Category Archives: Media

US News Betrays Legacy of Dr. Bernadine Healy


By Jake Crosby

When one types the words “autism vaccines” into the Google News search engine on July 13th 2013, two links to US News and World Report come up. The first one that appears at the very top is a typical pharma talking point-laden article peppered with ad hominem attacks at Jenny McCarthy for her position on vaccines. The author of the article, Pat Garofalo, is a former employee of a political think tank heavily tied to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who has gone on-record saying HHS has been ordering media outlets to censor the vaccine-autism debate. Garofalo argued that McCarthy’s views on vaccines should prevent her from co-hosting “The View.” The second US News article that appears further down in the search engine results is a well-reasoned piece from four years ago by the late former NIH director Dr. Bernadine Healy – an actual doctor – who was health editor of US News and World Report at the time.

The difference between the two articles cannot be understated, both reflecting the inherent knowledge of their respective authors. First, let’s take a look at Garofalo’s piece, in which he states rather bluntly:

“As the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has put it, ‘The medical and scientific communities have carefully and thoroughly reviewed the evidence concerning the vaccine-autism theory and have found no association.’”

Then you have Dr. Healy’s piece, which states:

“Youngsters like Hannah Poling, for example, who has an underlying mitochondrial disorder and developed a sudden and dramatic case of regressive autism after receiving nine immunizations, later determined to be the precipitating factor.”

That determination was also made by the Department of Health and Human Services. So how is it that HHS can make the statement that there is no association between vaccines and autism when it has made such a determination with Hannah Poling’s autism and those of others compensated through the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program? Perhaps that’s because, as Dr. Healy said herself in a 2008 CBS interview, HHS has tried to bury the evidence that vaccines could lead to autism, rather than study it.

According to Dr. Bernadine Healy:

“There is a completely expressed concern that they don’t want to pursue a hypothesis because that hypothesis could be damaging to the public health community at large by scaring people.”

Of course, not pursuing that hypothesis would be damaging to the public health at large, let alone the public health community. Such a pursuit in 1999 by CDC’s epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Verstraeten revealed that the mercury-based vaccine preservative thimerosal multiplies one’s risk for autism by more than 7-fold. Dr. Verstraeten concluded, “…all the harm [e.g. autism] is done in the first month [of life],” but rather than publishing results, CDC chose to bury them. The federal agency also paid the IOM to produce a report rejecting autism as a cause of vaccinations. As the chairwoman Marie McCormick said in one closed IOM meeting on January 12, 2001 before examining any evidence, “…we are not ever going to come down that it [autism] is a true side effect….” She also said, “…CDC wants us to declare, well, these things are pretty safe on a population basis.”

In short, government agencies have already proven that at least some vaccines cause autism, but have chosen to bury that information. Instead of citing what the Department of Health and Human Services actually knows as reflected in the troubling words of doctors such as Thomas Verstraeten and Marie McCormick, Garofalo instead decided to only quote the carefully-worded spin cranked out of the Department’s PR machine. He also chooses to cite the vaccine industry’s champion “journalist” Seth Mnookin, who has been shown to be very averse to critical questions when publicly challenged at his own events.

Additionally, Garofalo asserts Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s case series paper was fraudulent – never mind the fact that an actual investigation looking into the matter yielded nothing and that BMJ editor Fiona Godlee – whom Dr. Wakefield is now suing – cannot defend her accusations under critical questioning at NIH. That is in stark contrast to Dr. Wakefield, who eviscerated critical questions of him after he debunked the BMJ’s fraud allegations at Garofalo’s and my alma mater of Brandeis University.

What could explain Garofalo’s evangelical backing of the vaccine industry? Perhaps that could be the due to the fact that before his hiring by US News in March, he was Economic Policy Editor for nearly five years at ThinkProgress, a political blog owned by the think tank the Center for American Progress. The Center’s president was formerly a senior advisor to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. When asked in a 2010 Reader’s Digest interview what can be done to address public concerns about vaccine safety, she replied:

“There are groups out there that insist that vaccines are responsible for a variety of problems despite all scientific evidence to the contrary. We have reached out to media outlets to try to get them to not give the views of these people equal weight in their reporting to what science has shown and continues to show about the safety of vaccines.”

When questioned about the above quote the following year by HDNet investigative reporter Greg Dobbs, HHS back-tracked:

“No one here can remember or determine that this quote is factual.”

Nonetheless, neither HHS nor Sebelius ever denied making such remarks, and ThinkProgress certainly seems to be following through with her request of censoring vaccine safety concerns.

After Garofalo promoted his article, ranting, “Seriously, crazy anti-vaccine pseudoscience has no place on television,” ThinkProgress health reporter Tara Culp-Ressler egged him on shouting, “Preach it!!” Obviously, promoting vaccines is like a religion to these people – a religion that has to be preached. What more can one expect from folks with ties to a think tank aligned with an HHS Secretary who openly supported media censorship of vaccine risks? Not much.

What a blight on the legacy of Dr. Bernadine Healy that the publication she formerly edited is just another forum to back the vaccine-autism cover-up in media by encouraging censorship. If US News cared about journalistic integrity one iota it would toss Pat Garofalo back to the Sebelius-tied political hack blog ThinkProgress where he belongs.

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 currently attends The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he is completing his candidacy for an MPH in epidemiology.

Mark Blaxill Publicly Attacks Critics

ad hominem alert

By Jake Crosby

On the 4th of July, Canary Party Chairman Mark Blaxill made his first public statement responding to revelations of his role in hijacking November’s congressional autism hearing. He descended into a litany of ad hominem attacks against his critics, including myself.

The catalyst for his statement was a critical comment in a discussion thread on Age of Autism – the blog Mark Blaxill both sponsors and edits – from philanthropist and Focus Autism founder Barry Segal, who summed up some of what I had already written online about Blaxill’s involvement in hijacking the hearings. I wrote how he had prevented autism parent and Ph.D. biochemical engineer Dr. Brian Hooker from testifying on the government’s vaccine-autism cover-up through the deceitful actions of a hired lobbyist who pretended to represent Dr. Hooker. It was Dr. Hooker who originally succeeded in having Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chair Darrell Issa commit to holding hearings on autism causation and the vaccine program with other congressmen and congressional staff present. After Dr. Hooker’s co-organizer Dr. Gary Kompothecras – a wealthy chiropractor and autism parent of 1-800-Ask-Gary fame – spilled the beans about the hearing to Mark Blaxill at AutismOne, trouble ensued.

A lobbyist named Beth Clay was working on behalf of the Coalition for SafeMinds (Sensible action for ending Mercury-induced neurological disorders), where Mark Blaxill was Government Affairs Committee Chair at that time. It was Blaxill who ended up testifying instead, completely leaving any mention of vaccines out of his speech. SafeMinds also changed the topic of the hearing from the vaccine-autism cover-up to the “federal response,” enabling autism epidemic deniers to show up and give testimony. I had previously tried to leave comments raising these concerns on Age of Autism, only for them to be censored. Segal’s, in contrast, was allowed through.

Barry Segal formerly funded autism advocacy activities led by Mark Blaxill via an umbrella organization known as Facing Autism, which Blaxill chaired. Unhappy with the way his money was being spent, however, Segal withdrew financial support, culminating in Facing Autism’s dissolution. Immediately after saying he was opposed to “more friendly fire” Blaxill fired a barrage of insults at Segal including the following: “One way to be effective is never to ask for a nickel from Barry, I made that mistake once and don’t plan to repeat it.”

Blaxill did verify Tim Bolen’s claim that he had introduced him to Dr. Gary Kompothecras, who revealed plans of the hearing to Blaxill. He then claimed that he already heard about the hearing “through the grapevine” before receiving verification of it from Dr. Kompothecras at AutismOne. But as Blaxill admitted to me before his encounter with Dr. Kompothecras, Blaxill’s knowledge of the hearing was in the form of “rumors.” In any case, he did not hear about the hearing through SafeMinds.

Mark Blaxill continued by trying to deny having anything to do with oversight of SafeMinds‘ lobbyist, Beth Clay, only to later contradict himself. First he claimed he had nothing to do with her hiring or oversight, but later admitted to working on the SafeMinds‘ Government Affairs Committee with her.

Not only does Mark Blaxill contradict himself in terms of his professional relationship with Clay, but conveniently leaves out the fact that he was in fact Chair of SafeMinds’ Government Affairs Committee and therefore had to have worked with the lobbyist. Clay assisted him in writing his testimony, and he corresponded often with her on email threads.

Furthermore, Mark Blaxill did not deny that she misrepresented Dr. Hooker to congressional staff. In fact, Blaxill did not address that at all, stating:

“Lobbyists work behind the scenes always and since Beth is a lobbyist and SafeMinds was Beth’s client, I don’t doubt she worked to get SafeMinds placed on the panel.”

That does not explain the fact that Clay’s “behind the scenes” work to have SafeMinds placed on the witness panel effectively changed the topic of the hearing and prevented Dr. Hooker from being invited by the congressional committee to testify. Blaxill did, however, try to throw the following bone to Age of Autism readers:

“Brian’s exclusion was a highly unfortunate outcome, one I hope we can fix soon by getting him in front of Congress to represent his important work.”

But will he fix it soon? Blaxill’s Canary Party asked for the next hearing to be about reforming the VICP rather than focusing on the government malfeasance Dr. Hooker had been working to uncover. Blaxill then defended his speech that he gave before Congress that was totally devoid of the word “vaccines,” by admitting he “pulled a few punches.” That’s putting it lightly. His excuse, ironically, was to build momentum for the next congressional hearings. Never mind that his continuous interference is helping to lose that momentum and completely derail the hearings.

Mark Blaxill directs his final paragraph at me, calling my reporting “delusional.” He then flip-flops by stating I have “so much potential to do good work.” He also talks about wanting to “heal the rift between us” five months after unfriending me on Facebook.

Now, he plans to continue shutting off contact with critics like myself on the excuse that, “I have no intention of getting into any flame wars on this subject.”

Perhaps it’s time for Mark Blaxill to practice what he preaches.

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 currently attends The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he is completing his candidacy for an MPH in epidemiology.

Seth Mnookin’s Introduction at Harvard: “His dad’s a buddy of mine!”


Editor’s Note: This post was previously submitted to Age of Autism, but rejected without being read. It is now published here as Autism Investigated’s first full-length article.

By Jake Crosby

On March 29th, a few weeks after I publicly challenged the vaccine lobby’s blogger David Gorski (“Orac”) on his broken promises related to thimerosal removal, I challenged the vaccine industry’s media go-to guy Seth Mnookin, at his alma mater of Harvard no less. The event was organized by the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and the topic was “Does the public believe in science?” Not only did it cover the vaccine controversy, but also controversies over climate change and of course stem cell research.

As with the event in New York City where I had my first conversation with Seth Mnookin over a year ago, this event was also in the form of a panel discussion. Sitting on the panel with Mnookin were two Harvard Professors and a writer for USA Today.

The moderator was M. William Lensch, Faculty Director of Education for the Institute. He introduced each member of the panel, but gave a special introduction for Seth Mnookin.

Speaking jovially, Lensch said of Mnookin, “His dad’s a buddy of mine!”

Lensch revealed that he was introduced to Seth Mnookin’s writing through his father Jim Mnookin, who was the 2011’s “Hedge Fund Consultant of the Year.”

“Jim told me to read Seth’s book about the Red Sox.” Lensch said how much he loved that book and about what an avid fan he is of the Boston Red Sox.

“So the Red Sox got Seth Mnookin this speaking gig,” I thought to myself.

Each panelist spoke briefly. When Seth Mnookin spoke, he talked about how there were more cases of measles and how concerning he thought those were and blamed them on vaccine exemptions. However, a measles “outbreak” occurred in Britain just after the UK Health Minister declared before Parliament that, “… MMR vaccination uptake is currently at historically high levels.” That said, Mnookin blaming any US increase there might be in measles on decreased vaccination rates seems premature at best.

He then continued about the recent epidemics of whooping cough – which actually did kill children in the United States – but he did concede that it was waning immunity from the vaccine, not vaccine exemptions, that were causing those outbreaks. In fact, I was the first to inform him of this last year on Twitter, citing none other than the CDC when he tried to exploit the pertussis epidemic in Washington State to serve his agenda. (His only response was to block me from responding to any more of his tweets.)

Then he brought up a study that had apparently just come out – by one of the original thimerosal cover-up co-conspirators Dr. Frank DeStefano of CDC – which Mnookin claimed laid to rest the “myth” that receiving many vaccinations at once increases one’s risk for developing autism. Of course, that study did not look at vaccines at all, but number of “antigens” per vaccine, the lion’s share of which were in the whole-cell pertussis (DTP) vaccine that was being replaced by the acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine while the vaccine schedule was increasing in correlation with the explosion of the autism epidemic. The study was merely a re-analysis of old data from a 2010 study claiming to show no association between exposure to the mercury-based preservative thimerosal and autism. In that study the authors suppressed results showing prenatal thimerosal exposure multiplied the risk for autism by eight-fold as revealed by biochemical engineer and autism parent Dr. Brian Hooker.

Unfortunately, I knew none of this regarding this new study, hearing about it for the first time and only having Seth Mnookin’s interpretation of it, which is obviously unreliable. So I brought up yet another study led by DeStefano from all the way back in 2004 that also suppressed results – this time showing that early exposure to the MMR vaccine can multiply the risk for autism by more than 2-fold, which the authors dismissed as an artifact of non-existent immunization requirements for special education children in Georgia. I felt this was more relevant as it concerned a combined vaccine and also because Mnookin consistently blamed measles outbreaks on vaccine exemptions. Bringing up this study by CDC and how the results directly conflicted with the conclusion, I asked Seth Mnookin if he felt the conclusion should be retracted.

Rather than responding to my question, he asked me:

“You want to introduce yourself?”

Although there were other questioners who didn’t introduce themselves, I went ahead and introduced myself:

“Sure, Jake Crosby, MPH Candidate concentrating in epidemiology at GW School of Public Health and Health Services.”

That wasn’t enough for Mnookin, who then asked me:

“What website are you contributing editor to?”

I replied, “Age of Autism: Daily Web Newspaper of the Autism Epidemic.”

I have to give him credit for giving me such an opportunity to plug my then-forum, although I am no longer allowed to contribute to Age of Autism despite still being listed as a contributing editor. Mnookin then asked me:

“And what is Age of Autism’s opinion about autism and vaccines?”

I responded:

“The opposite of yours.”

At that point, the civility broke down and Seth Mnookin went off on a rant against me, starting by calling a CDC study led by the same author as the one he plugged that day: “insignificant minutia to anyone unfamiliar with this topic,” and said my question was “devoid of facts.” It’s funny how he called the CDC’s study of MMR “insignificant minutia,” but felt the study that didn’t even study what he purported it studied was worth mentioning.

Meanwhile, he continued his rant, claiming there are “studies” of “millions” of children that show no connection whatsoever between vaccines and autism. When he made that argument to me the first time I met him, I pointed out that it was one Merck-funded Finnish study that compared the number of doses of MMR vaccinations to hospitalization rates of autism – the latter is totally useless for measuring autism rates since children are almost never hospitalized for developing autism.

Mnookin went on to say “I don’t know why you follow me to my events, I don’t know what rise you get out of this. You regularly attack me on Age of Autism, attacking my past, attacking my uncle.” The uncle he was referring to was Robert Mnookin, close colleague of vaccine lobby front group president Alison Singer’s mother-in-law. And if attending two of his talks within a year and a half constitutes “following” him, things must be pretty quiet for Seth Mnookin. He also said, “I know there will be a post about this tomorrow” (more like three months, actually).

Mnookin then concluded, “I will not engage you in a big debate about this.”

Taken aback, I replied, “Thank you for not answering my question.”

Then an audience member stood up for me, telling Mnookin, “You shouldn’t take it personally; science isn’t personal.”

The last time I publicly challenged Seth Mnookin at one of his talks, I got booted out after he lied that I disrupted past events of his. In his interview with a neurodiversity blog, Mnookin later tried to claim he had nothing to do with my removal:

“I recently spoke at a medical research conference — via Skype as my daughter had just been born — and there was someone in the audience who was very vocally anti-vaccine, and who ended being taken out of the room for something I had nothing to do with, and in fact I probably would have preferred that he stayed — but regardless, that was an upsetting incident to me.”

Mnookin did not prefer my attendance at the panel discussion he gave at Harvard, that’s for sure.

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 currently attends The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he is completing his candidacy for an MPH in epidemiology. For nearly five years, he was contributing editor to Age of Autism where he eventually encountered resistance to his investigations into the activities of several of the blog’s sponsors (one of which is also an editor) and was ultimately blocked from writing for the site.

Welcome to Autism Investigated!

The purpose of this site is to investigate the who, what, when, where and why of the autism epidemic, particularly the role vaccines play in causing it as well as the government’s role in covering up that cause. To maintain independent coverage, Autism Investigated will not accept sponsorship or commercial advertising of any kind. Readers are encouraged to make their own contributions to the site either via authored articles or through participation in our interactive comment discussions. We value your voice and look forward to your readership. To ensure that you don’t miss our posts, please subscribe to Autism Investigated and you’ll receive email notices of new articles. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook too.

Evidence of a link between vaccines and autism has been both discovered and denied by government agencies. Dr. Thomas Verstraeten, who concluded thimerosal multiples the risk of autism 7-fold in a study for the CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink Team, wrote in a Dec. 17, 1999 email, regarding infants who had received the vaccine preservative “…all the harm is done in the first month.” Yet Dr. Marie McCormick, Chair of the CDC/NIH-sponsored Immunization Safety Review at IOM, stated on January 12, 2001, regarding vaccination: “…we are not ever going to come down that it [autism] is a true side effect…”

This blog will dig deep to understand why the facts continue to be denied and obfuscated. Tomorrow, my first full-length article will appear on Autism Investigated.


Jake Crosby

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 currently attends The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he is studying for an MPH in epidemiology. For nearly five years, he was contributing editor to Age of Autism where he eventually encountered resistance to his investigations into the activities of several of the blog’s sponsors (one of which is also an editor) and was ultimately blocked from writing for the site.