For crying out loud, there is no controversy

On the Media did a great segment on anti-vax this week. You should listen to it to get Bob Garfield’s biting tone, but I want to hit the highlights anyway.

CLIP:  “The measles outbreak spreads to a fifth bay area county. One local pediatrician accuses vaccination opponents of undermining a basic survival concept…

BOB: Yes they did, which is why this outbreak was literally inevitable. The Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine had essentially eradicated those childhood diseases in the United States, but when parents began to stop vaccinating their kids, they were creating not just potential patients, but vectors, spreading the disease to the vulnerable. Such as the babies, pre-vaccination age, infected this week in a Chicago day care center.

And why, and how? Wakefield’s scheme to fill his pockets, and the media’s habit of pretending everything is a “controversy.”

The nightmare began in 1998 when a British con-man named Dr. Andrew Wakefield faked results and published an article in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet fraudulently claiming a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. It was a lie, which the journal should have figured out long before finally retracting the article 12 years later.

See what he did there? He said it was a lie. Not a controversy, not a debate; a lie.

By then, the bogus linkage had already spawned a movement of heartbroken parents struggling to understand what — or who — was to blame for their childrens’ afflictions. Trading as it was on the counterfeit currency of pseudoscience, that movement first languished as a relatively obscure internet subculture — until it was given vast exposure and lethal credibility by…. the media. The likes of Larry King and Oprah simply could not resist the apparent controversy, combined with the celebrity of the anti-vaccinators’ sexpot spokesperson, Jenny McCarthy.

So now diseases that had been eradicated in this country are storming back – pertussis and measles.

CLIP:  The US measles outbreak and the vaccine controversy; parents, doctors, even politicians weighing in…on both sides.

CLIP:   First on the rundown, the escalating numbers of measles cases and the growing debate over vaccinations. It’s turning into a full-fledged political firestorm.

CLIP:   As the measles outbreak spreads to fourteen states across the country, the debate over vaccinations intensifies.

BOB: Those clips  aren’t from 1998. They are from this week.  For crying out loud,  there is no controversy. There is no debate. Cynical politicians like Rand Paul and Chris Christie may pander all they want to frightened moms and the tinfoil-hat crowd–just as 49 US Senators can deny man’s role in climate change. But there is no rational basis for their beliefs. They are simply wrong — and when the media frame such idiocy as one side of a debate, they are not only legitimizing ignorance and demagoguery, they are threatening the lives of children.

That was a treat to listen to.


  1. themann1086 says

    To be “fair” to rand “babydoc” paul, he’s pretty quacky on lots of issues, so he’s probably not pandering. Christie is a bull-headed not-quite-bright asshole, so it’s hard to tell with him.

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