Last night, ABC’s Media Watch program, presented a hatchet job piece called False Balance Leads to Confusion, attacking WIN Television for presenting both sides of the vaccination issue in a recent report on a measles outbreak in NSW. Because the interview contained information from both a medical community spokesperson and myself, representing the Australian Vaccination Network, Inc. (AVN), Media Watch called it a “false balance”. They called the AVN’s information “baloney” and said that the AVN’s data, much of which is sourced from peer-reviewed medical journals, is “bulldust”
To WIN Television’s credit, their spokesperson said:
The story presented was accurate, fair and balanced and presented the views of the medical practitioners and of the choice groups.
— Shirley Brown, Group Business Director, 4th September, 2012
What proof did Jonathan Holmes, the current host of Media Watch, provide for his assertions about the quality and veracity of the AVN’s information? Absolutely none.
Did he reference any of the peer-reviewed articles linking vaccines with autism and minimal brain damage or mention the cases where courts listened to expert testimony and paid compensation to families whose children developed autism as a result of vaccination? No.
In fact, I submit that this program has breached the ABC’s own Charter and Code of Practice. This program represents reporting of the lowest standard since it attacks a group providing scientific information without providing any evidence that this information is in any way incorrect. In addition, against all tenets of responsible journalism, it openly asks for one side of a scientific debate to be censored.
It is not the role of the ABC or any other media outlet to tell people what they can and cannot know about a scientific issue. One might have thought that a program such as Media Watch would have supported open access to information. One could be excused for believing that they would have supported healthcare consumers in their search for balanced information.
The AVN has never asked for a stifling or suppression of any information in this nearly 250-year old debate. In fact, we have openly asked for more public debate, leaving the final choice up to those who are the real stakeholders in this issue – the parents of Australia’s children. To knowingly withhold information on an issue of science which is far from proven (since vaccines are never scientifically tested using real control groups and true placebos – the gold-standard of medical testing) is not only wrong – it is unscientific. The medical community itself considers vaccination to be a controversial issue with tens of thousands of medical professionals worldwide questioning the evidence base for vaccine safety and effectiveness.
Organisations such as the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, the International Medical Council on Vaccination and other doctor and specialist-based bodies around the world say that the jury is still out on the safety and effectiveness of current government mass-vaccination policies.
Media Watch is wrong. There is no such thing as false balance in this debate. There is only the ABC’s obligation to enable its viewers to access and question all available information. Contrast that with Media Watch’s evident desire to censor and suppress a reasonable and valid viewpoint in a scientific debate and you must wonder what they are trying to achieve and who will benefit from this censorship?
It’s time to break the silence and not just allow but encourage the debate. Pharmaceutical interests are frightened of consumers becoming better-informed about their family’s health rights. What role does the ABC play in supporting their attempts at censorship?
Please comment on the Media Watch page that hosts this story (and read the story transcript if you didn’t view the program yourself) by clicking here. And if at all possible, please send an email (click on Ms Brown’s name below) or letter of support to:
Shirley Brown, Group Business Director
Locked Bag 8800
Wollongong NSW 2500
Be sure to include me in the CC or BCC field on your emails – Meryl Dorey
PS – you may have noted that I have a different email address on this posting. That is because the AVN’s website was overwhelmed with people seeking information after last night’s media watch program. I have checked with our web host and they have confirmed that this was not a DDoS attack but a genuine surge of people trying to get information from the website. We have updated our hosting plan and are being moved to a larger server to ensure that the demand won’t take our website down again. Please bear with us – this move should not take more than 24 hours. I hope the ABC are watching what is occurring. If their audience is this interested in both sides of the vaccination issue, who is Jonathan Holmes to say they can’t access it?
A small sample of peer-reviewed articles linking vaccines and vaccine-components with the development of autism:
Recent court cases where medical experts deemed that a child’s autism was found to be caused by vaccination