But network failed to remind viewers it gave Robert Kennedy a soapbox about mercury as cause for disease.
By Ken Shepherd
Business & Media Institute
A new study by the Autism Genome Project (AGP) chalks up the disease’s primary cause to genetics, not environmental pollution, ABC’s Bill Blakemore reported on the February 18 “World News.” But in 2005, media outlets including ABC showcased an environmental activist fingering mercury as the culprit. “Today’s study pinpoints the probable culprit: not just one, but many genes and abnormalities,” Blakemore told his evening newscast audience. “The evidence suggests that autism is over 90 percent caused by genes,” said Dr. Joseph BuxBaum of the AGP in a sound bite aired during Blakemore’s report. But back in 2005, ABC and other media outlets latched onto environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s assertion that mercury in vaccines was to blame for the trend of rising autism cases. As the Business & Media Institute (BMI) reported in the summer of 2005, CBS, The New York Times, and ABC all paid heed to Kennedy’s claims, even though many scientists disputed it, and Kennedy himself lacks the medical or scientific credentials to have argued a link between mercury and autism. Indeed, the June 22, 2005, “World News Tonight” devoted a four-minute segment to a story it would later report was completely untrue. Anchor Charles Gibson gave air time to Kennedy, but documented evidence that overwhelmingly contradicted the environmental lawyer’s claims. “The researchers say this study shows environmental toxins are not, as some argue, a major cause of autism,” ABC’s Blakemore noted in his February 18 story, but without mentioning the attention his network paid to Kennedy and his role in furthering the mercury scare. BMI also noted at the time that CBS “Evening News” and The New York Times also advanced Kennedy’s claims as one side of a medical debate, even though they noted the scientific evidence weighed heavily against Kennedy.
Another great example of slanted, inaccurate reporting. When will the media realize what damage they do when they print a headline like that? That toxins aren't to blame? It's almost idiotic and certainly laughable. And how about that 90% number, not backed by anything, a guess. Dangerous dangerous dangerous! This disorder is still unexplained fully, and they can make an assessement like that? Do they realize how confusing this is to the general public? I think they do. The jury is still out on what genes, what toxins, what blend of what that causes a unique blend of ASD for each person with this disability.
Don't get me wrong, I don't belong to the mercury faction of the Autism Community. However, I do believe mercury is one of the culprits to some outlined by those factions. However, as I seem to repeat myself, it's just not one thing that causes all Autism. How could it be?
How many parents will just read that headline and pop open another can of food filled with metals, preservatives and additives? How many parents will breathe a sigh of relief and lay down this year's gallons of pesticides, vaccinate without doing their homework, and buy home products filled with endocrine disrupters and other toxins? How many parents will turn their back on reports about our environment since hey, it doesn't contribute at all to ASD disorders? A pregnant mom may get all her testing done for Down Syndrome and other major disorders and think she's home free of ADHD, developmental delays, and Autism?
This type of "reporting" does nothing to raise awareness about Autism and the genetic and environmental causes/triggers. It only sells ratings.