Note: I grew up watching WGBH, Boston's Channel 2, public television. Sesame Street in 1969. Thalassa Cruso's Making Things Grow with my Mom. Maggie Lettvin in the blue leotard leading a TV exercise class before Jane Fonda felt any heat at all, let alone "the burn." And Zoom in the 1970s. Remember this? "Send a SASE to Zoom! Box 3-5-0, Boston Mass OH TWO ONE THREE FOUR! Send it to Zoom!" WGBH told reportert Mish Michaels to "zoom" to another job over her sensible reporting on vaccinations.
By Anne Dachel
THE CASE OF MISH MICHAELS
The message to members of the media couldn’t be stronger: You may not dissent. All vaccines are safe for all children.
The unfolding story of meteorologist Mish Michaels and how she lost her job at WGBH in Boston is a case in point. Michaels was hired as a science reporter, but when her past statements about vaccine safety concerns came to light, she was fired.
Feb 9, 2017, MN Public Radio: Science reporter loses job over questionable grasp of science (AND MY BOOK IS QUOTED HERE in the MPR STORY.)
Mish Michaels, a former Boston TV weatherperson (she referred to herself as the “station scientist”), has lost her job with the PBS affiliate in the city because she doesn’t believe in vaccinations, the Boston Globe reports.
“The decision was made that [Michaels] is not a good fit for ‘Greater Boston’ and she won’t be working there,” Jim Braude, host of WGBH’s “Greater Boston” tells the Globe. She was to report science stories for his program.
In 2011, she testified before the Massachusetts Legislature in favor of a bill to add parental choice to the list of reasons why some Massachusetts kids don’t have to be immunized as a requirement for attending school…
Feb 9, 2017, Boston Globe: After losing job, Mish Michaels says her personal beliefs were ‘positioned inaccurately’
Michaels wrote. “Unfortunately, my personal beliefs as a private citizen have been positioned inaccurately. I have never claimed that I don’t believe in vaccines. I am pro-safe and effective vaccines and pro scientific discovery. As a journalist, I strive to ask hard questions. Scientific consensus does not equal complacency. It is a challenge to scientists to verify the science or push it forward.”
Feb 9, 2017, Boston Globe: Mish Michaels loses WGBH science job — because she doesn’t believe in vaccines
Damage control at WBGH TV
It looked like censorship at WBGH Boston, so the next day a seemingly professional and informed panel aired their views.
FEB 10, 2017, WBGH TV Boston: Beat the Press
Listen to these five reporters discussing why WBGH TV had a perfect right to fire Mish Michaels for not toeing the line on vaccine safety.
Dan Kennedy: “I think transparency is what we should be aiming for. …The widely held view that the anti-vaxxer stuff is dangerous nonsense. … I don’t know how you can have a science reporter who is so far off the mainstream on a really important scientific issue. “
Callie Crossley: “…WBGH, through its premier programming, has done a definitive documentary debunking this alleged research about a connection between autism and vaccines. That was done right, here produced right here with a lot of scientists—I mean they went line by line with every kind of issue that has been brought up by those concerned really allowing those people who advocated for some of those views to have a chance to speak about it and to get other scientists. …
“If you have research that has been debunked properly, that’s a tough one.”
Tom Fiedler: “Right from the start, science is evidence based, so to the best we can conclude, the evidence shows vaccinations do not cause these issues with children. … If you have someone who is to be the science reporter who holds views that clearly are not evidence based, I think Dan is absolutely right, that that would call into question virtually every other position you had taken. Unfortunately the fact that she took what may have been her private views, turned them into advocacy positions, I think that’s where you cross the line, and it’s a disqualifying line.”
On the surface, the action by WGBH seemed appropriate. Michaels advocates dangerous, debunked theories on scientific issues. Viewers were told that WGBH has looked into this issue in a fair and balanced manner, weighing the evidence on both sides, and she simply isn’t credible.
ACTUALLY, what WGBH did was more promotion of vaccine fraud. I wrote about Mish Michaels in my book, and what no one is saying here is that she did the work of an investigative journalist and it wasn’t what new outlets wanted to hear.
Back in 2011 Michaels did raise concerns over vaccine safety. In her words, she said she had to “ask difficult scientific questions” and go beyond “scientific consensus,” and what she discovered was that no one was allowed to look into this issue. When she brought up her concerns with her daughter’s pediatrician, she was “no longer able to visit the practice.”
When Michaels found out about the Pace Environmental Law Review story, Unanswered Questions, about dozens of children who had been compensated by the federal government for claims of vaccine-induced autism, she and another reporter wanted to cover it, but news outlets wouldn’t touch it.
(Unanswered Questions was mentioned on Fox 25 Boston, and it had a huge response. In fact it was the number one news story for five days in a row, with hundreds and hundreds of comments.)
I’m sure this is why WGBH fired Michaels. She had uncovered facts that challenged official vaccine disclaimers. How could the government be paying vaccine injury victims for damage that included autism at the same time they assured parents that their children couldn’t develop autism from vaccinations?
The pretense by the WGBH panel that they had earnestly examined the claims on both sides is of course, more phony propaganda. WGBH wanted the discussion shut down. Any lingering doubts could raise more questions about the motives and conflicts of those people telling parents that every child can be vaccinated with no worries about side effects.
The fact that the WGBH panel didn’t specifically talk about any of the concerns Mish Michaels raised in 2011 when she testified before the Massachusetts State Assembly on a parental choice bill is proof that they want the public to know what’s really going on. Furthermore, it’s a clear warning to everyone in the media: You will not contradict any vaccine safety claims. Your employment depends on it.
One of the investigators in the Unanswered Questions story was Louis Conte. This is what he said about the media and the vaccine compensation revelation.
“The release of the paper was greeted with media silence. I spoke to journalists who flat out told me that their networks or their editors were pressured to not cover this story. One highly placed investigative journalist at a major network told me, ‘I can’t believe what you found. This shou8ld be our lead story. It’s shocking. And I’ve been told that I can’t cover it.’”
I asked Louis for his reaction to the WGBH—Mish Michaels story. Here’s what he had to say.
It is profoundly sad to me that WBGH fired Mish Michaels for expressing her concerns about vaccine safety to the Massachusetts Legislature. WBGH chose to disregard over two hundred years of American tradition supporting the right to free speech and the right to speak openly in a
What WGBH did was more than just damage Ms. Michaels career. This station has just sent the message across the nation that investigative journalism is dead. Any journalist who investigates any pharmaceutical product and finds problems now faces the stark reality that they are risking their livelihoods.
Let us keep in mind that "scientific consensus" once asserted that Thalidomide was safe. "Scientific consensus" once asserted that Vioxx was safe.
Until they were not.
The commentators on the Beat the Press panel stated that the belief that vaccines cause autism was a fringe belief.
This is simply not so. The research that the "scientific consensus" is based on is of a severely dubious quality.
The DeStefano CDC Vaccine Safety paper on the MMR vaccine and autism is an open question because one of the researchers, Dr. William Thompson, has come forward stating that the paper is fraudulent because the researchers altered the study design and destroyed showing that the
MMR vaccine was associated with autism.
The science relied on to disprove that thimerosal, a mercury-based vaccine preservative, was produced under the leadership of Poul Thorsen in Denmark. Thorsen also manipulated his findings by excluding data showing that autism rates declining in Denmark after thimerosal was
removed from vaccines. Thorsen then went on to steal over 1 million dollars from US tax payers and has been under federal indictment for five years. He remains a fugitive, living openly in Denmark.
This is the current state of the research that the "scientific consensus" so, proudly defended by the WGBH panel, is built on.
However, Mish Michaels didn't address these studies when she courageously spoke her mind to the Massachusetts Legislature. She spoke about a paper published in the May, 2011 Pace Environmental Law Review that I co-authored with Mary Holland, Robert Krakow and Lisa
Colin called Unanswered Questions from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: A Review of Compensated Cases of Vaccine-Induced Brain Damage.
In Unanswered Questions we found 83 compensated cases of vaccine-induced brain damage in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) that also featured autism. This number is alarming because we were able to access less than 200 compensated cases. As of 2011, there were over 1,300 cases compensated.
We wanted to look at all of the compensated cases but the government blocked our efforts by advising us that our request would take five years and cost $750,000.
Essentially, what we found was that the NVICP understood that autism was often an end result of and often accompanied vaccine-induced encephalopathy.
The government knew that autism was connected to vaccine injury. They even compensated the victims. They just didn't tell anyone about it.
Mish Michaels, as a journalist, found that concerning. While I've never spoken to her about the paper, it is obvious from her testimony that the findings of Unanswered Questions, caused her to ask questions and speak out.
In May of 2011 the authors of Unanswered Questions held a press conference on the steps of the US Court of Claims.
The White House was a few hundred yards to our left. While the conference received some media coverage, I spoke to some reporters who indicated that they were told NOT to cover the paper. One member of the press said she found the paper shocking and that it should be the lead story on every news outlet in the nation. She also said that she was not allowed to cover it.
Mish Michaels has been fired for talking about Unanswered Questions, a social-legal research paper which has never been retracted and whose findings have never been challenged. It is a paper that I put significant work into because I felt that an important truth needed to
be stated in an open, professional and proper way. I know that my co-authors felt the same.
If Michaels has been fired for talking about this paper, then those who fired her should look at this paper.
It is my profound hope that Ms. Michaels will get an opportunity to work again in an environment where journalists can ask tough questions and present information that allows the public to think for themselves.