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The New York Times’ Indefensible Defense of The Drug Industry

Posted Apr 21 2010 12:00am

Mainstreammedia By Jake Crosby

A few months ago, I wrote about New York Times health reporter Gardiner Harris, his reprehensible coverage of this important health issue - whether or not vaccines cause autism - and his undisclosed familial conflict of interest: his brother sells lab equipment to pharmaceutical companies. ( HERE )
 
Then, after reading about an abusive letter Gardiner Harris sent to an autism parent in an email exchange, and following the advice of readers, I decided to lodge a formal complaint with The New York Times against Harris and the paper’s coverage of this controversy, which has been overwhelmingly in favor of the government and pharmaceutical industry. In the meantime, I also learned the following fun facts about a few of The Times’ board of directors and top executives, which would at least partially, if not fully explain their position:
Dawn G. Lepore was elected to the Board of Directors of The New York Times Company in 2008.  

Ms. Lepore has served as president, chief executive officer and chairman of drugstore.com since October 2004.  (HERE)   

Raul E. Cesan was elected to the Board of Directors of The New York Times Company in 1999.   

Previously, Mr. Cesan served as president and chief operating officer of the Schering-Plough Corporation from 1998 until 2001, culminating a 24-year career at the company.  

He joined Schering-Plough, which is engaged in the discovery, development, manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceutical and health care products worldwide, in 1977 as director of finance and administration for the company's Latin American region. He subsequently held positions of increasing responsibility, including president of operations in   Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and was appointed president of Schering-Plough International in 1988. In 1992, he became president of Schering Laboratories, the U.S. pharmaceutical marketing arm, and in 1994, became president of Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals.   



Committee Memberships: Audit (Chair) and Finance  (HERE)    

Ellen R. Marram was elected to the Board of Directors of The New York Times Company in 1998. Since 2006, Ms. Marram has served as the board’s presiding director.

Ms. Marram also serves on the board of directors of…Eli Lilly and Company.  (HERE)  
Susan J. DeLuca became vice president, organization capability for The New York Times Company in January 2007. She began her business experience as…a medical representative at Pfizer.  

Ms. DeLuca held key leadership and organizational development roles at Glaxo Wellcome where she managed the Glaxo Business School and directed Executive Education. At SmithKline Beecham she was the director of human resource and organization development for consumer healthcare, North America.  (HERE)
  
This could explain why The New York Times has held such a strong position on this controversy, in spite of their superficial grasp of basic facts regarding the debate and complete inability to defend their own positions as evidenced in my exchanges with the newspaper staff. To give you an idea of just what to expect, these folks do not talk like journalists or reporters, not at all. They talk like PR men. 

The following is the letter I have sent to Clark Hoyt, NYT public editor, then forwarded to his boss, NYT publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., responses I received from Clark Hoyt and NYT Senior Editor for Standards Greg Brock, along with my rebuttals.  
 
  from Jake Crosby < jcaofa@gmail.com >

  to  public@nytimes.com

  date Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 11:14 PM
  subject Complaint About Coverage of Important Health Issue
  mailed-by gmail.com

   hide details Feb 21
 
Dear Mr. Hoyt,

My name is Jake Crosby. I am a college student at Brandeis University who suffers from an autism spectrum disorder, and I am a contributing editor to Age of Autism: Daily Web Newspaper of The Autism Epidemic, an online consumer advocacy newsletter of the autism community. I am writing to file a complaint against a particular journalist at your paper, Gardiner Harris, as a result of his coverage of the vaccine-autism controversy. His articles are inaccurate by omission and commission. His behavior is grossly unethical, and has become increasingly unprofessional.
 
He also has an undisclosed conflict of interest after years of writing smear campaigns against parents who have seen their children regress after their vaccines. His brother, Crane Harris, has a long history working for pharmaceutical interests, his previous job being at La Jolla Pharmaceuticals, where the current top executives and members of the board of directors have worked for vaccine manufacturers. He now works for a medical devices company called Illumina Inc, whose primary customers include the pharmaceutical industry, according to the business' website. 

Gardiner Harris is not a journalist who should be representing your paper in its coverage of the vaccine autism controversy. He's a conflicted journalist with an undisclosed COI after 5 years of claiming that there is no controversy. Here is the latest example of his extreme bias and lack of objectivity, not to mention arrogance, as exhibited in an e-mail to a reader:

From: "Harris, Gardiner" <
gardiner@nytimes.com >
To: "
ljgoes2006@yahoo.com " < ljgoes2006@yahoo.com >
Sent: Fri, February 19, 2010 8:00:42 AM
Subject: Re: READER MAIL: Gardiner Harris
Thanks for your note. I'm sorry for your children's difficulties, your anger and your willingness to believe wild conspiracy theories about the roots of autism.
http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/02/nyts-gardiner-harris-wear-white-and-black-hats.html#more

Mr. Hoyt, there is ample evidence that the vaccine-autism controversy is anything but a wild conspiracy theory. A few examples:

1. According to the CDC website on autism:
There is some evidence that the critical period for developing ASDs occurs before birth.  However, concerns about vaccines and infections have led researchers to consider risk factors before and after birth.
http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html
 
2. According to Dr. Bernadine Healy, former NIH Director, speaking of the vaccine-autism hypothesis:
"There is a completely expressed concern that they don't want to pursue a hypothesis because that hypothesis could be damaging to the public health community at large by scaring people. First of all, I think the public’s smarter than that. The public values vaccines. But more importantly, I don’t think you should ever turn your back on any scientific hypothesis because you’re afraid of what it might show."
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/05/12/cbsnews_investigates/main4086809.shtml

3. According to Dr. Geraldine Dawson, Chief Science Officer for Autism Speaks: 
“We believe that the question of whether immunization is associated with an increased risk for ASD is of extremely high priority... studies point toward subgroups of children with ASD with genetic vulnerabilities than can amplify the adverse effects of environmental exposures, including vaccinations, on brain development and function...There is a need to describe the nature and prevalence of vaccine adverse events in children with metabolic disorders and assess risk factors for these events...Many fundamental questions have not been addressed, such as whether the use of combination vaccines confers increased risk for adverse events and whether there are subgroups in the general population that are more vulnerable to serious adverse effects of vaccines, including ASD...pediatricians [could] identify subgroups of children who may benefit from a different vaccine schedule or for whom careful monitoring of adverse effects is warranted...it will require an on‐going process of scientific discovery as medical science continues to uncover individual differences that predict differential responses to vaccines and other medical interventions. ”
Full text here:
http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/01/parents-vs-the-science-ask-geraldine-dawson-and-autism-speaks.html

4. According to former CDC director Julie Gerberding, from an interview by CBS on the Hannah Poling case:
"If a child is immunized and has a fever or other complications from the vaccine,  then if you're predisposed with a mitochondrial disorder, it could certainly set off damage. Some of the symptoms can be characteristics of autism."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh-nkD5LSIg

5. According to Dr. Peter Fletcher, former Chief Science Advisor for the UK Department of Health, on the MMR vaccine, a major suspect in autism causation:
"There are very powerful people in positions of great authority in Britain and elsewhere who have staked their reputations and careers on the safety of MMR and they are willing to do almost anything to protect themselves."
"It is entirely possible that the immune systems of a small minority simply cannot cope with the challenge of the three live viruses in the MMR jab, and the ever-increasing vaccine load in general."
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-376203/Former-science-chief-MMR-fears-coming-true.html

So, as you can see, the vaccine-autism link is not a wild conspiracy theory, not even close.  
Furthermore, when Gardiner Harris was confronted with the fact that Julie Gerberding supported conducting a  vaccinated vs. unvaccinted study on autism in an email exchange with an Age of Autism reader, Harris replied:
thanks for your note. there is no credible way to compare autism rates in vaccinated and unvaccinated children.  and dr. gerberding made no such statements. david kirby got his story  entirely wrong. thanks, gardiner
http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/07/did-gardiner-ha.html
 
Dr. Gerberding did, however, state that a vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study "could be done and should be done," when asked about it by my editor, Dan Olmsted, at a news conference in 2005, which was later written about by Age of Autism and Huffington Post contributor David Kirby. So it was Gardiner Harris who got his story entirely wrong, not Kirby.
Recently, the CDC has stated that autism now affects 1 in 110 children. So this is an issue that demands coverage from objective journalists, not the likes of Gardiner Harris. (His article from last year on vaccine-related conflicts of interest in the CDC as reported by the HHS does not directly relate to to the `vaccine-autism controversy.)
Gardiner Harris' most recent article that reflects his lack of objectivity covers The Lancet journal's retraction of a 1998 study lead by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that first raised the possibility of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism in the aftermath of the General Medical Council verdicts against him. Harris quoted The Lancet's editor-in-chief, Richard Horton, as saying "This is a damning indictment of Andrew Wakefield and his research."
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/03/health/research/03lancet.html

What he did not report was that Richard Horton is also accused of giving false testimony against Andrew Wakefield at the GMC Hearing by Jim Moody esq, who represents 21 autism and vaccine safety organizations in the US and UK, including Age of Autism
http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/01/attorney-jim-moody-describes-false-testimony-at-gmc-hearing-video-here.html

Though Gardiner Harris did quote Jim Moody in the article as saying The Lancet's retraction was about suppressing research, the above critical detail about Horton was left out of the article entirely.

In this same article, Gardiner Harris then persisted in bashing parent and consumer advocacy organizations in the autism community as "anti-vaccine groups" without including their point-of-view. He completely omitted the fact that no parents complained in the GMC case against Wakefield, and most are totally supportive of him.

Unfortunately, such skewed reporting is the norm for Gardiner Harris, which dates all the way back to a June 25, 2005 article he co-wrote entitled "On Autism's Cause: It's Parents vs. Research." He claimed in the article that autism rates continued to go up after thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative in vaccines, was removed in Sweden Denmark and Canada. In reality, Swedish autism rates relied solely on hospitalizations, which are useless for studying autism. There was NO study from Canada that made such a claim in 2005, and the Danish data has been widely condemned for artificially inflating autism rates when thimerosal was removed.

In a critique, the non-profit group Coalition for SafeMinds, Sensible Action For Ending Mercury-Induced Neurological Disorders, reevaluated the Danish data and found that when the bias was removed, autism rates dropped following thimerosal removal, this has never been reported in The New York Times.
http://www.safeminds.org/research/Hviid_et_alJAMA-SafeMindsAnalysis.pdf

Gardiner Harris also cited a study done by a CDC researcher Thomas Verstraeten to show that the rates of autism were not associated with vaccines, and dismissed earlier versions of the study obtained through FOIA requests that found considerable associations between thimerosal exposure and autism, quoting the CDC as  calling the study "evolving over time." He further quoted CDC officials as saying that the earlier versions failed to control for factors like low birth weight, which would increase the risk for neurodevelopmental disorders. Yet,  low birth weight has nothing to do with explaining why increased doses of thimerosal would be associated with neurological disorders. Further, he omitted the fact that the original data behind Verstraeten's study was not open to independent researchers for replication.   

Harris also cited a British study to attempt to show that people with the lowest incidence of neurodevelopmental disorders received the highest dose of thimerosal, neglecting to say that over 90% of the participants in the study received the same maximum dose of thimerosal, which would make the results too diluted to be useful. 

He also made no reference to the fact that some of the researchers involved in the above studies received funding from the vaccine industry. 

Finally, he cited the Institute of Medicine's 2004 report as an independent review to further deny the link between thimerosal and autism. What he didn't report were the statements of IOM panelists which clearly suggested that they came to predetermined conclusions about whether thimerosal caused autism and related disorders. In a closed meeting in January 2001, before any evidence was submitted to the panel, IOM Chairwoman Marie McCormick said, "[The CDC] wants us to declare, well, that these things are, well, pretty safe." She also said, "We are not ever going to come down that [autism] is a true side-effect."
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/7395411/deadly_immunity/

It would take a whole other email to go into studies linking autism to vaccines that Harris never made reference to, which I would be more than happy to do, if you wish.
I look forward to your response to this critical problem.

Sincerely,
Jake Crosby, Age of Autism, Contributing Editor
www.ageofautism.com/jake-crosby

After two weeks, he never writes back, so I forwarded the message to his boss, NYT publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., to see if he would act on my letter. 

  from Jake Crosby < jcaofa@gmail.com >
  
to 
publisher@nytimes.com
  
date Sat, Mar 6, 2010 at 6:26 PM   
subject Fwd: Complaint About Coverage of Important Health Issue   
mailed-by gmail.com

hide details Mar 6
 
Dear Mr. Sulzberger,

Below is an email I sent to The New York Times public editor, Clark Hoyt, concerning your newspaper's coverage of the vaccine-autism controversy. I received a form letter reply minutes later, but not an actual response. So I presume he has not read my email, which is why I am sending it to you. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
Jake Crosby
Age of Autism, Contributing Editor
http://www.ageofautism.com/jake-crosby/
 
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jake Crosby <
jcaofa@gmail.com >
Date: Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 10:14 PM
Subject: Complaint About Coverage of Important Health Issue
- Show quoted text -


Two days later… 
  
from Public/NYT/NYTIMES <public@nytimes.com>

to  jcaofa@gmail.com

date Mon, Mar 8, 2010 at 7:28 PM
subject Re: Complaint About Coverage of Important Health Issue
mailed-by nytimes.com

hide details Mar 8

Dear Jake Crosby,

Thank you for writing, and I apologize for not responding to your message sooner.  The public editor gets a large volume of e-mail, and I cannot give personal answers to all who write.
I will look into the issues you have raised and get back to you.

Best,
Clark Hoyt
Public Editor
The New York Times
Note:  The public editor's opinions are his own and do not represent those of The New York Times.
----- Forwarded by Public/NYT/NYTIMES on 03/08/2010 11:20 AM -----
Jake Crosby <
jcaofa@gmail.com >
02/21/2010 10:14 PM
To 
public@nytimes.com

cc 
Subject Complaint About Coverage of Important Health Issue
 
As if he would’ve ever gotten back to me had I not alerted his boss first! Not surprisingly, Hoyt waits until the autism omnibus decisions are handed down to get back to me: 

  from Public/NYT/NYTIMES <public@nytimes.com>

to  jcaofa@gmail.com
 
Fri, Mar 12, 2010 at 7:47 PM
subject Re: Complaint About Coverage of Important Health Issue
mailed-by nytimes.com

hide details Mar 12
 
Dear Jake Crosby, 
 
Thank you for writing regarding the controversy over autism, related disorders and childhood vaccines. 
 
You charged that Gardiner Harris has a conflict of interest in covering the issue because his brother works for a company that includes pharmaceutical firms among its customers.  His brother works for a company that sells genetic testing equipment to academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies.  Gardiner Harris said he does not know if any of the customers are makers of vaccines but assumes some are.  I find your notion that this constitutes a conflict of interest to be too much of a stretch.  The brother is not himself involved in vaccine production or sales.  The connection you are trying to make is too tenuous to be credible

 
I have looked into the autism-vaccine controversy before - 
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/17/opinion/17pubed.html   
- and there is no credible scientific evidence to support the notion that vaccines cause autism or ASD.  As I’m sure you know, the latest development in this controversy was the complete retraction - 
http://press.thelancet.com/wakefieldretraction.pdf  
- by Lancet, the British medical journal, of the study that started the theory of a link in the first place.  Since that original article a dozen years ago, repeated peer-reviewed studies have found no link.  The so-called vaccine court has rejected - 
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1218720720100312  
- the link.  If one accepted the original premise that the preservative thimerosal in vaccines was the culprit causing rising rates of autism, one would have expected the rates to decrease after thimerosal was removed nine years ago.  They have not.  I confess that I find the debate frustrating because facts seem unable to dent the conviction of those persuaded that the link exists. 
 
I appreciate hearing from you but do not agree that the reporter has a conflict or interest or that coverage of this subject by The Times has been inaccurate or in any way irresponsible. 
 
Best,
Clark Hoyt
Public Editor
The New York Times
 

After receiving Hoyt’s unsatisfactory response, I wrote a letter to Sulzberger:

From  Jake Crosby jcaofa@gmail.com
To   publisher@nytimes.com

Fri, Mar 26, 2010 at 12:25 AM

subject  Follow-up Re: My Correspondence with Mr. Hoyt

Dear Mr. Sulzberger,

Thank you so much for bringing my letter to the attention of the public editor. I am extremely grateful that you made my concerns known to Mr. Hoyt.

Unfortunately, he did not respond to any points I made beyond the second paragraph of my email. As someone afflicted with an autism spectrum disorder myself, I am especially dismayed by this.

Primarily through health reporter Gardiner Harris, The New York Times has held a firm position on the side of the government and industry regarding a vaccine/autism link, and The Times all but excludes opposing viewpoints, dismissing them as "anti-vaccine" (vaccine safety is not synonymous with anti-vaccine).  For the sake of its own credibility and the health of a generation of Americans, however, The Times' should re-examine, with an open mind, its stance on this controversy and be equally receptive to the clear safety concerns expressed by scientists, doctors and parents regarding the government's most heavily promoted drug. My letter to Mr. Hoyt (below) highlights irrefutable evidence that the vaccine/autism link is not only real, but is acknowledged by leading health authorities here and abroad. I implore you to read this.

There is precedent for The New York Times reversing its position with regard to autism causation. The Times portrayed psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim, who championed the claim that autism was caused by "refrigerator mothers," as the premiere expert on the disorder - right up to the day after his death. In fact, on February 12, 1967, Bettelheim contributed a major article to The Times entitled "Where Self Begins," prompting a letter in response: "Bettelheim has the right to express his beliefs, but when they are presented in the public print he ought to label them as personal opinions, not to be confused with reality." That letter was written by the late Dr. Bernard Rimland, founder of the Autism Research Institute, who has testified before Congress on the link between autism and vaccinations. The Times has since come around on one of his viewpoints - that autism is not caused by the parents -  but has given no consideration to the latter, that vaccination can cause it.

The refusal to consider evidence for an autism/vaccine link is obvious throughout Mr. Hoyt's brief response to me. The only issue I raised that he even acknowledged was the conflict of interest of the reporter in question, Gardiner Harris, whose brother sells lab equipment to drug companies.

Mr. Harris has been writing articles that have overwhelmingly favored government and industry, while criticizing and suppressing the consumer side and the side of proven science. Mr. Hoyt's defense is based solely on government and industry-funded sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

He starts by citing a column he wrote two years ago, where he takes the American Broadcasting Company to task for airing an episode of its fictional legal drama, "Eli Stone," during which the main character successfully sues a pharmaceutical company for making a flu shot that contains mercury, causing a child to develop autism. Mr. Hoyt essentially concludes that vaccines do not cause autism, because the government says so.

Ironically, one week after Mr. Hoyt's column ran, David Kirby, author of NY Times Bestseller "Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic, a Medical Controversy,"  broke a story in The Huffington Post about the family of an autistic child, Hannah Poling, being compensated by vaccine court because the government conceded that the five shots she received at once caused her autism. Two of the vaccines contained thimerosal, a total bolus exposure of 50 micrograms of mercury. That's twice the amount in a typical flu shot.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/government-concedes-vacci_b_88323.html

This story was eventually reported throughout the mainstream media
http://www.cbsnews.com/8300-501263_162-501263.html?keyword=Hannah+Poling
http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/conditions/03/06/vaccines.autism/index.html
http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1721109,00.html
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,335451,00.html
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/story?id=4402930&page=1
http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-03-07-3676631517_x.htm

Including your newspapers http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/08/us/08vaccine.html
http://www.boston.com/news/health/articles/2008/03/07/analysis_vaccine_payment_no_landmark/

Particularly disturbing is that in my original letter to Mr. Hoyt, I provided a link to a clip from CNN in which the CDC director at the time, Dr. Julie Gerberding, explains to medical reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta that if children are predisposed like Hannah Poling was, they may receive an adverse reaction to vaccines by way of fever or other immune mechanism, some of the symptoms of which will manifest into characteristics of autism. In other words, she conceded vaccines do cause autism, because the disorder is solely defined by characteristics.

Moreover, Hannah Poling has classic autism as defined in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manuel. Yet, Mr. Hoyt still maintains there is no credible evidence linking vaccines to autism.

Here is credible evidence linking the vaccine preservative thimerosal to autism http://www.autism.com/triggers/vaccine/thimerosalreferences.htm   

Here is more credible evidence linking MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccine to autismhttp://www.chem.cmu.edu/wakefield/pro.html

Mr. Hoyt seemed to time his response to me to follow the Reuters report on the recent autism omnibus decisions regarding thimerosal as a possible causal factor of autism. This is a decision all in the autism community were anticipating to come down against the plaintiffs, given the way vaccine court is set up: a system designed to completely shield drug companies from vaccine litigation as it has since the Reagan Administration.

One of the major studies cited in the autism omnibus decision was the well-known Denmark study. One of the coauthors to this study disputing a link between thimerosal and autism, Poul Thorsen, is now under criminal investigation for forgery and fraud. He disappeared with $2 million in expropriated funds, as NBC 11 Atlanta reports, but The New York Times did not report this, even though The Times had previously relied on this study to exonerate thimerosal http://www.11alive.com/video/default.aspx?menuid=149#/News/A+New+Twist+In+The+Controversy+Over+Autism/49906865001/50317397001/71272069001

Despite this news story, Clark Hoyt states:

If one accepted the original premise that the preservative thimerosal in vaccines was the culprit causing rising rates of autism, one would have expected the rates to decrease after thimerosal was removed nine years ago.  They have not.

First of all, Mr. Hoyt displays a very basic lack of knowledge concerning this controversy. Thimerosal was not the original premise for the rise in autism rates, the MMR vaccine was. The paper in The Lancet in 1998 which first raised the possibility of an MMR-autism link was published a year before the public even knew that thimerosal was in vaccines, or that it was partially composed of mercury, and three years before studies linking thimerosal to autism even showed up in the medical literature.

Furthermore, his fallacy that autism rates kept increasing after thimerosal was removed so thimerosal cannot cause autism is wrong on both counts.

Autism rates have in fact gone down; artificial changes in the reporting systems, however, skewed new cases towards the youngest age groups, creating an artificial rise in the relevant autism cases. Nonetheless, the decrease is still indirectly seen in the system as a whole. What's more, thimerosal was not immediately removed from some vaccines; it was phased out, and during that time the flu shot became routinely recommended for children. To this day, most flu shots including those given to children still contain the mercury preservative. In fact, I wrote about this for Age of Autism very recently.
http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/03/the-fallacy-of-thimerosal-removal-autism-increase-a-failure-of-science-a-bigger-failure-to-children-.html#more

In Conclusion

Mr. Hoyt is not even acknowledging glaring errors in government and industry studies attempting to exonerate vaccines, nor does he acknowledge studies linking vaccines to autism, the links for which I posted earlier. I am a college blogger with a disability and had no problem tracking down those links. The fact that the public editor of The New York Times is not privy to them suggests he is cherry-picking the facts surrounding this debate.

He then sums up his letter by claiming that the reporter in question, Gardiner Harris, neither has a conflict of interest, nor that The Times' coverage has been in any way inaccurate or irresponsible.

With respect, I disagree. The public editor is not representing the public.  I request that you personally investigate this important matter which impacts the health of millions of Americans - and examine it from all perspectives - not just that of government and industry.  My original email to Mr. Hoyt and his response are included below. Please read them.

Very Sincerely,

Jake Crosby
Age of Autism, Contributing Editor
http://www.ageofautism.com/jake-crosby/

(PS) Please forgive my misstating of the link to Julie Gerberding on CNN as being on CBS below.


Then I responded to Hoyt
from Jake Crosby <jcaofa@gmail.com>

to Public/NYT/NYTIMES < public@nytimes.com>

Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 8:33 PM
subject Re: Complaint About Coverage of Important Health Issue
mailed-by gmail.com
 
hide details Mar 30 (13 days ago)
 
Dear Mr. Hoyt, 

Thank you for taking the time to respond to me; however, you did not reply to a single one of my links which I provided as evidence that vaccines and autism are connected. You seem to be working hard to uphold a particular position taken by The New York Times. 

Many in the autism community feel that the government has successfully influenced the media to suppress information related to this issue. The words of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are proof of the government's efforts: 

"There are groups out there that insist that vaccines are responsible for a variety of problems despite all scientific evidence to the contrary. We have reached out to media outlets to try to get them to not give the views of these people equal weight in their reporting to what science has shown and continues to show about the safety of vaccines." - Reader's Digest, February 5, 2010 

It appears The New York Times has been very cooperative with the government's agenda. 

Again, please review my letter below that contains the links, thank you.

Sincerely, 
Jake Crosby
Age of Autism, Contributing Editor
www.ageofautism.com/jake-crosby

Then Greg Brock, Senior Editor for Standards at The New York Times, writes me: 
 
 from NYTimes, Senioreditor <SeniorEditor@nytimes.com>

to" jcaofa@gmail.com " <jcaofa@gmail.com>

cc  "nytimes, public" < public@nytimes.com>

Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 3:06 PM
subject FW: Complaint About Coverage of Important Health Issue
mailed-by nytimes.com

hide details Mar 31 (13 days ago)
  
Dear Mr. Crosby: 

Clark Hoyt shared your complaint with me. I am the senior editor for standards in the newsroom, so I oversee issues like corrections of factual errors or violations of our standards and ethics policies. 

I read your original complaint, Mr. Hoyt's thorough response, and your rebuttal. 

I agree with his ultimate conclusion that he does not agree with you that "the reporter has a conflict of interest or that coverage of this subject by The Times has been inaccurate or in any way irresponsible." 

Like Mr. Hoyt, I appreciate your taking the time to give us your feedback.  But in this instance I see no problem.  

Best regards,  
Greg Brock
Senior Editor/Standards   

from Jake Crosby <jcaofa@gmail.com>

toSeniorEditor@nytimes.com

cc  publisher@nytimes.com ,
Public/NYT/NYTIMES <
public@nytimes.com>

date

Thu, Apr 1, 2010 at 1:45 AM
subject Re: FW: Complaint About Coverage of Important Health Issue
mailed-by gmail.com

Dear Mr. Brock,

Thank you for responding to me. I appreciate that you've read the exchange between Mr. Hoyt and myself. 

I beg to differ with you about Gardiner Harris' conflict of interest, having read The New York Times guidelines for Ethics in Journalism which very specifically states:

"Similarly the journalist may be asked to affirm that to the best of his or her knowledge no household member or close relative has financial holdings that might reasonably raise doubts about the journalist's impartiality. If such conditions arise, the staff member must alert newsroom management."

The close relative in this case is Gardiner Harris' brother, and the financial holdings that might raise doubts about the journalist's impartiality are his brother's sales of medical devices to pharmaceutical companies, some of which are assumed to be manufacturers of vaccines as Gardiner Harris himself stated, according to Mr. Hoyt. 

The Times' guidelines also state, under "Avoiding Conflicts Over Family":

"A brother or a daughter in a high-profile job on Wall Street might produce the appearance of conflict for a business reporter or editor."

Quite frankly, I do not understand how you could say there is no conflict of interest here when the "Ethics in Journalism" policy of The Times clearly shows there is. 

Mr. Brock, you have also addressed none of the issues raised in my letter concerning the possibility of a vaccine-autism link:
Former NIH Director Dr. Bernadine Healy on CBS saying autism-vaccine research avoided by public health authorities
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/05/12/cbsnews_investigates/main4086809.shtml  
Dr. Geraldine Dawson, Chief Science Officer of Autism Speaks, question of vaccine-autism link is of extremely high priority
http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/01/parents-vs-the-science-ask-geraldine-dawson-and-autism-speaks.html  
CDC - autism-vaccine concerns precipitating pre and postnatal autism research
http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html  
Former CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding on CNN conceding vaccines can cause autism
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh-nkD5LSIg  
 
Former Chief Science Advisor of UK Department of Health, Dr. Peter Fletcher - powerful people staked reputations on MMR will do almost anything to protect themselves. MMR may cause autism and GI disorder in vulnerable subset.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-376203/Former-science-chief-MMR-fears-coming-true.html  
False Testimony Given by editor-in-chief Dr. Richard Horton against Dr. Andrew Wakefield, author of paper that first mentioned temporal link between MMR and autism
http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/01/attorney-jim-moody-describes-false-testimony-at-gmc-hearing-video-here.html  
SafeMinds critique of Danish study, the data of which show a link between thimerosal and autism
http://www.safeminds.org/research/Hviid_et_alJAMA-SafeMindsAnalysis.pdf  
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. investigates the mercury-autism cover-up
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/7395411/deadly_immunity/  
 
Links not specifically addressed in my letter, but also of relevance:
NBC 11 Atlanta Reports: Danish Scientist Absconds with $2 million, Poul Thorsen "Proved" Vaccines Don't Cause Autism
http://www.11alive.com/video/default.aspx?menuid=149#/A+New+Twist+In+The+Controversy+Over+Autism/71272069001   
The Fallacy of Thimerosal Removal & Autism Increase
http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/03/the-fallacy-of-thimerosal-removal-autism-increase-a-failure-of-science-a-bigger-failure-to-children-.html
 
On a different note, one concerning Gardiner Harris specifically, he abusively responded to an autism parent:

Thanks for your note. I'm sorry for your children's difficulties, your anger and your willingness to believe wild conspiracy theories about the roots of autism.
http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/02/nyts-gardiner-harris-wear-white-and-black-hats.html#more  

Please address these issues, thank you. I await your reply.
Sincerely,
Jake Crosby
Contributing Editor, Age of Autism
www.ageofautism.com/jake-crosby

I’ve received no word back since.

Jake Crosby is a college student with Asperger Syndrome at Brandeis University who is double majoring in History and Health: Science, Society and Social Policy, and is a contributing editor to Age of Autism.

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