Last night PBS aired an episode of the show Frontline titled “The Vaccine War.” The entire show is now available online here. And while not perfect, the show did a fairly good job of objectively and accurately reporting the facts. So of course the anti-vaxxers ain’t pleased.
Jay Gordon ain’t happy. How dare they not include any of his interview in the final edit? It must be a conspiracy!!!! A conspiracy, I tell you!!! Whoa there, Jay. Welcome to the world of television media, where producers have to find a way to fit many hours of content into a coherent one hour narrative. Did I bitch and complain when I never heard back from the Newsweek.com documentarian I gave a preliminary 10-15 minute phone interview to about the Stop Jenny McCarthy site? No. I’ve logged and edited hundreds of hours of footage myself, so I realize how fucking difficult it is to figure who you want to devote time to interviewing on camera and which footage you have to unfortunately leave on the cutting room floor.
But the best hissy fit of course goes to Queen Anti-Vax herself, Jenny McCarthy. The Huffington Post, with its non-existent journalistic standards, happily posted her unstructured rant. Her main point (and I use the term “point” loosely here) seems to be that Frontline promised that they’d conduct a fair investigation and she’s interpreted this to mean that they promised her they’d interview all those actual scientists on her side of the issue instead of making it a scientists versus parents story as they did. And of course it’s an unfair stereotype, though not for the reason Jenny thinks. It’s unfair because Jenny and her anti-vaxxer cult don’t speak for all parents. In fact most parents still believe in vaccinating their children. Jenny doesn’t even speak for parents of autistic kids, as most of them hate her guts to for repeatedly describing autistic kids as soulless, broken pieces of shit. Sadly, that side of the story didn’t make it on the show either.
But as for all those “scientists” who actively support the anti-vaxxer agenda? I can pretty much count them on two hands: Wakefield, Gordon, Tenpenny, Blaylock, Sears, Mercola. And a couple who slip mind mind at the moment. And while not interviewed, Wakefield was represented in the show. The fact is that this is a war between those on the side of science and an hysterical cult of well-meaning scientific illiterates and ideologues. The science is squarely against Jenny and the show did an fairly accurate job of showing this.
Also worth noting is that Jenny didn’t point out a single demonstrable fact that the show got wrong. No, instead she whined about how unfairly she felt she was treated by I guess not having the whole show devoted to her interview even though anyone can watch her interview and J.B. Handley’s interview in their entirety online and even though fairness would have excluded them and Barbara Loe Fisher as interview subjects entirely given their lack of expertise.
And that brings me to another amusing element of Jenny’s rant. She’s insisting that Frontline should have interviewed scientists on her side because she, Handley, and Fisher are just parents of autistic kids turned activists. Her point is that she, Handley, and Fisher are not qualified. Funny how their lack of credentials is only an issue to vaccine deniers when the cameras are rolling.
And Jenny further shows her contempt for her readers by bringing up the whole Paul Thorsen case, insinuating the outside activities of some minor player in just one of many studies that disproves her position is somehow relevant. What does Poul Thorsen allegedly stealing money from the CDC have to do with the science that shows you’re wrong, Jenny? This is nothing but a disgraceful dodge to avoid addressing the real issue, the science. But of course Jenny doesn’t understand the science, so she’s got to resort to red herrings and ad hominems. Again, she couldn’t find a single fact presented in the show that was demonstrably wrong.
Meanwhile the show pointed out serious holes in the anti-vaxxers’ claims. Anti-vaxxers fail to consider that autism is just as prevalent among the unvaccinated as it is the vaccinated, that there are at least as many cases where early autism symptoms had no timing coincidence with vaccines at all, and that boys are four times more likely to develop autism despite both genders receiving equal numbers of vaccines. According to the anti-vaxxer position, all three of these facts are IMPOSSIBLE!