"Contagion" and CNN - Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Pretend Interviews In Hollywood and Real Life
Little did viewers know that while medical news anchor Dr. Sanjay Gupta denounced Dr. Andrew Wakefield approximately one year ago on CNN and CBS - right after the British Medical Journal (BMJ) accused him of fraud - a movie of pure vaccine industry propaganda was being filmed with Dr. Gupta in its cast. That movie, Contagion, was about the outbreak of a fictional swine flu virus that jumped species and caused a pandemic, stopped only by a fictional vaccine developed by the CDC. In that film, Dr. Gupta played himself as a mainstream media reporter.
In the part of the film where Gupta appeared, he was on television interviewing the fictional CDC doctor, Ellis Cheever, played by Laurence Fishburne, and fictional anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist blogger, Alan Krumweide, played by Jude Law.
In real life, Dr. Gupta appeared on CNN with Anderson Cooper in a one-way smear attack on Dr. Wakefield that masqueraded as an “interview” just before Seth Mnookin made his television debut on that same show as the vaccine industry’s new spokesman. In stark contrast, Mnookin was given an open forum to spew his talking points while simultaneously interviewed by Cooper and Dr. Gupta, all three comfortably seated at a table in the AC360 studio of CNN. If there was any commonality between Dr. Gupta’s CNN interviews and his interview in the movie Contagion, it’s that they were all pretend.
In the fictional interview by Dr. Gupta involving Fishburne and Law’s characters, Fishburne’s Dr. Cheever was caught in a lie after Law’s Krumweide revealed that Dr. Cheever gave his fiancée advanced-warning of a citywide quarantine before it was given to the public.
In the real-life but equally pretend interview of Dr. Wakefield involving Dr. Gupta on CNN, Dr. Wakefield was dubbed a liar after recommending his book in response to Brian Deer’s smears that were published and supported by the BMJ.
Back to the fictional interview, Jude Law’s Alan Krumweide said public health officials like Fishburne’s Dr. Cheever are in a conspiracy with vaccine makers, “because they are.” Krumweide insisted, “They’re working hand in glove.”
In real-life, Dr. Wakefield was a lot more specific when speaking of the conflicted role of vaccination policymakers, stating that a whistleblower told him that the UK’s Joint Council on Vaccination & Immunisation (JCVI) approved a defective MMR vaccine despite knowing of its dangers while lying to the public that it was safe. The vaccine would eventually be withdrawn and the JCVI would indemnify vaccine makers from lawsuits. The JVCI gang was also behind Brian Deer and the BMJ’s allegations of fraud against Dr. Wakefield, as well as the fitness-to-practice hearing that yanked his medical license.
Since then, BMJ’s prime example of Dr. Wakefield’s alleged misconduct proved flagrantly false , and shortly thereafter the BMJ fraud claim collapsed thanks to the ongoing investigation of Deer’s claims against Dr. Wakefield by the National Whistleblower Center. Yet like Anderson Cooper, Dr. Gupta gave no media attention to these new developments. (However, in 2007, he saw fit to interview Amanda Baggs - a woman who claimed to be severely autistic but was completely normal in school according to former classmates.)
Dr. Gupta clearly has a problem of bias towards drug companies when reporting on the disputed safety of their products. In late 2003, he dismissed reports that Merck’s Vioxx was tied to increased risk of heart attack:
This stat has been around since August of 2001. They talked about the increase of heart attack with Vioxx. The numbers are very small. Perhaps a small percentage increase in the overall risk of heart attacks with Vioxx. They say 37 percent to 39 percent but that's of a very small number. After 90 days, no increased risk.
We've talked to the makers of Vioxx, the Merck company. They say more data is going to really be necessary comparing Vioxx to taking no anti-inflammatories at all. That data is not there yet. So talk to your doctor about the Vioxx, especially if you have concerns about heart disease.
Meanwhile, more people continued to die of heart attacks caused by Vioxx, which was already found to have been associated with an increased risk of heart attack compared to a competitor. By the time Vioxx was withdrawn, it had killed 55,000 people.
An internal email from one Merck employee to another said of doctors questioning the safety of Merck’s product:
We may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live…
Fast forward years later, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta was helping Merck and other drug companies that make the MMR vaccine by seeking out Dr. Wakefield for televised character assassination. Gupta failed to inform his viewers, however, that the movie Contagion was currently being filmed and that he was playing himself in the movie. Given who was involved in the film’s production, the need for Dr. Gupta to disclose his role in the film was especially pertinent.
Here is what a top consultant for that film, writer Laurie Garrett, had already said of Mnookin’s book, Panic Virus, in an advanced rave:
There have been hundreds of recent outbreaks of ailments like whooping cough and measles that we thought would be eradicated by now--and might have been, if not for the anti-vaccine obfuscation. Bravo Seth Mnookin for digging for the truth and telling eloquent stories of what happens when lies, half-truths and self-interest collide with fear.
Mnookin’s upcoming book certainly would have been relevant to the agenda of the movie, given that vaccines causing autism was mentioned in the movie itself. Garrett clearly intended to promote Mnookin’s book.
And this was not the first time Garrett gave a glowing review to a book of vaccine industry propaganda. Four years ago, she gave a glowing review in The Washington Post of Arthur Allen's forgettable book, “Vaccine.” Yet her positive review of Allen’s book did not make him like her; this is how he described her when offering his opinion about the recent film for which she consulted:
I had resolved to despise Steven Soderbergh's new movie Contagion after hearing the Council on Foreign Relations' Laurie Garrett, whom I consider the chief propagandist of the bio-terror Chicken Littles, touting her intervention with the filmmakers to assure it was realistic.
Arthur Allen has good reason to be jealous of Laurie Garrett, winner of two Polk Awards, The Peabody Award and The Pulitzer Prize for her bio-terror scare stories. In contrast, Allen had never won a journalism award and was thrown under the bus by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Garrett is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations - a powerful think tank that counts many major pharmaceutical companies among its corporate membership, including GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Merck. No wonder I was struck by what an obvious propaganda piece Contagion was when I saw it in theaters in September 2011.
Production for the movie began in September 2010 and continued well into 2011 before it finally premiered on September 3, 2011. That Dr. Gupta went down the rabbit hole of vaccine injury denial during the filming of a movie he was involved in suggests callous opportunism on the part of CNN’s chief medical reporter. What kind of journalist would exploit his own credibility as a medical news anchor to appear in a movie with such a strong agenda? What else could cause him to forget his own interview in 2008 with the CDC’s then-director, Dr. Julie Gerberding, who told Dr. Gupta vaccines cause autism?
Meanwhile, Garrett continues her bio-terror chicken-little propaganda in the latest issue of Foreign Policy, where she quoted the movie she consulted for:
And we should heed the question posed in the recently released Hollywood thriller Contagion when a Homeland Security character queries a CDC scientist:
"Is there any way someone could weaponize the bird flu? Is that what we're looking at?"
"Someone doesn't have to weaponize the bird flu," the CDC scientist responds, "The birds are doing that."
What better way to scare people about bio-terrorism than to invoke the argument that if nature can do it, so can we?
Contagion is not just entertainment, but propaganda. Dr. Gupta shamelessly contributed his share of deceit on both the big screen and the TV screen in 2011.
I wonder what 2012 will bring.
Jake Crosby has Asperger Syndrome and is a contributing editor to Age of Autism. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a BA in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy. He currently attends The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he is studying for an MPH in epidemiology.
And now we see the similarties of this movie to COVID19 and whos all over CNN right now ? Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Posted by: Amy Collicott | March 18, 2020 at 09:01 AM
Thank you Jake for all of your hard work. Laurie Garrett working for the Council of Foreign Relations explains a great deal of this vaccine propaganda to me.
Posted by: DOUG TROUTMAN AKA MR.T | January 05, 2012 at 09:18 PM
The same Jared Diamond that spent a decade studying salt in take of the gall bladder?
I myself have spent the past 30 years studying three case studies of vaccine induced array of immune problems.
If I now write an additional book on Chimps can I just waddle in somewhere on the internet and say HuH and expect my name to be recognized?
Nahhh, I am not that egotistical.
Posted by: Benedetta | January 04, 2012 at 02:44 PM
"...it's like he knows what he has done and feels somewhat sorry. Or at least, I thought I saw a glimpse of remorse during his Wakefield interview."
I think that any sort of regret Gupta may have felt during that interview was entirely out of self-protectionism, having staked his career and reputation on Deer's bogus allegations.
Posted by: Jake Crosby | January 04, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Valerie, that was my take on him too. And what a stark contrast to the vile and repulsive "Silver Fox" Anderson Cooper.
Posted by: Josh Day | January 04, 2012 at 01:01 PM
commented "Jared Diamond."
There are a dozen Jared Diamonds online. Here are a few equally memorable quotes from Jared Diamond, UCLA Professor, Pulitzer Prize winner, recipient of the National Science Medal and board member of Skeptic Magazine:
"No government is here forever. And there are other forces - the most potent force in our society, in fact, big business - doing good for the environment."
"Twenty years ago, you might have been pessimistic and said there's no hope. But these days, some of our very biggest companies are acting remarkably cleanly. And in some cases, although not all cases, the CEOs are the driving forces behind that."
Posted by: Very skeptical | January 04, 2012 at 12:40 PM
To be fair, watching the CNN interviews with Wakefield was like watching Cooper as the disciplinarian father and Gupta as the disapproving, but more understanding mother. Gupta has clearly sold his soul to be that doctor on the television, but looking at his expressions at times, it's like he knows what he has done and feels somewhat sorry. Or at least, I thought I saw a glimpse of remorse during his Wakefield interview.
Posted by: Valerie | January 04, 2012 at 09:15 AM
We are only four days into the New Year and Aussies have already been dealt with a "Whooping Cough" story on our ABC network.
The "ABC news breakfast" facebook went into meltdown and the main attackers attacked Meryl Dorey(AVN)http://www.avn.org.au/
Meryl was calm and collected and provided facts as a professional does. The attackers became very personal with very little information to add to the debate.
Looks like this year will be very interesting and heated with the vaccine debate.
Posted by: AussieMum | January 04, 2012 at 05:35 AM
Posted by: Jared Diamond | January 04, 2012 at 01:22 AM
I hope DR Gutpa reads this. Not only are you a disappointment to families with children who have ASD, but any future children of the world....
Keep counting, because you are alienating yourself from many of your peers, who are finding out the truth and harm of vaccines, and they will not be welcoming to you.
Parents are becoming more and more informed and turn off the garbage puked on your
show and show's alike. There are more than you realize who get the message loud and clear, and see the horns.
But not to fret, you still have DR Snyderman and DR Profitt to hang out with.
Just keep counting on one hand because the other one is tied behind your back with big Pharma, to hand you the dirty pay check.
Fun Friends! Hope you sleep well at night.
Posted by: Allie90 | January 03, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Jake good one ...they will never admit they are wrong because the family money is invested in Pharma and seen them OK until now..lets hope it changes
Has to come from the USA first ..anything we cn do over here just say...
Posted by: Angus Files | January 03, 2012 at 07:07 PM
The fear-mongering never stops Jake ... from the CDC, Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse
Posted by: Rachael | January 03, 2012 at 10:12 AM
I went to see the movie Contagion as soon as it came out. I was expecting to hear some CDC propaganda in there (how convenient that this movie was released just before merry flu shot season), but I wasn't expecting it would be so blatant. I litterally laughed aloud in the theater from beginning to end. Just for that it was worth it.
Contagion is just a monumental piece of propaganda: CDC workers are heros with a big heart, dangerous misinformation is circulating on the internet, vaccines will save the human race, and vaccines are sexy!
Major puke factor...
Posted by: Karin | January 03, 2012 at 09:46 AM
Nice piece Jake - Laurie Garrett and Gupta are the living definition of fear mongering.
I haven't seen and won't bother to see Contagion, but I would guess CDC's phony figure of 36,000 annual U.S. flu deaths was trotted out, though last year they quietly dropped it to as low as 3,000 "flu-associated" deaths, still triple U.S. vital statistics citing real figures around 1,000.
As for H5N1 and H1N1 strains being relatively more lethal, individual case evidence points to extremely toxic medications such as the nucleoside analogue Ribavirin, corticosteroids, and other hospital intravenous concoctions being the iatrogenic cause of virtually all deaths.
Too bad I don't have Bill and Melinda Gates bankroll; My movie would be Vitamin D Godzilla Versus Gupta Flu From Outer Space.
Posted by: david burd | January 03, 2012 at 09:03 AM
It is interesting commentary thank you Jake. I have interacted with many of the TV Doctors. Pretty much all hold the mainstream views. Dr Richard Besser has promised multiple times to dig deeper and do more balanced reporting, but it has been over a year and no report.
Dr Sanjay Gupta is the only TV Doctor to block my ability to follow him. I feel it is just like being thrown out of a Dr Profit Speech. It is one thing to not have open lines of communication, not interact, but for media to take the step of blocking my ability to follow him makes my blood boil everyday. Timing was right around the time of Dr Wakefield's Book.
Once again great job Jake and Happy New Year
Posted by: TannersDad Tim Welsh | January 03, 2012 at 08:27 AM
Excellent post, Jake! Contagion is another particularly disgusting example of Hollywood and Pharma pandering in public fear to sell tickets and inoculations, respectively. They both depend on the Curse of Louis Pasteur, the myth that germs are the boggeyman and that Johnny-on-the-spot, man-made, designer drugs and jabs will somehow prevent and cure disease. They willfully conflate disease treatment with disease prevention. Antoine Bechamp's "The Blood and its Third Element" is a very worthwhile read.
Posted by: patrons99 | January 03, 2012 at 07:41 AM
Great piece. We might also mention in this sickening regard the creation at the behest of the US government of an alleged killer flu virus:
Of course, we recall the hyping of H5NI avian flu virus 5 years ago, which was supposed to wipe out half of humanity (or more) and was such a great disappointment.
Best advice: keep washing your hands:
Posted by: John Stone | January 03, 2012 at 06:05 AM