A couple of weeks ago, I came across probably the most horrifying article I’ve ever read – an investigative piece by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., about a mercury-based preservative (thimerosal) in kids’ vaccines that may well be linked to the autism epidemic that’s sweeping our country. Whether or not Kennedy ever decides to run for public office, he’s become a great muckracking journalist in the tradition of Upton Sinclair. What he’s exposed here is a goverment and corporate coverup of staggering and tragic proportions.
It was almost as appalling to read the New York Times’ long front-page article on this same subject shortly thereafter. While ignoring the persuasive studies cited by Kennedy, as well as the efforts of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to protect thimerosal’s developer Eli Lilly from liability, the Times dismissed parental fears (and lawsuits) as conspiracy theories and hysteria. Yet, just after comparing the mercury levels in each childhood vaccine to those in a tuna sandwich, the next paragraphs recount how in 1999 “the American Academy of Pediatrics and Public Health Service released a joint statement urging vaccine makers to remove thimerosal as quickly as possible.” Which, we are told, they largely did.
What I’m left wondering is, who was leaning on the Times? Though I generally think America’s “paper of record” does a decent job of covering the environment (though not enough of it) – and I applaud its solid global warming reportage by Andrew Revkin – its autism article bespeaks the kind of snide, onesided coverage that leaves readers not knowing what to believe, thus contributing to the apathy that puts a stranglehold on any movement toward real change. And the major media’s abdication of its time-honored watchdog role is precisely what Kennedy has been hammering away about in his recent speeches and the new paperback edition of his best-selling book, Crimes Against Nature.