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ABC News flunks ABC's of Autism in Reporting

Posted Dec 01 2011 12:00am

By Anne Dachel

I was amazed at an investigative series that ABC News just aired.  It was all about how the U.S. government allows psych drugs to be used on children in the foster care system.  It’s stunning to watch the segments ABC News has produced.  The most vulnerable among us have been horribly abused by very people the government has empowered to care for them and ABC News exposed this scandal to the public.  Diane Sawyer and a number of others at ABC News worked on this investigation for over a year.  Here’s what ABC News had to say:

ABC News – November 30, 2011 -- U.S. Government Fails to Oversee Treatment of Foster Children with Mind-Altering Drugs

“Across America, doctors are putting foster children on powerful, mind-altering drugs at rates up to 13 times that of children in the general population. What’s more, doctors are prescribing foster children drugs at doses beyond what the Food and Drug Administration has approved, sometimes in potentially dangerous combinations, according to a new report by the federal Government Accountability Office.

“’It’s just almost beyond comprehension,’ said Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del., who asked for the GAO investigation. ‘We want the doctors and nurses that are prescribing these medicines to look at their behavior and think and ask this question. Are we doing something wrong here?’

“Four drug makers have paid a total of more than $2 billion to settle claims they illegally marketed antipsychotics to children. All deny wrongdoing.

On the video--Diane Sawyer: “An indictment of what the U.S. government does to some of the most vulnerable children in this country. We have spent a year investigating a horrible secret, tens of thousands of foster care children, even infants, given powerful mind-altering drugs and at times in doses and combinations considered too risky for adults.”

Sawyer: “There is no idea what the long term effects of these drugs could be on a child’s developing brain.”

“Medicaid pays for these drugs.”

ABC News – December 1, 2011 – Psychiatrists Put Kids at Risk With Mind-Altering Drugs

Diane Sawyer: “Foster care children…so many of them over-medicated with powerful mind-altering drugs. An unholy convergence: our tax payer Medicaid dollars pay for the drugs, the pharmaceutical companies see a market, and a lot of times doctors can move through many patients, fast.”

ABC: “We spent a year searching for answers.”

Sawyer: “We tried to take our questions to the U.S. government only to find agencies referring us to each other. The Secretary of the Dept of Health and Human Services declined our request for an interview. But we did sit down with Robert Nelson of the Federal Drug Administration which regulates drugs in this country and asked him who is going to lead this charge. …Is it time to issue a wake up call?”

Nelson said, “People should look into it.”

He added that the FDA was well aware of it and he asked Sawyer what she thought they should do.

Sawyer asked Nelson which agency should be blamed and he chuckled and said, “Well, um, I think we all have to take responsibility. We all need to work together to solve the problem.”

At the end, Sawyer added that the FDA had gotten back to ABC News and said that they think their current black box warnings on anti-psychotic drugs are enough and “they have no plans to add any further warning.”

ABC NEWS – December 2, 2011 – Mind-Altering Psych Drugs for a 7-Year-Old - Psych News

ABC News again presented the children who were victims of the foster care system.

I was amazed by this ABC News exclusive report.  Diane Sawyer and others were holding the government responsible for failing to protect our children.  Sawyer didn’t blindly accept the denials of those who were interviewed.  The pharmaceutical industry was cited for their corrupt practice of marketing these dangerous antipsychotic drugs to children.  It was an example of what the media’s job is supposed to be.  They’re supposed to hold people accountable for their actions. 

I couldn’t help but compare this coverage to the years of cover-up that ABC News has allowed when the issue is the controversy over vaccines and autism.  When vaccine safety is the subject, there is no year long investigation by a team from ABC News.  No one sits down with the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and demands answers. 

Imagine what it would be like if ABC News covered the autism-vaccine controversy like they did foster children and psychotropic drugs.

Diane Sawyer wouldn’t be taking the word of officials—no questions asked.  She’d want to know why hundreds of employees at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have waivers because they’re financially tied to the vaccine makers.  She’d note that the last head of the CDC, Dr. Julie Gerberding, is now head of the vaccine division at Merck.  She’d be asking if this was her reward for her years of denying any link between vaccines and autism when she ran the CDC.

ABC News wouldn’t be using Dr. Paul Offit to defend vaccine safety without mentioning that he personally made millions of dollars from a rota virus vaccine himself. 

Sawyer would want to know why there’s never been safety testing and FDA approval for the mercury and aluminum used in vaccines.  She’d expose the fact that vaccines are tested by themselves but they’re given in combination with other vaccines and that the vaccine makers often do the safety testing and the FDA just accepts the results.  She’d be in Atlanta asking why the CDC refuses to update the autism rate from the children who were born back in 1998.  She’d bring up the secret CDC sponsored meeting in Norcross, GA back in June 2000, now referred to as the Simpsonwood Meeting.  She’d expose the fact that CDC, FDA, WHO, and pharma reps were there to discuss the dramatic increase in neurological disorders in our children coincidental with the increased mercury exposure in the vaccine schedule.  She’d point out the CDC researcher Thomas Verstraeten redid the numbers three more times until any associations with mercury disappeared.  This was done at the same time Verstraeten went to work for Glaxo Smith-Kline and the original data in his study was lost. 

Sawyer would want to know why a disorder now affecting one percent of children and almost two percent of boys alone has not been declared a crisis by either the American Academy of Pediatrics or the CDC.  She’d be telling the public that no one has ever been able to find a comparable rate of autism among adults and that this generation of disabled children will soon be overwhelming social services in America.  She’d list the millions of dollars spent on worthless, dead-end research when it comes to finding autism’s cause and she’d point out the fact that the government has refused to do a comparison study of fully-vaccinated and never-vaccinated children to see if one percent of never-vaccinated children also have autism.

Sawyer would be showing us children who were born healthy and were developing normally until they received certain routine vaccinations.  We’d see how they are today and hear about the financial and emotional toll they take on a family.  Sawyer would note that the government has refused to study the children who regressed after vaccination and they call it all just a coincidence. 

ABC News has never put this kind of time and energy into vaccine safety.  Instead they’ve given us literally years of official and industry-sponsored denials.  Here are several recent examples:

  January 5, 2011

In a report titled, Vaccines for Children Proven Not to Cause Autism, Diane Sawyer was happy to accept that there’s absolutely no link between vaccines and autism.  The report on Andrew Wakefield never once mentioned the horrible bowel disease these children developed, even though that was the whole reason Wakefield was involved in this issue in the first place.   ABC couldn’t manage to talk to a single parent of the children who were the subject of the Lancet paper.  Instead they gave the floor to Brian Deer and Dr. Offit.

January 6, 2011

Dr. Besser's Notebook: The Fallout of Fraud trashed the very idea that vaccines could be causing autism.  There’s no point in looking at this anymore.  There is no link.  All this was done without ever presenting a single expert to challenge the official denials. 

January 17, 2011

George Stephanopoulos attacked Dr. Andrew Wakefield, accusing him of fraud, while never saying that he’d actually bothered to read Wakefield’s book, Callous Disregard, in which he outlined every detail of his involvement with children who developed bowel disease following their MMR vaccination.  ABC News dismissed the issue and reported that “numerous studies have proven there was no link” between vaccines and autism.

No one at ABC News seems concerned that there are lots of people with everything at stake in this debate.    If a link is clearly recognized someone is going to be held responsible.   There are lots of people who will do everything to prevent that from happening.

I wonder if Diane Sawyer or anyone else at ABC News is at least a little curious as to why the “studies prove no link” claim repeated endlessly by ABC and others hasn’t convinced parents.  Is ABC News ever going to ethically report on a controversy potentially involving every child in this country?  How long can we all just sit back losing hundreds of thousands of children to autism? 

Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism. Visit her site and subscribe to her daily feed of autism news.

Posted by Age of Autism at December 12, 2011 at 5:45 AM in Anne Dachel Permalink

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