21 Points: Errors, Omissions and Criticism of the NBC programming
The following is the text of a mass email from NBC's Brian Williams, followed by enumeration of some of the most glaring errors and omissions found in this network's week-long report on autism.
I read your comments and will relay them to all of my colleagues here who need to know of your feelings, including Robert Bazell. Bob is a veteran around here, and has covered medicine for decades. He has access to the best minds, physicians and data, and his reporting is just that...his best effort at a distillation of all that is known on this extremely emotional, controversial and ultimately tragic topic.
I must say very candidly that I hope we get "points for trying," as the old expression goes. This news division has made an extraordinary commitment to this one issue. As I tried to indicate on the air (while trying not to get too personal) and as I've said in the past, Autism has a close family connection to my life, and it is against that backdrop that I had to balance the demands of all those who wrote, whose dedication and role in life I so admire...and the demands of my profession and my editorial role here at Nightly News.
Your comments mattered. They always will. I can only think of a few instances during all my years with NBC News when viewer comments so directly affected our coverage. This ongoing story is one of them.
Again, thanks for watching, for being engaged, and for writing.
Anchor & Managing Editor
NBC Nightly News
“POINTS” FOR TRYING
NBC Managing Editor and anchor Brian Williams responded with the above form letter to what he termed “thousands of letters and emails” criticizing NBC’s reporting on the Autism epidemic. Brian Williams suggested that NBC would get it right, and that NBC deserves “points for trying.” A very blunt Judge was fond of telling those who came before him that, “Don’t try… Try succeeding!”
We believe NBC reporters and editors fell far short of the mark in their attempt to balance their reports in the face of a mountain of criticism by those who know better: parents of autistic children.
We certainly empathize strongly with Brian Williams and the plight of his close family connection who apparently has autism or a neurodevelopmental disorder, and we feel the same about the Wright family. We feel that, as parents and grandparents, we must stand together. But, regrettably, NBC did not get it right in their autism programming by omitting the story of recovered kids who are receiving biomedical treatment for mercury toxicity. The omission of a substantial part of this story was conspicuous in its absence. Brian, as a basketball coach told one of our special kids: “Try harder and maybe you will get it right.” With all your ability, Brian, we know you can do better.
This blog, http://www.nopointsfortrying.blogspot.com/, is intended to be a forum for parents and others to address their frustration with NBC’s imbalanced presentation on many aspects of the “autism” epidemic. While we applaud NBC’s attempt to make us more aware of the “autism epidemic”, on many issues of vital concern to tens of thousands of parents and their families, NBC fell short of the mark. We hope still that NBC can get it right.
The following are points of criticism of the NBC programming on “autism” broadcast on February 19 through February 25, 2005. We invite you to post your criticisms, comments and corrections regarding NBC’s presentation. One proviso, however. We suggest that you not get too personal about your child's experience. We know that persons who are fighting the idea that thimerosal causes autism monitor the messages posted here. Express your opinion, support it with research or other facts, but don't make it personal.
NBC's report on the “autism” epidemic hammers the fact that there is no autism/mercury connection. Simply put, this is unbalanced reporting. Many concerned people, among them thousands of parents (who actually know the facts and are familiar with the research on mercury, a variety of other toxins and their link to neurodevelopmental disorders) are extremely disappointed in NBC’s presentation. NBC has alienated a huge segment of the “autism’ community itself, even while it tried to advance “autism awareness”. NBC’s imbalanced reporting is not merely a matter of discrete inaccuracies or mistakes. It is manifestly a matter of misplaced emphasis, broad misrepresentation, and glaring omissions. NBC has created a false impression about the state of autism science and research by the omission and misplacement of facts. A statement by Dr. Volkmar, Dr. McCormick, Dr. Gerberding or Dr. Goldstein, for example, may have been partially correct, but was not presented in the context of voluminous countervailing scientific research and opinion. After all, in the hands of a skillful editor the context, cumulative opinion and subtle implications of a story can render it balanced or biased. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, NBC's editorial judgement was biased.
The evidence of a connection between autism and mercury is so voluminous that the NBC bias is maddening to those who have spent their lives studying and researching autism. NBC's apparent bias frustrates the efforts of parents who are making valiant efforts to improve the health of their children by intensive bio-medical intervention including, among other therapies, chelation. Again, we hope NBC gets the mercury-autism story right in the future; the fate of thousands of our children depends on accurate reporting and open scientific inquiry.
COMMENTS & CRITICISMS:
1) Point of Omission:
In 1991 Merck knew that the level of mercury injected into children was 87 times the safe level for a 6 month old. See the “Merck Memo.” Documentation supporting this important fact appeared recently on the front page of the LA Times.
The “Merck Memo” was suppressed by Merck for years. Merck never brought it to the attention of the public health authorities.
Why was this important fact not mentioned by NBC?
(2) Inaccurate Statement in NBC’s presentation of Dr. Goldstein-2/21/05 a.m. Today Show:
Others point out that if the mercury in vaccines was the culprit, the rate of autism would have started to decline after 1999. That year, health authorities urged manufacturers to remove Thimerosal from all childhood vaccines except the flu shot -- in order to make sure parents would vaccinate their children.
"If indeed, the Thimerosal, which is no longer there, was provoking this epidemic of diagnosis of autism then we ought to see a marked decrease in the number of children we diagnosed with autism. To date that is not happening," sai18562d Goldstein.
The health authorities urged manufacturers to remove Thimerosal in 1999, but it was not removed. In fact, as late as the end of 2003 or later and perhaps later mercury was still in vaccines. Also, the Department of Human Health Services sent a letter, written in 2003, to Congressman Weldon that indicates the vaccines containing Thimerosal were shipped in 2001 with 2002 expiration dates. (See, http://www.safeminds.org/, page 3 and 6 of HHS letter). It is much too early to see a decrease in rates of autism and neurodevelopmental disorders because of the removal of Thimerosal from vaccines. The largest cohort of children who would have received significantly less Thimerosal in their vaccines than previous cohorts would now be between 1 and 2 years of age, and the data showing their diagnoses would not be in any database for at least two years or more. The statements by the doctors NBC interviewed claiming no reduction in the rate of autism were based on personal anecdotal observation only, and have no sound scientific or statistical basis.
Thus, Dr. Goldstein is wrong in his assumption about the facts and his statements are completely misleading. Worse, the NBC narrator completely misrepresented the facts that we know to be accurate.
(3) Dr. Gerberding statement - 2/21/05 a.m., Today Show:
"Right now, the scientific evidence doesn't provide any framework for concluding that Thimerosal or immunizations in any way affect autism," said Julie Gerberding, director of the CDC. "But we have to have an open mind about that."
It is of little comfort that Dr. Gerberding has an open mind. Perhaps the CDC Director knows of science that would keep her mind open. If she does, she is not telling anyone and her agency is publishing studies based on questionable data.
We think Dr. Gerberding must be aware that scientific evidence clearly shows that children received many times the safe limit of mercury from their vaccines. Recent evidence by leading scientists (Philippe Grandjean, MD, PhD, and a recent Environmental Health Perspectives study support this) EPA safe limit has been shown to be two times too high. Stajich showed in 1998 that the Hepatitis B (Hep B) vaccine created unsafe levels of mercury in newborns. Dr. Thomas Burbacher has shown that ethylmercury crosses the blood brain barrier, breaks down to inorganic mercury in the brain, probably lodges in the astrocytes (like methylmercury), and causes inflammation and "connectivity" problems in the brain. (presented in testimony before Congress). Work by Leong published in NeuroReport shows that in snail neurons (accepted as a model for human neurons because it is identical in structure and function) inorganic mercury interrupts the activity of an enzyme necessary for the construction of tubulin that forms the structure for neurons.
This research is a framework (and there is more research not quoted here)--but Dr. Gerberding doesn't like the prospect of contemplating this framework. The CDC spokespersons never mention the clinical and biological findings that show a link or a framework that supports the Thimerosal hypothesis.
(4) Dr. McCormick said 2/21/05 a.m. Today Show:
"My response to the parent who's truly convinced and can't be swayed is that there's not much that you can say to them, other than the evidence does not support their point of view. But even trying to remove mercury does not improve the outcomes of these children," said Dr. Marie McCormick of the Harvard School of Public Health.
NBC narrator: “The Institute of Medicine also found no published clinical studies showing that chelation works.”
"The use of chelation in children with autism is a totally unproven therapy," said McCormick. "And chelation is not a procedure without side affects in some individuals."
Response: If the government refuses to fund chelation studies, it is unfair to condemn chelation because there are no provable studies. But there do exist studies that show that chelation works for lead. Chelating agents bind lead in the same way that they bind mercury. Studies do prove that autistic children excrete more mercury upon challenge with a chelator than neurotypical controls. (Bradstreet, Geier, also Adams,--also hair studies by Holmes, another by Adams and one at MIT show that "autistic" children retain mercury more readily than neurotypical controls). So studies do exist. And many of our children have clinical tests showing huge amounts of mercury coming out of them---many times the normal levels, or “reference range.”
Dr. McCormick's other statements carried on NBC programming did not contain any challenge or examination of her contradictory statements.
For example, NBC failed to report that the Institute of Medicine Committee, chaired by Dr. McCormick admitted that it did not adequately address the leading theory among independent scientists — that autism could be triggered by environmental exposures, including mercury in vaccines, in a subset of vulnerable children. As the IOM panel stated in its final report:
"...the committee cannot rule out, based on the epidemiological evidence, the possibility that vaccines contribute to autism in some small subset or very unusual circumstances" (IOM 2004b).
Or as put by the Chair of the IOM committee, Dr. Marie McCormick, of the Harvard School of Public Health:
"Some children could be particularly vulnerable or susceptible to mercury exposure because of genetic or other differences" (McCormick 2001).
On May 19, 2005 the Wall Street Journal reported McCormick as stating, "The committee doesn't dispute that mercury containing compounds can be damaging to the immune system," said Dr. McCormick. Elsewhere Dr. McCormick was quoted as saying, "The committee doesn't dispute that mercury containing compounds can be damaging to the nervous system."
Any competent reporter would have brought out these quotes to balance McCormick's unchallenged statements.
(5) Dr. Volkmar statements on 2/19/05 at 7 pm:
"If all the people who are claiming to fix autism could have fixed autism by now, I would be out of business."
Response: The Autism Research Institute (http://www.ari.org/) has shown that kids can be helped and some to the point of total recovery. There is documentation. More kids would be helped with organized funding and support for the therapies that help. But research in this area is largely unfunded by the government. It does not help that the Institute of Medicine went out of its way to condemn chelation, and discourage research in this area.
A very small percentage of kids get biomedical intervention with medical supervision. It is too expensive (no insurance coverage) and very difficult, and few doctors are available. Many parents have spent tens of thousands of dollars, unreimbursed by insurance, each year for medical costs for their children. If organized funding and support existed for the therapies many parents have used and that have demonstrably helped their kids, it wouldn't be so expensive and so unattainable for those with less resources to help their children. Because the information is not readily available a lot of cost goes into searching for the answers.
(6) Dr. Volkmar stated on 2/19/05 at 7 pm:
Volkmar: "Early in life children with autism have relatively large brains compared to other kids."
Response: Only some kids have large brains. Many children’s are perfectly normal as determined by MRI studies. So are the brains of many kids. Even Dr. Eric Courchesne, the scientist who did the research on head size, was quoted in the LA Times saying that his theory is consistent with a theory of an environmental trigger for autism (this would include the mercury in vaccines theory). Again, Dr. Volkmar's statement is overgeneralized and completely misleading.
(7) Early on Saturday night show the statement was made by an NBC reporter that MMR contains mercury.
Response: This is obviously incorrect. Anyone who knows about vaccines knows that the MMR is a live attenuated measles, mumps and rubella virus, so it is not preserved" with mercury or any other preservative. The other "killed" vaccines are the ones preserved with mercury and metals and toxins such as aluminum, etc.
(8) Dr. Volkmar: "But study after study has failed to find a link between vaccines and autism."
Response: This is incorrect. First, early versions of the CDC study published in Pediatrics in 2003 showed an association. These were not published. Second, Verstraeten says the Pediatrics study is "neutral" and has called for more research. (letter published in Pediatrics).
The other studies have dramatic and ridiculous flaws. They are all statistical studies, subject to manipulation. An analysis of each is available at http://www.safeminds.org--primarily/ by Mark Blaxill.
But early generations of CDC study do show an association. (see Blaxill, Generation Zero analysis and Verstraeten "Confidential" report of February 2000)
And there do exist peer reviewed studies showing a statistical association. (the Geiers have at least 5 such studies)
(9) Dr. Volkmar:
"The strongest evidence for a cause points to genetics."
Response: Researchers have been looking for years for the autism "gene" and have expanded their "candidate" from 5 to 10 and now 100 genes. There has not been a replicated study showing a small cluster of genes responsible for autism. Rather the genetic research shows that there is "genetic susceptibility" to an environmental trigger. The molecular basis of "genetic susceptibility" has been described in research by Drs. Hornig, James, Deth, Boris and others.
Note also that there is no such thing as a genetic epidemic. If there is an epidemic it must have an environmental trigger. The greatest change in genes in history is 1% change for a period of 100 years. So: If epidemic than: NOT GENETIC
Even Dr. Goldstein of Kennedy Krieger understands the role of the environment, but his statement quoted below from an NBC interview is completely obscured by NBC's dominant message.
”There's really the role for something in the environment could be triggering someone who is genetically susceptible,” said Goldstein. But this single statement was obscured by the overwhelming wrong emphasis of the NBC reports.
(10) Dr. Volkmar:
"There's a very high recurrence risk of autism for siblings, on the order of 2-10% - that's fifty-fold higher than the general population."
Response: This in no way proves that genetics are a "cause." It may suggest that having certain single nucleotide polymorphisms, i.e., a certain genetic makeup, makes one more susceptible to mercury because the body’s natural detoxifying agent, glutathione, becomes depleted. Thus if siblings have the same susceptibility to mercury poisoning (because of familial genetics) or other toxins they would have a greater chance of getting autism if exposed to the same environmental triggers, as would be likely. Siblings would have all been vaccinated, for example.
Also, it might just show that siblings are all from the same "toxic" mother. An article in Mother Jones magazine (Feb 2004) entitled "Toxic Tipping Point" referred to a large study in which over 50% of the children in the study had mothers who had the Rhogam shots (35 mcg mercury per does until 2002). Only about 8% of the female population is negative blood type and so forced to get the RhoGam shots. For this class of mothers, they have a greater than 50% of having a kid on the spectrum. This is another cause of high recurrence risk of autism in siblings. Ironically enough, having a negative blood type and being forced to get one or more RhoGam shots during pregnancy puts these mothers at about 50% greater risk than for the general population. The same statistic Dr. Volkmar quotes. This is hardly genetic. Women were not forced to get RhoGam shots until recent times.
Also, concordance for autism in identical twins is estimated to be from 36% to 90%, not 100%. This means, and any competent geneticist would agree, that there must be an environmental component. So to say "genetics" is a cause of “autism” is an oversimplification of a complex issue. Nevertheless, the “experts” on NBC repeatedly emphasized genetics.
(11) Dr. Volkmar statement on show broadcast 2/19/05:
Narrator: Finally, while there's a tremendous upsurge in autism cases, scientists aren't sure it's a real increase. First, the diagnostic characteristics for autism were broadened a decade ago. Increased awareness means that many cases that may have been previously misdiagnosed or missed altogether contribute to the increase.
Plus, mandated funding for children with autism actually encourages more diagnoses.
Volkmar: "As a result, there's probably more of a push within the educational system to get an autism label to get services that otherwise the child might not get."
Response: There is an internal inconsistency and illogic in this presentation. Is there more autism or not? They are saying "no" because the criteria were widened and "yes" because people are more correctly diagnosing autistic kids (whether the criteria are wider or not). But then Dr. Volkmar suggests that, because of the "push" for an autism diagnosis, the reason for the upsurge is bad diagnoses of autism. (see, Blaxill, Public Health Reports, "What's Going On"). Is it “bad” diagnosis or “better” diagnosis, or perhaps neither, that is the cause.
There are many studies that show a real increase in autism. See one study published by the MIND Institute on California data, by Dr. Byrd.
(12) NBC’s presentation on the Institute of Medicine (“IOM”) Committee that reviewed vaccine safety:
NBC references the Institute of Medicine's 2004 report (mentioned a number of times by NBC) and conclusions from last fall that there is no Thimerosal-autism link. However, NBC does not point out that the IOM, in a very recent (2/17/05) report on data sharing, criticized the CDC's lack of openness in its use of the Vaccine Safety Data Link (“VSDL”), a critical and unique proprietary database maintained by private HMO’s by contact with the CDC. The VSDL was the Institute of Medicine's source in one of the often referenced "study after study of hundreds of thousand of children" (used by Robert Bazell, among others to support his statements) disproving a link between Thimerosal and neurodevelopmental disorders and “autism”. NBC has not commented or reported on the timely and newsworthy fact that the IOM data sharing report completely undermines the epidemiological statistical basis for the 2004 IOM conclusions. This would have been real reporting of real news because it is timely and critically important. Yet NBC chose to ignore the news and repeat misleading generalizations. Why was Dr. McCormick or the others not asked about that? This is but another glaring omission of major relevance on the "vaccine theory" and NBC’s omissions in its reporting.
(13) NBC presents experts suggesting that the cause of autism is “genetic” while also maintaining that there is an autism epidemic.
There is, undoubtedly, and epidemic of neurodevelopmental disorders and “autism” in this country.
There is, however, no such thing as a "genetic" epidemic. NBC repeatedly touts the "epidemic" but then presents over and over so-called “experts” in their programming who state in lockstep, without support, that the cause is “genetic." There is no clarity or objectivity for this report. No researcher or doctor or activist who can "show" this is an environmentally caused condition has been heard. An epidemic can be caused by environmental factors such as Mercury. It cannot be caused be genetics. As said earlier, we do not genetically evolve that quickly that our genes singularly involved in an epidemic.
(14) Comment on imbalanced NBC reporting:
The reporting does not appear to be balanced. It appears that the corporate/goverment/public health positions are the only ones that are being advanced. It appears that the media does not have independence. Even if the presentation was done in the name of "autism awareness" the imbalance is not acceptable. It is a certain kind of awareness that is being promoted by certain vested interests who can no longer keep the fact of this epidemic a secret. Which parties are afraid of getting sued and who is pulling the strings? NBC should disclose that they get millions and millions of advertising dollars from pharmaceutical companies.
I think NBC may have misjudged the mood of the autism community--they are shutting out voices of credible people that should be heard.
(15) Blatant misrepresentation of “tuna” issue”:
It appears to be a blatant omission in its coverage that NBC presented a mother who discussed eating tuna but who failed to mention (the result of editing by NBC?) the tuna-mercury connection. It is a fact that the government now says that pregnant woman should not eat tuna and that grocery stores in some states (California) must post a warning about dangerous levels of mercury in fish. See the study by Dr. Jane Hightower who determined that many of her adult patients near San Francisco were mercury poisoned by eating fish.
(16) Routes of Mercury Exposure were inaccurately presented by NBC or not presented at all:
NBC failed to report that mercury exposure occurs in a number of ways, and that the result of this exposure may not be noted in statistics or databases for years after childhood exposure. Most significantly, mercury exposure is cumulative and mercury exposure from vaccines may follow environmental or medical exposures from other sources, such as fish, air, or dental amalgams.
For example, NBC failed to mention that one source of mercury exposure in children is the treatment for Rh negative mothers, one such treatment being RhoGam. RhoGam contained mercury until 2001 (Ortho apparently agreed to produce Thimerosal-free
RhoGam in 2001, but the shelf life is two years so there likely was Thimerosal-containing RhoGam in use until early 2003).
NBC did not mention that “amalgam” fillings (approximately 50% mercury) are still used in children and adults and contribute to the total Mercury burden to which a child is subjected. NBC failed to emphasize that the flu shot, which contains 25 micrograms of mercury (the total in the two doses given to infants) and which the government is recommending for breast feeding mothers and mandating for children as young as six months. This winter breast feeding mothers and their children stood in lines for hours to get the flu shot because the government told them to fear the flu. Many fear that the recommended flu shot will skew the dramatic drop in autism we expect to see in a few years, now that some mercury was removed from childhood vaccines, as of 2003. Because most kids are not diagnosed with autism until they are 3 years old or older, the effects of the removal of Thimerosal from vaccines will not be seen until approximately 2008.
(17) Glossing over the concept of “autism” and failure to report on the emerging protocols for medical testing and treatment of autism:
Autism is a diagnosis that is based on constructed criteria established by a committee of the American Psychiatric Association and set forth in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, IV or DSM-IV.
The NBC report makes it seem that autistic kids are just, "well", "autistic", whatever that means. A definition of "autism" is elusive because there are multiple criteria and the cause is unknown. NBC, like many practitioners and researchers, “objectifies” the disorder. In reality “autism” is a label for a collection of symptoms that have been observed by medical professionals. A group of “autistic” children can be characterized more by their differences than their similarities—this is called heterogeneity. Autistic children can be verbal or non-verbal, violent or passive, flap their hands or not, can be social or anti-social, engage in repetitive or stereotypical behaviors or not. They can bang their heads and have tantrums but many children labeled “autistic” do not show these characteristics.
It would be easier to understand the mercury connection if an NBC segment highlighted the similarity in the lab work observed in an “autistic” child. Notwithstanding heterogeneity the lab work in certain groups of children is remarkably similar, and points to specific biomarkers that are characteristic of children who are labeled with the “autism” diagnosis. These biomarkers are consistent with mercury toxicity.
What researchers are finding as almost universal among autistic children is that they are immune compromised and exhibit multiple forms of auto-immune disorder. The are often food intolerant, have autoimmune antibodies to certain brain tissues, lab reports consistent with heavy metal poisoning, severe deficiencies in a number of vitamins and minerals, severe deficiencies in glutathione (the body’s primary agent for detoxification), cysteine other essential proteins. The exhibit pituitary and thyroid abnormalities and metabolic problems.
There's a saying that if you don't take a temperature, you won't find a fever. To many in the autism community, NBC is not taking the temperature of autism. The reporting is missing many facets of relevant and helpful information. Parents have offered to procure for NBC a nationally recognized medical doctor who can produce lab reports and explain the typical biomedical profile for an “autistic” child and show that the evident biomarkers would be atypical of "normal" children. Most importantly, however, the biomarkers evidence mercury toxicity. A simple example a study conducted a doctor who specializes in the treatment of “autistic” children that showed that “normal” children excreted Mercury in their hair whereas “autistic” kids, although exposed to Mercury, did not excrete it. This hallmark of autism shows that “autistic” children retain mercury in their bodies where it does its insidious damage.
(18) NBC failed to mention that beginning in 1991 the number of mandatory vaccines for children was increased from 9 to 21.
It is no mere coincidence that the increase in Thimerosal containing vaccines, and the resulting tripling of the amount of mercury injected into children occurred right at the point when the "autism epidemic" began. This telling fact was omitted by NBC in its presentation, as far as we can tell. Merck knew, in 1991, that the level of Mercury the kids were exposed to by 6 months was 87 times the safe level. We know this from documents showing that in 1991 Merck reviewed the Thimerosal issue but failed to report its findings to the government or the public. Even today, the government advises pregnant or nursing mothers to avoid tuna because of the dangers of excessive mercury exposure from fish. Nowhere does NBC point out that injected mercury is much more toxic than mercury exposure via the gut.
(19) Other notable omissions in NBC’s presentation on Saturday night, February 15, 2005:
* children received 100-200 times the EPA's "safe" level of mercury via vaccines.
* Dr. Bernard Rimland of the Autism Research Institute was never featured or mentioned in NBC’s presentation. Dr. Rimland has 50 years' experience in researching and treating autism. He is the man responsible for debunking the “refrigerator mother” theory of autism etiology propounded by the discredited Bruno Bettelheim. Dr. Rimland was highly respected by Dr. Leo Kanner, the psychiatrist who “discovered” “autism”. It is ironic that it is Dr. Rimland sparked the investigation into a genetic etiology of “autism”. Today Dr. Rimland believes that mercury from vaccines is a causal factor in “autism.”
Recent scientific research has shown the following:
(1) Brain inflammation is found in the brains of “autistic” children but not “normal” children
(2) Evidence of autoimmune response (production of cytokines by certain brain cells) is found in the brains of “autistic” children but not “normal” children
(3) Autoimmune response is characteristic of mercury toxicity;
(4) Mercury induces autoimmunity and cellular production of cytokines in human cells.
(NBC’s “experts” presented none of the foregoing research)
* Author David Kirby was interviewed for 3 hours by a Today Show producer, yet the brief statement presented by NBC was the misleading one that there is no “proof” that mercury causes “autism”. Mr. Kirby’s book is replete with evidence showing that mercury causes autism. The NBC’s editing shows bias, if not conscious manipulation of the facts.
*NBC failed to mention the CDC vaccine conference that took place at Simpsonwood in 2000, or the minutes of a 2001 CDC/IOM closed meeting at which the IOM's Marie McCormick states that "we are not ever going to come down that it is a true side effect," despite the fact that the Committee had not yet considered any evidence on the autism/mercury link. NBC simply failed to report on the voluminous evidence showing that the authorities have tried to suppress the mercury-“autism” link.
*Depite hours of on camera interviews with NBC Dr. Boyd Haley, Chair of the Department of Chemistry, University of Kentucky was not presented by NBC.
*NBC failed to present other researchers who were interviewed at length weeks prior to the NBC programming
(20) NBC’s limited nightly news segment on the "theory" of autism being a result of Mercury poisoning was limited, incomplete and undermined by the context of NBC’s reporting.
After feeling the pressure of “thousands of emails” NBC’s Managing Editor took the unprecedented step of changing its broadcast to present what it called the “other side” of the story. In a hastily produced segment on the nightly news NBC presented one eminent researcher but sandbagged its reports with further conclusory statements that “vaccines have been cleared as a cause.” Most egregiously, NBC’s science reporter, Robert Bazell stepped out of his role as reporter and said that he is a trained researcher and he has found that vaccines are clear as a cause. We have come to expect reporters to report the news, not make the news. The unprecedented pressure of emails on NBC apparently caused it to seek refuge in making the news rather than presenting a balanced and complete report.
There now exists a well-supported theory that the “autism epidemic” is actually a result of mercury poisoning. Documents obtained by parents via Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests over the past several years, show that our government has known about mercury poisoning of our children from Thimerosal since at least 1999. The FDA and CDC suppressed study results that they found unfavorable. Other documents prove that the pharmaceutical companies knew about the mercury risk from the vaccines much earlier. Also, doctors hundreds of doctors who follow a biomedical protocol for healing children and removing mercury from their bodies have reams of test results from thousands of "autistic" kids showing the excessive output of mercury coupled with clinical observations evidencing improvement. There is some good news to be reported here. Kids can be RESCUED from autism. Kids can be rescued from governmental and corporate malfeasance (or worse).
What is keeping NBC from reporting these wonderful stories?
BELOW IS MORE DOCUMENTATION THAT COUNTER FACTS PROFERRED BY NBC:
(A) The following report from the Safeminds website clearly explains that Thimersol containing infant vaccines were used long after it was suggested manufacture stop in 1999 (because the vaccines on the shelves were never recalled):
(B) From our own government and direct from a US government website (http://www.reform.house.gov/WHR/)(this is the sub-committee chaired by Rep. Dan Burton (R. Indiana):
"The explosive increase in occurrences of Autism Spectrum Disorders has become a great health care concern for parents in the United States. Autism, once considered a rare behavioral disorder, is now estimated to affect between 1 in 500 and 1 in 250 children in the country. Witness testimonies in addition to published scientific studies have exhibited that the use of Mercury as a preservative (Thimerosal) in childhood inoculations may be one of the causes of Autism. In response to this data, the Subcommittee has held several hearings to support these claims, as well as initiating efforts to remove Thimerosal from childhood and adult inoculations and ophthalmologic solutions as a safety precaution. The Subcommittee has made additional efforts to promote the safety of all vaccines."
(C) David Kirby, author of "Evidence Of Harm," spent more than hour with an NBC interviewer discussing the autism/mercury link. Although only one inappropriate comment from his entire interview was used in the broadcast, Kirby has 500 supporting documents mounted onto his website. An NBC producer viewed almost his entire presentation. He also has a PowerPoint presentation available for viewing.
29 Lincoln Place, Garden Apt.
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(D) Dr. Mark Geier and David Geier, researchers who have published five studies showing a direct causal link between Thimerosal containing vaccines and “autism” and other neurodevelopmental disorders were not presented by NBC despite the fact that an NBC camera crew filmed a long presentation by the Geiers only weeks before the NBC “autism epidemic” programming.
21. Reporting on twins concordance:
2/22/05 Today Show:
Matt Lauer stated on the Today Show that, paraphrasing, if one sibling has autism there is a 1 in 10 chance of a sibling having autism. On a later broadcast NBC reported the chances as "1 in 15".
Matt Lauer's statement is a gross exaggeration of the statistics. This is another example of inconsistent reporting because even NBC's statistics are inconsistently reported. But that is not the point, really, because the issue is far more complicated. Even Dr. Ramoz, an assistant in geneticist Dr. Joseph Buxbaum's laboratory (he is NAAR funded and is employed by the pharmaceutical companies as an expert witness against parent's claims—a fact not disclosed by NBC when Dr. Buxbaum appeared on Power Lunch) has conceded that there is an environmental component to “autism”. (A parent learned this when he attended a public presentation by Dr. Ramoz at Mt. Sinai Hospital on February 8, 2005. A parent personally asked him about the 10% of twins (according to his misleading statistics) who don't both have autism. Dr. Ramoz readily admitted that this suggests an environmental component, notwithstanding the fact that the word "environmental" was not uttered by him in his presentation nor did it appear in his Powerpoint slides.) Judy Grether, an epidemiologist, pointed out at the November 2003 Autism Summit sponsored by NIH that the lack of complete concordance of autism in twins demonstrates that there is a strong environmental component. NBC failed to adequately report this, allowing the viewer to form the erroneous impression that autism is genetic. That was the theme: autism is genetic.
NBC's report suggests that the concordance statistics show that autism is “genetic”. The evidence certainly does not support the idea that “autism” is “genetic”. Even Dr. Volkmar stated in an earlier NBC telecast that the chances of a sibling getting autism are "2 to 10 percent." A simple calculation reveals that the “2 to 10 percent” statistic does not translate into a 1 in ten chance, unless you take the absolute high end of the statistic quoted by Lauer.
While the sibling statistic is interesting it does not prove that the disorder is "genetic" in the sense that "genes cause autism" as is being conveyed on NBC. The statistic is completely compatible with a view that there is an environmental trigger for genetic susceptibility. NBC is misrepresenting the science and likely merely repeating distortions that are being promoted by NBC's so-called experts.
See quote from article by Patricia Rodier below--she says the percentage is "3-8%"
Even if the chance of 10% were the high-end, Lauer's statement is not correct. He is correct at the high end of Volkmar's statements, but based on Rodier's statement, unless research is updated, Volkmar also has overstated the chances of a sibling getting autism.
The low end would be 1 in 50 for Volkmar and approximately 1 in 33 for Rodier's statement. The high end for Volkmar is 1 in 10 and for Rodier is 1 in 12 or 13.
Scientific American cite:
Patricia Rodier (a leading researcher) in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN February 2000 Volume 282 Number 2 Pages 56-63: Siblings of people with autism have a 3 to 8 percent chance of being diagnosed with the same disorder. This is much greater than the 0.16 percent risk in the general population but much less than the 50 percent chance that would characterize a genetic disease caused by a single dominant mutation (in which one faulty gene inherited from one parent is sufficient to cause the disorder) or the 25 percent chance that would characterize a single recessive mutation (in which a copy of the faulty gene must be inherited from each parent). The results fit best with models in which variants of several genes contribute to the outcome. To complicate matters further relatives of people with autism may fail to meet all the criteria for the disorder but still have some of its symptoms.