Two days ago, CBS News’s Sharyl Attkisson posted a story on the CBS web site titled, “Child Flu Vaccine Seizures?” It ended thusly:
That link above is to a PDF stored on the CBS News site* for Amy Brooks-Kayal’s paper, “Molecular Mechanisms of Cognitive and Behavioral Comorbidities of Epilepsy in Children.” The problem is, Brooks-Kayal’s paper didn’t say anything about vaccine-related febrile seizures. In fact, her recent work has showed the high risks of not vaccinating: A December 2010 study in the Archives of Neurology on which Brooks-Kayal was one of the authors detailed “a high rate of serious complications from the H1N1 flu in pediatric patients with neurological problems, particularly recurrent seizures (epilepsy), emphasizing why it is so important for children to receive this vaccination.”
This isn’t the first time Attkisson’s reporting on the issue of vaccine safety has been particularly troubling (I’ll hopefully have time to write about this in more detail before long). In this case, when CBS was alerted to the problem, the network took a page from Rolling Stone‘s playbook: In the piece’s current posted version, that last paragraph has simply…disappeared. In my opinion, that’s a weasely way to deal with mistakes. (It’s one reason why I posted corrections to all of my books on my site.) By not publicly acknowledging that she screwed up, Attkisson is not taking responsibility for the disinformation she helped to spread.
And make no mistake: It did (and continues to) spread: For more than a day now, the entire piece has been reprinted, word for word, on Age of Autism — last paragraph and all.