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Dear CBS Evening News

July 31st, 2008 · 13 Comments · Kudos, Narrative

Voices for Vaccines, an evidence-based organization that promotes public health education, recently sent this letter to the senior producer at CBS News responsible for Sharyl Attkisson’s biased and poorly executed report.

Voices For Vaccines objects to the defamatory allegations made by the CBS Evening News on Friday, July 25, against the American Academy of Pediatrics, Every Child By Two, and the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, with our colleague Dr. Paul Offit singled out for baseless criticism.

It is our privilege to partner with these institutions in our mission to disseminate reliable information about vaccines. These groups advocate for immunization based on the overwhelming evidence for the lifesaving power of vaccination, and motivated by a sincere concern for the health of America’s children. It is preposterous and deeply offensive for CBS to suggest otherwise by insinuating that the pharmaceutical industry improperly influences the views of these vaccine advocates.

An obvious starting point for an unbiased reporter assigned to investigate this possibility would have been to determine whether the advocates’ recommendations were in accord with the scientific consensus on immunization, as articulated by neutral bodies such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (In fact, all three subjects of the CBS story do promote vaccination according to federal guidelines.)

In contrast, Sharyl Attkisson relied solely upon tangential observations in concluding that the judgment of these respected authorities has been co-opted by drug companies. Ms. Attkisson’s choice to pursue her story even after failing to uncover any evidence of malfeasance reveals not bias on the part of the story’s subjects, but on the part of Ms. Attkisson herself. Professionalism required her to acknowledge that the targets of her story have done nothing other than emphasize to the public that which is well known to science – that vaccines allow children to grow up safe and healthy.

We call upon CBS to issue a retraction of Ms. Attkisson’s report and an apology to the individuals and institutions whose good and honorable work in the field of immunization has been smeared. We further ask CBS to reflect upon the fact that it does not befit a user of the public airwaves to broadcast misleading claims about the most important public health measure of our time.

According to the group’s website, Voices For Vaccines is “dedicated to being a trusted and reliable source for accurate information about immunization.” Perhaps CBC News will join them.



13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sullivan // Jul 31, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Nice letter. Thanks Voices For Vaccines.

  • 2 gobsmacked // Jul 31, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    That’s a great letter. I am hoping against hope that CBS will fire Sheryl Attkisson for being so blatantly biased in her reporting. She’s been pulling this idiocy for a few years now. What’s her conflict of interest here, or is it that she’s just too ignorant to understand the science or how she’s been manipulated by antivax conspiracy theorists into destroying her own credibility.

  • 3 gobsmacked // Jul 31, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Make that, “Sharyl Attkisson.” I wouldn’t want them to fire the wrong person.

  • 4 blog-thing : Voices for Vaccines reply to CBS // Jul 31, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    [...] Autism News Beat  [...]

  • 5 isles // Jul 31, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Attkisson is increasingly shameless in her vaccine-bashing. If I were her boss, I’d be asking about her personal stake in it. This is a little more important than getting the weather report or the new season’s fashions wrong…parents are getting misled and real flesh-and-blood kids could get sick and die.

  • 6 Liz Ditz // Jul 31, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Two more sites serving as repeater stations for Attkisson’s distortions:


    Feel free to go over and apply the clue-stick.

  • 7 The Curious Reports of Vaccines and Autism on CBS // Jul 31, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    [...] the senior producer at CBS News responsible for the aforementioned report. You can read the letter here. Mike Stanton at Action for Autism writes that this letter was published on the Age of Autism [...]

  • 8 VFV Blog » Blog Archive » Catching up… // Aug 1, 2008 at 7:31 am

    [...] was to write a letter to CBS News objecting to their unfair treatment of three fellow immunization advocates. This letter quickly made its way to an anti-vaccine organization, an occurrence which has caught [...]

  • 9 Craig Willoughby // Aug 3, 2008 at 10:19 am

    Where in her report was there anything that was untruthful? She pointed out the money, and Dr. Offit and the other 2 groups had ample opportunity to both clarify Sharyl’s statements or give their side of the story. They refused. And how is that Sharyl Attkisson’s fault? How is that shoddy reporting?

  • 10 autblog // Aug 3, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    It depends on how you define truth. The entire piece was packaged as an investigation, which suggests that Attkisson discovered something important. But Dr. Offit had already disclosed everything that Attkisson supposedly dug up. What Attkisson fails to show is any wrongdoing, any evidence that Offit’s judgment has been compromised, or that vaccines are no safer than the diseases they are designed to prevent. I also object to her sneering reference to “10,000″ vaccines. Offit says that a child’s immune system can theoretically handle 10,000 antigens at once. If Attkisson or anyone thinks that’s wrong, then they need to look at Offit’s math and publish a rebuttal. If Attkisson can’t do that, she best leave it alone.

    I can’t blame Offit for not talking to Attkisson. She is not a scientist, or even a science writer. She has an agenda which she can barely hide.

  • 11 Nick // Dec 4, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Attkisson is Awesome. Offit is Big PHarms pointman, spin doctor. Offit should read the DOD’s report on Autism. Those Doctors don’t all get paid by big Pharm. Lets see you post This!

  • 12 autblog // Dec 5, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Consider it posted.

    The AFIP report you’re referring to in no way reflects the scientific consensus of the DOD. Mr. Kirby is cherry picking slides from a Powerpoint presentation.

    You’re right that not all researchers are paid by big pharma. Dozens of studies outside the United States have also looked at vaccines and autism and found no data to support the link.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  • 13 Should broadcasting adopt “conservative” principles | PPP-100 | Just another weblog // Apr 6, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    [...] vaccines and autism. See the video here. And since then, there have heated responses, including blogs that criticize how much evidence Sharyl sifted through before coming out with the piece. Having not [...]

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