While the headline read, “Protestors, parents differ over vaccine safety,” the story completely omitted what the event was about. It was either a willful cover-up of the truth or else just sloppy reporting.
ATLANTA - About 100 anti-vaccine protestors marched Friday morning just outside the gates of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Atlanta headquarters. Some were parents, some members of the Nation of Islam.
Marching in the crowd was Del Bigtree, the producers of “Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe,” a new documentary that claims the CDC covered up a purported link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and Autism.
In the video, labeled “Anti-vaxxers,” one of the news anchors said, “Vaccine protesters turned out in force this morning outside the CDC’s Atlanta headquarters. They claim the agency has covered up a link between childhood vaccines and autism.”
Next the other anchor made this stunning statement: “Several major studies have found connections between the two, and it seems the debate over vaccine safety isn’t going anywhere.”
“Several major studies”?
That was a serious charge. The public needed to hear more. Fox5 needed to give us details about the alleged cover-up and follow this up with the reaction from inside the agency in question.
The Fox5 reporter Beth Galvin didn’t do that. Instead she tried to downplay the rally by calling the participants “anti-vaccine protesters.” And while she acknowledged the claim of a CDC cover-up and interviewed Del Bigtree who said vaccine safety had to be taken away from the CDC, that was the end of it. Next Galvin included parents and a doctor at a local clinic all endorsing vaccines as a way to prevent disease. Finally the reporter said, “Several major studies have failed to find a link between vaccines and autism, but with the number of cases growing here in the U.S., so are the concerns.”
Did Fox5 really tell us “several major studies” HAVE and HAVE NOT found a link between vaccines and autism? I had to go back and listen to the video several times.
This kind of reporting tells us that the media is never going to seriously investigate the controversy.
Notice that the 20 seconds of Del Bigtree making serious charges of fraud in front of the country’s top health care agency left us all hanging.
Notice the African Americans marching in the video. It was more than a little disingenuous to omit any mention of the fact that a major part of the cover-up involved a study of the vulnerability of black boys.
Fox5 has no idea how to cover this issue. This isn’t real journalism. Giving viewers brief sound bites only adds to the confusion in the minds of parents. What was allegedly covered up at the CDC? We never get to hear about it. Did Fox5 ask Bigtree about the specific charges of fraud? Was it too controversial to include? Are TV stations unwilling to hold the CDC accountable when charges are made?
Mentioning “Vaxxed” and including Bigtree is the only reason this coverage wasn’t a complete failure.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.