January 22, 2017
Toronto Star Newspapers Limited
1 Yonge Street
To the Attention of: David Holland, Acting Publisher
Dear Mr. Holland
I’m writing to register a formal complaint about the lack of journalistic integrity, accuracy, and honesty in reporting by the Toronto Star pertaining to the topic of vaccinations. In particular I wish to bring to your attention the recent editorial entitled – ‘Trump should not give voice to vaccine skeptics: Editorial (January 13, 2017).
While the unnamed author of this editorial is entitled to his/her 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 Toronto Star as an honest purveyor of the truth.
The Toronto Star is failing to follow its own principles that guide journalistic integrity including:
- Truth emerges from free discussion and free reporting. An informed public is essential to fostering and preserving Canada’s democratic society.
- A responsibility for the media to be accurate, fair, honest and transparent.
The author 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
The author’s dishonesty begins with the title of his/her editorial. To refer to Mr. Robert Kennedy Jr. as “a vaccine skeptic” 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-vaccine” or “vaccine skeptic” is clearly meant to distort the discussion and over simplify a critical and complex issue. Such biased journalism would be obvious were the author 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 Toronto Star 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.
False Statements About Vaccine Safety
The second dishonest statement made by this author is: “All the evidence suggests they’re (vaccines) safe.” This statement is not supported by the evidence. There are known risks to all drugs. To suggest that vaccines are safe, without any qualifiers, is dishonest and deceptive. To claim: “all the evidence” is simply untrue.
The fact is there is a substantial body of evidence that vaccines are not safe for some, and maybe all children. Is this editor not aware of the US National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program that was created in response to the significant injuries caused by vaccines? Since 1986 this program has awarded more than 3.3 billion dollars in compensation to victims of vaccine injury, including permanent disability and death. This amount represents a fraction of the documented injuries caused by vaccines.
Vaccine can’t be “safe” when a national vaccine injury compensation program has been established to compensate those injured by vaccines. In fact, Canada is the only G7 Nation without a vaccine injury compensation program. Canada is the outlier here by not providing compensation to victims of vaccine injury. Not having a vaccine injury compensation program does not mean there is no vaccine injury in Canada.
The author also seems unaware that a 2011 US Federal Court ruling deemed vaccines “unavoidably unsafe”. Vaccines can’t be both “safe” and “unavoidably unsafe”.
The author also seems unaware, or chooses to ignore, that the vaccine industry has been forced to withdraw numerous vaccines because of the significant injuries and harm these vaccines have caused. This includes the swine flu vaccine, whole cell DPT vaccine, an MMR vaccine, and the oral polio vaccine (OPV), among others.
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
False Statements About Dr. Wakefield
The author then makes the claim that the vaccine – autism link has been “debunked” and “discredited” – “But skeptics continue to cite a “study” promoted in 1998 by disgraced former British doctor Andrew Wakefield that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine can cause autism. His theory has been repeatedly debunked by physicians, researchers and the World Health Organization, among others.” These statements are not supported by the evidence.
It is clear the author has never read Dr. Wakefield’s Lancet paper and is simply regurgitating false statements promulgated by a captured and compliant media. Had the author actually read the Lancet paper he would have discovered that Dr. Wakefield never claimed the MMR vaccine causes autism. The author of the editorial 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 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 Merck. Blaming Dr. Wakefield is dishonest. Ironically, the UK government withdrew the MMR vaccine in 1992 following demonstration of increased risk of aseptic meningitis 15-35 days after vaccination. https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/165/6/704/63700/Risks-of-Convulsion-and-Aseptic-Meningitis
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. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/Supplement_2/S160
False Statements About the Vaccine-Autism Link
With regard to the editor’s statement that a vaccine-autism link has been “debunked” and “discredited”:
A report in the Pace Environmental Law Review Journal reviewed 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. http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/pelr/vol28/iss2/6
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 took whistleblower status in 2014 and revealed 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 used to deny a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Dr. Thompson claims his agency ordered him to destroy study findings showing a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Dr. Thompson’s statement was read into the Congressional record by Representative Bill Posey.
This alarming disclosure is the basis of the 2016 documentary Vaxxed: From Cover Up to Catastrophe, which the media has actively tried to censor.
Award-winning journalist, Sharyl Attkisson, 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 this author. The author 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 is more than disingenuous. The author is being intentionally dishonest with the express purpose of misleading the public. It is unfortunate the Toronto Star 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.
There is an abundance of evidence that a vaccine-autism link exists. It can hardly be classified as “discredited bunk” as the author states.
Stating Speculation As Fact
The author’s deception includes stating speculation as if it is fact. The author makes the statement: “The more parents delay vaccination, the more outbreaks of easily preventable, deadly diseases we will see.” This is pure speculation that is not supported by scientific evidence.
The fact is the mortality rate of the infectious diseases declined substantially, some as much as 99%, before the introduction of the disease specific vaccine. To make the claim that the return of these diseases will be deadly is fear mongering. This is marketing propaganda masquerading as science. The author fails to differentiate when he is offering speculation and when he is citing verifiable facts.
Willful Blindness and Callous Disregard
Most individuals who have been labeled as “anti-vaccine” are parents who vaccinated their children only to have them permanently injured or killed by the vaccines. If they were truly “anti-vaccine” they wouldn’t have had their children vaccinated. The author and the Toronto Star show willful blindness and callous disregard for these children and families whose lives have been destroyed by vaccines.
The author appears to be of the position that vaccine injured children are acceptable casualties and that we can, and 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. This is not honesty. This is not “allowing truth to emerge from free discussion and free reporting”. Instead the Toronto Star offers censorship and bias, having succumbed to the false idea of “false balance”.
“You may choose to look the other way,
but you can never say again that you did not know.”
– William Wilberforce
If the Toronto Star 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 Freedoms
The Toronto Star 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 Toronto Star has a responsibility to inform readers, rather than suppress and deny them access to information.
- Recognize All Children Are Important
The Toronto Star 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 Toronto Star needs to advocate for the health of all Canadians, not just for some.
- Tell the Truth About Vaccine Safety Data
The Toronto Star 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 Toronto Star ought to be strong advocates for ensuring this research takes place.
- Admit Their Bias
If the Toronto Star has a political conflict of interest in the matter of vaccine policy, or its owners receive revenue from the pharmaceutical/medical industry, the Toronto Star needs to declare this conflict of interest each and every time they report on vaccine issues.
- Relevant Journalism
We challenge the Toronto Star 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 Toronto Star 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.
Support Vaccine Safety
Rather than celebrate the creation of an independent vaccine safety and science commission, the Toronto Star resists such accountability. The vaccine industry is the only industry, other than the nuclear industry, that is not legally responsible for the safety of their product. This has created a dangerous situation made even more dangerous by the efforts of government and industry, supported by mainstream media, to erode our medical and Charter rights to informed consent.
If the current vaccine program is based upon sound and credible science, there is nothing to fear. If, however, vaccine science is “tobacco science”; is fraudulent and based upon deception, distortion, corruption and conflicted interests, those who promulgate this fraud, including the Toronto Star, need to be held accountable.
The Toronto Star is not living up to its responsibility to be accurate, fair, honest and transparent. Instead, the Toronto Star is complicit in the harm that is being done to our children.
Rather than show courage, curiosity, compassion, provide honest journalism, and a genuine commitment to scientific inquiry, the Toronto Star seem to have no interest in being honest brokers of medical information as pertains to vaccination. It would appear the Toronto Star has been captured by medical dogma and the financial influence of the pharmaceutical/medical industry, and become little more than a medical industry marketing tool.
For the sake of all of our children, I hope you will honour your own principles that guide journalistic integrity. You could begin by printing this letter in the Toronto Star.
“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
Cc. Star’s Bureau of Accuracy and Public Editor – firstname.lastname@example.org
Vaccine Choice Canada
National NewsMedia Council