What exactly did the CBS Evening News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson uncover in her Friday report? Though the title of the three minute hit piece was How Independent Are Vaccine Defenders?, it could have been called How Dependent is CBS News on Innuendo and Baseless Accusations?
The report fails to present a single piece of evidence that undue influence by pharmaceutical companies has endangered public health or the vaccine program. It’s Law and Order without a body, much less a crime.
But Attkisson presses on with file footage of the anti-vaccine activists’ favorite punching bag, Dr. Paul Offit, who (gasp) recites his name and job title. It’s the perfect intro to what follows next, if your thing is character assassination:
Offit was not willing to be interviewed on this subject but like others in this CBS News investigation, he has strong industry ties. In fact, he’s a vaccine industry insider.
Offit holds a $1.5 million dollar research chair at Children’s Hospital, funded by Merck. He holds the patent on an anti-diarrhea vaccine he developed with Merck, Rotateq, which has prevented thousands of hospitalizations.
And future royalties for the vaccine were just sold for $182 million cash. Dr. Offit’s share of vaccine profits? Unknown.
Also unknown – the point of the broadcast.
CBS Evening News didn’t report one single piece of information that isn’t publicly available. Offit and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have previously disclosed royalties from a rotavirus vaccine. But Attkisson is shocked, shocked I tell you, that people who research and bring life-saving vaccines to market get paid for their efforts.
Attkisson would rather we believe that Offit worked for 25 years studying rotaviruses, produced a vaccine that could save 2,000 lives a day, just so he can lie about vaccine safety issues because he wants to harm kids. One has to wonder if Attkisson is independent of the autism cure industry that long ago jettisoned evidence and reason to make room for their own double-bank shot conspiracies.
Can perceived conflicts of interest be a problem? Of course, but the problem is compounded one hundred fold by the conflicts that aren’t disclosed. Can we expect another cutting-edge Attkisson investigation into Dr. Mark Geier and his Lupron protocol? Or about Dr. Jon Poling, who failed to disclose that he is the plaintiff in a vaccine-related lawsuit when he wrote the 2006 case report about his daughter in the Journal of Pediatric Neurology? Or how about other vaccine plaintiffs who sit on the boards of anti-vaccine “autism advocacy” organizations?
Or CBS Evening News could train its omniscient eye on how the Petitioner’s Steering Committee paid Mark Geier and Laura Hewitson for a questionable study that links vaccines and autism, without disclosing its own conflict of interest, or that of Hewitson who is herself a plaintiff. Or disgraced British physician Andrew Wakefield, the father of anti-vaccine hysteria. He took hundreds of thousands of dollars from law firms, then produced a “study” that linked the MMR shot to autism. You can still catch Wakefield’s act at Thoughtful House in Austin, Texas. Don’t forget to tip your waitress.
And then there’s the whole autism cure industry, with its laboratories that churn out flawed test results to keep parents chained to the treat-and-test treadmill. Surely Ms. Attkisson, you could train your investigative acumen on those who exploit and stigmatize autistic children?
That’s just the kind of thing what you’re paid for.
Kev lists a few more undisclosed COIs from the anti-vaccine activists
Orac opens a can of Respectful Insolence