The resurgence and outbreak of the most contagious virus on the planet, measles, has led to a swarm of media stories that have tried to report responsibly about the pockets of perpetrators of bogus science.
Even in the face of rock-solid research, done at the population level, proving without question that there is no link between autism and autism spectrum disorder and the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, the naysayers continue to promote ideas that have the same validity as racial eugenics of scientific quacks and Nazi racists. There are many parties who are helping to fan the flames of ignorance that threaten innocent children who have no ability to tell parent deniers that they put infants at serious health risks when they do not have their kids immunized from extremely infectious and very preventable illnesses.
Former Playmate Jenny McCarthy and clusters of deniers on both sides of the political spectrum are partially responsible for the resurgence of measles we are seeing around the country today.
What is particularly irresponsible is when formerly balanced media outlets choose to fan the debate flames to promote their products when there is no scientific or medical basis for claiming the issue is “a debate” as opposed to a public health crisis that requires layers of interventions to ensure the best health outcomes for all of us.
Tonight, I read the Oregonian newspaper’s story seeking to solicit input from science deniers with this astounding headline: “In the debate over vaccines, where do you stand?” At the bottom of the story were numerous blog comments that were not moderated. No surprise the journalistic adventure gave Portland’s now world-famous anti-fluoride, vaccination-denier, and anti-public-health community another platform to spout nonsense. Such sloppy journalism keeps bogus science alive and well, even when quackery like eugenics is now considered bad and un-modern. (In the end, quack science is still quack science.)
Reporter Kjerstin Gabrielson wrote, “What influenced your decision to immunize or not immunize your children? Has the recent measles outbreak in the United States swayed your opinion? What concerns do you have about immunizations? What concerns do you have about the diseases vaccines are designed to prevent?”
In response to the Jenny McCarthy style journalism I found, I chose to write this note directly to the reporter. Here it is. I hope she can make amends later for her journalistic transgressions and learn a little bit more the history of communicable diseases in the Oregon, where diseases like smallpox literally helped to wipe out many Native American communities before most white settlers arrived.
Letter Sent Feb. 4, 2015, by email:
Ms. Gabrielson: What exactly were you and your editors possibly thinking framing the public heath issue of a scientifically proven health intervention (MMR vaccination) that is used globally to save lives by giving precedence to perpetrators of junk science whose ideas have now been thoroughly disproven by peer-reviewed, country-wide, and massive population-based studies showing absolutely no proven link to autism and the MMR vaccine?