Autism and Awful Journalism
Leonard Pitts Jr.
A week or so ago, I sent an email to the Miami Herald’s Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr., decrying his denunciation of Donald Trump for giving credence to those linking vaccines with autism. Now hold on: I think Trump is an absolutely awful candidate for the presidency, or any other public office, for that matter. But if you’re going to criticize him for something, you’d better base it on sound reasoning or evidence, lest you lose credibility yourself if he proves to be correct. I pointed out that he was only the latest in a list of big-name journalists who have cavalierly jumped all over Trump for a remark he made about the vaccines-autism link, without knowing whereof they spoke.
A couple of days later, another syndicated columnist joined that list: Mona Charen, who writes for Creators Syndicate. These journalists hail from both sides of the ideological divide. Charen is an arch-conservative, while Pitts is a liberal. She accused him of joining the conspiracy theorists in “endorsing the ‘vaccines cause autism’ myth.”
Here’s my emailed letter to Pitts:
“I read every column of yours printed in the Palm Beach Post, and agree with almost everything you say, including your recent denunciation of conservative pundits, by which you blamed them for the rise of Donald Trump. Another spot-on column — and then you had to go and ruin it by castigating him for ‘the supposed link between vaccines and autism,’ a link that you included in the category of ‘bizarre conspiracy theories.’
“I once held the same opinion. The constant media barrage asserting that there was no evidence whatsoever of such a link had me convinced that the people pointing incriminating fingers at vaccines were out of touch with reality. And then I read what Dr. David Brownstein said about the connection, and it almost jerked me out of my chair, because I have enormous faith in the medical knowledge and insights of that man. He lectures internationally to physicians and is the author of 12 books. I followed his advice on increasing (sea) salt intake to rid morning leg cramps, and began dosing on the probiotic and prostate supplements he developed. All three have greatly improved, or eliminated, the problems I was having.
“After reading Brownstein’s take on the issue, I read similar opinions from other highly credentialed doctors. The medical establishment often labels these doctors as “quacks,” a practice that helps oil American medicine’s gigantic money-making machine of cut, burn and poison, which leaves our country at or near the bottom of health care among the advanced nations of the world. You are not the only high-profile journalist who blindly accepts the dogma of mainstream medicine in ridiculing those who suspect a connection between vaccinations and some cases of autism: Tom Friedman, Michael Gerson, and Rachel Maddow all have taken potshots at the supposed crackpots opposing vaccinations. And not a one of you has a clue what you are talking about.
“Can you tell me what your opinion is based on? You don’t need to, because I know. The big medical organizations have said there is no link between vaccinations and autism, and that’s enough for you and the rest. And that is pathetic journalism. I was a newspaperman and magazine writer/editor for 35 years, and I am utterly dismayed by journalists’ unquestioning obeisance to the medical gods. They just can’t believe that the basis for many, and probably most, of the treatments administered in the United States is money. Almost all of them are about curing symptoms, not curing the illness, which would greatly reduce the need for their services and the drugs manufactured by pharmaceutical companies.
“What is this statin craze all about? It’s an abject fraud. Except for people with hypercholesterolemia, cholesterol levels play a very small role in heart disease. I have delved extensively into the history of this issue, and know whereof I speak. Time magazine and the Wall Street Journal carried the results of a massive mega analysis of studies that showed no difference in heart problems between high and low consumers of saturated fat. It was the second such analysis in four years, the previous one coming in 2010. What came of them? Nothing. The myth that saturated fat is harmful continues. Untold millions of people have suffered poor health from following medicine’s dogma that polyunsaturated fat is good and saturated fat is bad, when in fact, we consume way too much of the polyunsaturated. Look at the obesity rate in the decades since grocery stores began stocking almost nothing but foods low in saturated fat. I can go on and on about it.
“We’re told GMO foods are in no way harmful. Are you aware of the studies that have shown horrible defects in animals that have consumed crops treated with Roundup, the same chemical used on crops for human consumption? The Palm Beach Post editorialized recently that not a single study showed harmful effects of fluoride in drinking water. Not one, the Post said, italicizing. So I sent a letter to the editor about a just concluded study, reported in a respected British medical journal, that showed a huge incidence of bone fractures among a fluoridated population compared to an unfluoridated population. Did the editor run the letter? What do you think?
“There have been such a great number of errors about nutrition over the decades. Wouldn’t you think that conventional medicine’s claims about what is healthy and what is unhealthy in food and drugs would be greeted with skepticism? Many people do wonder about the dogma they’re fed. Not journalists. They swallow it hook, line and sinker. Why? Because it comes from the experts, and journalists don’t question the experts.
“Attached is a blog I wrote about vaccines. I doubt you’ll bother to read it.
“And the beat goes on.”
That blog I attached to the email can be accessed here: http://www.bobbrinkwriter.com/what-you-dont-know-about-vaccinations/