Tag Archives: Deletion

FAKE NEWS REVEALED, Part II: The Ghostwriter Behind The Kennedy Retraction

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Scott Rosenberg, ghostwriter behind Kennedy retraction

With President-Elect Trump’s consideration of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as chair of a committee on vaccine safety and scientific integrity, the shills of fake news have been relentlessly trying to convince Trump’s team to reconsider. The most widely circulated argument has been Salon.com’s retraction of Kennedy’s article “Deadly Immunitywhere he wrote on the government cover-up of the dangers of the mercury-based vaccine preservative thimerosal. The retraction was based on a bogus rumor that Rolling Stone secretly retracted Kennedy’s article and was later condemned as editorial cowardice” by Salon.com’s founding editor-in-chief David Talbot. But now there is even more news that should bury the retraction of Kennedy’s work once and for all in this exclusive two-part series by Autism Investigated: the Salon.com editor-in-chief who took credit for the retraction of Deadly Immunity didn’t even read it, didn’t write its retraction statement and didn’t interview the person who started the rumor as portrayed on Salon.com. The first part of the series provided proof that he didn’t, this second part reveals who did.

That person is the MediaShift blogger whom the editor-in-chief misrepresented Kennedy’s article to in Part I: former Salon.com managing editor Scott Rosenberg. Rosenberg attended theScience Online 2011 annual conference with the Rolling Stone rumor-starter Seth Mnookin. The event ran from January 13-15 right before the article was retracted on the 16th. Both Mnookin and Rosenberg had books of theirs featured at the conference:

Scott Rosenberg – Not Kerry Lauerman – Interviewed Seth Mnookin

Rosenberg was also still contributing to Salon through 2011 when Kennedy’s piece was retracted. Yet Rosenberg would never disclose that in his MediaShift blog about Salon’s retraction of Kennedy’s article weeks later. Seth Mnookin’s first tweet about Salon’s interview used Science Online 2011 hashtag #scio11 – specifically for tweets Science Online meeting commentary and follow-up discussions – even though Lauerman was never at the conference while Rosenberg was:

 That was the first and last tweet by Mnookin about Salon’s coverage of his book and the removal of Kennedy’s article using the #scio11 hashtag. The purpose of the #scio11 hashtag according to a conference attendee was to denote tweets about Science Online 2011 “meeting commentary and follow-up discussions” by conference participants:”One goal of the conference was to be as inclusive as possible by livestreaming several of the sessions online and encouraging liberal use of the Twitter hashtag, #scio11, for meeting commentary and follow-up discussions.” Mnookin was also trying to score interviews at Science Online 2011 to pitch his book prior to the conference:

A Twitter search for both Mnookin and Rosenberg’s Twitter handles reveals substantial interaction between them at Science Online 2011, as well as Rosenberg tweeting about Salon’s retraction of his piece almost immediately after it happened. In contrast – Lauerman had no participation in Science Online 2011; a search with the #scio11 hashtag and his twitter handle yields nothing. Lauerman was not even in virtual attendance, despite it being an option for conference participants who could not physically be at the conference. He simply was not there at all.

Lauerman’s Motive For Retraction: Payback to Rosenberg in Exchange for Career Advancement

Kerry Lauerman had quite a rapport with Scott Rosenberg going back many years, specifically concerning the project Lauerman launched that was Rosenberg’s idea. This is what Rosenberg said about Lauerman in 2008:

“The Open Salon that opens its doors today — it’s been in private beta for a while — is an outgrowth of the work I did back then, but of course over the past year the project has evolved much further…It’s the work of Kerry Lauerman and his team — and, now that the participants are using it, it’s in the hands of Salon’s readers the people formerly known as Salon’s readers, to make of it something new and exciting.”

The implementation of Rosenberg’s idea by Lauerman was followed by his rapid accession to editor-in-chief just two years later. So naturally, Lauerman would feel indebted to Rosenberg which would in turn be a motive for Lauerman having Kennedy’s article retracted to please Rosenberg if Lauerman felt Rosenberg’s idea got him the highest editorial position. Lauerman not having personally interviewed Mnookin, read Kennedy’s piece or wrote Salon.com‘s retraction statement would also explain why Lauerman refused to even take Kennedy’s calls the night Lauerman told Kennedy via email that Salon.com would retract his piece on the night of the 15th – the last night of the conference attended by Mnookin and Rosenberg. 

Interestingly – following the retraction – Rosenberg went on to run the annual Science Online conferences regularly attended by Mnookin until the organization became insolvent and shut down in 2014. Lauerman did not read Kennedy’s article when it was pulled, did not interview Mnookin and likely yanked “Deadly Immunity” as a favor for a friend with strong Mnookin connections. Yet now years later, the result of this crooked behavior is used as justification to block Robert F. Kennedy Jr. from becoming chair of a badly needed commission to stop the ongoing harm being committed against innocent infants. Fortunately, the president-elect and the vice president-elect both seem pretty happy to have Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on their team.

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*Please send this article to the president-elect and vice president-elect*

FAKE NEWS REVEALED, Part I: Salon Editor Who “Retracted” Kennedy’s Article Didn’t Even Read It

KerryLauerman_writer

Kerry Lauerman, Salon.com editor-in-chief who deleted Robert F. Kennedy Jr. ‘s article without even reading it, is now executive “news” editor of Mic.

With President-Elect Trump’s consideration of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as chair of a committee on vaccine safety and scientific integrity, the shills of fake news have been relentlessly trying to convince Trump’s team to reconsider. The most widely circulated argument has been Salon.com’s retraction of Kennedy’s article “Deadly Immunity”where he wrote on the government cover-up of the dangers of the mercury-based vaccine preservative thimerosal. The retraction was based on a bogus rumor that Rolling Stone secretly retracted Kennedy’s article and was later condemned as editorial cowardice” by Salon.com’s founding editor-in-chief David Talbot. But now there is even more news that should bury the retraction of Kennedy’s work once and for all in this exclusive two-part series by Autism Investigated: the Salon.com editor-in-chief who took credit for the retraction of “Deadly Immunity” didn’t even read it, didn’t write its retraction statement and didn’t interview the person who started the rumor as portrayed on the site. This first part of the series provides proof that he didn’t, the second part will reveal who did.

That editor, Kerry Lauerman, has since made quite a career out of running outlets that delivered fake news. In 2014 he was hired by The Washington Post and in 2015 was made the newspaper’s National Projects Editor. Among Lauerman’s roles, according to the newspaper, would be “the planning, execution and coverage of some critically important events during the political year, such as the presidential debate and forum we’re co-sponsoring with Univision, and in guiding our preparations for the political conventions.” During that stint of Lauerman’s at WaPo, the now-president-elect stripped the newspaper of its press credentials because of its dishonest reporting.

Then the month before the election, Lauerman left the newspaper to become executive “news” editor of Mic – a creepy far-left site aimed at millennials that makes sensationalized stories out of the way men sit in subways. He still edits Micwhere he now pushes garbage rumors about the president-elect while he still attacks Kennedy.

Proof Lauerman Didn’t Read “Deadly Immunity”

A blog post for MediaShift dated January 24, 2011 provided a quote of Lauerman’s following the retraction. It proves Lauerman’s basic grasp of both the article and the context of the Kennedy quote he provided was so poor, Lauerman could not have read the article he censored:  

“It’s a seriously flawed story we feared could do real harm. People who have bought into the anti-vaccine panic have created a health crisis, and a flawed report that feeds that hysteria poses a real threat. With this particular story, the unproven logic that animates the piece — as when Kennedy says the link between thimerosal and the epidemic of childhood neurological disorders is real’ — is not easily excisable, and no matter how many editor’s notes or Drudge-like, red-flashing sirens you place on a story to warn readers, there will be those who will take a well-known, respected American at his word. We simply didn’t think it was worth that risk.” (boldface mine) 

How Lauerman quoted Kennedy’s article to justify its retraction completely contradicts how the retraction statement quoted that same sentence in his article on Salon.com:   

In 2005, Salon published online an exclusive story by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that offered an explosive premise: that the mercury-based thimerosal compound present in vaccines until 2001 was dangerous, and that he was convinced that the link between thimerosal and the epidemic of childhood neurological disorders is real.” (boldface mine)

The intro to Salon.com’s interview with Seth Mnookin – news fabricator extraordinaire who started the rumor that Rolling Stone canned Kennedy’s article – also contradicts the context in which Lauerman quoted Kennedy:  

In 2005, we published a report, “Deadly Immunity,” by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that appeared in Rolling Stone magazine (Salon had a co-publishing arrangement with the magazine at the time), in which Kennedy wrote that he became convinced that the link between thimerosal [a mercury-based compound once used in vaccines] and the epidemic of childhood neurological disorders is real” (boldface mine)

The only apparent place that misleadingly quoted Kennedy’s article the same way Lauerman did in 2011 was a CBS Moneywatch piece that also helped spread the false rumor that Rolling Stone pulled Kennedy’s article. That would mean Lauerman only read that piece instead of actually reading Deadly Immunity”.  And as one can see from a search result, there do not appear to be any other January 2011 sources that chopped the quote from Kennedy’s article to look like an absolute statement the way Lauerman did. The only way for Lauerman to have reasonably misrepresented Kennedy’s piece and quoted it out of context the way he did would have been for Lauerman not to have read his article and to have only read the CBS Moneywatch article with the chopped quote from Kennedy’s piece. Had Lauerman even bothered to read “Deadly Immunity”, he would know that his whole claimed pretense for retracting it was totally false. But the facts didn’t matter to him, as they continue to not matter to Salon.com. 

Since his reasoning is contradicted by both the retraction statement and the Salon.com interview as well, that would mean Lauerman did not write or conduct them either. But if he didn’t do either for Salon.com, who did? That will be revealed in Part II of this series, where the ghostwriter will be outed.

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*Please send this article to the president-elect and vice president-elect*

BioMed Central Breaks Policy by Retracting Brian Hooker’s Study

retraction guidelines

By Jake Crosby

Above is a summary of the reasons that justify a possible paper retraction, according to Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)’s retraction guidelines that are also used by BioMed Central (BMC). However, none of the above reasons were even mentioned in BMC journal Translational Neurodegeneration’s below justification for retracting Dr. Brian Hooker’s study, “Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young african american boys: a reanalysis of CDC data”:hookerretraction

 

Clear evidence of unreliability, duplication, plagiarism and unethical research are all valid considerations for retracting a paper, but “concerns” are not according to the very retraction guidelines BMC says it follows. Such considerations do not include “undeclared competing interests” either. Although alerting readers to such non-disclosures may serve as a purpose of a retraction according to COPE, they are not justification for a retraction.

BMC’s retraction of Dr. Hooker’s paper is only the latest of policy breaches by the publisher after it deleted his article from its website in breach of policy on the permanency of articles. Citing a then-pending investigation, BMC refused to comment on that violation when contacted by Autism Investigated. Now with the paper retracted in breach of yet more policies supposedly followed by BMC, the publisher has even more explaining to do.

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.

BioMed Central Breached Its Policies By Deleting Brian Hooker’s Study

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By Jake Crosby

Below is the excuse the publisher BioMed Central gave for deleting Dr. Brian Hooker’s study from the medical journal Translational Neurodegeneration:

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But whatever “possible undeclared competing interests” may have been outstanding, they clearly did not warrant taking down the article according to BioMed Central’s own policy for removing articles below. In particular, note the section boxed in red and how it clearly does not apply to Dr. Hooker’s paper at all:
 biomedcentralremoval

There is nothing “unlawful” about “possible undeclared competing interests,” and the excuse for removing Dr. Hooker’s study makes no mention of “threatened legal claims.” BioMed Central breached its own “Permanency of articles” policy by deleting his study, amounting to scientific censorship and casting serious doubt on the objectivity of the publisher’s ongoing investigation of the paper. Moreover, the statement from the CDC whistleblower who coauthored the original study Dr. Hooker reanalyzed the data from lends credence to the validity of his conclusions.

Expanding on these concerns, I wrote the following in email to BioMed Central with the subject title, “Pulling Dr. Hooker’s paper violates your policies”:

Dear BioMed Central,

I am an epidemiologist, graduate student and editor of an autism news website. I am writing because I understand you have removed an article from one of your journals titled “Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young african american boys: a reanalysis of CDC data,” by Dr. Brian Hooker out of concern for the validity of its conclusions because of “possible undeclared competing interests of the author and peer reviewers.” I should say I know Dr. Hooker personally and consider him a colleague and friend, though I am making this inquiry entirely on my own behalf and not on his or anybody else’s.

I have three questions for you concerning your take-down of his paper:

1.) What possible competing interests are there among the author and peer reviewers that have not already been declared and are so serious that they would warrant the deletion of Dr. Hooker’s paper?

2.) Shouldn’t the below admission from a coauthor of the original CDC study from which Dr. Hooker reanalyzed the data be an encouraging indication of his paper’s validity?

“I regret my co-authors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data was collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.”

http://www.morganverkamp.com/august-27-2014-press-release-statement-of-william-w-thompson-ph-d-regarding-the-2004-article-examining-the-possibility-of-a-relationship-between-mmr-vaccine-and-autism/

3.) According to BioMed Central’s “Permanency of articles” policy, even articles that are retracted remain in the public domain: “…the original article remains in the public domain and the subsequent correction or retraction will be widely indexed.”

This paper is not even retracted, despite an erroneous report from TIME Magazine. Yet Dr. Hooker’s paper has already been removed against your publisher’s policy which states:

“The preservation of scientific research is a cornerstone of science and as such we will use our best efforts to ensure that material published by BioMed Central is preserved and remains available for access.”

This is further backed up by the following statement, which very specifically lays out what reasons would justify the deletion of material from the public domain:

“However 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.”

Clearly, the questions about paper’s validity and any subsequent “public interest” did not warrant its deletion. There was nothing potentially defamatory, copyright-infringing or otherwise unlawful about Dr. Hooker’s paper. Regardless of whether non-declaration of possible competing interests by the author or peer reviewers is true, there is nothing that would be “unlawful” about it.

BioMed Central clearly lays out how it handles the removal of such material:

“Where this occurs the article will remain indexed. However in place of the article or header the following will appear:

“BioMed Central regrets that this article is no longer available to avoid threatened legal claims”.”

http://www.biomedcentral.com/about/permanency

This does not apply to Dr. Hooker’s paper at all, and no such statement was made in place of his paper. It is therefore clear that you pulled his paper in breach of your own stated policies.

How can readers trust the objectivity of any subsequent editorial investigation since your reason for pulling the paper is contradicted by your own permanency policy in the first place? That reason hypocritically calls into question the objectivity of the author and peer reviewers, yet your investigation is not being conducted in an objective manner.

Sincerely,

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

BioMed Central sent me this reply:

Dear Jake,

Thank you for your message. We are not providing further comment until the investigation is concluded.
I will keep your email and let you know when that is.

Best wishes,

Anna

Anna Perman
Media Officer

I then responded:

Dear Anna,

Will you at least explain why his paper should stay down when deleting it in the first place clearly goes against your permanency policy?

Jake

Receiving an automatic reply, I sent a similar email to another BioMed Central employee only to receive an automatic reply from that person as well. As the study remains deleted, the publisher’s subsequent “investigation” of it is clearly anything but objective.

BioMed Central should abide by its own policies, and restore Dr. Hooker’s study to the public domain of Translational Neurodegeneration immediately.

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.