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.