Tag Archives: Brian Deer

Brian Deer Rejects Film Offer, Gets Mad He’s Not in Film!

A critical film about Dr. Andrew Wakefield – the first scientist to raise a connection between the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine and autism – will soon be released. Yet the person mad about its release is his arch nemesis Brian Deer, who is credited with destroying Dr. Wakefield’s professional reputation. So angry was Deer that he even sent a letter and ultimatum to the documentary’s director.

The reason for Brian Deer’s anger? The documentary said he declined to be part of the film, when he did exactly that. When declining the offer, he even cited not being paid as his reason for doing so when he’s spent almost 15 years accusing Dr. Wakefield of being motivated by money.

The Facebook page of The Pathological Optimist provides details:

Miranda Bailey, the director of “The Pathological Optimist,” recently received a letter from journalist Brian Deer. For those who don’t know, Brian Deer was the journalist who originally investigated the paper published in the “The Lancet” written by Andrew Wakefield, and his colleagues. His reporting was instrumental to the UK General Medical Council’s investigation into Wakefield, which ultimately led to the loss of his medical license.

Read below as journalist Brian Deer “man-splains” to director Miranda Bailey how documentary filmmakers “should and should not behave.” He then goes on to accuse her of several fallacies before ultimately making demands and threats:

(From Deer’s letter): “If by midnight, Pacific, Tuesday, I have not received your assurance in these respects, or been offered by you a credible alternative plan to remedy the damage that your “documentary” inflicts on my reputation (presenting me, as you do, as too cowardly to defend my journalism), I will publish this letter to media, as well as to senior independent film makers, festival directors, and others who may be in a position to advise me. I give you four full days to decide and tell me what you are going to do.”

Brian Deer’s full letter is available to read using the link below along with Miranda Bailey’s response. We’re guessing that this is not the “apology” he was looking for.

Click here to read the full exchange between Miranda Bailey and Brian Deer. It’s comic gold.

Time for the folks behind The Pathological Optimist to reconsider who is pathological, and realize it’s not Dr. Andrew Wakefield.

Alison Singer: Autism Parents’ Jewish Ghetto Police

Fake autism charity/pharma front group founder Alison Singer has just made an appearance on Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (who famously said that America does not want Donald Trump to be president). So Autism Investigated has decided to re-run this 2011 Age of Autism post about her by the Deplorable Autist himself. It includes updated links to the vaccine-autism link science she denies exists, the truth behind her “foundation”, and the fact that she prevented autism in her younger child by spacing out of vaccines. In other words, she knows what caused her older daughter’s autism yet collaborates with the pharmaceutical industry to help it injure and kill more children for profit.

Alison Singer: Autism Mom, Pharma Wife

By Jake Crosby

Alison Singer: autism parent, IACC seat usurper, industry front group founder, recent guest on The Dr. Oz Show, and now – loyal Pharma-funded wife. Of course, that’s what she’s always been. We just didn’t know it, until now.

Mrs. Singer is married to Dan Singer, a longtime employee of McKinsey and Company: a global management consulting firm. Singer’s firm sponsors one of the awards given out by the British Medical Journal, which published and even endorsed British Pharmaceutical Industry sock puppet Brian Deer’s false allegations of fraud against Dr. Andrew Wakefield. McKinsey is not Pharma, you might say. True to an extent, but McKinsey’s commitment to the industry is significant. In the “industry practices” category of “client service,” McKinsey and Co. has a whole page on “Pharmaceuticals & Medical Products,” where they offer a wide range of consultation services to the pharmaceutical industry on everything from prescription pharmaceuticals, to over the counter medicines, to biotechnology and medical products and diagnostics. In 2006, in the company’s quarterly, an article was even run entitled “Avian flu: Expanding global vaccine production.” The avian flu vaccine is preserved in 49 micrograms of mercury, approximately twice that of a season flu shot.

But on January 12 McKinsey did more than consult for the pharmaceutical industry; they partied with its leading vaccine spokesman, millionaire vaccine industrialist Dr. Paul Offit. An email invitation sent out by Alison Singer’s group, the Autism Science Foundation, read:

“Please join us for the book launch and signing

at the offices of McKinsey & Company


55 East 52nd Street, 21st floor


New York, NY 10022


Wednesday, January 12, 2011
6P-8P

Hosted by: Autism Science Foundation

RSVP: Julie Martin
Tel. 646-723-3977

Underneath that message is a bio of Paul Offit and next to it is a picture of Offit’s book cover. Below the book cover, it says:

“All proceeds from sales of Deadly Choices will be donated to the Autism Science Foundation”

It’s more than a little odd that McKinsey would be promoting the work of the Autism Science Foundation (ASF). Ever sensitive to the prestige and standing of its partners, McKinsey would seem a more natural partner of Autism Speaks, the Park Avenue charity of the autism world rather than an upstart run out of Singer’s garage (actually, ASF rents Singer a desk and receptionist from a “Sunshine Suites” property in Noho). Understanding their ASF promotion requires understanding McKinsey’s longstanding role in the autism-vaccine controversies.

And McKinsey partners have been closely connected to the debate, up to the highest levels of the firm. Up until recently, McKinsey was headed by Ian Davis, younger brother of GlaxoSmithKline board of directors member Sir Crispin Davis, and twin brother of Sir Nigel Davis – the judge who denied appeals from MMR litigation claimants to have their legal aid continued.

Though Ian Davis would eventually step down from his position at McKinsey in 2009, it was not before Alison Singer resigned from Autism Speaks. Her resignation was prompted by the charity rightfully condemning the IACC’s backhanded removal of research into some pharmacologic etiologies of autism from its mission. Mrs. Singer’s justification was that there are limited funds for autism research that could be better spent, even though Singer supports such funding being dumped into the money pit of genetic research, and even though not only pharmacologic, but environmental factors overall, have been horribly understudied by comparison.

So she founded a front group posing as an autism charity – the Autism Science Foundation – with millionaire pharmaceutical industrialist Dr. Paul Offit. ASF is the only autism research organization founded on the basis of the science it won’t pursue (it’s been “asked and answered, vaccines don’t cause autism”) than that it will do. And despite the fact that she was originally appointed to a public seat on the IACC as an Autism Speaks representative, she was allowed to keep her position as representative of her own corporate fringe offshoot, effectively usurping Autism Speaks’ representation on the committee.

During the time Singer resigned from Autism Speaks and began her front group, Ian Davis was still head of the company where her husband continues to work. Here’s a brief sequence of events. For more than 20 years, Dan Singer has been a loyal employee of McKinsey, joining the company out of Harvard Business School in 1989 and climbing the ladder until being promoted to director in 1994. That same year, he married his Harvard and Yale sweetheart, Alison Tepper, now Alison Tepper-Singer, whom we all know as Alison Singer. She would take up a job at NBC later that year and the couple would have a daughter together.

Then in 1999, Singer quit her job as a vice president of the network when that daughter was diagnosed with autism. She recently told CNN about her decision about giving MMR to her next child:

“I split the vaccine for my second daughter.”

Her second daughter now remains neurotypical. And the choice to vaccinate against measles, mumps and rubella separately seems not to have harmed Singer’s second daughter in any way. So Alison Singer not only followed Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s advice (and conceivably is benefiting from it), but was even an advocate for his cause in the popular press – at least in one instance.

When NBC ran an episode of “ER” in 2001 that featured a child who died of the measles presumably because he was not vaccinated with MMR, Singer reacted with outrage. According to The New York Daily News:

“Alison Tepper Singer, a former vice president in NBC’s desktop video division, faulted the “ER” episode for its “complete belittling of another viewpoint,” she told The News. Singer resigned from NBC in 1999 when her older daughter was diagnosed with autism.

“It was so irresponsible and so callous and so heartbreaking for parents who are dealing with this issue that I found it sad,” she said of the “ER” episode.”

Then in 2003, Ian Davis became McKinsey’s worldwide managing director. In other words, he became Dan Singer’s boss. Did this change of leadership bring a new kind of influence into the Singer household? Only the Singers know for sure. But one thing is clear, that Alison Singer, after previously splitting up the MMR for her younger, neurotypical daughter and speaking out against a biased TV show, began changing her public position about what she thought might cause autism.

Now, I already have a good idea what Alison Singer might say to all this, her reading of the “science” convinced her otherwise. In response to a January 14, 2010 article I wrote about Kevin Leitch speculating that guilt over giving his daughter a vaccine that triggered her autism drove him to finding solace in the neurodiversity movement, Singer wrote the following comment on the Leftbrain/Rightbrain blog:

What a strange story. Many parents question whether vaccines are involved in autism because of the media coverage of the issue, but then they read the science and realize the studies are there and the science clearly indicates no causal role for vaccines. Kev, although I find your point of view refreshing and your posts unique, I dare say you are hardly alone at coming to this conclusion. Jake will have to try harder next time.

 

What a strange position for her to take. Not only did she not read my article but there was already plenty of purported “research” in 2001 claiming to disprove a link between MMR and autism, virtually all of which was thrown out as useless junk science in an international review by the Cochrane Collaboration in 2005, which also conceded the evidence of the vaccine’s safety was “largely inadequate.” Many of those sorts of studies published since 2001, including the CDC’s own study, were actually positive findings reported as negative ones. Perhaps most disturbing of all was the confirmation of vaccine-strain measles virus in the terminal ileums and cerebrospinal fluid of children with autism and bowel disease in the O’Leary paper published in Molecular Pathology and the Bradstreet paper published in JPandS respectively (contrary to the propaganda machine, the later Hornig paper did not falsify these findings). Finally, one would think the HHS concessions of children like Bailey Banks and Hannah Poling who developed autism after their vaccines becoming public knowledge would have ended this debate altogether.

I don’t know what “science” Ms. Singer is referring to, but scientifically, consumers have far more reasons to fear vaccines and the MMR vaccine in particular in 2011 than they ever had back in 2001. Whatever motive the Singers’ would develop for no longer believing the MMR causes autism, it was certainly not scientific. If the twin brother of a person who denied justice to personal injury claimants and the younger brother of a man helping to facilitate a smear campaign against one of the claimants’ expert witnesses became my boss, I would not want to say anything potentially favorable about that witness for fear of jeopardizing my job. I certainly would not want my wife to do the same, either.

Alison Singer had a very different opinion by the time NBC President Bob Wright founded Autism Speaks along with his wife Suzanne compared to her opinion in the Daily News piece in 2001. Whatever changed Mrs. Singer’s mind about what causes autism, it likely happened within a time period no sooner than 2001 but probably no later than 2005 when she joined Autism Speaks. Ian Davis becoming head of McKinsey occurred right in the middle of that, also happening at around the same time his brother Crispin joined Glaxo’s board of directors. She has kept this connection between her husband’s company and the pharmaceutical industry to herself.

Alison Singer cannot honestly call her group an “autism charity” when its activities are focused on promoting and defending drugs (ie vaccines) for the pharmaceutical industry. She has actually traveled with Paul Offit to Atlanta to speak at an immunization conference on how to compel parents to vaccinate recklessly. Autism Science Foundation is a corporate front group with an agenda that predetermines its approach to autism. Its non-profit status should be revoked.

Originally published on Age of Autism

Dan Olmsted Exposes Evil “Journalist” for What He Is

It is with great sadness that Autism Investigated relays the announcement that Dan Olmsted – Age of Autism’s founding editor – has passed away. While I have had my differences with him and the Age of Autism site, I will be forever grateful to him for his friendship, advice and platform for my views. I’ve always respected him as a journalist and have never forgotten the excellent work he has done over the years, and I just had a very friendly exchange with him on the day of the inauguration. I will never stop missing him and offer my sincere condolences to the entire Age of Autism team. Autism Investigated will devote the entire week to posts honoring Dan Olmsted, including a proper obituary. May we all honor Dan Olmsted’s life by ending the autism epidemic to make America great again! – Jake Crosby, MPH

“Who Can Say?” — Journalist Who Alleged Wakefield Committed Fraud Backs Off Key Claim

By Dan Olmsted

Brian Deer, the British journalist who claimed researcher Andrew Wakefield committed fraud by linking the MMR vaccine to autism, now admits one of his key allegations against Wakefield may be flat-out wrong. Yet he insists it’s no big deal — that it does nothing to undercut his claim that Wakefield is “an elaborate fraud.”

“Not one of the children were reported on truthfully. Wakefield lied again and again,” journalist Brian Deer said in his post on Saturday, referring to Wakefield 12-child case series published in the Lancet in 1998.  But in the same post, Deer acknowledged that, contrary to his previous reporting, he is now unsure whether Wakefield falsely changed the timing of the MMR shot to put it before the autism symptoms began in a key case.

“Who can say?” Deer wrote Saturday.

The allegation that Wakefield reversed the timing of the shot — clear evidence of fraud, if true — was  featured in detail as the shocking opening to Deer’s 2012 series in the British Medical Journal titled “How the Case Against the MMR Was Fixed.”

Child 11’s autism symptoms developed “two months earlier than reported in the Lancet, and a month before the boy had MMR,” Deer reported, “too soon” to be the cause. That “must have been a disappointment” to Wakefield, who proceeded to switch the sequence to suit his bias, Deer wrote. The father angrily “spotted the anomaly” after Deer identified and interviewed him, but  “needn’t have worried” that Wakefield would get away with it: “My investigation of the MMR issue exposed the frauds behind Wakefield’s research.”

But on Saturday, after I showed that Deer is the one who got the sequence wrong – that the shot indisputably did come first, followed by the development of regressive autism — Deer wrote: “Who can say, years later?” In fact, I can say: The father, whom I also identified and interviewed, wrote Wakefield as early as 1997, and contemporaneous medical records establish, that the child got the MMR at 15 months, became sick for several months, developed autism symptoms by 18 months, and was given a formal autism diagnosis at age 3. The father has always said he believes the shot caused all those consequences — none of which Deer managed to reflect in his own investigation despite interviewing and e-mailing with Father 11 over an extended period of time.

The fact that a core element of his claim of research fraud is now a matter of uncertainty to Deer, the only man who made it, is a remarkable development under any circumstance, but considering the impact the claim has had on the autism debate in subsequent years, it is extraordinary. The claim has been used by officials around the world to say concerns about autism and vaccines have been “debunked” because they originated from a fraudulent research report. A typical example: Senator Dianne Feinstein of California wrote a constituent last week: “I understand that many parents are also concerned that vaccines may cause autism. This claim was published in 1998, in an article in the Lancet, a British medical journal. The researcher who authored the article was later found to have deliberately falsified data to produce a fraudulent link …”

Equally striking is how little its accuracy seems to matter to Deer, convinced as he is that Wakefield’s status as a charlatan is beyond dispute, even if such a central “fact” no longer supports it.

Deer, a veteran newspaper correspondent who, as he frequently points out, has won numerous prestigious journalism awards including the British equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize for his Wakefield investigation, on Saturday offered no convincing reason for how he could have gotten something so central to his fraud claim against Wakefield so wrong. Instead he portrayed the father’s account as a “competing” explanation to the one Deer had independently settled on, based on a couple of unrelated court documents that led him to falsely infer that the autism symptoms preceded the shot in Child 11. Standard journalistic practice would be to check that assumption against the other, far more dispositive evidence that refuted it, and with the child’s father, who subsequently told me: “Mr. Deer’s article makes me appear irrational for continuing to believe that the MMR caused difficulties which predated its administration.”

Instead, on Saturday Deer sneered at the messenger – me – as he staged a full-scale retreat from the facts, using Father 11’s acknowledged but irrelevant antipathy toward Wakefield as cover. He called me “an undistinguished former journalist” who now runs a website “largely funded by anti-vaccine profiteers,” claiming that I had been “dumped some years ago from his post as a copy editor for a news agency owned by the Rev Sun Myung Moon – himself convicted of fraud … Olmsted has since sought a livelihood from his website, misleading vulnerable parents of children with autism. …  He sought to profit with his website by lying to parents whom he disgustingly purports to champion” and followed “British research cheat” Wakefield “into the toilet.”

Whatever. On Saturday Deer also tried to elevate a secondary issue – how long after the shot the autism symptoms occurred in Child 11 – into a replacement for his now-discredited claim that the entire sequence was reversed, an incomparably more serious and black-and-white issue. 

Ultimately, Deer suggested, the truth is unknowable.

“The father says one thing, the medical records another,” as Deer put it on Saturday. In fact, the father says one thing, and the medical records back him. (That does not mean the vaccine caused the autism, of course, but it does mean the father believed it did, and that Wakefield got the sequence right.) Only Deer’s idiosyncratic and journalistically unjustified misuse of a couple of stray medical records, unchecked by the reality described by everyone else, says another.

As I’ve shown in a 10-part series,  this tendentious approach applies to the entirety of Deer’s reporting on Wakefield, including Deer’s accusation that in five of the 12 children – Child 11 included – autism symptoms occurred before the shots were given. In fact, those cases are no more illustrative of Deer’s allegation of the shot-symptoms sequence than Child 11. Nonetheless, when one “fact” starts to wobble, Deer refers to all the other facts that have not been as closely scrutinized as if they offer some sort of collective support – “Of course, my reports did not hinge on child 11, or on any individual case,” he said Saturday. “As explained in the most detailed account of Wakefield’s grotesque misconduct, it rested on the findings (as the BMJ noted) that not one of the children were reported upon truthfully. Wakefield lied and lied again.” 


And if that’s not enough, well, Wakefield’s license to practice medicine was revoked and the Lancet paper was retracted (largely based on the “facts” Deer alleged).

At some point, though, Deer’s claims – or anyone else’s – must hinge on the facts of individual cases if they are to add up to widely accepted evidence of “Wakefield’s grotesque misconduct.” Just saying so doesn’t make it so; referring to “lie after lie” doesn’t constitute “an elaborate fraud” unless each “lie” can be shown to be exactly that. (Deer’s piece on my own reporting was titled, “Dan Olmsted lies for research doctor.” One is tempted to rewrite the headline as “Lying Undistinguished Former Journalist Lies for Lying Research Fraud Wakefield.”)

The timing of shots and symptoms in just 12 children more than a decade ago may seem trivial, but the issue is anything but arcane. Millions of cases of autism have occurred since 1998, when Wakefield sounded what he believed was an “early warning” of a possible link between vaccination and autism that required further research and led to his suggestion that until that was complete, the M, M, and R in the MMR should be given separately. Thousands of parents have subsequently described such an outcome, but because Wakefield has supposedly been “discredited” and his work “debunked” — by Brian Deer — that and other evidence have been dismissed.

I first wrote about Deer’s investigation in 2012. Let me again spell out what I learned from Father 11 and how it differed from Deer’s account.

I met Father 11, who like Deer I identified from my own independent reporting, at a Peet’s Coffee shop in an affluent, picture-perfect Southern California enclave, and we sat outside in the mid-60s sunshine he jokingly called “a little frosty.” A wealthy businessman who lives in a gated community nearby, he wore a light jacket emblazoned with “Cal,” for the University of California at Berkeley where he got an engineering degree. He carried a thin file folder and a spiral notebook.

In this laid-back setting, it was hard to grasp the role he and his family have played in one of the major medical controversies of our time, one that unfolded in a foggy city 6,000 miles to the east.

This father is Deer’s best witness among the parents of the 12 children described in the Lancet paper – in fact, his only one, the lone parent who is hostile to Wakefield, not just a little frosty, but coldly angry. His anonymous comments to Deer in the BMJ seemed to fully support the January 5, 2011, cover story: “Secrets of the MMR Scare: How the Case Against the MMR Was Fixed.”

“My investigation of the MMR issue exposed the frauds behind Wakefield’s research,” wrote the ludicrously self-aggrandizing correspondent.

Child 11, in fact, was Deer’s opening into fraud. He was among those “whose parents apparently blamed MMR,” but Deer commented acidly that “Child 11’s case must have been a disappointment. Records show his behavioural symptoms began too soon.” [Italics in original] Deer quoted from a Royal Free Hospital discharge summary: “His developmental milestones were normal until 13 months of age. In the period 13-18 months he developed slow speech patterns and repetitive hand movements. Over this period his parents remarked on his slow gradual deterioration.”

Deer summarized: “That put the symptom two months earlier than reported in the Lancet, and a month before the boy had MMR. And this was not the only anomaly to catch the father’s eye. …” (Note that it is Deer, not the discharge paper, saying the symptoms came “a month before the boy had MMR.”)

Well yes, if you’ve got a parent saying that a child developed autism before he got the MMR shot, and you’ve got a research paper saying the opposite and suggesting a link between the shot and the disorder, and pulling the same stunt with several other children, you’ve got your fraud right there.

The BMJ report was the coup de grace for serious consideration of a link between vaccines and autism. Wakefield was “convicted of fraud,” wrote Time magazine in an article titled “The Dangers of the Antivaccine Movement.” An editorial in The New York Times, titled Autism Fraud,noted Britain’s General Medical Council had already stripped Wakefield of his medical license, and the Lancet retracted the paper: “Now the British Medical Journal has taken the extraordinary step of publishing a lengthy report by Brian Deer, the British investigative journalist who first brought the paper’s flaws to light — and has put its own reputation on the line by endorsing his findings.”

Indeed it did.

“Clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare,” Editor in Chief Fiona Godlee wrote. She said “there is no doubt it was Wakefield” who was responsible for the “elaborate fraud,” despite having 12 co-authors.H

old the door, please. I was about to learn that Deer’s explosive claim about Child 11 – Exhibit A in this alleged hoax — was false. And that was just the first step of my journey into a world where things were not at all as they seemed.

The father opened the file folder – guarding the papers against a fickle coastal breeze — and showed me a letter he had written on January 1, 1997, to “Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Royal Free Hospital, London, England.”“My son [name deleted] at age 15 months, was immunized with the Merck MMR vaccine and became ill for the next several months,” the letter began.“As his pediatric records indicate he came down with a viral infection, and shortly thereafter viral pneumonia. His condition slowly deteriorated over time, and was diagnosed as being autistic on his birthday at age 3. The onset of his autistic behavior began around 18 months. … He was diagnosed as moderate to severe, with no speech, no eye contact, and cognitive function at 6 months overall.”

Multiple specialists in the United States confirmed the autism diagnosis, the letter added, as well as their suspicions of the MMR vaccine as the cause. Further workups in California also revealed “indeterminant inflammatory bowel disease” — the dual syndrome Wakefield was then investigating at the Royal Free. That was why the father wanted the hospital’s pediatric gastroenterologists to evaluate his child.

So – first came the shot, then the symptoms. The father’s account, and medical records created before he got anywhere near Wakefield, could not be clearer. But didn’t he tell Brian Deer exactly the opposite, as recounted in the opening of the BMJ cover story? And didn’t a hospital record confirm that?

No. And no.

Though you’d never know it, the father was actually disputing how long after the shot specific symptoms occurred. In fact, the father did directly blame the MMR for causing his son’s illnesses and autistic regression – a fact that appears to have escaped Deer’s notice, or at least acknowledgement.

Yes, the father was angry at Wakefield. Yes, he disagreed with other points, some of them unrelated to the content of the Lancet article. But no – he did not say that the symptoms came before the shot. That was not an “anomaly” in the Lancet paper that caught his eye, as Deer wrote.

And the discharge document itself? It was simply wrong, one of thousands of pieces of paper generated by many medical personnel in a complicated medical case stretching over many years; perhaps the “13-18 months” was a typo for “15-18,” since that is what the father had reported all along. Regardless, the father says he never told Deer that the symptoms came first, and there is no evidence to the contrary. Deer apparently did not bother to check that one piece of paper against the large volume of other evidence, or to confirm it with the father, or to make sure that his own claim that symptoms began “a month before the boy had MMR” coincided with any actual chronology.

As far as I can tell, no one on the planet — no doctor, no parent, no document – has ever said Child 11 was anything but healthy and developing normally before the MMR. No one, that is, but Brian Deer in the BMJ. And here we see Deer at work: Because Wakefield was by definition a fraud – because Deer said so – any discrepancies between data in the Lancet paper and any other source was proof against Wakefield. One document says 13-18 months for the period of regression? That was evidence enough that Wakefield “used bogus data … to manufacture a link” between the MMR and autism.

To my surprise as we sat outside in Southern California, the father told me he hadn’t read the BMJ article, and he declined my offer to quote from it or have him read it during our visit. He would rather lay out the sequence in his own words, he told me.

That turned out to be a useful approach.

His son had been completely healthy and developing normally, he said, until the MMR shot at 15 months triggered a downhill progression.

“I very much believe it,” he said about the relationship of the shot to the symptoms: The measles component of the vaccine triggered an immune deficiency that produced the cascade of devastating physical and mental problems. This, in fact, was Wakefield’s provisional hypothesis.

How did Brian Deer miss all this? How did he misrepresent the core of the alleged fraud and claim the symptoms came before the shot? How did he rely on the father to rage against Wakefield but completely omit the fact he believed his child’s autism did not just come after the vaccine but was caused by it?

Who can say?

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

Originally posted on Age of Autism

CDC Cover-up’s Ivan Oransky Conceals BMC Violation

ivan-oransky

By Jake Crosby

 

Some journalists are just ignorant; Ivan Oransky is not. He is Vice President of the “Association of Health Care Journalists” (AHCJ) – an organization of “journalists” funded by vaccine industry-tied groups dedicated to helping the CDC carry out its cover-up into the media. He also co-edits the blog “Retraction Watch,” which gleefully reported on the withdrawal of Dr. Brian Hooker’s paper that reported the very relationship between MMR and autism that CDC omitted from its original study. Oransky knows full well BioMed Central (BMC) breached policy when it pulled Dr. Hooker’s paper, but did Oransky report that, even though his blog reported on the removal of Dr. Hooker’s paper? Of course not, but he inadvertently revealed his knowledge of it in the email exchange I had with him after he vehemently defended the article’s deletion. Oransky also defended drastically altering my comment on his blog, grossly distorting what I said. (See full email exchange below)

After Oransky’s blog wrote about the pulling of Dr. Hooker’s paper without reporting about the BMC violation, CNN wrote an article from the same perspective as Oransky’s blog the very next day. CNN also added that Dr. Hooker’s paper was removed in a note above every relevant CNN iReport – without noting the BMC violation – disabled editing on the iReport CNN linked to from its article. What more can you expect when, as written elsewhere, Oransky’s wife is a writer/producer for none other than CNN?

Earlier this year, millionaire vaccine industrialist Paul Offit – who advised CDC’s immunization program while the fraud the whistleblower described was taking place – announced at AHCJ’s annual meeting that there should be “journalism jail” for journalists who write stories about debate on vaccines i.e. who try to report on the cover-up honestly. AHCJ gave pharma PR agent Trine Tsouderos an award for her hit pieces against notable scientists opposed to adverse vaccine side-effects like Dr. Boyd Haley. Over the years AHCJ has invited other co-conspirators such as Brian Deer, Walter Orenstein, Alison Singer, Diana SchendelArthur Allen and Seth Mnookin to its annual conference. Mnookin and Oransky were old college friends; they also have dishonesty in common. Additionally, AHCJ has even teamed up with CDC to train reporters to disseminate its propaganda – no doubt in line with former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ statement about telling media outlets not to report on vaccine dangers.

As Congress investigates the CDC for fraud like that revealed by the whistleblower William Thompson, Congress should also investigate CDC’s collusion with “journalists” like Ivan Oransky, AHCJ and related people and groups who don’t abide by journalistic standards and therefore do not deserve any press freedom protections. Such people should be fully investigated as co-conspirators and any investigation that leaves them out or fails to recognize them as such will be wholly inadequate.

The below email exchange demonstrates that all the more:

On Monday, September 1, 2014, <info@autisminvestigated.com> wrote:

Hi,

The text of my comment was altered to make it look like I said something I didn’t:

“How come no one is reporting that I believe BioMed Central’s take-down of Dr. Hooker’s article is a violation of the publisher’s own policies on article removal?”

This is what I really said:

“How come no one is reporting that BioMed Central’s take-down of Dr. Hooker’s article is clearly a violation of the publisher’s own policies on article removal, which states such action is only done under the explicit avoidance of threatened legal claims”

I don’t want anyone to report what “I believe,” I want journalists to report what actually happened. It is clear from BioMed Central’s policies that the take-down of Dr. Hooker’s article was a violation of them. Reporting on the take-down without reporting on the violation lends undue legitimacy to the censorship of a scientific paper.

Sincerely,

Jake Crosby, MPH
Editor, Autism Investigated
www.autisminvestigated.com

 

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Re: Mangled comment misquotes me.
From: Ivan Oransky ivan-oransky@erols.com
Date: Mon, September 01, 2014 7:29 pm
To: “info@autisminvestigated.com” info@autisminvestigated.com
Cc: “adam.marcus1@gmail.com” <adam.marcus1@gmail.com>

 

What you said left out most of BMC’s actual policy, and that leaves it as your belief that they violated said policy. Your choice is to have it as is, which conforms to our comment policy, particularly the part about unverified allegations, or have it deleted altogether. You’re welcome to post whatever version you want elsewhere.

 

On Monday, September 1, 2014, <info@autisminvestigated.com> wrote:

It’s not my “belief,” you can view the entire policy on BMC’s website and see for yourself that it contradicts the excuse for pulling the paper: http://www.biomedcentral.com/about/permanency 

I also said I wanted others to report on this – not on my opinion of it. So the wording still misrepresents what I said, even without taking verification into account.

 

Subject: Re: Mangled comment misquotes me.
From: Ivan Oransky ivan-oransky@erols.com
Date: Mon, September 01, 2014 8:18 pm
To: “info@autisminvestigated.com” info@autisminvestigated.com
Cc: “adam.marcus1@gmail.com” adam.marcus1@gmail.com
We included the entire policy, which you neglected to do and which contradicts what you wrote, along with both statements about why the paper was removed, which you also neglected to do. Your choice is still to have it as is, or simply deleted. Just let us know which you would like.

 

On Tue, Sep 2, 2014 at 12:46 AM, <info@autisminvestigated.com> wrote:

No, it backs up what I wrote, and I explain that fully. You neglect to explain how it’s contradicted at all. I included the entire policy in a screenshot on the webpage I linked to along with the statement that was more specific, contrary to your claim that I didn’t. You chopped the second half of my first sentence, making it less immediately clear how the policy was violated. It’s also misleading to portray me as asking why nobody is reporting that I believe a certain way about this issue, as opposed to simply asking why nobody is reporting on the issue itself.

By mangling my comment this way, are you trying to make me want you to delete my comment?

 

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Re: Mangled comment misquotes me.
From: Ivan Oransky ivan-oransky@erols.com
Date: Tue, September 02, 2014 3:56 am
To: “info@autisminvestigated.com” <info@autisminvestigated.com>, Adam
Marcus <>

The second half of that sentence, “which states such action is only done under the explicit avoidance of “threatened legal claims,” is incorrect and misrepresents BMC’s policy. The part of the policy in question: “…in the exceptional event that material is considered to infringe certain rights or is defamatory we may have no option but to remove that material from our site and those sites on which we have deposited the material in question.

BioMed Central therefore reserves the right to cease to make available articles that it has been advised are potentially defamatory or that infringe any intellectual property right, or are otherwise unlawful.”

The two relevant notices also make it clear that your original comment’s claim that “However, Dr. Hooker’s paper was only taken down on the excuse of ‘possible undeclared competing interests'” is also incorrect.

You continue to have two choices: Leaving the comment as is, or have it deleted.

Ivan Oransky, MD
Vice President and Global Editorial Director, MedPage Today http://medpagetoday.com
Co-Founder, Retraction Watch http://retractionwatch.com
Founder, Embargo Watch http://embargowatch.wordpress.com
Adjunct Associate Professor, New York University’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program
Vice President, Association of Health Care Journalists
Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine
http://twitter.com/ivanoransky
917-359-2113

 

On Tue, Sep 2, 2014 at 9:52 PM, <info@autisminvestigated.com> wrote:

Actually, it is correct and is an accurate representation. The reason of “threatened legal claims” is the reason BioMed Central gives for striking articles, that was not the reason it gave for striking Dr. Hooker’s article. That’s clear in this “open access” publisher’s policy you partially quoted.

The more specific notice made it clear that “undeclared possible competing interests” was the reason for the paper’s removal and that “validity” and “public interest” were concerns supposedly stemming from that. Regardless, none of these are “threatened legal claims” – the actual reason BioMed Central gives for striking articles according to policy. Since this was not the reason given for striking Dr. Hooker’s article, his article was therefore deleted in violation of that policy.

One of my readers – ironically the one who told me to contact you – said your misrepresentation of my comment as asking why no one is reporting “that I believe” a certain way about an issue makes me look “unhinged.”

Is that your intent? Either censoring me or making me look unhinged, but giving me a choice between the two so you can then claim you did one or the other with my approval? Sure looks like it.

Jake Crosby, MPH
Editor, Autism Investigated
www.autisminvestigated.com

 

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Re: Mangled comment misquotes me.
From: Ivan Oransky ivan-oransky@erols.com
Date: Tue, September 02, 2014 7:22 pm
To: “info@autisminvestigated.com” info@autisminvestigated.com
Cc: Adam Marcus <adam.marcus1@gmail.com>

You wrote that removal “is only done under the explicit avoidance of ‘threatened legal claims.'” The policy actually gives two other reasons for removal: “that material is considered to infringe certain rights or is defamatory.” That makes “only” incorrect, and a misrepresentation of the policy.

Our only intent is to verify claims in our comments, and the claim your comment made is incorrect. You continue to have two choices: Leave the comment as it is now, or delete it.

Ivan Oransky, MD
Vice President and Global Editorial Director, MedPage Today http://medpagetoday.com
Co-Founder, Retraction Watch http://retractionwatch.com
Founder, Embargo Watch http://embargowatch.wordpress.com
Adjunct Associate Professor, New York University’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program
Vice President, Association of Health Care Journalists
Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine
http://twitter.com/ivanoransky
917-359-2113

 

On Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 1:41 PM, <info@autisminvestigated.com> wrote:

Well given that “threatened legal claims” are what the publisher says it hopes to avoid when taking down articles for either of those reasons, “threatened legal claims” are essentially the publisher’s only reason for taking down articles. Since none of what you quote was given in the publisher’s excuse for pulling Dr. Hooker’s article, will you at least finally acknowledge its deletion was in violation of the publisher’s policy for article removal?

Well you’re not acting like that’s your intent by treating verified facts as unverified claims. Nor are you acting like that’s your intent by giving me this ultimatum of either allowing you to keep my butchered comment up as is or having it deleted altogether without replacing it with a corrected version. As you can see from my comment submission (attached), your representation me as asking why others aren’t reporting “that I believe” a certain way is not only “unverified,” but plainly false.

commenttoretractionwatch 

 

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Re: Mangled comment misquotes me.
From: Ivan Oransky ivan-oransky@erols.com
Date: Thu, September 04, 2014 10:51 am
To: “info@autisminvestigated.com” info@autisminvestigated.com
Cc: Adam Marcus <adam.marcus1@gmail.com>

Your two choices for this comment remain: Leave the comment as it is now, or delete it. If you want to submit future comments, you’re more than welcome to do so, but they too will be subject to our comments policy.

Ivan Oransky, MD
Vice President and Global Editorial Director, MedPage Today http://medpagetoday.com
Co-Founder, Retraction Watch http://retractionwatch.com
Founder, Embargo Watch http://embargowatch.wordpress.com
Adjunct Associate Professor, New York University’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program
Vice President, Association of Health Care Journalists
Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine
http://twitter.com/ivanoransky
917-359-2113

On Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 8:38 PM, <info@autisminvestigated.com> wrote:

Why the silence on BMC’s violation of its own policy?

You clearly did not follow your own comments policy in the way you edited my comment, which I do not approve of. That said, I won’t approve of you deleting it without putting up a corrected version either.

Looks like you and BMC both have trouble following your own rules.

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Re: Mangled comment misquotes me.
From: Ivan Oransky ivan-oransky@erols.com
Date: Thu, September 04, 2014 5:55 pm
To: “info@autisminvestigated.com” info@autisminvestigated.com
Cc: Adam Marcus <adam.marcus1@gmail.com>

To repeat: You misrepresented BMC’s policy, and you misrepresented the reasons they stated for the removal. You then based the “violation” allegation on your misrepresentations, which made the allegations inaccurate. We then edited your comment so that it no longer included those misrepresentations and inaccuracies.

You are free to post a new comment, as has also been mentioned in this thread, that will also be subject to our comments policy. If that is what you mean by “corrected version,” you’re welcome to submit one. Your choices for the already-posted comment, however, remain the same as they’ve been throughout this exchange.

Ivan Oransky, MD
Vice President and Global Editorial Director, MedPage Today http://medpagetoday.com
Co-Founder, Retraction Watch http://retractionwatch.com
Founder, Embargo Watch http://embargowatch.wordpress.com
Adjunct Associate Professor, New York University’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program
Vice President, Association of Health Care Journalists
Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine
http://twitter.com/ivanoransky
917-359-2113

 

Finally, I responded:

Here’s what you said:

“You wrote that removal ‘is only done under the explicit avoidance of ‘threatened legal claims.'” The policy actually gives two other reasons for removal: ‘that material is considered to infringe certain rights or is defamatory.'”

In your priggish and failed attempt to correct me on BMC’s policy for removing articles, you inadvertently showed that the take-down of Dr. Hooker’s article did violate BMC’s policy. BMC provided no such reasons for deleting Dr. Hooker’s article in either statement, even if you count whatever possible concerns that were raised from the reason of “possible undeclared competing interests” as reasons as well.

Don’t expect any more comment submissions from me.

 

I’ve never heard anything back since.

 

Jake Crosby is editor of Autism Investigated. 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

Watch Jake Crosby’s AutismOne 2014 Talk

Props to AutismOne’s Teri Arranga for her introduction.

Originally posted on AutismOne

So often, when we think of investigating autism, we think of discovering the physiological underpinnings. But what about the sociological forces that perpetuate the autism epidemic? Politics from without? Or – surprisingly – politics from within? In this startling lecture, Jacob Crosby, MPH, discusses the obstructionist forces that have hampered progress within the autism advocacy arena.

Jake Crosby, MPH

Jake Crosby is editor of Autism Investigated. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a bachelor’s degree in both history and health and a 2013 graduate of The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services with a master’s degree in epidemiology. He currently attends the University of Texas School of Public Health where he is studying for a PhD in epidemiology. For nearly five years, he was contributing editor to Age of Autism.

Originally posted at AutismOne

AutismOne is a non-profit charity organization 501(c)(3) started by a small group of parents of children with autism. Parents are and must remain the driving force of our community, the stakes are too high and the issues too sacred to delegate to outside interests. AUTISM IS A PREVENTABLE/TREATABLE BIOMEDICAL CONDITION. Autism is the result of environmental triggers. Autism is not caused by “bad” genes and the epidemic is not the result of “better” diagnosis. Children with autism suffer from gut bugs, allergies, heavy metal toxicity, mitochondrial disorders, antioxidant deficiencies, nutritional deficiencies and autoimmune diseases – all of which are treatable. THE KEY IS EDUCATION The AutismOne Conference, AutismOne Radio, AutismOne Outreach and Autism in Action initiatives educate more than 100,000 families every year about prevention, recovery, safety, and change.

Originally posted at AutismOne

 

Addendum: See AutismOne Slides

Age of Autism Deletes Canary Party Briefing Video

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.**

CanaryBriefing

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!

Added to the irony is that in his blog post about the interview, Age of Autism editor Dan Olmsted wrote of Canary Party Chairman Mark Blaxill:

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):

hazlehurstpost

**Terry Poling comment, first half (click to enlarge):

polingcomment1

Terry Poling’s comment, second half (click to enlarge):

polingcomment2

 

***Dawn Loughborough’s comment to Terry Poling as “MotherofPossibility” (click to enlarge):

dawncommenttoterry

****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).

aoatechnicalexcuses

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.

 

How Dan Olmsted and David Kirby Helped Kill A Landmark Autism Lawsuit

Justice-Denied-IPI

By Jake Crosby

It may sound bizarre, but that is exactly what happened when journalists Dan Olmsted and David Kirby interfered with Coalition for Mercury-Free Drugs’ Reverend Lisa Sykes’ 2008 personal injury lawsuit against drug companies Bayer, Wyeth and GlaxoSmithKline. Incredibly, Olmsted and Kirby were persuaded to co-write a letter that took the side of the drug companies against Sykes’ case. Even more bizarre was who successfully appealed to Olmsted and Kirby to support Bayer: vaccine industry mainstay blogger Dr. David Gorski, via an open letter on “Science”Blogs. (He would later accept direct funding from Bayer: a 30,000-euro grant according to Gorski himself.)

It all began when “neurodiversity” blogger Kathleen Seidel of the now-defunct neurodiversity.com website was subpoenaed by attorney Cliff Shoemaker, who was representing Reverend Sykes in her case against Bayer and other pharmaceutical companies for injuries her son sustained from mercury exposure through vaccination and Rh-immunoglobulins. Seidel had quite a track record of pro-pharma activities. She had complained against scientists to their state medical board and to the FDA, and had also written in support of the CDC freezing outside researchers from accessing a federal database. These complaints by her would eventually culminate in a scientist being coerced by FDA into voluntarily withdrawing a product from the market, even though it met FDA’s safety standards. Seidel’s complaints would also lead to a scientist losing his medical license and his son being fined $10,000 by a medical board known for flouting fairness statutes meant to protect doctors. According to millionaire vaccine industrialist Paul Offit, Seidel falsely claimed to him that Generation Rescue co-founder JB Handley threatened her with a lawsuit which in turn led to Handley being libeled in Offit’s 2008 book. He would be forced to change the text in his book. Not surprisingly, Seidel had also attacked Rev. Sykes’ case.

So what is wrong with Sykes’ lawyer, Clifford Shoemaker, subpoenaing Kathleen Seidel in order to try and find out possible connections she may have to pharma? Well, according to the vaccine industry blogger David Gorski’s letter to Kirby and Olmsted: ”freedom of speech” and the “First Amendment.” Gorski also insisted Seidel was not connected to the pharmaceutical industry (as if he would admit that she was if he was privy to this information) and noted that she is not a defendant in the case, despite her persistence in helping those defendants by targeting their critics. Gorski did make one point to Olmsted and Kirby that was correct, however:

If both of you, who so strongly disagree with Kathleen’s conclusions, were to speak out, it would shame Shoemaker and his clients, the Sykes, beyond any condemnation that I or the rest of the blogosphere can provide.

Indeed, Olmsted and Kirby were in a unique position to undermine Reverend Sykes’ case against Bayer and other pharmaceutical companies given that both journalists are well known to be on the same side of the debate as Sykes. That is the real reason Gorski wrote them his letter as he stated himself. He even hilariously tried to make them feel sympathetic towards Seidel by saying that they wouldn’t like being subpoenaed by vaccine manufacturers, and ended his email with the following plea:

If a lawyer representing a plaintiff suing vaccine companies can get away with this, just imagine what abuses lawyer [sic] with the resources of a big pharmaceutical company or the government could perpetrate to silence blogospheric critics. Imagine what mischief they could cause by demanding the correspondence, e-mails, financial records, and contacts with religious groups from their critics. That would be you, Mr. Kirby and Mr. Olmsted.

Just think about it.

Sincerely,

Orac

And yet, Orac, (blogging pseudonym for Dr. David Gorski) supports that very “mischief.” After Dr. Andrew Wakefield sued Brian Deer, Dr. Fiona Godlee and the British Medical Journal for libel in 2012, Gorski wrote Dr. Wakefield’s lawsuit:

…would allow them [Deer and Godlee’s lawyers] to subpoena all sorts of information…It might also, as I’ve pointed out, allow the defendants’ lawyers to depose all manner of Wakefield’s connections relevant to this libel suit, possibly even some of Generation Rescue’s luminaries and bloggers at AoA, given that it appears very much to me as though GR (Generation Rescue) and AoA coordinate their attacks on Deer and Godlee with Wakefield.

When Dr. Wakefield first filed his lawsuit, Gorski wrote that:

Communications between Wakefield and any AoA blogger might be subject to discovery.

That would include “Mr. Kirby and Mr. Olmsted,” not to mention me and potentially anyone else who has ever contributed to Age of Autism and corresponded with Dr. Wakefield. Obviously, Gorski would support the Merck and GSK-funded British Medical Journal, its editor Fiona Godlee and writer-for-hire Brian Deer serving Olmsted and Kirby with a subpoena. Gorski’s ploy is not surprising at all, given his complicity in the CDC’s thimerosal-autism cover-up and IOM’s subsequent whitewash.

What is devastatingly surprising, however, is Kirby and Olmsted’s response that came just three days after Gorski’s letter that blatantly stated: “I am appealing to both of you to use your influence and position in the autism biomedical movement to protest this shameless action by Mr. Shoemaker.”

In a complete betrayal to the autism community, Olmsted and Kirby did use their influence to protest Shoemaker’s subpoena, but they only sent their letter of protest to David Gorski. It appeared on his blog and nowhere else:

We both take this matter very seriously, and strongly oppose any effort to subpoena the records of Ms. Kathleen Seidel. We have also clearly expressed our feelings to Mr. Shoemaker. While we may not agree with her opinions, we consider Ms. Seidel to be a colleague. Rights to privacy, and to free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment, must be upheld for all. We urge Mr. Shoemaker to reconsider, and drop this action against Ms. Seidel.

David Kirby

Dan Olmsted

Perhaps the most shocking part of the letter is their reference to Seidel as their “colleague” – a colleague who has no journalism credentials, who complains against scientists to their state’s medical board, the FDA and medical journals while advocating for outside researchers to be frozen out of accessing a taxpayer-funded, federal database. That is the “colleague” Kirby and Olmsted profess to support on the basis of “free speech” – a “colleague” whom by Gorski’s own standards as applied to Dr. Wakefield’s case – would be more than appropriate to subpoena.

It gets worse, however, much worse.

Less than two weeks after Kirby and Olmsted’s signed letter of support for their “colleague” Kathleen Seidel invoking the first amendment, Seidel gained free legal support from a Washington, DC-based consumer advocacy group called “Public Citizen.” More specifically, she was receiving support from Public Citizen’s “First Amendment Team.”

Dan Olmsted is connected to Public Citizen through its Health Research Center director/cofounder Dr. Sidney Wolfe. Dr. Wolfe’s involvement in Public Citizen spanned nearly four decades. Did Dan Olmsted provide Kathleen Seidel with free legal support? Whether directly or indirectly, the letter of support for Seidel he cosigned with Kirby could have only helped.

Within a day of David Gorski boasting about Public Citizen’s support for Seidel on “Science”Blogs, Shoemaker’s motion to subpoena was quashed. Less than two weeks after that, the Sykes dropped their case against Bayer and other pharmaceutical companies. The following month, the Sykes’ lawyer Clifford Shoemaker was professionally sanctioned.

As this was all happening, Olmsted and Kirby’s support for Seidel drew the ire of one notoriously cantankerous Age of Autism reader – autism father and Hating Autism blogger John Best. He tried to complain about Olmsted and Kirby’s support for Seidel – and by extension Bayer – in the comments of Age of Autism, only to be censored. Eventually, Best was banned from commenting on Age of Autism altogether. Apparently, Seidel’s right to free speech is more important to Age of Autism than that of its own readers as well as the scientists whose reputations she worked to destroy and whose research she worked to stifle.

John Best is not the only person who did not receive a satisfactory explanation from Kirby and Olmsted regarding their support of Seidel. David Kirby did not respond to my inquiry for this article. (I merely asked him if anyone other than Gorski had pressured him to write the letter.) Age of Autism editor Dan Olmsted has informed me that he refuses to communicate with me altogether. When we were still communicating, however, he figuratively claimed:

John Best wants to shoot me, and I’m a good guy!”

At that time, I had no idea that this “good guy” helped quash a thimerosal lawsuit against Bayer – much less that that was what Best had been complaining about and been censored from Age of Autism over. Then in 2011, David Gorski disclosed taking research funds directly from Bayer. I would love to know what role Olmsted and Kirby’s letter invoking “free speech” may have played in helping secure direct pharmaceutical funding to Gorski – a blogger who ironically considers them worthy of subpoena by vaccine industry-backed litigants.

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 BA in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy, He is completing his candidacy for an MPH in epidemiology from The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.