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Frontline's Vaccine War Ignites War of Words

I first heard about the Frontline episode on “The Vaccine War“, it was from supporters of Jenny McCarthy. They were online telling us all about this upcoming episode and even providing links to where we could order the DVD.

Times have changed.

The show aired and it was not about how Jenny McCarthy and the rest are right and that vaccines cause autism. Jim Carrey had made a statement a while back, “We aren’t the problem. The problem is the problem.” Aside from the fact that it is a very strange way to phrase what he wanted to say, Frontline showed that, yes, indeed, you are the problem.

The night that The Vaccine War aired, Dr. Jay Gordon (Jenny McCarthy’s pediatrician) blogged about how his interview was left out. Jenny McCarthy followed shortly afterwards. Both were on the Huffington Post. Dr. Rashid Buttar was also interviewed and not shown. He took to a free press release to express his opinion.

Since then, many people have been claiming that Frontline should have given more time and weight to the vaccine-causation side. I guess representatives from a “Parent Founded, Parent Led” organization are not enough weight. They need the opinions of some doctors. As Kim at the Countering Age of Autism blog points out, the Age of Autism blog put their piece complaining about Frontline twice. AoA just changed the title and a bit of the introduction.

The editors of the Frontline episode have responded to the criticisms that some interviews were not aired:

Many thanks for your feedback on the program. FRONTLINE went to considerable lengths to include a wide range of viewpoints, even in the face of very strong scientific evidence against the hypothesized autism link to MMR and thimerosal. Despite the consistent negative epidemiology and the definitive verdict of the federal vaccine court, we included views from people who wanted more and different studies. The program also gave a great deal of time to the arguments of vaccine hesitant parents who think the CDC schedule is bloated. The companion FRONTLINE website contains full interviews with different stakeholders, including Dr Robert Sears, who promotes an alternative spread out vaccine schedule. The website also hosts a robust public conversation where a full range of viewpoints are being aired and engaged.

When making long form documentaries like FRONTLINE, it often happens that some interviews don’t make it into the finished program. Several interviews failed to make the final cut of “The Vaccine War”—not just yours but also interviews with contributors who support the CDC vaccine schedule.

One interview which did not air was that of Arthur Allen. He has commented on a few blogs. Not complaining about his interview being cut, but about people like Dr. Jay who don’t understand that in journalism these things happen. Interviews get cut.

That all said, let’s consider the argument that Frontline should have aired more of the vaccine-skeptic viewpoint. That people like Rashid Buttar should have been given more air time. Dr. Buttar, who was recently reprimanded by his state’s regulatory agency. Dr. Buttar who has used urine injections on autistic children.

For those who would like to have seen more of the opinions of such doctors, consider if Frontline does another episode entirely. This time, instead of “the Vaccine War”, they consider a show on “Curing Autism”, showing alternative medical practitioners.

I bet at this point many in the biomed community are saying, “yes!”

I put it to them that they didn’t learn their lesson. There is no good evidence behind the alternative medicine used in autism. Just like they thought that “The Vaccine War” was going to finally tell their story, another Frontline episode would not go their way. Yeah, it would tell their story, just as The Vaccine War did.

Let me put it another way. Think of two short words….Trine Tsuderos. I could have just as easily said Pat Callahan, as she worked with Ms. Tsuderos on the articles at the Chicago Tribune, but somehow it is Trine who gets the attention. It is her name that calls up the memories.

For those asking “Trine who?”, Ms. Tsuderos and Ms. Callahan wrote a series of articles for the Chicago Tribune. One article should give you an idea of how that series went: Autism treatments: Risky alternative therapies have little basis in science.

You see, the team of Callahan and Tsuderos took a look at alternative therapies and gave some balance—they asked the experts in areas such as neuroinflammation in autistics whether the alt-med practitioners were correctly applying the science. They weren’t.

So imagine if you will, Fronline putting Dr. Jay, Dr. Bob, Dr. Buttar’s interviews on the air. Together with Dr. Geier and his “lupron protocol”. Together with Prof. Boyd Haley and his industrial chelator turned nutritional supplement. Together with people “treating” neuroinflammation before they know whether it is harmful or beneficial.

Consider that team. Then consider the responses from experts in medical toxicology. Experts in neuroinflammation. Experts in hormones and autism.

Consider how that would play out before the American public.

It would not go well for the alternative medical community. Not because of any bias, but because their “science” is woefully poor.


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