For a PDF of letter below click here.
January 16, 2017
The Globe and Mail
351 King St. E., Suite 1600,
Toronto, ON Canada M5A 0N1
To the Attention of: Phillip Crawley, Publisher
Dear Mr. Crawley
I’m writing to register a formal complaint about the lack of integrity and honesty in reporting by the Globe and Mail pertaining to the topic of vaccinations. In particular I wish to bring to your attention the recent Opinion column by Gary Mason entitled – ‘Putting an anti-vaxxer in charge: Trump’s latest delusions’ (January 12, 2017).
While Mr. Mason is entitled to his opinions, it is irresponsible journalism to make blatantly dishonest and deceptive statements. Such dishonesty does a disservice to the community and undermines the integrity of the Globe and Mail as an honest purveyor of the truth. Mr. Mason makes a number of inaccurate and dishonest statements that require correction.
“If you don’t read the newspapers, you are uninformed.
If you do read the newspapers, you are misinformed.”
– Mark Twain
Mr. Mason’s dishonesty begins with the title of his Opinion piece. To refer to Mr. Robert Kennedy Jr. as an “anti-vaxxer” is not supported by the evidence. Mr. Kennedy has clearly stated he supports the childhood vaccination program. He admits to having fully vaccinated his six children. Nowhere in his public statements has Mr. Kennedy advocated against vaccinations.
Mr. Kennedy has, however, been very critical about the lack of credible evidence of the safety of the current vaccine program, and the conflicted interests within the Vaccine Safety Division of the CDC. A more accurate descriptor of Mr. Kennedy’s position relative to vaccines would be “vaccine safety critic” or “vaccine safety advocate”.
Labeling individuals who express concern about vaccine safety, effectiveness, or necessity as “anti-vaxx” is clearly meant to distort the discussion and over simplify a critical and complex issue. Such biased journalism would be obvious were Mr. Mason to refer to those expressing concern about the safety of a particular automobile as “anti-automobile”. Such labeling is disingenuous and dishonest.
In other public debates over controversial issues, (e.g. abortion rights) the Globe and Mail treats the two perspectives with a degree of respect, allowing each to name their movement (pro-choice and pro-life). The movement that is raising concerns about the safety of the current vaccine schedule is typically neither pro or anti vaccination. Rather this movement is characterized by a commitment to safeguarding the right of Canadians to make voluntary and well-informed decisions about health care, and demanding independent and verifiable scientific evidence of the safety of the vaccine program.
The Vaccine-Autism Link
The second dishonest statement Mr. Mason makes is his claim that no link exists between vaccines and autism – “The fact is, people have read the science around vaccines and their purported link to autism and it is clear: there isn’t one.” To state that no link exists between vaccines and autism is not supported by the evidence.
A report in the Pace Environmental Law Review Journal reviews 83 cases of vaccine-induced brain injury that resulted in an autism diagnosis which were compensated by the U.S. Federal vaccine injury compensation system:
I trust you are aware that Canada is the only G7 Nation without a Federal vaccine injury compensation program. Canada has taken no interest in compensating victims of vaccine injury. This needs to change.
There are now more than 128 independent studies that show a relationship between vaccines and autism. https://www.scribd.com/doc/220807175/128-Research-Papers-Supporting-the-Vaccine-Autism-Link
Dr. William Thompson, a Senior Scientist with the Vaccine Safety Division of the CDC revealed in 2014 that CDC scientists colluded to commit scientific fraud in order to obscure the link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Dr. Thompson was the lead statistician and co-author of the 2004 CDC study that is routinely used to deny a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Dr. Thompson’s statement was read into the Congressional record by Representative Bill Posey: https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4546421/rep-bill-posey-calling-investigation-cdcs-mmr-reasearch-fraud This alarming disclosure is the basis of the 2016 documentary Vaxxed: From Cover Up to Catastrophe, which the media has actively tried to censor.
Investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson, an award-winning journalist who is courageous enough to report the truth on vaccines, has investigated the vaccine-autism link. Attkisson compiled an extensive list of studies that show a vaccine-autism link. (What the News Isn’t Saying About Vaccine-Autism Studies – updated November 27, 2016). https://sharylattkisson.com/what-the-news-isnt-saying-about-vaccine-autism-studies
Attkisson concluded –
“The body of evidence on both sides is open to interpretation.
People have every right to disbelieve the studies on one side.
But it is disingenuous to pretend they do not exist.”
Ms. Attkisson’s comment applies directly to Mr. Mason. Mr. Mason has every right to disbelieve the studies on one side of the debate. But to state there are no studies showing a vaccine-autism link, or that no debate exists, is more than disingenuous. Mason is being intentionally dishonest with the express purpose of misleading the public. It is unfortunate the Globe and Mail doesn’t have investigative journalists of the integrity of Ms. Attkisson.
Dr. Bernadine Healy, the former head of the National Institutes of Health, has stated that the vaccine-autism link was not a “myth”. Dr. Healy disclosed that her colleagues at the Institute of Medicine did not wish to investigate the possible link between vaccines and autism because they feared the impact it would have on the vaccination program.
Vaccine Choice Canada’s extensive report on Canada’s dual reporting system on vaccine adverse events should be of concern to every journalist in this country: /wp-content/uploads/Vaccine-Safety-Report-2-20B29E.pdf
There is an abundance of evidence that a vaccine-autism link exists. It can hardly be classified as “discredited bunk” as Mr. Mason states.
False Statements About Dr. Wakefield
Mr. Mason then repeats distorted and false claims about Dr. Andrew Wakefield. Mr. Mason states: “It was Dr. Wakefield, who, in 1998, persuaded the respected medical journal the Lancet to first publish his hypothesis that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine had provable links to autism. The paper was later debunked”. These statements are false
It is clear Mr. Mason has never read Dr. Wakefield’s Lancet paper and is regurgitating false statements promulgated by a captured and compliant media. Had Mr. Mason actually read the Lancet paper he would have discovered that Dr. Wakefield never claimed the MMR vaccine causes autism. Mason has not done his research on this matter or fact-checked his statements.
Andrew Wakefield’s paper was a case study that investigated a consecutive series of 12 children with chronic enterocolitis and regressive developmental disorder. http://www.wellwithin1.com/WakefieldOriginalPaper.pdf
Wakefield’s own statement in the Lancet paper is – “We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described”, and concluded that, “Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine.”
Dr. Wakefield did recommend parents use the single dose vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella rather than the triple virus shot (MMR) until the risk was better understood. This is hardly the pronouncement of an “anti-vaxxer. It was the UK government’s decision to withdraw the license for the single vaccines, and Merck’s decision to stop production in the US that gave parents no option but to accept the triple virus MMR shot or not vaccinate.
It is clear the government’s intention was the protection of the triple virus MMR vaccine rather than the protection of our children. Any reduction in the rates of measles, mumps, and rubella immunization is the responsibility of the UK and US governments and vaccine manufacturer Merck. Blaming Dr. Wakefield is dishonest.
The findings of Dr. Wakefield in the Lancet paper were never “debunked” Dr. Wakefield’s finding of a relationship between bowel disease and regressive developmental disorders has been replicated by dozens of laboratories around the world and this relationship is now accepted medical science.
Callous Disregard of the Vaccine Injured
Finally, Mr. Mason concludes his opinion piece with the statement – “Anti-vaxxers are not only delusional but dangerous.” No evidence is given to substantiate this outrageous statement. Given that most individuals who have been mislabeled as “anti-vaxxers” are parents whose children have been permanently injured or killed by vaccines, Mr. Mason and the Globe and Mail show callous disregard for the children and families whose lives have been destroyed by this uncontrolled medical experiment.
Mr. Mason’s opinion that the parents of children who have been harmed by vaccines “should not be anywhere near health policy decision making” is evidence he has no compassion for these children and no interest in science. Science welcomes the evidence, and health policy ought to be guided by outcomes and not manipulated data, fraud, or conflicts of interest. Unfortunately this is not the case as pertains to the vaccine program.
Mason is of the opinion vaccine injured children are acceptable casualties and we should willfully ignore any harm that is being caused by vaccines. This is not science. This is not compassion. And this is not responsible journalism. What Mr. Mason offers is thinly disguised hate for victims of vaccine injury.
The Globe and Mail continues to be complicit in the harm that is being done to our children. Rather than show courage, curiosity, compassion, and a genuine commitment to scientific inquiry, the Globe and Mail has no interest in being honest brokers of medical information as pertains to vaccination. It is clear the Globe and Mail has been captured by political ideology and the financial influence of the pharmaceutical/medical industry.
“You may choose to look the other way,
but you can never say again that you did not know.”
– William Wilberforce
If the Globe and Mail is genuinely interested in being purveyors of responsible journalism pertaining to vaccines, I suggest you and your staff commit to the following:
- Respect and Preserve Our Legal Rights and Freedom
The Globe and Mail has a responsibility to respect and preserve the Canadian Charter rights to fundamental freedoms of conscience and religion, the legal right to security of the person, and the medical ethic of informed consent, not erode them. The Globe and Mail has a responsibility to inform readers, rather than suppress and deny them access to information.
- Recognize All Children Are Important
The Globe and Mail needs to recognize that all children are important. Currently there is a noticeable absence of concern for vaccine-injured children. A vaccine-injured child is just as important as an immuno-compromised child who is the justification for imposing vaccinations against one’s will. The Globe and Mail needs to advocate for the health of all Canadians, not just for some.
- Tell the Truth About Vaccine Safety Data
The Globe and Mail needs to tell the truth about the current status of the vaccination experiment including the fact that we have no way of knowing whether the long term benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks because adequate clinical research on the long-term safety and effectiveness of the current vaccine program does not exist. No large-scale study comparing the total health outcomes of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated children has ever been done. It is essential this research be conducted and the Globe and Mail ought to be strong advocates for this research taking place.
- Admit Their Bias
If the Globe and Mail has a political conflict of interest in the matter of vaccine policy, or its owners receive revenue from the pharmaceutical/medical industry, the Globe and Mail needs to declare this conflict of interest each and every time they report on vaccine issues.
- Relevant Journalism
We challenge the Globe and Mail to be more responsible to victims of vaccine injury, be thorough in their research, learn the facts, honestly challenge the claims made by the pharmaceutical/medical industry, demand evidence, and be a force for truth, health, and choice in Canada. We owe it to the children who have been vaccine injured to find the truth.
- Respectful Labeling
The Globe and Mail needs to treat the two perspectives on the vaccine issue with the same degree of respect. A first step would be to allow each side to name itself. The movement advocating for informed consent and vaccine safety ought to be referred to as “Advocates for Informed Consent” or “Advocates for Vaccine Safety”. Calling this movement “anti-vaccine” is dishonest and disrespectful.
The Globe and Mail does a disservice to the community when it makes distorted, dishonest, and deceptive statements. It undermines the credibility of the Globe and Mail, rendering it little more than a medical industry marketing tool.
If the current vaccine program is based upon sound and credible science, we have nothing to fear from a Federal commission on vaccine safety. If, however, vaccine policy is fraudulent and based upon deception, distortion and corruption, those who promulgate this fraud, including the Globe and Mail, need to be held accountable.
“No democracy can survive when most of the media has a sole commitment
to profit with little consideration for the public good.”
– Thom Hartmann
Ted Kuntz, Parent of a Vaccine Injured Child
Vice President of Vaccine Choice Canada
Mr. Gary Mason
Vaccine Choice Canada
National NewsMedia Council
Reply from the Globe and Mail:
From: public editor
Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2017 6:09 AM
To: ‘Vaccine Choice (Canada)’ ; Mason, Gary
Cc: public editor ; mailto:email@example.com
Subject: RE: Putting an anti-vaxxer in charge: Trump’s latest delusion
Hello Mr. Kuntz and the National News Media Council.
I refer you to a decision by the Ontario Press Council of 2014 not to hear a previous complaint by Mr. Kuntz against health columnist Andre Picard regarding the fears of autism and epilepsy from vaccinations. This was my note to the council and Mr. Kuntz at the time:
Hello Mr. Kuntz;
Phillip Crawley has asked me to look into your complaint and respond to you.
I have looked at both the column you mention on measles and past columns by Mr. Picard on vaccines. As you know, he is a columnist and is expected to use strong language to express his point of view. Our health reporters and columnist focus on the science as documented by medical researchers and experts. In that research, such as the links below, the experts say vaccination is worthy and the fears of autism and epilepsy are unfounded.
Mr. Picard has also written in the past about the compensation when there are problems with vaccines, including this one:
and this one in which he says society should take care of those hurt by vaccines: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/we-need-to-take-care-of-those-hurt-by-vaccines/article1088772/#dashboard/follows/
I believe the coverage has been fair and based on the scientific evidence.
Sylvia Stead I Public Editor
Mr. Kuntz has several other issues. First is the question of whether it is fair to describe Robert Kennedy Jr. as an “anti vaxxer”. In this may I first correct a misunderstanding by Mr. Kuntz. Globe and Mail style is to describe those on different sides of the abortion debate as pro-choice and anti-abortion. This is what the Style guide says: Those opposed to abortion say they are unfairly cast in an unfavourable light when the negative term anti-abortion is used in close juxtaposition to the positive term pro-choice. There is no getting around the fact that the issue is abortion and they are against it, but we should nevertheless be sensitive to this concern, and reword whenever possible. We might take a cue from the specific purpose of a demonstration, brief or court action, for example, and describe it as advocating laws to restrict abortion or seeking a ruling on the existence of fetal rights.
Those who oppose abortion would prefer the positive label pro-life. This is unacceptable for two reasons: it unfairly demeans their opponents by saddling them with the obvious opposite labels anti-life and pro-death; and it inaccurately identifies the issue as life, rather than the specific question of abortion. If the issue really were the broad one of life, a person’s beliefs on capital punishment, euthanasia, killing in self-defence and killing in war would also have to be considered.”
As a columnist, Mr. Mason is entitled to a wide latitude of language to use to craft his opinion. Just as in a debate, columnists are expected to take one side of an issue and argue it strenuously.
But the question was is Mr. Kennedy fairly described as an anti-vaxxer and I believe it is a fair description for a columnist to use. Mr. Kennedy holds the position that vaccines are a danger and that the MMR vaccine is a likely cause of autism. As above, this has been debunked by science. Here are a number of links to other media reports on Mr. Kennedy:
You will see in many of the links above references to Dr. Wakefield’s role in this issue, which Mr. Kuntz raises as his next point. To those I add several Globe and Mail articles which back up Mr. Mason’s writing. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/conditions/the-vaccine-autism-debate-should-end-now/article572689/
Mr. Kuntz final point is about Mr. Mason’s conclusion that anti-vaxxers are not only delusional, but dangerous. This is clearly Mr. Mason’s opinion based on the scientific evidence. As Mr. Kuntz notes Mr/ Mason is entitled to his opinion.