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A Dose of Controversy Breezes Over Most Autism Vaccine Issues But Was Fair to Wakefield

Posted Aug 31 2009 10:09pm
I was actually pleased with the Matt Lauer /NBC coverage of the Wakefield/Deer and MMR /Vaccine Issues in A Dose of Controversy. I thought he was fair to Dr. Wakefield, giving him an opportunity to address allegations made against him. The program didn't go after Brian Deer for some of the allegations against him. While the program did give Paul Offit a free run to say what he wanted about vaccines and autism I thought he, of all people involved in the program, looked the most emotional and overwrought.

The coverage of vaccine-autism issues was light and glossed over many important issues including the "science disproving vaccine autism causal connections". The show did give Dr. Healy a brief spot to point out what is my main concern with the vaccine autism war - the obvious attempt to stifle scientific inquiry on vaccine autism issues that has been going on expressly since the IOM 2004 Report and the insufficiency of the scientific investigation to date of these issues. I don't know if Dr. Healy's sensible observations will make any impact on important audiences like IACC members but you never know.

A major criticism is the continuation of the characterization of parents as desperate, hysterical, dangerous, ignorant and unable to understand the issues or the science. It is a belief genuinely held by figures like Dr. Paul Offit and Dr. Thomas Insel and it is a belief which prevents them from being able to make their case persuasively to parents.

These criticisms aside I was pleased that NBC tried to air both sides of the Wakefield/Deer MMR war instead of following recent trends and simply giving a one sided account based totally on the medical establishment position.


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