By Anne Dachel
The New York Times has been around for over 150 years and it’s considered the premier U.S. newspaper by many people. I’ve been monitoring the autism/vaccines/autism and vaccine coverage at the Times for over ten years, and it’s been a constant disappointment.
Who could forget when Jeannette Catsoulis reviewed the movie, The Greater Good, back in 2011 for the Times? In that piece Catsoulis openly stated that even if there is a link between vaccines and autism, it doesn’t matter; so many lives have been saved by vaccines, it’s all for the greater good.
Jeannette Catsoulis: “. . . even were such a link proved definitively, all that matters is that its victims number significantly fewer than those of the diseases vaccinations are designed to prevent.”
Several of us have written about the New York Times on Age of Autism.
2010 The Inconstant Gardiner: The New York Times’ Fervent Disconnect Between Drug and Vaccine Reporting, By Adriana Gamondes
2010 NYT's Gardiner Harris Wears White and Black Hats
2008 AUTISM COVERAGE AT THE NYT: SINS OF OMISSION, By Anne Dachel
And this was addition coverage in 2007.
2007 Why are They Afraid to Look? By Anne Dachel
There have been endless NY Times stories over the years that cited the current, ever-changing autism rate without one iota of concern about the fact that it’s always based on studies of children. They never questioned the official spokesperson at the time who claimed that this particular increase may just be better diagnosing and no real increase at all. (It never is for the CDC.)
The news about Hannah Poling, the young Georgia girl whose claim of vaccine-induced autism was conceded by medical experts at HHS, was covered by the Times.
On March 8, 2008, Gardiner Harris wrote, Deal in an Autism Case Fuels Debate on Vaccine.
Harris quoted CDC head, Dr. Julie Gerberding, who made it clear that this concession did not mean that the government acknowledged that vaccines could cause autism.
To his credit Harris did include Hannah’s parents.
Hannah's father, Dr. Jon Poling, was a neurology resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital at the time, and she underwent an intensive series of tests that found a disorder in her mitochondria, the energy factories of the cells.
Such disorders are uncommon, their effects can be significant but varied, and the problems associated with them can show up immediately or lie dormant for years.
There are two theories about what happened to Hannah, said her mother, Terry Poling. The first is that she had an underlying mitochondrial disorder that vaccinations aggravated. The second is that vaccinations caused this disorder.
''The government chose to believe the first theory,'' Ms. Poling said, but added, ''We don't know that she had an underlying disorder.''
The Times seemed interested in looking into the Poling case as stated in the editorial, A Puzzling Autism Case, March 11, 2008.
The Times even allowed Hannah’s dad, Dr. Jon Poling, to respond to an inaccurate op ed piece by Dr. Paul Offit. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/31/opinion/31offit.html
That was followed by the story, Will a 9-Year-Old Change the Vaccine Debate? on April 12, 2008.
This was very promising coverage at the Times, but it was not to last. No one at the Times was interested in how many other autistic children might have the same health condition that Hannah did. Furthermore, the phenomenon of regressive autism and what might trigger it, was of no concern at the Times.
Notice the most recent coverage from the Times, stories that contradict each other in their content and the experts cited.
On Aug 17, 2015 Jennifer Senior reviewed Steve Silberman's book, Neurotribes
for the New York Times. Senior touted Silberman’s vision of autism as an age-old condition, unrecognized until it was named in the second half of the 20th century. Because of the Nazis presence in Austria, we didn’t get to hear about the work of Hans Asperger and high functioning autism. Instead, Leo Kanner’s view of classic autism as rare and caused by cold, indifferent mothers was accepted as the definition of autism.
Senior dismissed the dramatic increase in autism as merely “an optical illusion,” because of Kanner’s false belief that only a few people were autistic. He was only concentrating on severe cases. The diagnostic criteria were finally expanded in 1994 to include Asperger’s Syndrome and that alone caused the soaring rate increase. “Autism” finally would “include those who had slipped through the sieve for decades.”
Senior went on to blame Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his study linking the MMR vaccine to autism for further stymieing efforts to provide services and accommodations. Instead we were focused on the cause of autism.
According to Senior, Wakefield’s work was “scantily substantiated from the start, a poisonous red herring that spooked a generation of parents. It contaminates the public consciousness to this day, though it has been debunked many times over and retracted by The Lancet.”
Three weeks later, on Sept 6, 2015, the New York Times published, Adult, Autistic and Ignored, by Eli Gottlieb,
It was all about the scary future faced by hundreds of thousands of young autistic adults aging out of the public school system, and it’s the most illogical situation imaginable if we believe the Senior/Silberman premise.
IF, as they claim, autism has always been here, why is there a problem?
Gottlieb explained the current situation:
I knew plenty about childhood autism, of course. Who doesn’t? A malady sometimes described as a form of perceptual overload seems somehow a fitting response to today’s speeding, signal-clotted life. And the numbers are dizzying: From a reported incidence of one child in 150 with autism in the year 2000, the prevalence has now risen to one in 68.
Gottlieb went on to cite all the things that are provided for CHILDREN WITH AUTISM. Inspired by all their newfound knowledge, “researchers are currently backdating the history of autism” looking for unrecognized ASD people in the past.
Gottlieb next described that dead-end after high school for 21st century Americans with autism.
This is where Gottlieb stopped making any sense.
IF we’ve always had almost two percent of the population with autism, what did we do with them as adults? We would have had to provide for their needs even if we didn’t call their condition autism. Why can’t autistic young adults go where autistic adults have always gone? Why can’t the 20 year olds take over the work of the retiring autistic senior citizens?
Gottlieb cited a 2011 study that found “that 39 percent of young people with autism in the United States received no services whatsoever after high school. … An estimated 90 percent of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed.”
How is this possible? Americans pride themselves on recognizing and providing services for the disabled. We’re supposed to be an example to the world, but when it comes to addressing autism, the U.S. seems more like a struggling, under-developed country in Africa.
Gottlieb doesn’t see this as bizarre. Somehow we’ve spent our entire national history doing nothing for Americans with autism.
It’s part of a larger disconnect. There is virtually no current substantive national discussion on the fate of middle-aged or elderly autistic people like my brother, who are living in therapeutic communities, or with their aged parents or in group homes, or sometimes undiagnosed in mental hospitals. Little research money is spent on members of this demographic, and there is almost no public policy debate on how best to serve them. Not much is known of the particular health problems linked to their long-term care, or how their autism progresses and changes over time, or what the cumulative effects might be of the medication they take to render them tractable enough to live in social settings. As Dr. Joseph Piven, a professor of psychiatry, pediatrics and psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has put it, “There is almost no literature on older adults with autism in the field, so we have virtually no knowledge base.”
It doesn’t occur to Gottlieb that maybe the reason there is nothing for/about adults with autism out there is because we’ve never had a significant disabled population like this before. Maybe autism is an epidemic of recent origin that overwhelming affects children.
Of course that’s the UNTHINKABLE for Eli Gottlieb, Steve Silberman, and Jennifer Senior. They’re trying to convince us that autism has always been here.
I have a challenge for these three. Get out there and find the adults with autism. And I don’t want to hear about how Albert Einstein actually had Asperger’s. I want to see 40, 60 and 80 year olds with classic autism. The ones who are nonverbal or who have profound echolalia. The ones who are in diapers and prone to wandering off. The ones who flap their hands constantly and are self-abusive. The ones whose history includes starting out their lives as normally developing babies, but suddenly and dramatically losing learned skills, including speech, and ending up with autism. I want to see lots and lots and lots of adults just like this.
IF Gottlieb, Silberman and Senior can’t produce these individuals after scouring adult group homes and nursing homes everywhere, then they should retract everything they’ve been saying about autism.
We have already lost a generation of children to autism and we’re now working on a second one. In a few more decades we won’t remember a world without autism as part of the human condition. As these children become middle aged and beyond, we’ll have a consistent rate across the population. The problem, as Eli Gottlieb explained, we aren’t going to be able to provide for them and still continue as a prosperous country.
The truth is, mainstream news outlets only report what they’ve been told to say. No one is allowed to ask questions like, where are the older Americans with autism? Why do healthy children regress into autism? Why don’t officials ever know if there’s been a real increase in autism? Why do the numbers continue to increase when the definition of autism was expanded back in 1994?
Regarding the safety of vaccines, the press is equally complicit. No reporter will ever ask who funded the research when they tell us, “Studies show no link.” Except for Fox News, the press refused to cover the revelation about dozens of vaccine injury claims that included autism and were compensated by the N.V.I.C.P. that came out in 2011. They never ask why there’s never been a vaccinated/unvaccinated comparison study, or any study on the toxicity of the mercury additive thimerosal or on the cumulative effect of more and more vaccines in the childhood schedule.
Instead, every story is predictable. Autism is NEVER A CRISIS for the media or health officials. The impact of this disaster has been universally covered up by the complicity of network and print news sources. Vaccines are always above reproach and no parent has a right to exempt their child from vaccination.
The New York Times knows exactly what they’re covering up and they told Robert Kennedy, Jr that they don’t ever intend to honestly report on this controversy.
Back in 2006, Robert Kennedy and Boyd Haley, PhD, a recognized expert on mercury toxicity, visited the New York Times to talk about an op ed piece Kennedy had written about vaccines and neurological damage in children. To his surprise, Kennedy found no one at the Times was interested in the science that supported his claims.
Kennedy: ‘I expected a discussion with the editor of the Times, but when I went in to meet, they had assembled a group of science editors that were so hostile and antagonistic, it was like talking to a brick wall. They were absolutely determined that there would be no public discussion in their paper about mercury and neurological disorders.’
No matter how much scientific research Kennedy had on his side, the Times would only believe what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had to say.
I wrote about it in April, 2008 after I interviewed Dr. Haley about their visit.
Robert Kennedy asked me to accompany him to the Times and the description in this article is very close to how I remember the meeting. The writers were not at all interested in the published science. I would make a comment about thimerosal toxicity . . . and they would look surprised---but they never asked for any of the stack of reports to verify what I said. Afterwards, one of the writers, a young man, whose name I don't remember, followed me out the door and downstairs seemed interested and asked some detailed questions, but later wrote an article and did not mention any of the published science about the toxicity of thimerosal. I lost a lot of respect for the New York Times that day and felt quite sorry for Robert Kennedy who was just asking for a logical look at the autism/vaccine issue. The Times did the opposite and wrote totally supporting the CDC line that their experts had eliminated vaccines as being involved.
True to their promise, the Times hasn’t been willing to honestly cover Kennedy’s claims.
March 23, 2015, the Times published a piece ripping at Kennedy for daring to criticize the CDC and the vaccines requirements in New Jersey.
In July 2015, Frank Bruni at the Times wrote California, Camelot and Vaccines, a piece that slammed Kennedy for lending his name to the claims of Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey and opposing the end to vaccine exemptions in California. According to Bruni, there’s no such thing as a toxic vaccine.
Three days later, the Times published Kennedy’s response, but clearly it had no affect on their attitude on this issue.
In order to cover up the link to our ever-expanding vaccine program, the press has to feed every lie. Autism can’t be a problem and there is nothing wrong with vaccines—ever. These are very hungry lies and they have to be constantly fed with more lies. That’s why the press is ignoring the statement by a CDC researcher, Dr. William Thompson, who has admitted that his agency falsified study data that showed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism in African American boys. And it’s only the beginning. More evidence is mounting and vaccine promoters will have to be constantly on the defense.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism and author of The Big Autism Cover-Up: How and Why the Media Is Lying to the American Public, which is on sale now from Skyhorse Publishing.