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Monday 14 December 2015

The refusal of BBC News to report important health information

On 8th September 2015 I made a formal complaint to the BBC. The complaint concerned the link between the MMR vaccine and Autism, and more specifically, the BBC's failure to inform the public that an important piece of research, reported in 2004), that has subsequently been used to deny the link between the vaccine and the disease, has been found to be fraudulent.

Please look at these previous blogs for further information about my complaint, and the circumstances which gave rise to it.
These are important issues. Many parents since 2004 have vaccinated their children on the basis of this research, and many more continue to do so. They have not been told that the denial of the autism-vaccine link is based on fraudulent 'science'.

A response came back within a couple of weeks. A totally inadequate response!

          "We understand you're unhappy with the BBC's news service, as you feel there hasn't been any coverage of a report into the links between the MMR vaccine and Autism in a study carried out in 2004. We note you feel the BBC has failed in its duty by not affording any coverage to this matter.

          "We realise that not everyone will agree with our choices on which stories to cover and the prominence given to them. These are subjective decisions made by our news editors, and we accept that not everyone will think that we are correct on each occasion.

The letter went on provide a routine explanation of the BBC's criteria for choosing news stories!

          "For example, whether the story is new and requires immediate coverage, how unusual the story is, and how much interest there is in the story. These decisions are always judgement calls rather than an exact science and the timeframe available will always be a factor too, we can only apologise you feel this issue has been overlooked in our news coverage.

I wrote back on 17th September 2015 expressing my dissatisfaction, giving several reasons why this particular news story was important, and why their response was inadequate.

          ".... I have noted the factors BBC News takes into consideration when deciding whether to use a news story, and in line with them, I have the following observations, questions, about this matter to further develop my complaint.
  • The co-author of an important study, published in 2004, has admitted, 10 years later in 2014, that he lied, and that the study ignored key pieces of data that would have changed the findings of the 2004 study.
  • The 2004 study concluded ‘conclusively’ that there was no connection between the MMR vaccine and Autism.
  • On the basis, and largely based on this study, the BBC, alongside other news agencies in Britain, decided that there should be no further discussion about the link between vaccines and Autism. The BBC and other news agencies has not allowed any discussion now for over 10 years.
  • This means that parents have been subjecting their children to the MMR vaccine for over a decade on the basis of a fraudulent medical study, a study accepted fully and without question by the conventional medical establishment, by the BBC, and other news agencies.
  • During that time, and before, the incidence of Autism has reached epidemic proportions.
I then went on to highlight the reasons why the story was important, and how much 'interest' there would be in it.
  • A senior medical scientist, with the full knowledge of an important medical agency (the CDC) in the USA, has admitted lying and concealing information.
  • If these lies and concealments not taken place, the connection between the MMR vaccine and Autism would not have been ‘conclusively’ dismissed, as they have been ever since. The public debate, initiated by Dr Andrew Wakefield, would have continued. Parents would have based their decision to vaccinate their children, or not, on this ongoing debate. 
  • The BBC, and other new agencies, have been duped into taking a position on the Vaccine - Autism debate by lies and concealment as they have believed the validity of the CDC study. As a result, you have been instrumental in stifling debate on this important issue.
  • Since Dr Thompson’s admission of fraud, in August 2014, many millions of parents have continued to take their children to doctors for vaccination, believing it to be safe, with very few knowing anything about the dishonesty to which they have been subjected for over 10 years.
On 20th October, the BBC wrote saying they required more than 20 days to respond to my complaint. At least, I thought, this meant that they were taking my complaint serious. This was over-optimistic! On 27th November 2015 the BBC sent me the the briefest possible response - a mere 75 words! The main paragraph forms the bulk of the response, and states:

     "We  have a comprehensive Q+A here: which sums up our position editorially. Nothing which has been said or published since then has caused us to alter our view".

If you have a look at this Q+A page you will find something taken straight out of the textbook of the conventional medical establishment, and in particular, the pharmaceutical companies. It could have been (and probably was) written by the vaccine manufacturers!

Yet this response highlights the BBC's attitude and approach to health issues. If this article is how the BBC responds to health news, no wonder they were not interested in this major news story!

The BBC'S description of measles comes straight from conventional medical text books that owe more to history that to current experience of the disease. Measles is "highly contagious". After describing to usual symptoms of the illness, it continues by going into the 'complications' that can arise.

          "In a very small number of cases, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) may follow. This is extremely dangerous, as 25% of those affected are left with brain damage. The most severe complication of measles - occurring in only one in 100,000 cases - is a slowly-progressive brain disorder which does not normally show until some time after the original infection, causing seizures and even death."

Whilst this is certainly what measles could do in the past, notably in times following the industrial revolution, when people lived in extreme poverty, suffered poor nutrition and inadequate sanitation, and squalid housing and environmental conditions. But this experience of measles is historical. Measles statistics clearly demonstrate that the incidence of these serious side effects began to fall in late Victorian times, with improved living and working conditions, and continued doing so throughout the 20th century. By the time the MMR vaccine was introduced the disease was more benigh, and these more severe symptoms were extremely rare. Since the introduction of the MMR vaccination, the incidence of measles has not changed significantly. But the BBC articles continues

          "Globally, measles is still one of the biggest childhood killers. The World Health Organization estimates there are 430 deaths from measles every day. It is thought that between one in 1,000 and one in 3,000 of those infected will die."

These statistics do not refer to the UK, or to the developed world generally, but to countries in the so-called '3rd' world where people are live in condition of poverty, with poor diet, et al,. In other words, in conditions commenurate with post-industrial times in the UK!

The MMR Vaccine
The BBC article then goes on to tell us what the MMR vaccine is, and whether there is any need to be worried about it. Again, it could have been taken from a conventional medical text book, written by the vaccine manufacturers! It describes the controversy about the MMR vaccination from 1988, when the Lancet raised the possibility that the vaccine might be linked to autism and bowel disease. It relates that as a result people became worried, and vaccination rates declined.

          "In the wake of the publicity surrounding the Lancet paper vaccination rates fell sharply. At its lowest, in 2003/4, fewer than eight in ten children were vaccinated - but in some areas less than half of children received the jab."

Then the BBC article brings in the concept of 'herd immunity', that in order to ensure a community is protected from a disease, 95% of the population need to be fully vaccinated. The concept of 'herd immunity' is one of the dafter, and least defensible ideas thought up by the conventional medical establishment. Basically, a child who is fully vaccinated child is not safe, not protected from the disease, unless other people are vaccinated! Yet however daft the concept, the BBC believes in it, does not question it, and is not prepared to investigate it.

          "Mumps, measles and rubella are all serious diseases, particularly measles. Many doctors were concerned that a drop in vaccination levels could leave many children at risk."

So, the BBC article asks, was there anything to be worry about the MMR vaccine? Their answer is inequivocal. "No"!

There is no uncertainty or doubt about this. There is nothing for the BBC to question. There is nothing for the BBC to investigate.

Even when it is known that an important piece of research, undertaken to discover whether a link between autism and vaccines, has been found to be fraudulent, there is nothing to be worried about, not to question, nothing to investigate.

It is not a matter of news interest as far as the BBC is concerned.
  • It is not something that parents would want to know about when deciding whether to vaccinated their children. 
  • It is not something that the growing number of parents with autistic children would want to know about as a possible cause.
  • It is not something that raises questions about the honesty of medical research (indeed the honesty of the research they quote in their article).
Remember what the BBC told me in their 27th November 2015 letter. "Nothing which has been said or published since then has caused us to alter our view."

In other words, their article is the definitive truth, regardless of any evidence to the contrary, evidence which is, apparently, not newsworthy. There is no reason to be worried, there is nothing to tell us about. Everything is fine. There is nothing to examine, to investigate. No-one at the BBC will question this position. It is firm, final. The BBC are not willing to investigate go further. Anyone who thinks otherwise are presumably dismissed, any evidence disregarded.

The concerns about the MMR vaccine still exist but the BBC refuses to address them, or even to discuss them. They have taken a stance that reinforces the views of the conventional medical establishment. They refuse to acknowledge the strength of of the evidence that runs contrary to this orthodoxy.

This constitutes a fundamental breach of the BBC's alleged commitment to 'impartiality'.

Think what would be said about the BBC if they decided to deal with political issues in a similar way. Suppose they supported Tory party views and policies, and refused to publish the views and policies of the Labour party. "This is our position, and nothing has been said or done to change our mind"!

The BBC article takes up this position throughout its course. It overstates the seriousness of mumps, measles and rubella. It understates the concerns about the MMR vaccine. It overstates the increase in measles over recent years, not least the seriousness of the Welsh measles outbreak in 2012 (in a previous blog I have described this whole episode as 'a moral panic'. ) It dismisses the work of Andrew Wakefield, and fully supports the people who opposed him, making no reference to the legal proceedings now being taken against them. It states that Wakefield's work has not been replicated. It has! The article provides evidence that supports the BBC's position, but neglects the personal experience, and the scientific studies, that do not.

On all these issues, the BBC appears unable or unwilling to question the position of the conventional medical establishment in any of this, something which might be thought to be a normal journalistic function.

Health Freedom and 'patient choice' are important health topics. The dangers of conventional medicine, and particularly its drugs and vaccines, make it vital that people make informed choices about the safety and effectiveness of medical treatment. And in trying to make an informed choice people do this through the information they glean from the BBC, and other major mainstream news organisations.

Yet instead of providing a dialogue for people to make an informed decision about vaccination, the BBC has decided to believe everything they have been told by the conventional medicine. When they want an 'expert' view they invariably ask a conventional doctor. According to the BBC, conventional medicine is the only source of medical knowledge and expertise. There is no debate about this. There are no alternative views. Just the BBC's refusal to engage in the issues which genuinely importance and concern a large number of people. What our doctors tell us is not to be questioned.

This includes, of course, the evidence of a large and ever-growing numbers of parents who had a normal child prior to the MMR vaccine, and a damaged child thereafter.

Do we ever hear from such parents? When has the BBC ever done any news, or current affairs programmes that focus of vaccine damaged children?

And presumably the fact that a co-author of one of the 'authoritative' studies that fraudulently confirmed there is no link between vaccination and autism, when he has admitted hiding, and destroying evidence that would have led to a contrary view, none of this warrants the BBC "changing their view".

Whatever else this is, it does not constitute investigative journalism at its best!