The revolution now occurring in how journalism is done, and who is doing it, gives hope that the wall of denial about vaccine injury will crumble sooner rather than later.
Here's why: The top-down journalism hierarchy has a natural affinity for the top-down public health hierarchy, and every other hierarchy that makes Big Journalism feel smug and important and wealthy. That was on display in spades last Sunday on Meet the Press, where David Gregory thought it was just fine to ask Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian whether he ought to be arrested for helping Edward Snowden tell the NAA's secrets while avoiding Bradley Manning's fate of being tortured in the U.S. Military Justice System.
Don't be bitter, David.
"To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn't you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?" Gregory asked. Greenwald replied it was "pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies."
Not so extraordinary, really. Gregory and company love the perks of all-access journalism, as in this classic moment when Gregory and Karl Rove danced around each other at a Washington correspondents' dinner in 2007, dancing "while Iraq burns," as this disrespectful site captioned it.
Why shouldn't you, Mr. Gregory, be ashamed for cozying up to the folks who led us into a stupid war? Not a question David Gregory is going to even dance around -- he's on record saying what a good job he and other journalists did in the runup to the Iraq war. Yikes.
When it comes to vaccines, autism, and this unprecedented generation of sick kids, what you see is a similar attempt to suppress the bottom-up reality of first-hand observation and unpleasant information in general. A recent study that found the HPV vaccine effective was reported in the press without, as far as I can tell, anyone noting that the vaccine has just been suspended in Japan. Too many girls are describing long-lasting pain after the shot, a tipoff to the neurological and immune damage that the mainstream press is never going to report. But it's only happening when the same vaccine is given in Japan, apparently.
A New York Times piece on Maurice Hilleman last month, the "modest Merck scientist" and "forgotten pioneer" of the MMR vaccine, omitted the whistleblower lawsuit that alleges the mumps portion -- the one Hilleman came up with -- doesn't, er, actually work, and that Merck committed fraud by claiming it does. Instead we are treated to more on Andy Wakefield spreading the measles virus. Actually, the worthless MMR is causing mumps outbreaks! Just like Merck's chickenpox vaccine is causing shingles cases! As my old pal Mark Benjamin would put it, there's your lead right there.
But times are changing. Information wants to be free, and it has a lot of avenues of escape and venues offering refuge. The idea that all this information can stay bottled up, and that people will only believe it if NBC or the NYT report it, is fading fast. In fact, one reason that Snowden went to the Guardian was because the Times sat on its last big scoop about national security for more than a year, and only wrote about it after its reporter put it in a book that was about to be published.
Similarly, no big media outlet has reported in depth -- in fact, almost no one has reported at all -- on the explosive mumps whistleblowers' lawsuit except AOA, from which the details then spread far and wide. Last month the Justice Department put Merck on notice in a formal filing that it is taking the allegation seriously, too.
It's great to be with you in this new media world, where the facts, and not dancing fools like David Gregory and the Times, are what matter. We will prevail.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.