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Amy Wallace & Yellow Journalism

Barb loe fisher By Barbara Loe Fisher
On October 17, 2009 I was at the Atlanta airport on my way back to Washington, D.C. when I stopped at a newsstand. Like most weary travelers waiting for a plane, I was looking for something to read that would give me a break from my work, which included, two weeks earlier, hosting the large Fourth International Public Conference on Vaccination (1) for an audience of 700 concerned scientists, health care professionals, journalists, legal experts, ethicists and parents from around the world.
Suddenly, my eye caught the distorted, photo-shopped image of a baby with the word FEAR in bold letters imprinted on the baby’s chest. I paged through Wired magazine (2) to find out who wrote the article and discovered it was a woman named Amy Wallace, one of the many journalists I had talked with in 2009, who had contacted the National Vaccine Information Center, (3) a non-profit, educational organization I co-founded in with parents of vaccine injured children in 1982. 
Puffing Up Paul Offit By Engaging in Defamation
As I scanned the article to find out why it was entitled “An Epidemic of Fear: One Man’s Battle Against the Anti-Vaccine Movement,” I quickly realized it was a puff piece for vaccine patent holder, Dr. Paul Offit, who alleges that vaccine injuries and deaths are largely a myth.
Then, I saw my name. And then, I saw the words, “She lies.”
I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach as I read the unsubstantiated, unchallenged slur made by Offit against me. And in those two words “SHE LIES,” I knew that the propaganda tactic of character assassination was being used to attack the credibility of my nearly 30 years (4) of work as a vaccine safety consumer advocate.
Amy Wallace, Rookie Journalist
Now, I have never met Amy Wallace. We have never shaken hands or shared so much as a cup of coffee together. We had one interview on the telephone in 2009. In a sworn statement (5) she stated that she did not use any quotes from our telephone interview in her Wired article. No, she didn’t.
She also did not tell Wired readers what I told her, which is that I have always encouraged everyone to become educated (6) about the risks of diseases and risks of vaccines and consult one or more trusted health care professionals before making an informed decision -  just like every intelligent person should do before using any pharmaceutical product. Instead, Ms. Wallace said she based her description of me on a speech I gave at a conference, a speech that she did not attend.

Nobody at Wired magazine called me while they were presumably fact checking Wallace’s article to ask me point blank, “Dr. Offit said that you lie. Do you have a response?”  Wouldn’t a responsible journalist or editor have made some attempt to verify such a serious attack on another person’s character?  No, Dr. Offit’s defamatory statement remained in the article, unchallenged.
Take It or Fight Back? I was left with two options: 1) I could ignore it; or (2) I could take action to defend my integrity. After consulting Jonathan Emord, (7) a constitutional and libel law attorney, I selected option number two. I sought justice in a civil court, which is my constitutional privilege as an American citizen and my responsibility as the president of a non-profit organization, whose supporters depend upon the accuracy, honesty and integrity of what I say and do, as does everyone I know.
Requesting a jury trial in a U.S. civil court to sue for slander or libel is not for the faint of heart. You have to review and be prepared to defend the truthfulness of every statement you have ever made and every action you have ever taken in your life. You, your family, friends and colleagues could be subpoenaed and drawn into a potentially very public, drawn-out battle, especially if those you are suing are wealthy, influential and politically connected.
I had never sued anyone before and I certainly never thought I would find it necessary to sue a journalist. The majority of journalists I have worked with over the years have been honest men and women, who have taken care to do their research and fairly report the facts without prejudice, including accurately describing who I am and what I do.
Asking for a Jury Trial
This was different. I had never been defamed before and I knew I had no choice but to take steps to defend my integrity. I was confident that, if my case was presented to a jury of my peers, I would win. I had no doubt I would win on the facts because I do not lie and there was no evidence that could be produced to substantiate the defamatory statement made by Offit, amplified by Wallace, and printed by Wired magazine published by Conde Nast.
After Mr. Emord filed a Complaint with Demand for a Jury Trial (8) on Dec. 23, 2009 in a Virginia U.S. District Court asking for one million dollars in damages, we waited for a response from the defendants. When I read the Motion to Dismiss brief filed on Jan. 22, 2010  (9) by the defendants attorneys, I could not believe what I was reading. That CYA brief is better reading material than anything I can write or say here…….

To read the entire commentary with links to references, including all legal briefs filed in the lawsuit, click HERE.





Good job for taking stand!!!

Jim Thompson

Barbara, thank you for fighting for our children!


dan olmsted

How about Liared Magazine as a new name? It's worth pointing out that Offit called Sharyl Attkisson of CBS a liar as well -- it's a tactic to nullify anything the person says without having to produce any actual evidence...I see Sharyl is still working at CBS.


Barbara - your defense against these people are admirable. They are the worst kind of bullies. It takes strength and dignity to stand up. Thank you.

Therese Holliday

Thank you, Barbara, for standing your ground. You have all of us behind you -we've got your back- so please do not also hesitate to use us as a resource for whatever entanglements come your way.

Eunice  Carlson

Does anyone know what stake Wired Magazine has in the vaccine controversy? I am reading the book "Vaccine A" by Matsumoto and googled squalene (an adjuvant oil alleged in the book to be toxic when injected and probably used in the anthrax vaccine given to soldiers in the Gulf War). Up popped the little fear baby picture and a Wired aticle, "Shattering the Myths About Squalene in Vaccines" by Erin Biba {}. I do not know the truth about possible use of squalene in vaccines and its harmfulness and and trying to find answers. This Wired article was not helpful.


With the organized "shrug and play stupid" on the other side of the vaccine issue, one would never have to lie about anything to provide an argument. The facts and the truth is far, far more than enough.

Could one imagine if 60 years ago, Jonas Salk, while "searching for a polio cure for 15 years and finding nothing" had written a book mocking everything thousands of parents have said about the disease? ...and still expecting funding to continue to play medical genius ??

Wikipedia.... Salk & Offit

When news of the vaccine's success was made public on April 12, 1955, Salk was hailed as a "miracle worker", and the day "almost became a national holiday." His sole focus had been to develop a safe and effective vaccine as rapidly as possible, with no interest in personal profit. When he was asked in a televised interview who owned the patent to the vaccine, Salk replied: "There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?"

Offit has published more than 130 papers in medical and scientific journals in the areas of rotavirus-specific immune responses and vaccine safety,[2] and is the author or co-author of books on vaccines, vaccination, and antibiotics. He is one of the most public faces of the scientific consensus that vaccines have no association with autism, and has, as a result, attracted controversy and a substantial volume of hate mail and occasional death threats,[3][4] but also support for his position.[2][5]

Offits' 100,000 vaccines per day statement should place him forever in the hazardous waste pile with other vaccines.


Good for you for standing up to these awful people! They are idiots for crowing victory. Good that they had to spend time and money defending their stupidity. Could make them think twice another time.

And thank you for your many years of advocacy!


Label libel
I sat in a communicable disease college course and heard the professor rant and rave about the glory of vaccines and that they caused no harm - they just don't. He was telling this to about 200 students in that big auditorium type classroom.

One little older student who was working in the hospital probably as an associate nurse bravely held up her hand night after night and confronted him.

Telling him about different episodes of vaccine reactions she had seen, and how was she suppose to respond to the parents.

This was 1976 - so you see things were already starting to go very wrong for a great many children pre- 80's

I was brain washed by my professor and a host of other professors.

I got to go through watching my duaghter have Kawasaki disease in 1983 - I just did not figure out it was the vaccine - since the DPT shot was given to her six whole week pior.

I sort of caught on when she reacted to another one in 1985, and watching my son have a stroke in 1986.

All in the 80's

So stuff was going on back then.

The 70's and 80's was a warning - ignored then to only fester and grow.

Theodore Van Oosbree

Journalists are mostly people who are not too bright and commensurately lazy. My opinion of judges and the legal system is not much better. A lawyer I knew once commented at a party: "We lawyers have a bad reputation - and we deserve every bit of it."

Cynthia Cournoyer

One blessing in all of this is the judge's opinion that the truth cannot be known enough to decide which side the truth is on. Wow. That is very powerful for our side!

If vaccinators do not have "truth" on their side, where does that leave non-vaccinators? Perfectly justified.

Label libel

I sometimes wonder if the next subject for a libel case is the "antivaccine" label. First off, none of us would be here if we hadn't vaccinated our kids. And I actually can't think of the head of any major vaccine injury group (and can't think of any movement leader who's regularly been on the news) who describes themselves as being against the concept of vaccination itself.

I've heard some prominent advocates call for a return to the 80's schedule, some call for the US to take a cue from some Scandanavian schedules and others call for safety review and reformulation. All call for informed consent.

It reminds me of when I volunteered as an advocate for victims of domestic violence. Across the board, anyone either defending themselves or others against the crime was accused of being "anti-male" from certain nervous or guilty bystanders. As if all men battered! A big "huh?" kind of accusation and ironic, since so many advocates were actually male and so many of the collateral and hardest-hit victims of the crime were male children. A little known statistic is that abusers are most likely to also batter and kill male children (that always struck me as an odd similarity between that particular crime and the one at hand).

By the same token, the vaccine injury movement has been called "antivaccine",
"anti-science", and "anti-American". As if the fundamental concept of science and the ideals of the nation were founded on...the makers of Vioxx? The makers of Trovan? The individuals who said vaccines "resulted in but did not cause" Hannah Poling's autism?

God help us if that were true and good thing it isn't. These corporations, corrupt mercenaries and officials are nothing more than temporary hijackers.

Perhaps certain health networks might be generally against the concept of vaccination (maybe not rabies shots). These groups might be affiliated with the movement, but clearly they're not the most prominent voices, probably by choice-- which is really the name of the game. It's just an all out "lie" to dub the movement as a whole and certain individuals and groups as "antivaccine".

Beth Bento

We are slowly becoming less of a fringe movement and minority.. and parents are balking at the lack of logic and choice when it comes to vaccines and the insane schedule they thrust on parents.


I could not believe the "she lies" comment and would have taken the same action were I in BLF's shoes.

It's one thing to say that someone is mis-informed, or misguided, or just plain wrong (not that I think BLF is any of those things, quite the opposite) - but "SHE LIES"? Huh? That is defamatory in my book. A "lie" implies that there was an intent to deceive.

I don't believe for one second that BLF has EVER intended to deceive anyone when it comes to her advocacy. I don't blame her for trying to defend her reputation.



I can only echo what so many people here are saying-- that you're among my heroes, that without you we'd be so much farther behind and more thoroughly silenced, that we all stand on your shoulders in every sense in the struggle for vaccine safety, accountability and justice.

We speak for the dead and injured. The other side speaks for the perpetrators in power suits, whether they're able to face this fact or not. Bless you for taking the stand and for everything you do, including filing that suit.

Heidi N


I can not express enough thanks for all that you do, and for doing it so professionally. You know you are successful in your efforts when you become their target. I praise your efforts and sharing of it all. We need to learn from this because soon the lawsuits will go through, and they will get into trouble for lying. We do need to start taking things to court. It appears that some people are just not going to change until the law tells them to. This problem is not going to go away. Change will happen. They can keep up their farce all they want, but it's very apparent that more and more people throughout the world are learning about vaccine dangers, and the trend is now at the point of no return. I can't wait to see what happens in the next three years. Just the last two years brought an extreme amount of change. Heck, I walked into my doc's office today, and there was a big sign advertising a class on vaccine risks and benefits. The class is to point out that vaccines have much more risk than benefits for many. Anyhow, what a change! I would never had seen that even a year ago.


Check out this new piece on Yahoo!
An autism group pushing vaccine uptake.


I would suppose Dr. Offit would enjoy talking about his "Rotashield infant diarrhea vaccine" in a courtroom.

(which was removed from the CDC schedule and investigated by Congress in 1999)

Any Offit testing of vaccines on children in the mountains of South America ?

Would the "truthful Dr. Offit" take the same Hannah Poling vaccines (adjusted for his body weight of course) a few days before showing up in court ???

I am sure he has no problem with the first 100,000 vaccines or so...


I went to the page but the motion to dismiss link didn't work for me...


Thank you for standing up to these idiots.

There's a special place in hell reserved for people like Wallace and "Pr-Offit".


By defending yourself, you're defending US. I thank you.


Barbara, Thanks for taking the time and effort to fight this. These people seem repulsive and irresponsible to me. Hopefully the law of karma will take care of them in time.


Thank you Barbara. We need to continue to call out these "journalists". They cannot run willie nilly unchecked.

Katie wright

Dear Barbara,

Thank you for all your incredible advocacy work and everything you do to protect children. I am so sorry that your son suffered such a terrible vaccine injury.

I have been following your work for many years. You with with facts, you never demonize anyone, lie or call your opponents childish names. You don't to get hysterical to get your point across.

Meanwhile Wallace and Offit have become 2 big babies, bemoaning their endless sacrifices in their battle against vaccine safety research. They appear to view themselves as the primary victims in autism epidemic. Furthermore Wallace and Offit like to cast aspersions but when the time comes to stand by what they said, they cry foul, claiming Offit was "under pressure" and hysterical or some such silly excuse.

Grow up both of you. Take responsibility for your actions and don't run away and hide "because u live in CA" or because you can dish it output can't take it.

Thank you again Barabara

Bob Moffitt

Barbara .. I second the comments of TannersDat Tim Welsh .. you ARE and will ALWAYS BE .. one of my HEROES.

Trust me on this .. at my advanced age .. my list of HEROES is exceedingly short.


Barbara I read this earlier this weekend on NIVC. You have always come across as a rational and sane human being. It is the only way to fight when right is on your side.

The judge does not have the real understanding in all this. Public figures that are just politicians or actors; struggling for their own sakes, or fighting for some private moral discretion is totally different than this.


Paul Offit has become a "lightening" rod for criticism? What a hoot!

I think I agree that "She lies" isn't really capable of disproof. And that just proves that Amy Wallace isn't really a journalist because what competent journalist wouldn't follow that up with a request for specifics?

Here's my question: Why is Paul Offit afraid to debate Andrew Wakefield? Dr. Wakefield has offered Offit his choice of venues.

TannersDad Tim Welsh

Barbara you are & will always be one of my heroes. You are an inspiration & original Warrior Mom. Your strength comes from knowing millions have been impacted by your voice in the market place. Without Barbara, who knows what corners Pharma would have taken in their relentless quest to improve bottom line at the expense of our children. God Bless you. We have your back. TannersDad Tim

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