One of the big problems with the media has been their willingness to give the vaccine-induced-autism-epidemic idea far more wight than it deserved. While the science has been very one sided against the theories presented, the media usually puts out “he said/she said” type stories. You know the type. A new study will come out.
A news story will be produced. They will open with people talking about the increasing numbers of people diagnosed with autism and the belief in the vaccine link in some groups. The scientists for the new study will be interviewed. And then the story will end with parents saying, “but I know the link is real”. It was a world of false balance.
That world has changed, at least for now. Sure not everywhere, but the media and the public’s perception of vaccines and autism has changed.
Case in point: the comic strip “Doonesbury”. For about 40 years Gary Trudeau has had his finger on the pulse of American society. He has been a harsh critic of political figures and popular culture figures (many papers have placed his comic on the opinion or editorial pages).
Here are a couple of panels from today’s strip (click to enlarge). Boopsie, former cheerleader and Playboy playmate, is discussing Jenny McCarthy:
The full strip can be found at Doonesbury.com.
The vaccine-causation idea has only survived through the media and public relations. The science never really supported the hypotheses. Jenny McCarthy rode the vaccine story back into the public’s eye, and appears to be trying to jump ship before it drags her back down. If today’s Doonesbury is any indication, she may have waited too long.
She could do a lot of good by making a public statement distancing herself from the junk science and PR campaigns that created the image of a vaccine-induced-epidemic. It wouldn’t make up for all the damage she caused, but it would be better than having her publicity people beg the Colbert show to not be harsh on her, while she was at the same time writing pieces supporting the junk scientists for the Huffington Post.
When Doonesbury is calling you out for promoting a “bogus vaccine-autism link” and for causing real harm to preventive health care, you’ve lost public support. You can either try to stay low and ride it out, or do the right thing and repair some of the damage you’ve caused. The choice is yours, Ms. McCarthy.