by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Robert De Niro
On the occasion of our announcement of the World Mercury Project’s $100K challenge, we want to address America’s reporters, journalists, columnists, editors, network anchors, on-air doctors and news division producers.
We especially want to reach out to those of you who have made a point of assuring the public about the safety of the mercury-based preservative, thimerosal. It’s our hope that this challenge will elevate this important debate beyond name calling and prompt a genuine examination of the relevant science. The American public is entitled to an honest, probing and vigorous discussion about this critical public health issue—a debate based on facts, not rooted in fear, or on blind faith in regulators and the pharmaceutical industry.
We are both pro-vaccine. We need to say this at the outset to contravene the reflexive public relations ploy of labeling every vaccine safety advocate “anti-vaccine.” As the British Medical Journal pointed out last week, that epithet is a derogatory attack designed to marginalize vaccine safety advocates and derail reasoned debate:
“It stigmatizes the mere act of even asking an open question about what is known and unknown about the safety of vaccines.”
Both of us had all of our children vaccinated and we support policies that promote vaccine coverage. We want vaccines that are as safe as possible, robust transparent science and vigorous oversight by independent regulators who are free from corrupting conflicts-of-interest.
Despite the cascade of recent science confirming that thimerosal is a potent neurotoxin that damages children’s brains, the American media has fiercely defended the orthodoxy that mercury-based vaccines are safe. We believe that even a meager effort at homework will expose that contention as unsupported by science. In just the past month, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) review confirmed thimerosal’s profound neurotoxicity and a Yale University study connected vaccines to neurological illnesses including OCD, anorexia and tics.
Journalists, we have discovered—even science and health journalists—don’t always read the science! On the vaccine issues, many of them have let government and industry officials tell them what the science supposedly says. Instead of questioning, digging and investigating, journalists, too often, have taken the easy course of repeating the safety assurances of the pharmaceutical industry and the regulators at CDC’s Immunization Safety Office, which they have good reason to doubt.
For example, in recent years, two federal reports by Congress and the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have criticized the CDC for politicization of science and for corrupting conflicts of interest with the pharmaceutical industry (see also: UPI article on CDC corruption). In August 2014, CDC’s senior vaccine scientist, Dr. William Thompson, confessed that the CDC routinely manipulates data to conceal the links between vaccines and a host of neurological disorders. Some dozen other CDC scientists have since come forward to protest pervasive scientific fraud and research corruption at the CDC. Nevertheless, among American journalists, cult-like parroting of the CDC’s safety assurances has become a kind of lazy man’s science.