Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Takedown of a Vaccine Article

On Tuesday, TLC posted “Why shouldn’t we vaccinate our children,” which was one of the all-time worst pieces written about vaccines. It had outright falsehoods and oodles of misleading information. It was so bad, in fact, that I briefly wondered if it might be a deliberate effort to point out the lunacy of anti-vaccine activists. (It wasn’t.) That afternoon, I posted a sentence-by-sentence breakdown of one of the piece’s six sections, titled “Vaccines May or May Not Have a Link to Autism.”
The following day, the piece was updated — and several of my criticisms were addressed, although not in a manner that made any significant difference. At that point, all of the reader comments that had been added to the piece were disappeared.
Last night, Ken Reibel of Autism News Beat emailed me last night to report that he had heard from someone in the PR department of Discovery Communications, the company that owns TLC, and that the piece was going to be taken down. 
Time reports:
The post — by writer Josh Clark of HowStuffWorks — appeared on the Learning Channel’s (TLC) website; both HowStuffWorks and TLC are owned by Discovery Communications. Riddled with mistruths and flat-out errors, the post prompted a coalition of physicians’ organizations and vaccine activists to collaborate on a sharply worded letter signed by 19 groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Medical Association, defending immunization as “one of the most important decisions parents make to ensure their children’s health”...
The letter was sent last Thursday to Eileen O’Neill, group president for Discovery Channel and TLC; later that day, the article was removed from the site. A representative from Discovery did not respond to requests for comment.
“Discovery took down the article tonight = good things happen when smart people band together to support science!” e-mailed Amy Pisani, executive director of Every Child by Two, a vaccine-advocacy organization that learned about the article from a group of mothers who practice attachment parenting (the subject of TIME magazine’s übercontroversial cover story earlier this month). The mothers, according to Pisani, were shunned from their online attachment-parenting group because they vaccinated their children.