Respectful Insolence

Brian Deer responds to Keith Olbermann

Last night, I lambasted Countdown host Keith Olbermann for having been played by the antivaccine movement and having unjustly slimed British journalist Brian Deer. Clearly, Olbermann was so blinded by his hatred of Rupert Murdoch that all chief apologist for the antivaccine movement, former freelance journalist David Kirby, had to do was mention that The Times of London, the newspaper that published Brian Deer’s excellent investigative report nailing anti-MMR guru Andrew Wakefield to the wall for falsifying data, is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and it was like waving the proverbial red cape in front of the bull. Like a bull on crack, Olbermann didn’t think too much before he charged ahead, parroting the misinformation and talking points spoon fed to him by David Kirby. Leaving aside the fact that this made Olbermann look like an even bigger fool–not to mention a huge hypocrite–for having nailed a FOX News reporter for reading word-for-word Republican talking points as analysis just the day before.

Well, unfortunately for Keith Olbermann, Brian Deer is actually in the states and has seen both the video and David Kirby’s bragging about it. He also gave me permission to post his letter to the producers of Countdown. Showing what a fair-minded individual he is, even though he detests Andrew Wakefield as much as I do, Deer even complains about the inaccuracies in Olbermann’s attack on Wakefield the night before:

The producers,
Countdown,
MSNBC

On Wednesday 11 February 2009 you placed into the mouth of your presenter Keith Olbermann a grievously defamatory item concerning me.  You named me the third of the day’s “world’s worst persons” and, among other things, accused me of dishonesty and “malfeasance” in connection with my work as a journalist for The Sunday Times of London.  The item has been widely seen in the UK.

On the previous day, you broadcast a similarly defamatory item concerning Dr Andrew Wakefield, whose false claims of having found a possible link between a childhood vaccine and autism have been the subject of my investigations.  Wakefield can no doubt deal with his own reputation.  However, it’s clear to me that, although I share your apparent general opinion of Wakefield, the item concerning him contained inaccuracies, and appeared to have been crudely lifted from my work, without any effort whatsoever on your part to check your facts, or to properly describe my findings.  I think that by subsequently attacking me you believed that you could somehow mitigate your previous errors.

These two instances evidence your inability to deliver three daily targets for your “world’s worst person” item, and you now resort to baselessly picking on people about whom you know little. It’s clear to me that you do so in order to deliver entertaining defamations, at little cost to the programme, and in circumstances where you believe your victims will have no redress.

It is untrue that, as you say, I am the complainant against Wakefield in UK disciplinary hearings.  I have ample correspondence to prove this.  As a journalist with public as well as professional duties, I was approached almost five years ago by the UK doctors’ regulator, the General Medical Council, and asked if I would supply them with my journalistic findings, post-publication, at that time concerning Wakefield.  This I did, in a manner familiar to journalists, both in the UK and the US, in dealings with statutory regulators.  There can be no possible issue about this, or any justifiable allegation of misconduct on my part.  Nor could there be any justification for your suggestion that this would somehow disbar me from continuing my investigations into Wakefield’s activities, or that I had improperly concealed my previous actions, or that my prior supply of journalistic findings invalidated findings reported last weekend which are not yet charges  faced by Wakefield.  Your item implied that, in reporting my new findings, I was somehow merely reporting my own prior allegations.  This is utterly false, and grossly damaging to my reputation.  To assist your employer to commercially profit by recklessly attacking me appears to have been your intent.

You were apparently supplied with your baseless allegations by a New York-based freelance journalist, David Kirby, who has made substantial sums of money through attacking childhood vaccines, and who is an advisor to Wakefield. Extraordinarily, you even supplied Kirby with a copy of the script of your attack on me, prior to broadcast, and thus appear to have acted in cahoots with him.  Kirby was sufficiently motivated, and stupid, to publish your script on a website before the item was aired.

Your defamation of me has been taken up by others, and you are plainly responsible for this.  You have no possible defence, since your claims are simply false.  They were fabricated and placed with you by antivaccine campaigners and cranks. You can argue no privilege or free speech right to make such false allegations, not least since you published them with complete disregard for their truth or falsity. NBC’s lawyers will no doubt explain to you the particular difficulties of such conduct in the UK jurisdiction.

I am presently travelling, and have no access to office facilities.  I write to you via a junk antispam email address.

I look forward to your prompt response, and ask that you supply a copy of this email to your legal department.

I can presently be contacted at xxx-xxx-xxxx.

With best wishes,

Brian Deer

Comments

  1. #1 e.d.
    February 12, 2009

    It’s a really bad day overall for the anti-vax crowd, isn’t it?

  2. #2 Strider
    February 12, 2009

    I’d be surprised if Olbermann doesn’t issue a correction naming himself as WPIW. He seems to be pretty good about that kind of thing.

  3. #3 Blake Stacey
    February 12, 2009

    This is edging into Daily Show territory.

  4. #4 Phoenix Woman
    February 12, 2009

    By the way, I’m sure Brian Deer already knows about this, but just in case:

    n a big blow to parents who believe vaccines caused their children’s autism, a special court ruled Thursday that the shots are not to blame.

    The court said the evidence was overwhelmingly contrary to the parents’ claims — and backed years of science that found no risk.

    “It was abundantly clear that petitioners’ theories of causation were speculative and unpersuasive,” the court concluded in one of a trio of cases ruled on Thursday.

    The ruling was anxiously awaited by health authorities and families who began presenting evidence in June 2007. More than 5,500 claims have been filed by families seeking compensation through the government’s Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The claims are reviewed by special masters serving on the U.S. Court of Claims.

    “Hopefully, the determination by the special masters will help reassure parents that vaccines do not cause autism,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.

  5. #5 Joseph
    February 12, 2009

    It’s now clear David Kirby was lying through his teeth. That’s not just because of what Brian Deer says and his track record of being right. The GMC hearings started out at the request of the UK’s Health Minister, John Reid, after a publication in The Lancet about Wakefield’s undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

    Now, the question is, did Kirby fabricate the lie himself or was he fed the lie by someone else? Who made it up? Where did it come from?

  6. #6 daedalus2u
    February 12, 2009

    This will bring the whole anti-vaccine house of cards tumbling down.

    Olbermann has defamed Brian Deer in a conspiracy with David Kirby. This gives Brian Deer grounds to sue, and to seek records of who is financing David Kirby under discovery. There is no question that the allegations that Olbermann made were false, that he was put up to it by David Kirby and so there is no defense against them. Under UK law, the loser pays the legal costs of the winner. Brian Deer will prevail in any libel suit he brings. Maybe the “damages” will be small, but what ever the legal fees are, they will be covered.

    Olbermann has just given Brian Deer carte blanche to look at David Kirby’s financial records regarding Wakefield and the anti-vaccine movement, and essentially agreed to pay the complete legal costs of doing so.

    The legal fees don’t get paid until after there is a settlement, but I suspect that Rupert Murdoch would be willing to front the cost for a variety of reasons.

    This is fabulously great news.

  7. #7 RodneyRight
    February 12, 2009

    Three cheers for those who prove that hazardous waste levels of mercury injected into babies causes no damage.

    Three cheers for those who prove that families whose children are disabled and put into povery and bankruptcy by reckless public health policies deserve no compensation.

    Three cheers for the testifying experts and scientific committees whose evidence of no damage paid for by those causing the damage is beyond reproach.

    Three cheers for the media who have so honestly dealt with so many issues in the past and deserve accolades despite their seeming corruption and collapsing market share as they have alerted us not only to the safety, but the tremendous benefit of injecting hazardous waste levels of mercury into babies with no bloodbrain barrier, as well as the economic woes this society faces.

    Three cheers for all of who have temporarily saved their skin from the opprobrium of malfeasance, fraud and criminality.

    Yes, three cheers for all of you from an observer of the collapsing morality and decadence of a once great nation which can’t even see fit to protect its most precious resource and its most vulnerable citizens.

    Three cheers indeed.

  8. #8 jcd
    February 12, 2009

    My hope is that tonight

    1) David Kirby is named as the #2 worst person in the world, for his actions here, and

    2) Olbermann names himself #1, for falling for what Kirby was pushing.

    I can dream.

  9. #9 Harry
    February 12, 2009

    Three cheers that RodneyRight’s comment is finally over.

  10. #10 rnb
    February 12, 2009

    Rodneyright

    Can I play to?

    Three cheers for those temporarily saved from charges of witchcraft!

  11. #11 BB
    February 12, 2009

    Rodney, how about some data to back up your claims?
    Hazardous waste levels, indeed.

  12. #12 Sam C
    February 12, 2009

    Thanks PheonixWoman for the info on the omnibus proceedings – well done the Special Masters for weighing the evidence and coming to the correct conclusion, clearly and unambiguously.

    If one reads the transcripts of the Cedillo proceedings (worth doing if one is bored of an evening!) it is clear that the “expert witnesses” for the claimants were a bunch of charlatans – several lied about their qualifications and affiliations, few or none were actively involved in any sort of reputable medicine or science outside the court system. The pro-science experts were immensely well-qualified, genuine experts in their fields, and delivered clear, accurate and understandable evidence.

    And it turned out that poor little Miss Cedillo had been developmentally abnormal long before the vaccination (in this day and age, there’s always going to be video evidence), which makes one wonder how come the anti-vaccionation movement chose her as their (presumably best) test case.

    I’m not sure if it was Orac or another blogger who grumbled that courts were not the place to determine scientific issues, but I disagree – courts are the place to make social and legal decisions that have practical and financial ramifications, and the Special Masters demonstrated how judges can become well-informed and effective arbitrators. Courts can say “right here, right now, this is how the evidence lies and this is the decision, case closed” whereas science is always a hotbed of unclosed arguments.

    I’ll be interested to hear reaction to these decisions. Of course, the anti-vaccination loonies will be telling us how the Special Masters are in the pay of the government and the pharmaceutical industry, whereas their lying charlatans are purveyors of The Truth(tm).

  13. #13 GaryB
    February 12, 2009

    RodneyRight: Until you can provide unequivocal, clear evidence that toxic levels of mercury are being injected into the arms of children your complaints have no more power than alien abduction stories.

    More than one study has shown your side to be simply wrong.

  14. #14 ScottC
    February 12, 2009

    Three cheers for those who prove that hazardous waste levels of mercury injected into babies causes no damage.

    Get some actual evidence of “hazardous waste levels” and we’ll talk. But you won’t, because there isn’t any, because it’s a lie to begin with.

    Three cheers for those who prove that families whose children are disabled and put into povery and bankruptcy by reckless public health policies deserve no compensation.

    Again, provide some actual evidence that such a family exists and we’ll talk.

    Three cheers for the testifying experts and scientific committees whose evidence of no damage paid for by those causing the damage is beyond reproach.

    Ah, we’re cheering Wakefield, I see.

    Three cheers for the media who have so honestly dealt with so many issues in the past and deserve accolades despite their seeming corruption and collapsing market share as they have alerted us not only to the safety, but the tremendous benefit of injecting hazardous waste levels of mercury into babies with no bloodbrain barrier, as well as the economic woes this society faces.

    This one’s just completely incoherent.

    Three cheers for all of who have temporarily saved their skin from the opprobrium of malfeasance, fraud and criminality.

    Ah, but Kirby and Wakefield have are only temporarily saved from justice. It’s coming.

    Yes, three cheers for all of you from an observer of the collapsing morality and decadence of a once great nation which can’t even see fit to protect its most precious resource and its most vulnerable citizens.

    Hey, Orac, Deer, et al are trying. Unfortunately the murderous lies of McCarthy, Kirby, Wakefield and their ilk are hard to protect against adequately.

    Isn’t it fun when loons make arguments that are actually against their point?

  15. #15 K. Alexander
    February 12, 2009

    Is there a difference between “hazardous levels” and “hazardous waste levels”? Or did you just throw that in there for grins?

  16. #16 Amethyst
    February 12, 2009

    Hi, I’ve never commented here before but I’ve read many of your vaccination-related posts and I appreciate that you’re fighting the good fight. I have a vaccination-related question and it doesn’t quite fit in with this particular post but I’m not sure where else it might be appropriate to put it, so here goes (sorry for being off topic!).

    I’m hoping a knowledgeable person here can point me in the right direction so I can find some accurate and reliable information. I’m not immune to measles, even though I’ve been vaccinated numerous times. The story is kind of detailed so I won’t bother to go into it here (although I will if someone asks), but to cut to the chase I was told that when I get immunized, the immunization doesn’t take. I was given a reason for this, but I don’t know if the reason is true.

    I’ve accepted that I’m not immune to measles, as scary as that is, but out of curiosity I would like to find out more info. Can anyone recommend a site where I can go to find out about why certain people don’t acquire immunity, how common that is, etc.? I would appreciate it.

    Thank you.

  17. #17 MikeMa
    February 12, 2009

    Seems as if good ol’ Rodney’s been sucking on that waste tube just a little too long. Rodney, pull your head out of your ass and get a reality check.

  18. #18 SES
    February 12, 2009

    Just in case anybody wants to let Keith know how you feel:

    KOlbermann@msnbc.com

  19. #19 _Arthur
    February 12, 2009

    Olberman, in the past, has named himself WPitW when he made serious mistakes.

    This is the case. He was misinformed.

    Brian Deer broke the story, but he was not a Plaintiff.

    Will Olbermann recuse himself from further convering a juicy case, every time he breaks a story ?

  20. #20 Jud
    February 12, 2009

    daedalus2u writes: Olbermann has defamed Brian Deer in a conspiracy with David Kirby. This gives Brian Deer grounds to sue, and to seek records of who is financing David Kirby under discovery.

    What gives you the notion that any of this opens David Kirby’s finances to legal discovery procedures?

    Oh BTW, regarding Orac’s previous post saying Olbermann wasn’t funny anymore: In general, I agree he’s not worth listening to, but once in a while he’s well capable of the amusing turn of phrase.

    In regard to former VP Cheney’s recent allegations that 61 of the former Guantanamo inmates released during the Bush Administration have returned to terrorism, Olbermann first quoted a U.S. law school professor pointing out that every time Cheney speaks about this, his numbers vary wildly, anywhere from 12 to the mid-20s to the latest, 61. Olbermann then thundered, “Sir, out of which orifice are you pulling these figures?

    Got a chuckle out of me.

  21. #21 Phoenix Woman
    February 12, 2009

    Jud, I believe that if Deer could sue under British libel law, Kirby’s finances would be subject to discovery. The problem of course is that both KO and DK are both Americans and the statements in question were uttered/written in America, even though they were also viewable worldwide (including in the UK) thanks to the magic of the internet.

  22. #22 Mu
    February 12, 2009

    Rodney, I just finished reading the Cedillo decision. It’s really bad for your cause if the judge in the case writes more pointedly about the subject than Orac. I guess the Special Masters are only independent from big pharma when they decide in favor of the claimant, like in the Poling case. Ups, that was the same one who decided on of the MMR one’s today. Probably got bribed just in time.
    Three cheers indeed.

  23. #23 daedalus2u
    February 12, 2009

    Jud, it is relevant regarding motive(s) for Kirby to profit by defaming Brian Deer. That information is necessary to set the damages. If (hypothetically) Kirby was paid $100k by Wakefield to defame Brian Deer by making false statements about him that is certainly relevant to the issue of damages. The damages should be such that Kirby doesn’t profit by spreading false and defamatory statements about anyone. The only way the Court can know if Kirby was paid to defame Deer is by looking at the financial records.

    I think they will try very hard to settle.

  24. #24 TexDoc
    February 12, 2009

    opprobrium of malfeasance, fraud and criminality

    Rodney may not know his ass from a hole in the ground about science, but he’s got his SAT review words down like poetry. Huzzah!! to you, good sir, Huzzah!!

    We’ll just leave it at two cheers.

  25. #25 Primus
    February 12, 2009

    Sorry to ask here, but woo on Google is diluting my search.

    Is there a coherent list somewhere of the vaccine-autism studies that have been done? I’d love to have that list as ammo the next time someone tells me that we need more research to conclusive disprove the vaccine-autism link.

  26. #26 Chuck
    February 12, 2009

    Phoenix Woman:

    The problem of course is that both KO and DK are both Americans and the statements in question were uttered/written in America, even though they were also viewable worldwide (including in the UK) thanks to the magic of the internet.

    Under English law, the “publication” of a defamatory statement posted on the Internet takes place in any jurisdiction where that statement is read or downloaded. King v. Lewis, [2004]EWHC168 (QB), at para. 15, affirmed, [2004] EWCA Civ1329.

  27. #27 Chuck
    February 12, 2009

    I should further note that in King v. Lewis, the court’s power to hear the case based solely on the fact of downloading in the UK was unaffected by the fact that neither party was a citizen of the UK. (Both were Americans.)

  28. #28 Phoenix Woman
    February 12, 2009

    Heads up, gang! Just as the anti-vaxers were pushing (and KO fell for) the Murdoch Gambit to slime Brian Deer’s work, they’re now pushing the Science Is Politicized Gambit to try and explain away their latest court defeat.

  29. #29 Kula
    February 12, 2009

    Speaking of hazardous waste product, try reading the AoA/TACA response to this ruling on the AoA website.

    Primus: here are a few studies compiled in one place. It might not have the latest.
    http://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p4026.pdf

  30. #30 D. C. Sessions
    February 12, 2009

    Get some actual evidence of “hazardous waste levels” and we’ll talk.

    It’s an old antivaccine talking point: vaccines contain amounts (in ppm) of, e.g., formaldehyde in excess of those allowed by the EPA for ordinary disposal. Thus we are “injecting toxic waste” into children.

    Well, if I were dealing with kilotonnes of soil with micrograms per gram of thimerosal then I might be concerned — but primarily because mercury concentrates as it works its way up the food chain. Vaccines are diluted a bit when injected into babies, so they’re actually quite safe to eat and to feed to livestock.

  31. #31 Dawn
    February 12, 2009

    @Amethyst: I have the same issue, that I am non-immune to measles and the vaccine does not give me immunity. However, I also HAD the measles. Something in my makeup prevents my body from creating antibodies to the measles virus (strangely, it doesn’t extend to rubella, which I had and developed an immunity to).

    I don’t know if there is a lot of research about people who don’t develop immunity. Try a Pubmed search (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/) I don’t know how to make links; my html skills suck. There are a lot of research articles on measles so you might find something.

  32. #32 isles
    February 12, 2009

    As a journalist, Deer is to Olbermann as a Godiva truffle is to a stale carob chip.

  33. #33 RJ
    February 12, 2009

    Wow, Kathleen is the best (you too Orac)! I love visitng her site.

    You all should read the verdict:

    http://neurodiversity.com/weblog/

    The ‘RJ’ summary: A good ole fashion ass-whoppin!

  34. #34 Dawn
    February 12, 2009

    isles wrote: “As a journalist, Deer is to Olbermann as a Godiva truffle is to a stale carob chip.”

    Well said, isles! Olbermann sold out to the anti-vax cult. I cannot believe it….well maybe I can, but still. I was so excited when he listed Andrew Wakefield as “Worst Person”. I thought finally the U.S. press was catching on, only to have my hopes dashed upon the rocks. Drat.

    It’s awful that Brian Deer was treated so outrageously. I feel ashamed. I’ll never be able to watch Olbermann again. Brian Deer has more talent, energy and integrity in his little pinky than most of these lazy journalists have in their entire bodies. As a mother of an autistic son, I truly admire and appreciate the work Brian has done to shed light on conmen like Wakefield who prey on desperate and gullible parents. Wakefield & Co still practice his ‘research’ in Austin Texas today. Someone needs to stop him. Olbermann should be ashamed of himself…as should The Huffington Post for printing Kirby’s swill.

    When will U.S. journalists start doing their jobs, read a science/medical journal or two and run these conmen out on a rail?

  35. #35 Dawn D. in Austin
    February 12, 2009

    Oops! Looks like there’s more than one Dawn here. The last Dawn post ending in “out on a rail?” was by me.
    Dawn D. in Austin

  36. #36 ama
    February 12, 2009

    Dear Orac, please move this and start a new blog entry with it.

    Thank you,
    ama

    [*QUOTE*]
    ————————————————–
    Subject: Action Needed by 2/28 – NIH Public Access Policy Being Threatened
    From: “PLoS”
    Date: Thu, February 12, 2009 4:16 pm

    Dear Open Access Supporter,

    Please contact your Representative
    http://lists.plos.org/lt.php?id=ZklRBgpSVQRTUUUGAFoFRQYCU1U%3D and members of the
    House Judiciary Committee
    http://lists.plos.org/lt.php?id=ZklRBgpSVQRTXkUGAFoFRQYCU1U%3D before Saturday
    2/28 to express your support for public access to taxpayer-funded
    research and ask that he or she OPPOSE H.R. 801
    http://lists.plos.org/lt.php?id=ZklRBgpSVQRTUEUGAFoFRQYCU1U%3D. A draft letter is
    enclosed below.

    Last week, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee (Rep. John Conyers, D-MI)
    re-introduced a bill that would REVERSE the NIH Public Access
    Policy http://lists.plos.org/lt.php?id=ZklRBgpSVQRTX0UGAFoFRQYCU1U%3D
    and make it impossible for other federal agencies to put similar policies into
    place. The legislation is H.R. 801: the Fair Copyright in Research
    Works Act http://lists.plos.org/lt.php?id=ZklRBgpSVQRSVkUGAFoFRQYCU1U%3D .

    H.R. 801 is designed to amend current copyright law and create a new category of
    copyrighted works (Section 201, Title 17). In effect, it would:

    1) Prohibit all U.S. federal agencies from conditioning funding agreements to
    require that works resulting from federal support be made publicly
    available, if those works are either: (a) funded in part by sources other than a
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    work from an entity that is not party to the agreement.

    2) Prohibit U.S. agencies from obtaining a license to publicly distribute, perform,
    or display such work by, for example, placing it on the Internet.

    3) Stifle access to a broad range of federally funded works, overturning the
    crucially important NIH Public Access Policy and preventing other
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    4) Because it is so broadly framed, the proposed bill would require an overhaul of
    the well-established procurement rules in effect for all federal
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    5) Repeal the longstanding “federal purpose” doctrine, under which all federal
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    U.S. federal agencies to use works that they have funded to support and fulfill
    agency missions and to communicate with and educate the public.

    Because of the NIH Public Access Policy, millions of Americans now have access to
    vital health care information through the PubMed Central database.
    Under the current policy, nearly 3,000 new biomedical manuscripts are deposited for
    public accessibility each month. H.R. 801 would prohibit the
    deposit of these manuscripts, seriously impeding the ability of researchers,
    physicians, health care professionals, and families to access and use
    this critical health-related information in a timely manner.

    Thank you for your support and continued persistence in supporting this policy. You
    know the difference constituent voices can make on Capitol Hill.

    *****DRAFT TEXT*****

    Dear Representative,

    On behalf of *YOUR ORGANIZATION*, I strongly urge you to OPPOSE H.R. 801, the Fair
    Copyright in Research Works Act, introduced to the House Judiciary
    Committee on February 3, 2009. This bill would amend the U.S. Copyright Code,
    prohibiting federal agencies from requiring as a condition of funding
    agreements public access to the products of the research they fund. This will
    significantly inhibit our ability to advance scientific discovery and to
    stimulate innovation in all scientific disciplines.

    Most critically, H.R. 801 would reverse the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
    Public Access Policy, prohibit American taxpayers from accessing the
    results of the crucial biomedical research funded by their taxpayer dollars, and
    stifle critical advancements in life-saving research and scientific
    discovery.

    Because of the NIH Public Access Policy, millions of Americans now have access to
    vital health care information from the NIH’s PubMed Central
    database. Under the current policy, nearly 3,000 new biomedical manuscripts are
    deposited for public accessibility each month. H.R. 801 would prohibit
    the deposit of these manuscripts, seriously impeding the ability of researchers,
    physicians, health care professionals, and families to access and use
    this critical health-related information in a timely manner.

    H.R. 801 affects not only the results of biomedical research produced by the NIH,
    but also scientific research coming from all other federal agencies.
    Access to critical information on energy, the environment, climate change, and
    hundreds of other areas that directly impact the lives and well-being
    of the public would be unfairly limited by this proposed legislation.

    ***INSERT WHY YOU SUPPORT THE NIH PUBLIC ACCESS POLICY***

    The NIH and other agencies must be allowed to ensure timely, public access to the
    results of research funded with taxpayer dollars. Please OPPOSE H.R.
    801.

    Sincerely,

    *****END DRAFT TEXT*****

    Constituents across the country are asked to contact Congress and let them know you
    support public access to federally funded research and OPPOSE H.R.
    801. Again, the proposed resolution would effectively reverse the NIH Public Access
    Policy, as well as make it impossible for other federal agencies
    to put similar policies into place.

    Thank you for your support and continued persistence in supporting this policy. The
    voices from constituents make a difference on Capitol Hill!

    Best wishes,

    Donna Okubo
    PLoS Institutional Relations Manager

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

    Public Library of Science
    185 Berry Street, Suite 3100
    San Francisco, CA 94107
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    ————————————————–
    [*/QUOTE*]
    .

  37. #37 Prometheus
    February 12, 2009


    “Until you can provide unequivocal, clear evidence that toxic levels of mercury are being injected into the arms of children your complaints have no more power than alien abduction stories.”

    Do you mean to say that the alien abduction stories aren’t true?!? I thought they had a lot more credibility than the “vaccines-cause-autism” hypothesis.

    After all, there haven’t been any rigorous studies looking at alien abduction, so there isn’t any data either way. In contrast, the “vaccines-cause-autism” hypothesis has been pretty effectively shown to be unsupported by the data.

    Prometheus

  38. #38 Kels
    February 12, 2009

    It seems clear that, as to Wakefield, Deer long ago left the realm of “reporter”, and is in a fight to the (professional) death with Dr. Wakefield. Deer has staked so much on his rather obsessive pursuit of the doctor that, if Wakefield should prevail in his peers’ attempt to remove his license, this might be a fatal blow to Deer’s professional reputation. The sense is that the license removal case is not going well (many profound embarassments) for the prosecution, and thus Deer’s sudden, 11th hour “discovery” of “new data” is a quite convenient event. Perhaps, except for the naive, just a little too convenient? At this point in the endless Deer/Wakefield dual, the prudent will be just as skeptical as to Deer, as they are to Wakefield.

  39. #39 James
    February 12, 2009

    I look forward to your prompt response, and ask that you supply a copy of this email to your legal department.

    A nice touch. NBC’s American lawyers know that UK libel and defamation laws favor the person allegedly defamed.

    They’ll probably tell him to retract and apologize.

  40. #40 Mekei
    February 12, 2009

    Are you sure it wasn’t the Wrights who got to KO first? I thought it was extremely odd that KO did the Worst Person w/Wakefield in the first place. Oh well, I really loathed KO to begin with.

  41. #41 MI Dawn
    February 12, 2009

    Realized when Dawn D from Austin posted that I hadn’t used my correct name for autism posts when I answered Amethyst(I use it to prevent any confusion with antivaxDawn).

    @Kets…I don’t think Brian found new information for the Council. From the article, he says “However, our investigation, confirmed by evidence presented to the General Medical Council (GMC), reveals that: In most of the 12 cases, the children’s ailments as described in The Lancet were different from their hospital and GP records.” So, given that information, it makes me question the rest of your statement.

  42. #42 DLC
    February 12, 2009

    It’s too bad for Olberman, but it shows what you get when you don’t check the facts. Olberman could have avoided the entire sad business just by checking with Brian Deer or even by reading the articles published in the Daily Mail or on Deer’s website. It would have been trivially easy.

  43. #43 Ktesibios
    February 12, 2009

    I see “kels” emitting the paranoid conspiracy theorist’s favorite respone to evidence he doesn’t like: “how convenient!“.

    However, Wakefield’s paper was published some years ago and has been part of the public record ever since. The medical records in the posession of the GMC also predate Deer’s cross-checking Wakefield’s claims against them. It should be relatively simple for the GMC to use these resources to determine whether Wakefield did cook his data, and that will be rather convenient for anyone interested in the facts.

    I can’t see any reason to slag Deer for having the creativity to think of doing that bit of checking-up in the first place, even if he was the first investigator to think of it.

  44. #44 DLC
    February 12, 2009

    Mea Culpa : Brian Deer does not write for the Daily Mail but for the Sunday Times
    Oops.

  45. #45 Jud
    February 12, 2009

    daedalus2u writes: Jud, it is relevant regarding motive(s) for Kirby to profit by defaming Brian Deer.

    It is unnecessary for a plaintiff in a defamation case to prove motive, and thus evidence of a motive would not be admissible. Only information that constitutes relevant evidence or is reasonably likely to lead to relevant evidence is discoverable.

    That information is necessary to set the damages.

    Damages in a defamation case are those to the plaintiff’s reputation, and the amount Kirby made is irrelevant to the amount Deer may have lost. If we are talking not about compensatory but per se damages, no proof at all is necessary.

    If (hypothetically) Kirby was paid $100k by Wakefield to defame Brian Deer by making false statements about him that is certainly relevant to the issue of damages.

    No, see above.

    The damages should be such that Kirby doesn’t profit by spreading false and defamatory statements about anyone. The only way the Court can know if Kirby was paid to defame Deer is by looking at the financial records.

    First, anyone seeking to discover Kirby’s financial records on such a theory would have to show there is some reason to believe he was paid, not mere speculation that such a thing could have occurred. Even in that event, any profit to Kirby would be relevant and discoverable only if punitive damages were sought and the court felt there was sufficient possibility of same to allow discovery.

    In general, discovery is subject to rules whose meaning and interpretation have been rather tightly specified by hundreds of court rulings over decades. It is not a general license to rummage through the affairs of people we may not, for whatever well-justified reasons, like very much.

  46. #46 snerd
    February 12, 2009

    Ktesibios – It goes deeper than you know! Wheels within wheels! You should never have rolled away the stone and gone down the rabbit hole!

    http://www.jacobsm.com/grassy.gif

  47. #47 Alexis
    February 12, 2009

    DLC – of course Deer doesn’t write for the Mail. Could you imagine Deer and Melanie Phillips on the same paper? It would be like a matter-antimatter collision.

  48. #48 a lurker
    February 13, 2009

    “Under English law, the “publication” of a defamatory statement posted on the Internet takes place in any jurisdiction where that statement is read or downloaded. King v. Lewis, [2004]EWHC168 (QB), at para. 15, affirmed, [2004] EWCA Civ1329.”

    But if the defendant is not in the jurisdiction of English law that legal doctrine does not amount to a hill of beans.

  49. #49 crankynick
    February 13, 2009

    a lurker – “But if the defendant is not in the jurisdiction of English law that legal doctrine does not amount to a hill of beans.

    You may find that’s not the case.

    An Australian case (which I’m pretty sure has acted as a precedent in the English system also) upheld the right of an Australian businessman to sue Dow Jones for comments made about him outside of Australia:

    The case is Joseph Gutnick vs Dow Jones, and I believe the ruling still holds both here and elsewhere.

    http://www.murdoch.edu.au/elaw/issues/v11n3/beyer113.html

    If MSNBC has any business interests in the UK (and they will), they’ll be sweating, I imagine.

  50. #50 Cannonball Jones
    February 13, 2009

    That was a beautiful letter – perfectly pitched, not a hint of aggression or emotion and utterly devastating. I can’t wait to see MSNBC’s response to this and would love to see Olberman forced into an official on-air apology. Robin Deer is one of my new favourite people :)

    Mind you, I’m still waiting for the anti-vaxxers to spin this as Olberman being persecuted by the evil baby-eating science/medicine/big pharma/space-alien-surf-nazi conspiracy for bravely revealing the truth…

  51. #51 jamie
    February 13, 2009

    a lurker, it’s not quite as simple as that. the page below summarises a few key precedents including the australian case mentioned above. there’s a very real possibility of english libel law having jurisdiction, seems to me.
    http://www.jddlaw.com/pdfs/WebJurisdiction.pdf

  52. #52 jypsy
    February 13, 2009

    So, who were Olberman’s 3 bad guys yesterday? Not himself and/or Mr. Kirby I take it..

  53. #53 daedalus2u
    February 13, 2009

    Perhaps the court won’t force Kirby to disclose those records, but since this is a conspiracy, since Kirby and Olbermann worked in concert, I think it is a legitimate goal of discovery to uncover the breadth and depth of that conspiracy. Finding who put Kirby up to it, and identifying the other co-conspirators is (I think) legitimate.

    If there is a settlement, I am pretty sure that Brian Deer will require a public statement by both of them; statements that list what the actual facts are regarding MMR and Wakefield and Wakefield putting made-up data in the Lancet paper and maybe even beyond. I suspect that Brian Deer’s solicitors will include language in the settlement that if Kirby then tries to “take back” what he said as a condition of the settlement, then the settlement will be voided.

    I think a legitimate condition of settlement would be for Brian Deer to require Kirby to affirm that the material on Brian Deer’s website (as of a certain date) is factually correct and that Kirby knows of no facts that contradict what Brian Deer has stated, or to state those contradictory facts in the settlement document (which Brian Deer will be happy to post on his website). Kirby’s statement that Brian Deer published false statements about Wakefield goes to the heart of Brian Deer’s reputation as an investigative reporter.

    I think that Kirby and Olbermann don’t understand what motivates Brian Deer. Brian Deer didn’t develop his reputation because of his ego or to make money, he developed his reputation because with that reputation he could accomplish things that are more important than his ego or money. When Wakefield caved and withdrew the libel suit that Wakefield brought, Brian Deer got many supportive letters, some of which he has posted on his website. One that I will always remember was from a physician, who said “you have saved more lives than I will in my lifetime”. Kirby, Olbermann and Wakefield don’t understand that kind of motivation.

  54. #54 Amethyst
    February 13, 2009

    Dawn, thanks for the info, I’ll be checking that link out.

  55. #55 jypsy
    February 13, 2009

    In answer to my own question (Feb 12th Olbermann’s “Worst Person”), and thanx to YouTube:
    The winner is….Bernard Goldberg. Runners up Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly.

  56. #56 Calli Arcale
    February 13, 2009

    For those who think it would be a good idea for Deer’s lawyers to go rummaging in David Kirby’s finances in hopes of discovering proof of a conspiracy, remember what happened to Kathleen Seidel. While she definitely had no connection whatsoever to the case (making the subpoena truly ridiculous), whereas Kirby definitely does have a connection, remember how much we all railed against what was being done to her? I don’t think we should be too hasty to try to do the same thing to Kirby, merely because it suits our sense of justice. I don’t think there are grounds for doing that. It would not aid the case against Olbermann, could very probably be dismissed on that basis, and would certainly give fuel to the antivaxxers.

    It’s obvious that Kirby put Olbermann up to this, but I don’t think that would matter very much in court. Certainly Kirby’s reasons for doing so would not matter. It is the *fact* of it that matters, not the motive.

    Of course, IANAL. ;-)

  57. #57 Uncle Dave
    February 13, 2009

    Strider wrote;
    “I’d be surprised if Olbermann doesn’t issue a correction naming himself as WPIW. He seems to be pretty good about that kind of thing.”

    I will be interested as well to see if Mr. Olbermann corrects himself on his show, since he seems to show such a distaste for other individuals that make inaccurate and sometimes deliberately false statements.

    What good for the goose….

    BTW, my wife said that she saw a bit of a show on television last night (symposium or some such televised feature) featuring a female speaker making talking points of the dangers of the anti vaccination movement and disease. Anyone else see this show I missed it?

  58. #58 ababa
    February 13, 2009

    Campbell Brown had an excellent piece on her show. Maybe it was that. It was down to earth, in plain language that anyone who isn’t drinking directly from the anti-vax trough would give serious thought. I was struck by how good of a point it made.

  59. #59 TomB
    February 13, 2009

    Three cheers for those who prove that hazardous waste levels of mercury injected into babies causes no damage.

    1. The MMR vaccines does not now, nor has it ever had thimerosal (which contains mercury) in it.

    2. Thimerosal was completely removed from childhood vaccines around 2001 in the US. Yet autism rates continue to rise. How can that be?

    I anxiously await your clarification.

  60. #60 MNP
    February 13, 2009

    I was lead to this blog by a Mom’s forum that actively debates the safety of vaccines regularly. I have 3 children under 4 so this is a huge concern to me. I see this is a science blog and I would guess that as scientists you adhere to very traditional standards of “proof” and where the burden of proof should fall.

    Well, I believe there is proof that vaccines are an undeniable necessity to our society. I also believe there is proof that there are two polar opinions developing on this subject, but I don’t believe there is proof that vaccines are completely safe for EVERY child. I believe the vast majority of us, mothers, feel like I do. We don’t want to take chances by not vaccinating and we don’t want the order, additives and number of vaccines to compromise our children’s development.

    Although I have had my children vaccinated with all available, I do not believe there is PROOF that there is NOT a vaccine-autism link or a vaccine-immune system issue. More, I will not accept vaccines in combinations or with preservatives that are used for the gain and/or interests other than the health of my child. Why should I? I don’t care if it is easier and more affordable for the industry or allows more vaccines to be made. I only care about erring on the side of caution for my children.

    As scientists you may not believe the burden of proof harm is on the vaccine, but as a mother I will expect that it be proven. Don’t expect the vaccination conversation to go away because of this one investigation, we mothers-in-the-middle won’t let it.

  61. #61 TomB
    February 13, 2009

    I also believe there is proof that there are two polar opinions developing on this subject, but I don’t believe there is proof that vaccines are completely safe for EVERY child.

    There is nobody who has stated that vaccines are completely safe for every child. It is a ridiculous statement to make. It is true, however, that the danger to you child from a vaccine is much less than the danger of him/her being injured in an accident on the way to/from the doctor’s office.

    We don’t want to take chances by not vaccinating and we don’t want the order, additives and number of vaccines to compromise our children’s development.

    On what specifically do you question the “order” or “number” of vaccines? And in case you missed it, thimerosal has already been out of childhood vaccines for almost a decade now.

    I do not believe there is PROOF that there is NOT a vaccine-autism link or a vaccine-immune system issue.

    Why? Cites please.

    More, I will not accept vaccines in combinations or with preservatives that are used for the gain and/or interests other than the health of my child. Why should I? I don’t care if it is easier and more affordable for the industry or allows more vaccines to be made. I only care about erring on the side of caution for my children.

    That is a ridiculous statement. Unit dose packaging is more expensive than the previous bulk dosage. And it would stand to reason that both the doctor and evil pharmaceutical company would stand to make more money if each vaccine had to be given separately. In addition, if physician’s are so greedy, wouldn’t it make more sense to NOT immunize kids and treat the actual disease???

    For God’s sake people, think this stuff through a little bit.

  62. #62 gaiainc
    February 13, 2009

    To MNP:

    Science can NEVER prove a negative. Science can say that the vast preponderence of evidence is that the negative is proved, but never? Not in science’s vocabulary and nor should it be. If the multiple studies that have not shown a link doesn’t convince you, then I sincerely doubt that anything would.

    As for combination vaccines… it is not easier nor more affordable for the industry to have combination vaccines. If it was easier then it wouldn’t have taken until about 3-4 years ago for Pediarix (combination of DTaP, Hep B, and IPV) to come out and in the past year for Pentacel (DTaP, Hib, and IPV). Heck, if it was so damn easy and profitable for pharmaceutical companies to make vaccines, why do we have a Hib shortage now (which is bad enough in my state that the VFC program is only allowing ONE Hib vaccine for each baby to try and make the current stock last instead of giving each child the three that he/she needs)? Why did we have a Prevnar shortage (from about 3-6 years ago)? Why do we get flu vaccine shortages? That’s the part of the argument that I do not understand. Separating out all the vaccines does not decrease a child’s exposure to preservatives or whatever else you think you don’t like in the vaccines. I would even argue that getting 5 shots a time (which is what I was faced with ordering for a 2 month-old) instead of three (now that there is Pediarix and Pentacel) increases the exposure to preservatives not to mention increasing the pain that the child has to go through (I cannot wait for the day when all vaccines no longer involve hypodermic needles).

    I really don’t understand this sentence: “More, I will not accept vaccines in combinations or with preservatives that are used for the gain and/or interests other than the health of my child.” Vaccines are developed for the health of your child, my child, children around the world and even adults. Combination vaccines minimize needle sticks and increase compliance. These are good things. Humans of all ages are exposed to multiple pathogens on a daily basis. To think that our immune systems can’t handle a combination vaccine is insulting to it. What other gain or interest do you think is out there in regards to combination vaccines or the preservatives? I don’t get this argument. I really, truly do not.

  63. #63 anonimouse
    February 13, 2009

    MNP,

    How many studies have illustrated that vaccines cause autism?

    How many studies have been conducted that have been unable to find such a link?

    If the autism-vaccine debate were a boxing match, it would’ve stopped a long time ago.

  64. #64 Joseph
    February 14, 2009

    I also believe there is proof that there are two polar opinions developing on this subject, but I don’t believe there is proof that vaccines are completely safe for EVERY child.

    @MNP: No one has said that all vaccines are 100% safe for every child. That’s not the argument, and to try to pretend this is the argument, and then argue something else, is disingenuous.

    Taking your child to the dentist is also not 100% safe. It should be made as safe as possible, though. What’s the point of this kind of obvious observation?

  65. #65 Joseph C.
    February 14, 2009

    @MNP,

    If you’re looking for a risk-free world, then you’ve unfortunately landed in the wrong one.

  66. #66 daedalus2u
    February 14, 2009

    Why stop at only 100% safe?

    Why not shoot for 150% safe? Or 300% safe?

    That is the problem with Science Based Medicine, it sets such low expectations. This treatment is better than placebo. Ho Hum, how boring, better than a “placebo”. Could you set the bar any lower? How about better than a treatment made out of unicorn poop? Or better than being prayed for by the Pope? Or better than a coffee enema administered by the head of the NIH? With all the billions being spent by the NIH, why has no treatment ever been compared to that? My conclusion is that the senior members of government are keeping that treatment for themselves. They don’t want us to know about it.

  67. #67 Uncle Dave
    February 14, 2009

    To ababa;

    That was the news commentary piece! Thanks.

    Here is Brown’s commentary piece below.

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/02/12/campbell.brown.vaccine/index.html#cnnSTCVideo

  68. #68 skeptiquette
    February 16, 2009

    Hi, I’ve never commented here before but I’ve read many of your vaccination-related posts and I appreciate that you’re fighting the good fight. I have a vaccination-related question and it doesn’t quite fit in with this particular post but I’m not sure where else it might be appropriate to put it, so here goes (sorry for being off topic!).

    I’m hoping a knowledgeable person here can point me in the right direction so I can find some accurate and reliable information. I’m not immune to measles, even though I’ve been vaccinated numerous times. The story is kind of detailed so I won’t bother to go into it here (although I will if someone asks), but to cut to the chase I was told that when I get immunized, the immunization doesn’t take. I was given a reason for this, but I don’t know if the reason is true.

    I’ve accepted that I’m not immune to measles, as scary as that is, but out of curiosity I would like to find out more info. Can anyone recommend a site where I can go to find out about why certain people don’t acquire immunity, how common that is, etc.? I would appreciate it.

    Thank you.

    Posted by: Amethyst

    I don’t know how to tag this, but if you are interested in understanding the why to this I would be happy to help, just let me know

    p.s. what is your background in immunology, it will help me frame a more readable response

  69. #69 DLC
    February 16, 2009

    Anybody seen anything from Olbermann on this topic since this post was made ? I’ve been too busy.

  70. #70 inmypajamas
    February 16, 2009

    This should make an impact on the conversation and start to settle the debate but the anti-vaccine people have internalized their stance and made it a personal religion. They are staunch in their belief and will not be persuaded. They are just as deluded and stubborn as those Islamic women in Pakistan who thought that vaccines would make their children sterile as part of some Western plot to reduce their numbers and actually attacked a vaccination team. I have a friend who is a pediatrician and she is utterly and completely convinced that this autism link is real. Blind ignorance based on fear seems to be alive and well even in supposedly enlightened, science-oriented modern cultures like the US and the UK.

  71. #71 kat
    March 21, 2009

    Brian Deer, as of this morning, we all now can see what a complete liar you are! You did bring the charges against Dr Wakefield. Yuo may lie and say you did not…but now those documents are displayed for all to see. You little liar liar liar! And now, pray tell, how much money are you lying about NOT recieving at the expense of our children?????

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/03/a-character-assassin-caught-in-the-act.html

    BD, May you never know a MOMENTS peace for the rest of your life.

  72. #72 Joseph C.
    March 21, 2009

    kat,

    I’m curious why it’s so important to defend Andy Wakefield. Even if you ignore Deer’s reporting, Wakefield is still known as a very, very shoddy scientist, an embarassment. If he’s really the best scientist you can get in your corner, you’re screwed.

  73. #73 Dedj
    March 21, 2009

    I give up on these people.

    The complaints process and the role of complainant is clearly laid out on the GMC website, even with an interactive applet that guides you through it all.

    Yet, despite the ease of information that details what a complaint is, how to make one, and who takes what role, the Deer Hunters are still convinced that his letter of concern constitutes an official complaint, a bizarre status to hold as it would mean contributers to complaints hearings would themselves have to be regarded as complainants – even when acting for the defendant.

  74. #74 Dedj
    March 21, 2009

    In addition: none of the Deer detractors have yet managed to quote code or standard that would prohibit Deer from:

    acting as informant even if he was the complainant, which he is not, this would also be bizarre as it would prohibit complainants from detailing thier own complaint.

    reporting on any information or proceedings, with or without declaration of being the complainant (which he is not), unless it can be shown to be undue influence (which is not being claimed at all, even though it’s an obvious way to stifle Deer and set up Wakefield as a martyr).

    Complainants should ideally not report on the progress of their complaint, if only because they have the potential to inadvertantly affect their own status negatively, which has not been claimed by the Deer hunters even though it’s an obvious take-down.

    Making concerns known and making an official complaint are not the same thing, as any reading of relevant policy and guidance makes clear. Even NHS services treat the two processes as different (whistle blower policies versus complaints policies).

    If the Deer hunters can’t grasp that distinction why should we even give them time of day?

  75. #75 Dr Benway
    March 21, 2009

    I don’t think these AoA people grasp what “conflict of interest” means.

    A journalist who is also a litigant in a civil procedure may have a conflict of interest when reporting about the case. Litigants stand to win or lose sums of money depending on the outcome of the case.

    A journalist who reports evidence of medical medical misconduct is obligated to share that evidence with the appropriate authorities.

  76. #76 notmercury
    March 21, 2009

    kat:

    “And now, pray tell, how much money are you lying about NOT recieving at the expense of our children?????”

    No matter how many more times I don’t NOT read this sentence, it doesn’t make less sense to me.

  77. #77 Dawn in Austin
    April 16, 2010

    So, now that the GMC ruled that Wakefield “failed in his duties as a responsible consultant”,acted against the interests of his patients, and “dishonestly and irresponsibly” in his controversial research,…will Olbermann ever apologize to Brian Deer?

  78. #78 tony bateson
    April 22, 2010

    Wakefield no way failed in his duties as a responsible consultant. And if there is such a thing as the anti vaxxers movement I have never seen it. Where do your semi literate incoherent correspondents come from.

    Let me tell you something about vaccines and autism. There are no unvaccinated autistic people who have not been exposed to vaccine materials either by direct vaccination or by Rhogam or amalgam fillings in early pregnancy affecting the mother. None! Don’t argue with my figures about the number of unvaccinated in the UK – its certainly over 1.4 millions and none are autistic. Concentrate on dealing with this incovenient fact if you want to make claims about autism and vaccines not being linked.

    Doesn’t it also look very much as though Thoresen has ramped up the dollars from the CDC to the point where $2 millions would not be missed and he has taken off with the cash. As he has been conspiring with others to create a phoney research platform for the vaccine makers he probably felt that if he delayed the game would be up. Well it’s close to being up now.

    Tony Bateson, Oxford, UK.

  79. #79 Orac
    April 22, 2010

    et me tell you something about vaccines and autism. There are no unvaccinated autistic people who have not been exposed to vaccine materials either by direct vaccination or by Rhogam or amalgam fillings in early pregnancy affecting the mother. None!

    Ah, so you’re finally admitting that your claim that there are no unvaccinated children who are autistic in the UK was a lie. Too bad you replaced it with another lie. Also too bad that you are annoying my readers in a post that is well over a year old. Time to close this thread down.