While people sicken, CBS reporter spreads antivax propaganda

By Phil Plait | April 5, 2011 4:04 pm

Short and sweet:

Why is it that when…

a) 30 people in Virginia have been diagnosed with pertussis (whooping cough) — enough to cause classes to be canceled at a local school — and

b) 14 cases have popped up in Minnesota — cases which can apparently be traced almost directly to the dangerous antivax movement —

… does CBS allow a ridiculous antivax screed by reporter Sharyl Attkisson ever to see the light of day?

Get vaccination FACTS at Immunize for Good.

Tip o’ the syringe to balister. Pertussis image from Microbiology2009.


Related posts:

Indexed takes on antivaxxers
BREAKING: BMJ calls Andrew Wakefield a fraud
More on Wakefield’s descent: money, money, money
The Autism Science Foundation

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Alt-Med, Antiscience, Piece of mind

Comments (49)

  1. Keith Bowden

    The stupid, it kills…

  2. Don’t forget to be armed with actual information, not lies or fantasy: http://factsnotfantasy.com/vaccines.php

  3. Idlewilde

    She’s moved to the top of my ‘To Punch’ list–either her or who ever wrote her report.

  4. MrPeach

    Is there not some way to hold these people accountable for their lies?

    How about vaccine-lies.com anyone?

  5. Ugh, just found this steaming pile of excrement from a deluded individual on facebook: http://www.naturalnews.com/031820_vaccinations_babies.html

  6. gravespinner

    Saw the report on her by David Gorski on SBM. Without my trying to reinvent the wheel, does someone have email/snailmail address for complaints to CBS on inaccurate reporting?.

  7. Alan D

    Just go down to “Contact” at the bottom of their web page.

  8. Messier Tidy Upper

    Why is it that when…pertussis cases rise due to antiva x stupidity] does CBS allow a ridiculous antivax screed by reporter Sharyl Attkisson ever to see the light of day?

    Because such scare stories sell newspapers, get ratings and “earn” advertising income. I think it’s just that cynical and pathetic and immoral. :-(

    I’m normally a huge supporter of freedom of speech and expression even for people to say things that are downright silly and offensive but this sort of thing is enough to make me wish there was a law against profiting from peddling such harmful, deadly tripe. :-(

  9. josie

    I just hate it when someone else’s efforts to win a darwin award have a detrimental effect on MY family…

  10. RwFlynn

    Thirty in Virginia?? Hope it wasn’t here in NoVa.

  11. Nigel Depledge

    * sigh *

    Cue antivax nutters derailing the thread with lunatic nonsense some time in the next 12 hours . . .

  12. Nigel Depledge

    [Poe]

    What?

    Bad Phil!

    I came here for some righteous astronomy and you go and post this political stuff. How dare you? Whose blog do you think this is anyway?

    Hah! That’s the last you’ll see of me. That’ll show you!

    [/Poe]

    (As an aside, I find it especially distressing that I felt the need to label this comment as a Poe lest it be confused with a genuine nutter.)

  13. SLC

    Here’s a post by Dr. Orac on his blog about Ms. Attkisson. Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite must be turning over in their graves at the depths their former news organization has plummeted to.

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/04/the_resident_anti-vaccine_reporter_at_cb.php

  14. MattTheTubaGuy

    I have had hooping cough, it is NASTY, and it doesn’t seem to ever want to go away (at least that’s what I remember, I got it in 2005 I think)

    I also have Aspergers Syndrome.

    injecting human DNA into another human can cause autism.
    What. The. Hell!!!!!
    I’m an astronomy student at uni who has never done biology, and I can clearly see that it’s crazy.
    seriously who makes this stuff up?

  15. ChazInMT

    I can tell you I had Pertussis starting around 15 December, coughed my butt off for 3 weeks, tapered off over 3 more, I still cough a few times a day from it 4 moths later. I swear I coughed more times in a month than I had in my whole life combined. My doctor didn’t even get it diagnosed correctly. It was awful, coughing at night at times so hard I’d pull muscles in my back and almost passing out. I guess my point is, that for every “Reported” case of whooping cough, I bet there is a very large number that go either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

    I had gotten a DipTet shot a year earlier, when I called the clinic that gave it to me I asked if I’d had the DipTetP (Pertussis booster included) They said Nope. Great. If you have not had a booster for Pertussis (regardless of your age)…..Get It. Every 10 years ya need one.

  16. Peptron

    So, if I’m caught red handed of commiting fraud, all I have to do is to turn to CBS and they will cover me?

    Mmm… so many new career opportunities… *twirls mustache*

  17. Jai Alai

    How Hard or Easy is it to get a DipTetP vaccine in the U.S. or whereever you are?
    And IS it covered by any health insurance or do you pay outta pocket?
    And how much does it cost?
    I’m gonna ask around.
    If it is so important it ought to be made easy to access like the flu shot.

  18. Vall

    The Fort Worth Star Telegram just ran an article this morning about a case of measles. It is the first confirmed case in Tarrant County in 17 years. There is no mention of anti-vax in the article, so kudos to the reporter. The last two paragraphs show statistics estimating 3-4 million cases a year before the vaccine was licensed in 1963. (source stated in article: Immunization Action Coalition)
    3-4 million per year, pre-vaccine, now one in the last 17 years. Vaccines work.

  19. Is this the next goal post? My “vaccines cause autism” goal post score card’s getting hard to read. Let’s see what I have written down here:
    – Combined MMR causes autism
    – Mercury in viruses causes autism (even if no mercury is present)
    – Too many vaccines at the same time causes autism
    – “Toxins” (defined as anything the anti-vax folks declare as a toxin) in the vaccines cause autism

    Time to add “Bits of human DNA in the vaccines that somehow alter the genetic makeup of the individual thus causing autism.”

    I think I need a bigger goal post score card.

  20. Georg

    Don’t be shy!
    Start propaganda war on CBS!
    (Not on that Sharyl XYZ, Those are ten a penny)

  21. Michel

    Reporters can be a pest.

  22. Digital Atheist

    Anti-vax=practicing voodoo

  23. truthspeaker

    @#19 – Last time I went to the doctor because of a sinus infection, they offered me a combined Tetanus-Pertussis booster shot without me asking, and my insurance covered it. I live in Minnesota.

  24. Calli Arcale

    Same for me, truthspeaker. I understand the CDC is encouraging clinics to do just that — substitute DTaP for the old shots. So we should see more and more of that. Still, don’t assume your clinic uses DTaP — ask.

    It seems curiously ironic that here in the Twin Cities, the local FOX affiliate has been running excellent, science-based coverage of the measles outbreak and of the anti-vax movement associated with it. They’ve had a strong pro-vaccination message. While KMSP’s morning show isn’t as good as it was back in their UPN days, it’s still pretty good, and despite some of the other FOX news shows being advertised on it, I keep watching it. They even interrupt programming for Shuttle launches. ;-)

    Star Tribune has also had good coverage of the measles outbreak, including interviews with a local Somali lady who has become something of a crusader for MMR and vaccination. One of her childred developed autism, and then she heard about Wakefield and stopped vaccinating her other children, which lasted until her regular doctor gently pointed her to information about how Wakefield had been discredited. She was furious with Wakefield at that point. Somali women are usually educated, which contradicts certain Muslim and immigrant stereotypes. So they are following the more typical anti-vax demographics — it’s educated people getting suckered in. But those same people tend to be all the more furious when they discover they’ve been had.

  25. RobT

    Bits of human DNA? So would they tell us that when, years ago, blood transfusions were performed with whole blood that the recipient’s DNA would be altered? They would then become autistic? If that were the case age would be irrelevant as to the onset of autism, it would happen after the transfusion. I guess a little knowledge really is a dangerous thing.

  26. Becky's thoughts

    My Grandmother is 97 years old. She was born before penicillin was widely used, before the polio vaccine, before a lot of drugs we take for granted were even thought of. Her sister died from bacterial pneumonia. Her mother in law had 16 children, 8 of whom did not live to adulthood. It’s time to stop the fooling around.

  27. andrew

    Vaccination and modern health science carry with them the symptom of overpopulation. Also, keep in mind that since we’ve only been

  28. andrew

    Vaccination and modern health science carry with them the symptom of overpopulation. Also, keep in mind that since we’ve only been using vaccines for the past 150 years or so, we lack true perspective on their effects in the long term evolution of the human race. Hasn’t anyone seen I Am Legend :)? What we may think is a medical miracle today could turn out to change life as we know it. For all you know, vaccines could cause one of the myriad syndromes that are collectively called “autism”. Besides, we really don’t know anything about those ailments-how can you be so sure what does or doesn’t cause them?

  29. jim

    Vaccines are safe and effective, vaccines are safe and effective, vaccines are safe and effective, vaccines are safe and effective, vaccines are safe and effective, vaccines are safe and effective, vaccines are safe and effective, vaccines are safe and effective, vaccines are safe and effective, vaccines are safe and effective, vaccines are safe and effective…………………………………….!!!N O T!!!………………………………………………………..

    Monkey hear, monkey repeat, monkey gets money from big pharma, monkey knows better, monkey gives shots anyway, monkey lies to parents, monkey hurt children’s brains, monkey should repent and get real job helping people instead of lying & giving dangerous drugs people don’t need, that NEVER cure, EVER, just treat symptom bad food, water and big pharma marketed drugs cause………….

  30. Steve

    Look at it this way: those folks who refuse to vax their kids will be the first to scream for health care when it’s their kids who get polio, pertussis, measles, etc, etc, etc.
    And if they are claiming mercury is a basic cause of autism, how come we’re not seeing evidence of lowered brain functioning in cold water fish who carry high levels of mercury? We should be seeing behavioral changes, problems in spawning/mating, faulty migrations, etc.

  31. Alan D

    Just got up to date on mine at my recent physical. Covered by insurance.

    Clear skies, Alan

  32. Chris

    jim, do you have evidence of your assertions? Or are just going to pretend to be a chimp at the keyboard?

  33. Grimbold

    Wow, Jim. I honestly can’t tell whether your post is deliberate trolling or just very stupid.

    I just got my yearly flu shot today.

  34. Wzrd1

    You know, it says a lot about the anti-vaccination crowd, when their prime spokesperson is a woman whose only real claim to fame was waving her boobs in front of a camera and has no other skills that can be defined.
    If it was ONLY their children getting preventable illnesses and becoming ill or dying, I’d honestly not care. The state can take good care of neglect cases. That is why we have prisons.
    But, instead, they risk infants and the immunocompromised with potentially lethal illnesses, claiming they have a right to choose that.
    I have a right to buy gasoline. I do NOT have a right to throw an open container of that gasoline through someone’s window.
    What I TRULY found interesting in her story was about the “description of autism from 1943 on listed…” and MMR in the same sentence, a vaccine that was developed in *1960*! So, I guess the good doctors jumped into their time machines, jumped forward and listened to Jenny, used her pseudo-science for their reports that they wrote in the past.
    The name of the time machine: TURDIS.

  35. Nigel Depledge

    Andrew (30) said:

    Vaccination and modern health science carry with them the symptom of overpopulation.

    No, they don’t.

    Vaccination, modern health science, the Green Revolution and a lack of accurate sex education will have – in combination – the symptom of overpopulation. Perhaps.

    Also, keep in mind that since we’ve only been using vaccines for the past 150 years or so, we lack true perspective on their effects in the long term evolution of the human race.

    So what?

    Even more than vaccines, we lack the perspective on the impact of television on the evolution of the human race. By your “logic”, we should therefore be more wary of television than of vaccines.

    In what way is that an argument for or against anything?

    Hasn’t anyone seen I Am Legend ?

    Yes. It is what we scientists call Fiction. Go and look the word up in a dictionary.

    What we may think is a medical miracle today could turn out to change life as we know it. For all you know, vaccines could cause one of the myriad syndromes that are collectively called “autism”.

    No. Studies have shown that vaccines do not cause autism.

    We do not know what exactly contributes to autism, but there are a great many things that have been ruled out.

    Besides, we really don’t know anything about those ailments-how can you be so sure what does or doesn’t cause them?

    Duh, because people have tested these ideas to see if Possible Factor X is related to incidence of autism. Where there is no correlation between Possible Factor X and autism incidence, it is quite safe to rule out Factor X as a possible cause.

    Have you ever heard of the concept of using logic to reason from facts?

  36. Peter B

    Andrew @ #30 said: “Vaccination and modern health science carry with them the symptom of overpopulation.”

    When children stop dying of preventable diseases, parents have fewer children. Please note the strong correlation between the lack of vaccine-preventable diseases and low birth rates. The parts of the world where over-population is an issue are generally countries where lots of children die from vaccine-preventable diseases.

    “Also, keep in mind that since we’ve only been using vaccines for the past 150 years or so, we lack true perspective on their effects in the long term evolution of the human race.”

    In evolutionary terms, that lack of perspective applies to everything we’ve done since we invented farming. Are you suggesting we should become nomadic hunter-gatherers?

    “Hasn’t anyone seen I Am Legend :) ? What we may think is a medical miracle today could turn out to change life as we know it.”

    Antibiotics changed life as we knew it back in the mid-20th century. Metal working changed life as we knew it 6000 years ago. Farming changed life as we knew it 20,000 years ago. That’s what humans are good at doing – using our brains to change the world.

    “For all you know, vaccines could cause one of the myriad syndromes that are collectively called “autism”.”

    Perhaps, but extremely unlikely – plenty of medical studies so far indicate otherwise.

    “Besides, we really don’t know anything about those ailments-how can you be so sure what does or doesn’t cause them?”

    We know some things about autism. We know, for example, there are autistic children who have never been vaccinated.

  37. Peter B

    Jim @ #31 said: “…giving dangerous drugs people don’t need, that NEVER cure, EVER, just treat symptom bad food, water and big pharma marketed drugs cause………….”

    Please explain how it is that smallpox has been eradicated. Please don’t say “better hygiene”, as this doesn’t explain why other diseases like measles and pertussis haven’t also been eradicated.

  38. Nigel Depledge

    @ Chris (34) –
    What do you mean “pretend”?

  39. Nigel Depledge

    Stupid Troll (31) said:

    . . . monkey gets money from big pharma . . .

    Whereof you know not, speak not.

    The pharmaceuticals industry is the most tightly-regulated industry in the world.

    It can cost $250 million to get a product from discovery to market, and further hundreds of millions are spent on drug candidates that never reach the marketplace. Costs will only increase, since all the low-hanging fruit has gone.

    And, all those scientists who work for big Pharma companies? They all genuinely believe that they are helping to save lives and to improve the quality of life of people with life-threatening or life-altering conditions. They know a hell of a lot more about the stuff they sell than do their bosses, or the marketing departments. And if they thought there was anything wrong with their vaccines or drug products, they would tell someone.

    Full disclosure: for about 14 months, the place I work was owned by a Big Pharma company. It has recently changed hands, now being owned by a company that is not a Big Pharma.

  40. Furbo

    @jim, I noticed some errors in your post, so I corrected it:

    Quack hear, quack repeat, quack gets money from big placebo, quack knows better, quack gives chelation therapy anyway, quack lies to parents, quack hurt children’s brains, quack should repent and get real job helping people instead of lying & giving dangerous drugs people don’t need, that NEVER cure, EVER, just placebo effect.

    It actually fits really well. You really should do something about that projection, it isn’t healthy.

  41. bbmcrae

    However, Jim, I do want to thank you for the time travel journey back to 1991, which was the last time the “NOT!” joke was funny. Though it wasn’t delivered as part of a rambling , incoherent screech.

  42. Chris

    Andrew:

    Vaccination and modern health science carry with them the symptom of overpopulation. Also, keep in mind that since we’ve only been using vaccines for the past 150 years or so, we lack true perspective on their effects in the long term evolution of the human race.

    There are these buildings in many cities and towns that are full of books. They are called libraries. I suggest you find the one closest to you, get a library card and read some actual history/science/social studies books. You might also want to brush up on some basic arithmetic (2011 minus 1798 is greater than 150).

    But if that is too much work for you, I suggest you find the videos of Hans Rosling who explains with dynamic graphs the relationship between public health, education and number of children.

  43. @41:

    The pharmaceuticals industry is the most tightly-regulated industry in the world.
    It can cost $250 million to get a product from discovery to market, and further hundreds of millions are spent on drug candidates that never reach the marketplace. Costs will only increase, since all the low-hanging fruit has gone.

    This may be true, but as I understand it the pharmaceutical companies’ advertising budgets are also huge; I have read that in some cases at least the marketing department has a larger budget than R&D. The lift on the ban on direct-to-consumer marketing has been responsible for much of this, as well as for many medications being pushed on people who actually have little if anything wrong.

    I may well be wrong about these data; if so, please let me know (I admit that my sources may be suspect). However, if there is any truth to these claims, the pharmaceutical industry probably could stand a bit more regulation than they already receive.

  44. Leonard Schakel

    “Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.” (Boulay de la Meurthe, 1761-1840)

  45. Nigel Depledge

    Opisthokont (45) said:

    This may be true, but as I understand it the pharmaceutical companies’ advertising budgets are also huge; I have read that in some cases at least the marketing department has a larger budget than R&D. The lift on the ban on direct-to-consumer marketing has been responsible for much of this, as well as for many medications being pushed on people who actually have little if anything wrong.

    I mostly agree with this.

    While drug manufacture and testing are subject to intense regulatory scrutiny, the advertising – especially in the USA – is subject to little more regulation that that of many other sectors. Personally, I feel that direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs should be outright prohibited (after all, there’s a reason that doctors and pharmacists need several years of schooling and training to be able to dispense these substances) and that advertising to physicians should be more tightly regulated than it currently is (in the US).

    A different situation pertains here in the UK. All treatments provided by the NHS must first be cleared through NICE (the national institute for clinical excellence). This means that many needless variations on the same drug are pretty much excluded (unless the Phase III trial demonstrated better performance than the existing treatment), but it does sometimes mean that a new treatment is not recommended because of its cost, and so will only be available to people with private medical insurance.

  46. “Why is it that when…”

    Maybe because even Phil Plait says that he has mixed feelings about forcing people to get vaccinated?

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