Good media, bad media

The other day, I had a bit of fun with an “old friend,” namely J. B. Handley, founder of the antivaccine organization Generation Rescue and now third banana on the antivaccine front to Jenny McCarthy and her boy-toy Jim Carrey. Displeased at my little jabs, he showed up in the comments spewing his usual antivaccine canards and misinformation about various studies before, like Brave Sir Robin, turning his tale to flee, bragging that he was “off to do another interview.”

Now I know what “interview” he’s heading off to. Forwarded to me was this e-mail:

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 20th

Join Generation Rescue spokesperson Jenny McCarthy, co-founder JB Handley
and president Stan Kurtz for a candid conversation with Larry King about autism.

The statistics are staggering: every 20 minutes a child is diagnosed
1:150 children are affected
1:96 boys
67 families a day receive a diagnosis

Now hear the facts tomorrow night as Larry King asks the tough questions on:
How to vaccinate while lowing the risk of children getting autism
How to effectively treat and prevent autism, ADHD and other neurological disorders and chronic illness
You can be part of the show. What do you think about what’s being said? You can chat, ask questions, interact with guests, producers, even Larry!
Go to Larry King Live Blog

Join us, Saturday, December 20th, 2008 6pm/9pm PST/EST on CNN.

After the show, Stan Kurtz and JB Handley will publish candid letters on how to lower your risks of having a child with autism and how families with autism can learn about treatments. Following the show visit the Generation Rescue website for more information.

____________________________________________________________________________________The team at www.GenerationRescue.org

email: info@generationrescue.org
web: www.GenerationRescue.org
phone: 1.877.98Autism

Generation Rescue is an international movement of scientists, physicians and parent-volunteers researching the causes and treatments for autism and mentoring thousands of families in recovering their children from autism.

It figures. That credulous old fool is doing it again, as he has so many times before. He’s giving a national platform to the clueless antivaccine contingent, as he did earlier this year when he let McCarthy shout down actual physicians and scientists. I’m guessing that Larry King isn’t antivaccine like J.B. Handley but is simply out for controversy and ratings but too clueless to distinguish science from pseudoscience. He probably also likes to have Jenny McCarthy on the show. I also find it funny that J.B. says “your side is winning.” That’s true on the science. We are winning, because science is on our side. J.B.’s moving of the goalposts from calling autism and ASDs as “misdiagnoses for mercury poisoning” to blaming vaccines in general with his “too many, too soon” mantra. However, J.B. was being his usual disingenuous self when he said that we were “winning.” When it comes to the media war, we are not winning. After all, we don’t get interview offers on Larry King Live. Again, the lure of the conspiracy theory wins out.

All I can suggest is trying to call in and trying to e-mail into Larry King Live! with some actual skeptical questions. I’m also guessing he’ll have a poll after the show asking whether vaccines cause autism (as if it were relevant to science what a bunch of people watching Larry King’s show think). It might be time to emulate P.Z. and urge a crashing of that poll when it shows up.

Fortunately, not all media outlets are fooled by the pseudoscience of Jenny McCarthy and her ilk. This American Life just did a story called Ruining It for the Rest of Us:

When they decided not to vaccinate their son against measles, two San Diego parents thought they were making the best decision for their child. But when the 7-year-old came home from an overseas trip suffering from the disease (pictured at left: measles virus), his family’s personal decision became a whole community’s problem. The resulting outbreak infected 11 children and endangered many others. This and other stories about what happens when people’s actions and choices infringe on those around them. Including the disquieting truth about Amtrak’s Quiet Car.

Now that’s more like it. Not all media outlets are utterly clueless when it comes to vaccines.