On January 17, 2020 a CBC Marketplace program Marketplace: Inside the Anti-Vaccination Movement: Why more are falling for their dangerous message begins with host Asha Tomlinson stating, “The truth about vaccines starts now.” Approximately 6 minutes in the following conversation happens:
Timothy Caulfield: ……. This is what the science says.
Asha Tomlinson: Let’s go through some of the claims. Allergies.
Timothy Caulfield: No evidence to support it.”
This entire website, especially the science page, refutes this statement, and the taxpayer funded CBC doesn’t care – the CBC Ombudsman refuses to review my complaint, so I have posted the correspondence below, thread begins at the bottom of the page. More on this story including responses from Del Bigtree and James Lyons-Weiler, PhD here.
|Subject:||Re: CBC Response to Marketplace January 17 broadcast|
|Date:||Thu, 27 Feb 2020 15:47:20 -0500|
|To:||CBC Ombud <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|CC:||PAUL HAMBLETON <email@example.com>, Jennifer McGuire <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
Dear Mr. Nagler,
I am not surprised that you will not be launching a formal review of my complaint.
On 2020-02-27 9:58 a.m., CBC Ombud wrote:
Dear Ms. Hoffman,
You are asking journalists to provide proof because you have not accepted the views of an overwhelming majority of medical professionals and public health officials. That is not a realistic request from a journalist.
I fully support your right to question the medical consensus on vaccines, but a reporter is not engaged in propaganda or misinformation when they convey a view that is as widely held by experts as is the validity of vaccines.
I understand that there are a certain number of scientists who take an opposing view. There are also a certain number of scientists who question whether climate change is occurring, but there is a point at which – in both cases – the relative credibility of each position is small compared to the consensus view of people with expertise. It is acceptable practice, for instance, for a reporter to say that the MMR vaccine is effective without having to qualify the statement or cite a study.
Mr. Hambleton has addressed the points you raised in your complaint. You may not like the answers he has given you, but that does not suggest any journalistic malpractice. It means simply that you disagree. If, over time, the scientific consensus shifts, then the expectation on journalists will shift as well. At this moment, though, I will not be launching a formal review of your complaint.
On my website: Subscribe to reviews
On Wed, Feb 26, 2020 at 3:51 PM Rita Hoffman wrote:
Dear CBC Ombudsman,
While I thank Mr. Hambleton for his response, his reply (below) regarding the CBC Marketplace vaccination broadcast on vaccination is not acceptable and I am asking you to review this matter as many of the claims made in the January 17 broadcast remain unsupported by science.
Specifically, my requests for scientific proof of the “no evidence” for allergy and autoimmune links to vaccination in my original letter (pasted below) were not answered.
Also, please provide scientific proof of the statement by Katie Pedersen that aluminum adjuvants in vaccines are “flushed out of your body within a couple of days”. The quote from Dr. Crowcroft on plasma levels is not proof.
Regarding James Lyons-Weiler, PhD, I am shocked that your response would say, “Let me emphasize that we accurately reported what he said.” Anyone watching the original broadcast would know that is not the case. I note the YouTube correction, but no apology to Dr. Lyons-Weiler. This is unacceptable. CBC needs to publicly apologize for destroying the character of this scientist.
I look forward to hearing from the Ombudsman re: his review, and for the answers to my questions.
On 2020-02-24 8:12 a.m., PAUL HAMBLETON wrote:
Dear Rita Hoffman:
I am writing in reply to your emails of January 29 addressed to CBC Ombudsman, Jack Nagler, concerning what you see as a number of “unsupported ‘facts’” in a story about the anti-vaccination movement broadcast on the January 17 edition of CBC Marketplace. Moreover, you asked that we respond to Dr. James Lyons-Weiler’s open letter demanding an apology and retraction for his treatment in the story.
As the Director of Journalistic Standards, Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief of CBC News, asked me to reply to you directly.
I appreciate hearing your views and I sincerely regret that you are disappointed in CBC in this instance. However, I must tell you, respectfully, that your view – and Dr. Lyons-Weiler’s view – of the story’s shortcomings is not one I share. I’ll explain why, but first I want to be clear about the program and the focus of this story.
Marketplace, a multiple award-winning program of investigative journalism and one of CBC Television’s longest running current affairs programs, chiefly focuses on the interests of consumers. It looks at products, services, individuals and organizations that affect consumers – all from a consumer’s point of view. That was true in this case.
The focus of this story is on how the anti-vaccination movement has convinced consumers – often the parents of young children – that vaccines are dangerous. Vaccination is widely accepted by medical science and government health authorities as a safe and beneficial way to protect children from the potentially serious consequences of a range of sometimes deadly childhood diseases. Yet, in the face of what is commonly described as overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, the anti-vaccination movement argues the risk is not in the disease, but in the vaccine given to prevent it. It would appear to be an unsustainable position, yet the influence of those worried about vaccination is growing along with their numbers.
Let me emphasize that this is not a story about the science of vaccination, or the way vaccines are made, or the companies that make them. If it was, you might reasonably expect it to weigh the evidence on all sides of the issue. But that is far beyond the rather narrow focus of this program. This program specifically examines why the anti-vaccine message is convincing to consumers, how it works, and why it is so easy for consumers to believe it.
Nevertheless, the program does present the views of a doctor, a scientist and a sceptic – Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Dr. James Lyons-Weller, and Del Bigtree – all key players in the anti-vaccine movement. They make clear their position that vaccines “cause autism;” have “destroyed the lives of countless children;” that “forced injections” should not be allowed; that vaccinations can cause allergies, auto-immune disease and seizures; that studies affirming the value of vaccines are “bad science … funded by people who make money off of selling vaccines;” and that children who get measles will benefit because they “will have a life-long immunity.”
An accompanying online story takes a closer look at the claims made by the movement under the headline, “Nearly half of Canadians are concerned about vaccine safety. Here’s why” (https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/anti-vaccine-myths-biases-1.5429845).
That said, the story rightly affirms the overwhelming consensus of the medical, scientific and public policy communities about the efficacy and safety of childhood vaccinations.
You suggested that it is inaccurate to say that vaccines do not cause allergies or autoimmune disease. You provided links to two web sites – “Deadly Allergy” and “Med Science Research” – which you wrote include studies saying the “exact opposite.”
The video story quotes anti-vaccine activists talking about vaccine caused injuries; among them, “allergies,” “autoimmune issues,” “spectrum autisms,” “eczema,” and “seizures.” Timothy Caulfield, a public health expert and author of The Vaccine Picture, a book debunking vaccine myths, replies to host Asha Tomlinson’s questions. “Allergies?” she asks. “No evidence,” he replies. “Auto-immune disease?” “No evidence.” “Seizures?” she asks. “There are rare risks where kids do have seizures,” he replies. “You have to remember that kids can get that kind of seizure from a variety of ailments.” And then Ms. Tomlinson added, “Fact: Side effects are very rare. For every million vaccinations – one to two severe allergic reactions.”
The CDC notes that any medication can cause a severe allergic reaction, “but such reactions from a vaccine are very rare, estimated at about one in a million doses.”
You wrote that in the accompanying Facebook question and answer panel, story producer Katie Pedersen said that “’they are not toxic exposures of these elements’ referring to the vaccine adjuvant aluminum.” She also said, you wrote that such adjuvants are “’flushed out of your body within a couple of days.’” You described both as “unsupported ‘facts.’”
Both statements were also included in the online story. That story said that vaccines contain chemicals that would be considered toxic at very high doses. But explained that’s also true for just about everything we interact with including water, which is toxic in large enough quantities. Yes, mercury is a neurotoxin and if consumed in large enough quantities over a long period of time can result in disease and death. However, the amount of mercury in vaccines, the story said, is in “very small, non-toxic quantities.”
Vaccines used thimerosal, mercury combined with a carboxylate group to make it soluble in water, as a bactericide. Thimerosal is also commonly used as a fungicide and to kill bacteria in an assortment of commonly used antiseptic ointments, sprays, creams and jellies, as well as in tattoo inks.
For comparison’s sake, the story noted, vaccines only ever contained 50 micrograms of thimerosal, which is equal to about 25 micrograms of mercury. That is about the same amount of mercury found in a three-ounce can of tuna.
Twenty years ago, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reviewed foods and drugs containing mercury and purely as a precaution, they said, asked drug companies to remove thimerosal. Most vaccines now do not contain thimerosal.
The other common adjuvant, aluminum is the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust and occurs naturally in soil, water and air. In fact it’s so prevalent in food that the CDC estimates that the average adult in the United States eats 7-9 mg of aluminum every day. Antacids contain 104-208 mg of aluminum, buffered aspirin 10-20 mg per tablet.
It is also added in very small quantities to a few vaccines – chiefly those aimed at human papillomavirus (HPV), influenza, hepatitis and anthrax – but generally not to those given to children, including the MMR vaccine. For those few that do contain aluminum, they contain no more than 0.85 mg per dose – an amount 100 times smaller than in an antacid tablet – and in most cases they contain far less. 0.85 mg is about the same amount found in a litre of infant formula.
The segment went on to explain that adjuvants, such as aluminum, are added to some vaccines to enhance their effectiveness by “prompting the body to learn how to fight the disease instead of immediately flushing [the dead virus] out.” And it added that “all traces” of aluminum and everything else in the vaccine are “are flushed completely out of the body within a day or two.”
I realize that there are some studies, often cited by those opposed to vaccination, that link aluminum adjuvants and their “biopersistence” to a wide range of afflictions sometimes described as the autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA), which is said to include macrophagic myofasciitis (MMF), the Gulf War syndrome (GWS), and “chronic toxicity” in infants, among other things.
Much of that science is hypothetical, not reproducible, and not highly regarded. On the other hand, there is overwhelming scientific and medical consensus on the safety and efficacy of vaccination. The story linked the section on aluminum adjuvants to a 2015 “Public Health Statement for Aluminum” issued by the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, a division of the CDC, that says “most” of the aluminum in food and “much of the small amount” that enters the blood stream is “quickly” excreted.
That seems to reflect the findings of most studies of the subject reviewed by our journalists. Among many others, we asked epidemiologist Dr. Natasha Crowcroft about aluminum. Dr. Crowcroft, who has authored over 250 peer-reviewed scientific papers, is the co-chair of the Canadian Association for Immunization Research, Evaluation and Education (CAIRE) and a member of the Canadian Immunization Research Network. She assured us that “kids who are vaccinated don’t have any increase in the aluminum levels in their plasma following immunization.”
She also notes that that although high levels of aluminum in the blood can pose health risks, vaccines generally bypass the bloodstream altogether. “You’re giving it into a muscle,” she said. “You’re not injecting a vaccine into a vein; you’re giving it into usually a muscle, sometimes subcutaneously.” She notes that because of this, “it doesn’t go straight into the bloodstream, it doesn’t accumulate in tissues, it stays in the site where the immune system can package it up and get rid of it and then if it gets into any other compartment it gets cleared through the kidneys. And it gets cleared quite quickly; it’s gone very quickly.”
She adds that the studies supporting “biopersistence” work off “an assumption that aluminum just stays there and builds up with each dose and all of that is just wrong. It doesn’t enter the blood stream, so it doesn’t ‘go up’ in levels the way that drugs do.”
You referred to Dr. James Lyons-Weiler and the letter he addressed to the CBC and posted on his web page alleging that he was misrepresented in the Marketplace story. He was not. But we did make an error transcribing what our own journalist said. I’ll explain what I mean.
Both the video story and an accompanying CBCNews.ca online story posted on January 17 under the headline, “Hidden cameras capture misinformation, fundraising tactics used by anti-vaxx movement” looked at how the anti-vaccination messaging is effective at encouraging doubt because of the way it manipulates emotions and biases.
One segment, the focus of your concern, looks briefly at how the movement raises money. Del Bigtree, a former television producer, controversial filmmaker and a prominent activist, and discredited researcher Andrew Wakefield charge thousands to speak at events and have raised millions to fund their cause.
Other figures associated with the movement, the online story said, find “workarounds,” such as Dr. Lyons-Weiler has. He said he is “just educating” and that he didn’t charge because it would make him an “international lobbyist.” The online story continued this way:
The original online story continued this way:
“So, what I would rather do is, I do a science day the day before,” he said. “I’d run an event where you … charge admission as per my website.”
“Sounds like a promo thing for you, a marketing thing for you,” said our journalist. “Now we’ve got a quid pro quo.”
“That’s right,” he said, later detailing through an assistant that for a group of 400 people, he would want about $20 US per person, netting around $10,000 Cdn.
After reviewing the original tape, I can tell you that we made a transcription error in what our journalist said in that exchange. This is what our journalist said:
“Sounds like a promo thing for you, a marketing thing for you. That way it’s not a…. quid pro quo, I guess.”
To which he responded, “That’s right…. exactly”
For the record, in the conversation at the time, our journalist then said: “That’s a dirty word, nowadays.”
Mr. Lyons-Weiler responded: “I don’t….Listen, if the worst thing I’m doing is talking with people about aluminum accumulation trends in children from vaccines…”
With respect to the video story, to be clear, Mr. Lyons-Weiler did not use the phrase, “No quid pro quo.” Again the subtitles for what our journalist said were not correct in that section. They should have read: “That way it’s not a… quid pro quo, I guess”
We have corrected the subtitles on the broadcast piece, and we have also corrected the wording in the online story. As well, we added the video of the full exchange to our Youtube story for transparency so you can watch it yourself.
Here is the link to the program episode on Youtube
You can see the updated online story here
Let me emphasize that we accurately reported what he said. The business arrangements he outlined speak for themselves. Whether they do or do not amount to a quid pro quo is not germane to the story. Readers and viewers can reach their own conclusions about that. Nevertheless, we did mis-transcribe the words of our own journalist and we should not have. We regret that error.
Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention, and for giving me an opportunity to respond. I hope my reply has assured you of the continuing integrity of Marketplace and CBC News.
Director of Journalistic Standards
Cc. Jack Nagler, CBC Ombudsman
Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief, CBC News
|Subject:||Marketplace: Inside the Anti-Vaccination Movement: Why more are falling for their dangerous message|
|Date:||Wed, 29 Jan 2020 15:21:16 -0500|
Dear Mr. Nagler CBC Ombudsman,
I am writing to you regarding the January 17, 2020 program Marketplace: Inside the Anti-Vaccination Movement: Why more are falling for their dangerous message.
The program begins with host Asha Tomlinson stating, “The truth about vaccines starts now.”
Approximately 6 minutes in the following conversation happens:
Timothy Caulfield: ……. This is what the science says.
Asha Tomlinson: Let’s go through some of the claims. Allergies.
Timothy Caulfield: No evidence to support it.
Asha Tomlinson: Autoimmune Disease.
Timothy Caulfield: No evidence.
Due to the lack of evidence provided during the program, I am requesting that Marketplace provide an extensive list of peer-reviewed, documented, scientific proof of the above claim that there is “no evidence” of the vaccine/allergy connection. Studies of authors with conflict of interest or who receive pharmaceutical funding are not acceptable proof.
I have found the exact opposite in my investigations into vaccination and allergies: https://deadlyallergy.com/science/
I am requesting that Marketplace provide an extensive list of peer-reviewed, documented, scientific proof of the above claim that there is “no evidence” of the vaccine/autoimmunity connection. Studies of authors with conflict of interest or who receive pharmaceutical funding are not acceptable proof.
Regarding the link between autoimmune disease and vaccination, the website MedScience Research has compiled the following studies indicating a connection: https://medscienceresearch.com/autoimmunity/
Regarding this video – CBC Marketplace Twitter “Vaccine Q & A Doctor answers your question at https://twitter.com/cbcmarketplace/status/1219287740228894720
In the Q & A link above, Producer Katie Pedersen states “they are not toxic exposures of these elements”. Regarding the vaccine adjuvant aluminum, I am requesting that Marketplace provide peer-reviewed, documented, scientific proof of this claim. Studies of authors with conflict of interest or who receive pharmaceutical funding are not acceptable proof.
Also, please provide scientific proof of the statement by Katie Pedersen that aluminum adjuvants in vaccines are “flushed out of your body within a couple of days”.
MedScience Research has compiled studies showing the dangers of injecting aluminum: https://medscienceresearch.com/aluminum/ as well as the work of UK Professor Christopher Exley: https://www.hippocraticpost.com/author/professor-chris-exley/
The above are only a few of the unsupported “facts” from these broadcasts.
I also look forward to the CBC’s response to James Lyons-Weiler Phd’s letter, “Scientist Demands Apology and Retraction from CBC’s Marketplace” found at his blog here: https://jameslyonsweiler.com This letter, and his other blog posts regarding the Marketplace program need to be answered and addressed and I await a public response from the CBC and/or Marketplace.