By Jake Crosby
On November 7th, Canary Party organized a congressional briefing in Washington, DC on the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) and then posted video footage from the event on the organization’s sponsored blog, Age of Autism. Barely a week had passed before that footage as well as 40 reader comments were suddenly taken down without explanation from the editors.* The video can no longer be found on YouTube either.
The video footage from Canary Party’s briefing was of a speech given by Rolf Hazlehurst (center in below photo), an assistant district attorney from Tennessee whose son represented one of the test cases in the omnibus autism proceeding. Hazlehurst alleged that one expert witness gave two conflicting opinions – one for vaccines causing autism on behalf of Hannah Poling and one against vaccines causing autism in his own son’s case. The problem is – that expert, Johns Hopkins neurologist Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, did not give his opinion in favor of vaccines causing Hannah Poling’s autism until AFTER the government conceded her autism was caused by her vaccinations. In fact, Poling’s case was never even litigated. This was pointed out in the comments on Age of Autism by Hannah Poling’s mother.**
Perhaps most disturbing of all however are the possible ramifications of incorrect statements about Hannah Poling’s case being made under oath in a hearing before Congress. Should Rolf Hazlehurst repeat these statements in congressional testimony, he could put himself in jeopardy of facing perjury charges. As an assistant DA from Tennessee, he could also face disbarment. This would undoubtedly hurt the congressional hearings as well as any chance of reviving the omnibus cases, both sabotaged already by Canary Party Chairman Mark Blaxill (far left).
Now, the video of Rolf Hazlehurst’s speech is gone from the internet, but what is not is Age of Autism editor Dan Olmsted’s article quoting excerpts from the briefing that erroneously describe Hannah Poling’s case albeit without naming her.
With the hearing only weeks away, Canary Party is left in an awkward position for which the choices are either to risk committing perjury or abandon its primary but false example of malfeasance within the NVICP.
When Hannah Poling’s mother Terry Poling pointed Rolf Hazlehurst’s error out in a lengthy and critical comment on the Canary Party-sponsored Age of Autism blog stating that release of the document in which Dr. Zimmerman gave his opinion would constitute a violation of her family’s privacy, she was attacked relentlessly in comments from anonymous readers and known supporters of Canary Party. Ironically, Canary Party opposes “infighting.” One of the most hostile comments*** came from a key organizer of the Canary Party briefing, Dawn Loughborough (pictured far right). Commenting as “MotherofPossibility,” Loughborough wrote:
Terry Poling – Do you believe your daughter is the only one who had this experience? What about justice for all the other families? Vaccines cause autism. Why aren’t you making this public to help support Rolf. Why did Zimmerman only help a Hopkins physician’s [Dr. Jon Poling's] family? Many families in the autism community feel you got a fair deal and no one else will, as a result of the records being sealed and Zimmerman changing his opinion. That is what stinks, not Rolf mentioning the name of your daughter. I wish you well but please stop getting on Rolf. It just makes you look bad to continue to be unsupportive of anyone else’s child who is in the same situation as your daughter. You are compensated.
What’s so remarkable is that perhaps no one has done more to help the autism omnibus by exposing the hypocrisy of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program than the Polings, who opened themselves up to considerable public scorn by doing so. Ken Reibel, a blogger whose wife formerly worked for the well-known pharma PR firm Edelman, was removed from AutismOne in 2008 for harassing the Polings about releasing their daughter’s private medical records. And yet, similar harassment of Terry Poling on Age of Autism is not only deemed acceptable, but appeared to be a coordinated effort. By harassing the Polings to release their daughter’s private medical information, Dawn Loughborough put herself in the same category as Ken Reibel as well as Brian Deer – the conflicted reporter who obtained confidential records of children whose medical histories of regressing into autism after vaccination were reported in Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s paper published in the Lancet. Deer has bragged about making the Polings concerned about the possibility that he obtained their daughter’s private medical information in the weeks leading up to his Johns Hopkins lecture.
Meanwhile, emails have recently surfaced showing that if anyone had a hand in undermining the omnibus it would be Dawn Loughborough’s superior Mark Blaxill. He advised the lead omnibus attorney despite his own admitted COI with vaccine manufacturers while trashing expert witnesses Dr. Mark and David Geier and saying Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s work is not supported by the epidemiological data. Now with Age of Autism readers turning against the Polings, including a key organizer of Canary Party’s briefing, Blaxill appears quite adept at exploiting the divide-and-conquer strategy to his advantage, despite claiming in a podcast interview last month in response to revelations about his ongoing role in hijacking the congressional hearings:
Friendly fire is a waste of time!
Mark says fighting amongst ourselves is misguided, and makes the useful distinction between standing up for oneself against untrue allegations (which he does) and infighting (which he doesn’t, we don’t, and nobody should).
This is also used as a pretense for moderating out comments, including one I had left not long before I was banished from contributing to Age of Autism. Yet Age of Autism has no problem allowing a flood of comments bullying the parents of a vaccine-injured child into releasing confidential medical information after the child’s own mother said that doing so would be a violation of her family’s privacy while yielding no apparent benefit. The sudden influx of comments after hers mirrors a similar pattern that followed another critical comment in the thread of Olmsted’s post about Mark Blaxill’s podcast interview. That commenter – a reader of Autism Investigated who has complained of having comments censored by Age of Autism – said:
I too have listened to both the Lindemans [sic] radio shows.
Jake appears to me to have uncovered something solid. Mark appears compromised by those recordings and with this issue there is no compromise.
I cant in earnest support Mark any further I dont believe he is on message with me and many other parents.
Even though this comment was left three days after Olmsted’s post ran, comments from Age of Autism editors, Canary Party supporters and anonymous posters suddenly poured in lauding Mark Blaxill, including those from Dan Olmsted and managing editor Kim Stagliano. Apparently, and as I observed shortly after my banishment from Age of Autism, Blaxill and his followers systematically load down the threads underneath AoA posts with supportive comments to counter the rarely allowed dissenting comment. That combined with Mark Blaxill’s history of turning advocates against each other for his benefit strongly suggests this to be the case, especially since Dawn Loughborough is one of Poling’s anonymous attackers and was a key organizer of Canary Party’s briefing.
Though Blaxill deflects criticism by discouraging “infighting,” the comments on the Age of Autism video from the Canary Party’s recent briefing were dominated by infighting against Hannah Poling’s mother. The angry comments continued to pour in even four days after Terry Poling’s criticism. As recently as November 15th, someone commenting on Age of Autism as “Mama Grizzly” wrote:
Forgive me, I’m confused. Although Mrs. Poling says she has not allowed the release of Hannah’s records, an article in the Atlanta Constitution on 3/6/2008 states: “Cliff Shoemaker, the Polings’ attorney, said the family has filed a petition with the vaccine court to unseal all of Hannah’s records and allow both the family and the government to fully discuss the case.”(
http://adventuresinautism.blogspot.com/2008/03/meet-hanna-poling.html) Mr. Hazelhurst is only requesting something the Polings’ attorney said the family wanted.
The URL was a link to the blog of Canary Party VP Ginger Taylor, who had copied and pasted the article [UPDATE: The blog post has since been removed****]. Another quote in that article the commenter had neglected to post was this:
Shoemaker said the government’s November concession in the case is public, but the government’s reasons aren’t.
Dr. Zimmerman’s information about Hannah Poling wouldn’t count, as it was not produced until after the government conceded Poling’s case.
There is, however, still the issue of Mark Blaxill’s interference in the omnibus cases in which he trashed expert witnesses and doubted a key scientist’s research to the lead attorney while working for a firm with pharma clients. The problem, of course, is that Mark Blaxill runs Canary Party.
*Google listing for deleted post (click to enlarge):
**Terry Poling comment, first half (click to enlarge):
Terry Poling’s comment, second half (click to enlarge):
***Dawn Loughborough’s comment to Terry Poling as “MotherofPossibility” (click to enlarge):
****The blog post has not been removed as previously reported here; the commenter posted the URL incorrectly, then correctly posted it in the following comment.
Addendum, November 18, 2013: The text of the post has now been restored along with all 40 (not 38 as Autism Investigated first reported) of the comments previously removed, but the video has not. Age of Autism claims to have trouble embedding the video, although it remains down from the entire internet. Additionally, Dawn Loughborough has since apologized in the comments for her harsh words to Terry Poling.
Addendum, November 19, 2013: Despite Age of Autism removing the video, it remains online after all. A commenter here has posted the link. It has not been posted on Age of Autism.
Addendum, November 19, 2013, 8:31pm CST: After Autism Investigated posted the link to the video and a reader requested Age of Autism do the same in the site’s comments, Age of Autism has now embedded the video again while deleting all their technical excuses for its removal (click below screenshot to enlarge).
Jake Crosby is editor of Autism Investigated and is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a Bachelor of Arts in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy and a 2013 graduate of The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services with a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. He currently attends the University of Texas School of Public Health where he is studying for a Ph.D. in Epidemiology.