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PBS – Pharmaceutical BS

PBS bias By Jake Crosby

From the moment I first learned that PBS was running a program about autism and vaccines, I knew it was not going to be good. It was not just because PBS is the NPR of TV, but also because I had watched a similar program that ran on PBS called “The Health Century” - a 1987 documentary that was a total puff piece of the vaccine industry, which also included Anthony Fauci of NIAID. Fauci was venerated as the eighties’ version of Jonas Salk, who would develop an AIDS vaccine that would save millions of lives. 23 years later, that still has not happened. 

That was the same documentary that cut out almost an entire interview with vaccine inventor Maurice Hilleman. In one sitting, he admitted to importing AIDS virus, that the vaccine for yellow fever was contaminated with a virus that causes leukemia, and recounted old jokes that the US would win the Olympics because the Russians would all be loaded down with tumors due to contamination of polio vaccines with the SV40 cancer virus. All that, like the interviews of Drs. Jay Gordon and Robert Sears, was cut from a PBS documentary and left on the editing room floor.

Still curious, I decided to watch the preview for Frontline, and it only further solidified my thoughts of how the program will turn out. So I wrote a letter to PBS asking them to cancel what would essentially turn out to be an hour-long vaccine infomercial: wrote:

Dear PBS,

I am a college student with an autism spectrum disorder at Brandeis University and contributing editor to Age of Autism: Daily Web Newspaper of the Autism Epidemic, a consumer advocacy newsletter of the autism community.
I am writing to ask you to please not air the PBS Frontline special because I feel it would be horrifically biased, and will portray the controversy in a light that excludes the voices of consumers and portrays them negatively in comparison with government and industry, represented as "scientific." '

That could not be further from the truth, government and industry have conducted all the science that shows no link between autism and vaccines. It is tobacco science, plain and simple. Paul Offit, who you quote as claiming that "a dozen" studies show no link between autism and vaccines, has even admitted that he has no knowledge of autism beyond what he read in newspapers, suggesting he has not even read the tobacco science he is constantly promoting.

The fear of disease is largely unfounded and reduced to fears of measles, for which no safe, single-shot alternative exists - only the MMR vaccine, which has been strongly linked to regressive autism and bowel disease.

I therefore call on you to please cancel this special immediately.

Jake Crosby
Age of Autism, Contributing Editor

And here’s what they wrote back:

from frontline <>
date Mon, Apr 19, 2010 at 12:27 PM
subject Re: general frontline mail

Dear Jake,

Thank you for writing and for sharing your thoughts and concerns with us.  We will pass them along to our editorial staff.  As of this date, the film will broadcast as scheduled.

Best wishes,

At least they didn’t send me another bogus form letter. Disappointed, but not surprised, I responded with a few small requests:

From Jake Crosby <>
To frontline <>
Date Mon, Apr 19, 2010 at 12:46 PM
Subject Re: general frontline mail


Thank you for writing me back. I understand there is no going back on the film, however, it would be at least best if you reported the conflicts of some of your interviewees - namely those of Paul Offit and Arthur Caplan. Offit continues to make millions of dollars off a vaccine he co-patented through Merck, and Caplan has served as chairman of the advisory board of GlaxoSmithKline. Furthermore, Statens Serum Institut, where Anders Hviid works, is a conflicted agency, too, as it is the largest vaccine manufacturer in Denmark.

If you could at least be sure to disclose these conflicts in your film somehow, via announcement or subtitles, that would be greatly appreciated and you would be doing a major public service for your viewers.


Jake Crosby
Age of Autism, Contributing Editor

Though like Hilleman’s interview from “The Health Century” 23 years ago, PBS cut out Dr. Jay Gordon’s interview along with Dr. Sears’ the night before the infomercial was due to run, they did not even follow through on a couple small requests that would have only required adding in a few extra sub-titles.

Millionaire vaccine industrialist Paul Offit’s COI was disclosed already, but only because it had been disclosed many times before. PBS did its best to play down the conflict despite completely neglecting the fact that Offit is selectively deaf to anything pertaining to this issue that does not support his financial interests.

Even worse, neither of the others’ conflict of interest was disclosed. As someone who has written about Caplan and the atrocious influence he has had on this debate, I found the failure to disclose his conflict of interest especially dismaying. There were also no scientists interviewed whose research supported a link between vaccines and autism, one of whom – Professor Richard Deth – just gave a fabulous talk at my university for Autism Awareness Month, even though they outnumber the tobacco scientists like Hviid.

Then again, what more can one expect? The producers of the program never even mentioned their own conflicts - the main contributors to their show serve on the board of directors for the CDC Foundation and Johnson and Johnson. That said, this is anything but media, this is PR, no different from “The Health Century” 23 years prior that was entirely sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry.

Fortunately, unlike the untouchable “free press,” we have a place other than PBS to complain to. I recently filed a consumer complaint with the FCC, and I urge everyone who has not done so already to do the same. There were so many problems with what Frontline did it was a challenge just listing them all within the limited space provided. Filing these complaints is essential otherwise it is only a matter of time before drivel like “The Vaccine War” starts to spill onto respected networks. (HERE)

Jake Crosby is a college student with Asperger Syndrome at Brandeis University who is double majoring in History and Health: Science, Society and Policy, and is a contributing editor to Age of Autism.



Kevin pure blame on the vaccines.

As far as I a concerned.


In addition to Richard Deth - people may want to look up Stephanie Seneff and Don Huber interviews on youtube - Two highly respected established scientists with some astounding correlations regarding autism and several health problems due to the combination of increasing roundup (glyphosate)use in combination with heavy metals in vaccines - such as aluminum and mercury.


I just stumbled across this article looking for the name of the upcoming show on diagnoses and music intervention. I'd like some education on vaccination and autism. I'm not aware of the current research aside from what I've heard from parents of autistic children. Isn't there a genetic predisposition, or does the blame fall squarely on the chemicals in the vaccine?


Thank you so much for posting this! I am about to file a complaint as well. I also really hope that Dr. Sears and Dr. Gordon do the same!


To add: there is an Ombudsman for PBS who investigates "journalistic integrity"... I sent him a comment. I'm sure most of you already have, but for those that haven't... here's your chance:

Let 'em have it guys!


the link works, just delete the period at the end of the address string in your browser, then hit return. Interesting abstract.

CT teacher

This herd immunity thing drives me crazy. Where is the proof? What studies have been done to document this? Isn't this supposed to be evidence-based medicine? Could it be purely anecdotal or based on observation? Let's make them prove it.


Trevor, that page says not found.

Birgit Calhoun

Thanks for the article! I can only add: Keep educating until the tipping point is reached. It's got to be out there somewhere.

Theresa O

@ Trevor--I think Benedetta was saying 99% of children don't get autism, based on the CDC 1 in 91 figures (which are old, but are probably the most recent government numbers out there). I don't think Benedetta was making any kind of claim as to how effective vaccines are :-) People just roll the dice because they figure it won't happen to them.

Texas Mom

Thank you Jake for your persistence and excellent research and writing!

What I took away from the one sided story was that if parents don't vaccinate their kids they will cause other kids to be sick.
I would love to see a proof source that all vaccines are 100% effective. We all know they are not.

Keep up the great work...the tide is turning. I registered my youngest child for kindergarten today and the nurse's table had many immunization and pharmaceutical brochures on it. One plain blue handout with big bold print (likely created by her) read "For Parents Opting Out of Vaccines: Follow this Website Link to file exemption..." I just wanted to hug her...she had it at the front of the table!

Trevor de Koekkoek

@Benedetta: Where do you get 99% efficacy. That is just not there. There are many cases of outbreaks of disease in highly vaccinated populations. Here is one example from NIH's own website: Astonishingly they have this conclusion: "The apparent paradox is that as measles immunization rates rise to high levels in a population, measles becomes a disease of immunized persons"

Stop corporate influence at PBS

Jon Palfreman wrote, directed and produced The Vaccine War. Someday, his name will be listed alongside Paul Offit's, Nancy Snyderman's, Brian Deer's and others who personally profited by feeding vaccine industry propaganda to the public during the height of the autism epidemic.

By comparison, Bruno Bettelheim will seem like a good guy.


Jake, I just love you!
I filled, I just hope that the FCC actually investigates and does something aobut this. Frontline was an absolute lie. EVERY word of it biased.
I was thinking about turning the CDC and FDA in for "false advertising". Tee Hee.


Thanks also for repeatedly running yourself up this psychedelic dead end for the sake of demonstrating how censorship works. It's quite funny how predictable these stooges are-- I can hear circus music running under the text. Love the graphic too.

PBS can play up the drama of the "tragedy and mystery" of autism all they want, feigning that drippy, knit brow public television concern. But at this point, they're guilty of perpetuating the epidemic and profiting from it. Pure and simple.

Pity these crippled and unloved individuals-- because who could love anyone so useless, destructive and mentally deficient? I'm talking about PBS producers, not children with autism.


"...the chances are greater that there is a better chance having complications with a disease than a reaction with a vaccine."

This is the reason they try to make measles, mumps, chickenpox, etc. sound so HORRIBLE that even autism will sound like a reasonable risk. Reuters carried a story this morning regarding the onset of infant epilepsy, saying that vaccines may "trigger" it, but stopped short of "causal"....blamed it on a damn, crummy, gene instead. (wouldn't it be nice to know which "genes" make some children more susceptible to vaccine injury?) But the take-away message was "get the vaccine anyway", because the seizures are going to "show up" regardless. Jeesh.


From the article "Pharma Buys a Conscience" by bioethicist Carl Elliott, 9/24/01:
"[Arthur] Caplan himself consults for the drug and biotech industries, recently coauthored an article with scientists for Advanced Cell Technology, and heads a bioethics center supported by Monsanto, de Code Genetics, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Geron Corporation, Pfizer, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Human Genome Sciences, and the Schering-Plough Corporation."

And in 2003 Elliott concluded a Slate article with this observation:
"So the next time you meet a bioethicist, pay close attention; he may look like a bioethicist, but when you peel back his mask, you just might see the adman smiling back."

Sheri Nakken, RN, MA, Homeopath

Problem is there is no proof of herd immunity with vaccines.


The main problem is;
For the greater good -herd immunity.

People will always think they will not be the ones affected.
They are the majority. 99% that is good odds.
The majority does not want to be sick,they do not want their kids to be sick. They do not want to be inconveniced with a sick kid.
Not only that - in their mind - the chances are greater that there is a better chance having complications with a disease than a reaction with a vaccine.
How do we combat that attitude?

Maurine Meleck

I, too, followed your last request and filed with the FCC.
How many times have I heard the line, We'll pass this along." In other words, our wastebasket needs filling/
Thanks for this piece. Maurine

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