The Wall Street Journal Health Blog: What’s a factor of a thousand if it gets in the way of a good story?

The stupid continues to metastasize.

I wrote yesterday about a truly bad and irresponsible hit piece on Paul Offit and the American Academy of Pediatrics written by the anti-vaccinationist sympathizer Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News. Since I’ve already rehashed what was so bad about it, I won’t go on about it. However, it appears that Alicia Mundy at the Wall Street Journal‘s Health Blog picked up the story yesterday and ran with it–stupidly, as demonstrated by this passage:

Drugmakers have given millions in grants and other kinds of payments to the AAP and helped build its headquarters, CBS reported, noting specific payments of $433 million from Merck and $342 million Wyeth.

Wow! That’s some serious cash! The AAP must be richer than many pharmaceutical companies! The bastards! Oh, wait. This is what the CBS story, as bad as it was, actually said:

The vaccine industry gives millions to the Academy of Pediatrics for conferences, grants, medical education classes and even helped build their headquarters. The totals are kept secret, but public documents reveal bits and pieces.

  • A $342,000 payment from Wyeth, maker of the pneumococcal vaccine – which makes $2 billion a year in sales.
  • A $433,000 contribution from Merck, the same year the academy endorsed Merck’s HPV vaccine – which made $1.5 billion a year in sales.

$342,000, $342 million, what’s a factor of a thousand among credulous reporters/bloggers? It looks to me as though Alicia Mundy, who wrote the credulous piece, either isn’t too good at math or is just plain careless. She and the clueless wonder Kim Stagliano deserve each other–except that even Stagliano didn’t make such a dumb misstatement.

If you have the time, please go forth and leave some comments about sloppy parroting of a biased and shoddily researched story. Maybe Alicia Mundy is educable.