the letter:

Mr. Tony Hunter
President, Publisher
Chicago Tribune Company
435 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611

Dear Mr. Hunter:

A few days ago, we called the circulation department to cancel our subscription to The Chicago Tribune. We thought it appropriate to write and explain why we thought this necessary. Put briefly, the Tribune’s continuing written assault on the autism community and those who serve us has caused us to lose the high degree of respect we once held for your newspaper.

Specifically, articles written (or co-written) by Trine Tsouderos have, in our opinion, strayed from the principles of balance, fairness, and the truth.

By way of background explanation, our family is one of the hundreds of thousands in this country who have felt the impact of the autism epidemic.

We are part of a growing number of people who have chosen not to meekly embrace our son’s disability, but rather to seek biological explanations for the clinical manifestations that led to the diagnosis and to utilize the best medical treatments to treat the underlying physical conditions. We are not alone on this journey, and like most of the parents who embark on this course, we are well-educated. Both of us have professional backgrounds (including a background in mainstream medicine).

Each case of autistic spectrum disorder is unique from a standpoint of both cause and treatment. We have utilized some so-called “alternative” therapies together with more traditional treatments. The continued improvement of our son’s clinical manifestations has been nothing short of remarkable. Our story is not unique; there are many of us who have seen first-hand the success that can result from treating underlying physical conditions instead of just the symptoms by which autism traditionally has been defined.

Many in our community have attempted to speak to Ms. Tsouderos about the healing we have seen in our children, but she has shown little interest in exploring our perspectives. Instead, she chooses to rely on the same talking points we have so often heard from groups and individuals with vested interests, while ignoring scientific studies providing a basis for the treatments.. On those occasions when she does quote someone – whether a parent, a practitioner or a scientist – that quote is invariably taken out of context and is either inaccurate or incomplete. For example, an article this past November, mined several quotes from Dr. Martha Herbert, a distinguished neurologist at Harvard. This was Dr. Herbert’s response to the Tribune, which your paper chose to ignore:

I did a rather long interview with the Tribune to explain my thoughts on chelation and additional approaches to solving the health issues connected to autism. The only consequence of my interview is that you use a solitary quote to make me sound contentious and defensive. Is there a reason you chose not to use something I said that would actually illuminate the discussion surrounding chelation and other medical treatments for medical compromises that may exist in these children?

To be sure, this is a complex and often controversial subject. The Tribune’s editorial stance on autism treatments, however, seems inconsistent with other positions it has taken. Recently, your paper printed an exposé on overuse of drugs at nursing homes, a worthwhile subject. Why is the only focus of your autism coverage upon so-called “alternative” treatments? Why is no attention paid to the frighteningly large number of physicians who want to treat autistic children under the age of five with dangerous stimulants and psychiatric pharmaceuticals? And why does the Tribune not show outrage at the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics endorses that off-label usage of pharmaceuticals in their published treatment recommendations for autism?

The Tribune has run recent articles on rising numbers of allergies (including one noting the difficulties the Army is having in filling its ranks due to high incidences of allergies and asthma). Is your paper at all interested in exploring the interrelationship in the alarming rise of various auto-immune disorders: childhood cancer, asthma, allergies, ADHD and autism spectrum disorders (although not unanimous, more and more scientists are acknowledging that disorders in the immune system can cause clinical manifestations of autism)?

Our kids are the canaries in the coal mine. Something is going wrong with an entire generation, and it is rooted in environmental causes: adulteration of our food supply, chemical pollution, contamination of our water, overuse of antibiotics, and quite possibly a public vaccination schedule gone haywire.

It’s not just scientific research that’s needed to put these puzzle pieces together; we also need the illumination of the questions in order to solving the questions a public priority. The role of the press is to present the issues in such a manner as to fairly raise the questions. In that, the Tribune has fallen well short of its duty.

The articles by Ms. Tsouderos were given front-page treatment, including the latest, which came at a time when every other organ of the press was focused squarely on the recent tragedy in Haiti. The lack of proportionality in that is summed up in one question. Why did the Tribune not show equal alarm with a major front-page article last month, when the Centers for Disease Control announced new autism statistics? According to the CDC, autism spectrum disorders effect one-in-110 children (one-in –every-seventy boys), which is a dramatic increase from the one-in 150 the CDC announced just two years ago.

This country is facing a public-health crisis of catastrophic proportions, in which too many families are having to make difficult decisions. Instead of amplifying the seriousness of the situation, the Tribune has chosen to blindly criticize some of the scientists and clinicians who are searching for the answers.

We have no doubt that the loss of our subscription will have little economic impact on your company. Further, the publication of the articles in question will have little adverse impact on the Tribune’s reputation – at least not immediately. What the Tribune has lost, however, is far more precious. It has lost the integrity upon which the paper’s reputation was built through generations.

Yours truly,

Sym and Wade Rankin

cc: Samuel Zell
Chairman, Tribune Company

Wade Rankin and his wife, Sym, are the proud parents of a 10-year-old son, who is well on the way to recovery.  His on-again/off-again blog is called Injecting Sense.



Teresa Conrick

Putting my comment over here too-

Thanks, Wade. I will also be getting my news about autism and most everything else from sources that believe in parents and their readers.

I would hardly call quoting Kathleen Seidel in the land of neurodiversity a true investigation of treatments or as they said " took months to analyze and seek mote evidence about some of these alternative therapies."

And I bet they will be doing more reporting, especially Memorial Day weekend but don't count on stories of Strep bacteria off the charts for many of the kids,or Clostridia counts that are akin to an AIDS patient, or Mumps, Measles, Rubella titers 3x the normal range, or mitochondria dysfunction diagnosed after a series of thimerosal flu shots, or diffuse slowing EEG's, or distended bellies from impacted bowels, or chronic diarrhea so profuse and acidic it leaves burn marks on a leg, or no sleep from horrible reflux,or headbanging, hand-biting from the nonverbal in pain from inflammation in both the gastrointestinal tract and brain, not to mention the parasites that hang on in an immune system that went haywire after damage by vaccination.

The Trib can call me anytime just like they called Ms. Seidel.

Wade Rankin

The Trib finally responded in writing (that they would respond at all is, I must admit, a bit unexpected). I have posted their response (with some thoughts about that response at:

Craig Willoughby

I'll tell you what, ChicagoCliff, since you are so concerned about the dangers of OSR, show us one report of an adverse reaction, hospitalization, or injury that was caused by this product. Just one. Also, see if you can find any proof that it does not work.

Shall I provide for you the reports of adverse reactions to Pharmaceutical garbage? It would take a long, long time to read through all of them....

michael framson

Great letter. Sym and Wade, please write one
and have it ready so that all of us can co-sign for the next hatchet job that NPR does on anything that mentions autism, vaccinations or biomedical treatments. Its only a matter of time.


What an excellent letter! Thank you, Sym and Wade Rankin, for speaking out so eloquently.


Kudos and thanks for saying it so well on behalf of so many--


Maybe the Tribune should investigate the vaccine schedule...vaccines given at the same time - NEVER tested this way...given approval by the same people that profit from them....hhhmmm..

Barry S

Wade and Sym,

You already know about how much I enjoyed your letter, but do you have to take out my Vikes too!? Great week for you both, good work!!!

well said.

Chicago Tribune is paid, tabloid propaganda, aka toilet paper.
Worse, I can't even wipe with it.



ChicagoCliff -- "Scientific perspective"? Surely you jest. The Chicago Tribune reporter manipulated comments into a made-to-order screed whose bias, tone and deliberate omissions violated many SPJ tenets.

"Potentially dangerous treatments"? The drug that made my son scream for four straight afternoons was prescribed by a reputable neurologist, manufactured by a pharmaceutical company, and approved by the FDA.

Countless parents on autism biomedical treatment listservs have discovered the hard way that where meds and vaccines are concerned, one size does not fit all -- regardless of what their hurried allopathic physicians insist. Parents who want to know about their child's medical conditions and susceptibilities can get before-and-after lab tests from so-called "alternative" practitioners, though usually paid out of pocket.

Our insurance companies will pay for bottles upon bottles of psych meds of questionable research and efficacy, but won't pay for simple vitamins or minerals or EFAs or probiotics. What a bunged-up "health care" system.


ChitcagoCliff- "Newsflash: they weren't attacking parents"

Serious? How do *you* feel about a parent that gives her child "unapproved, potentially dangerous "treatments." ?" How would you characterize a employee or fellow coworker that treats her sick, autistic child with OSR? How would you describe that parent to the Department of Social Services CPS investigator after reading this Tribune article?

If I can prove I have lost a job, or income, if I can prove that a teacher, social worker, ANYONE has discriminated against me, investigated me, cost me any money whatsoever because of reading or even hearing about the LIES and false innuendo spread about by the publishing of this article, Ben will be set for life by a court ordered, Tribune established, trust fund!

john p. crouch



ChicagoCliff, OSR is not a back alley product hand delivered by a guy named Vinnie in the dark of night off the back of an unmarked truck. It's a product that has been tested and approved for sale. I know Dr. Haley personally, having met him at conferences. He has to look me in the eye next time we meet. And he can do so with confidence. Do you know the scientists who created the products you take?



Ugh...God forbid a newspaper actually approach a topic from a scientific perspective. No, parents always no best, science and evidence be darned. :rolleyes:

Newsflash: they weren't attacking parents, they were questioning the use of unapproved, potentially dangerous "treatments." You people think that anyone questioning your infinite wisdom is attacking you. Talk about a persecution complex...


I sent a polite email to George Papajohn stating that while it was Ms. Tsouderos's right to go after me - I thought it was unnecessary to include my minor children by name. Sure, I've written about my girls here at AoA - and I have a book coming out with much more in it. However, we try hard here to NOT include children - even our post about Kev Leitch - we removed his daughter's name from the post, although most of us know what her name is. It's just a courtesy and shows respect for the children who bear the brunt of autism. Trine used my kids as pawns to promote the agenda of attacking autism treatments. I'm a big girl - I can take a hit. Leave my kids out of it, have some class. To be fair, I should add that she tried to contact me several times. I chose to remain in the "no comment" category rather than have her twist my words for her own use. I heard she's pregnant - anyone want to go to the hospital to watch HER child get his birth Hep B and ask her if she's had H1N1 and flu vax this season?

And if she had any problems with her own child? I know a hundred parents who would rush to help the child, including me. The kids are not fair game.


This outstanding letter by Wade and Sym merits a response from the Chicago Tribune. Not to mention an apology.

It's heartbreaking enough to see one's child regress into autism, but adding insult to injury is the mainstream media's utter failure to ask relevant urgent questions about our nation's public health administrators' mishandling -- unintentional and deliberate.

"It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong." - Thomas Sowell

Kevin Barry

Excellent letter!

As you know Wade, I forwarded your letter to Trine's editor at the Tribune, George Papajohn.

No response to date.


You spoke for all of us who didn't have a Trib scrip to cancel but wish we did. Beautifully written. We cancelled Wired.

Darian (nickname)

*applauds* No matter what side of the ebate you are on, no one has the right to attack someone the way those articles attacked parents. Everyone (parents and those on the spectrum that is) in the debate on either side want what is best for those on the Spectrum, and want to do right by them. For to long we have forgotten that, and what was once a respectable debate has turned into an all out slug fest!

We have lost respect for one another, and attack each other on blogs, forums, and in chat rooms. The things that use to unite us all no longer hold us together. And the public outside our community is more drawn to the spectacle we have become than focussing on the issue at hand, autism.

So much of a spectacle has it all become that newspapers and media outlets have thrown thier weight in on it, causing the spectacle to become larger, and the original intent becomes lost. It is places like this, at AoA, that give me hope.

Here I find that respectability amongst the community that has been lost for so long. I find those who are willing to debate intelligently yet politely with one another creating a discourse and helping to unite us on the issues that we all agree on! Here I find a true effort to try to reunite our community, allowing for diversity of opinion, but no slandering each other.

I hope such things shall catch on like wildfire, and go throughout the divided community. And that at long last, we can kindly agree to disagree with one another, instead of trying to rip another persons throat out.

Teresa Conrick

Thanks again, Wade and Sym for your very thoughtful and classy letter. It is with much sadness to me that the Trib, a historical constant in my life, is no longer a media that I believe or enjoy.

It is another example of ethics and principle wiped away to make room for paid, tabloid propaganda




Thank you both!!! I just wish I had a subscription to cancel.. good for you!


Wonderful, SUPERB letter Wade & Sym! Thank you!

Craig Willoughby

I disagree with only one minor point in your excellently written letter.

"We have no doubt that the loss of our subscription will have little economic impact on your company"

The Tribune is dying financially. The loss of even one subscriber to them, right now, is something that they cannot afford. And with how many parents they pissed off with Tsoudoros's crap? My bet is they didn't lose just one subscriber.


Thank you!

I'd encourage others to write letters as well and do the same.


Superb letter. As the heavy hand of pharma has become all too evident in the newspaper business, we are also now ONE LESS....subscriber.


Best letter I have read in a long time, too. Intelligent, well put together... awesome!


Great letter. Hopefully it will plant a seed of thought...


Best letter I have read in a very long time! Great job, and thank you.

Wade Rankin

I just want to point out that this letter was truly a collaborative effort with my brilliant wife.


Wade/Sym ... AMAZING !!!!

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