Stop CBS from airing anti-vaccine ads on its Times Square JumboTron

I tell ya. I take a weekend off from this blog, and what do I find on Sunday night when I sit back down to take a look and see if there’s anything I want to blog about?

Damn if those anti-vaccine loons aren’t pulling a fast one while I’m not looking. It turns out that über-quack Joe Mercola is teaming up once again with Barbara Loe Fisher’s the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) in a desperate attempt for the NVIC to try to demonstrate that it’s still relevant in the anti-vaccine movement after having been supplanted by Generation rescue. This time around, they’re doing SafeMinds one better and, hot on the heels of hosting “Vaccine Awareness Week” to spread misinformation far and wide, is now trying for greater notoriety. Via Skepchick Elyse Anders, I learn that Mercola and the NVIC are running anti-vaccine ads on the CBS Times Square JumboTron on 42nd Street:

A 15-second public service message featuring the National Vaccine Information Center is being shown on the CBS JumboTron on Times Square through April 28. Made possible by support from Mercola.com, the message is shown every hour for 18 hours a day on the 20 by 26-foot full color big screen located on 42nd St. between 7th and 8th Avenues near Broadway and the NY Port Authority and directly beneath where the crystal ball drops at midnight on Times Square every NewYear’s Eve.

The 15 second spot includes the logos of NVIC and Mercola.com and a photo of a Mom with her baby. It begins with the message Vaccines: Know the Risks and ends with the message Vaccination: Your Health. Your Family. Your Choice with the statue of liberty in the background.

Every day, more than 1.5 million people and 60,000 cars pass through Times Square, which is know as the “Gateway to New York” and “where the world meets America.”

Here is the ad:

This ad will continue to run for another 17 days after today once an hour every hour. Notice how the ad itself is cleverly couched in one of the favorite anti-vaccine tropes of “get informed about vaccines,” and then it points people to Mercola’s website and the NVIC website, both of which are wretched hives of scum and antivaccine quackery.

Obviously, given how Generation Rescue and its celebrity bubble brain spokesmodel Jenny McCarthy have become the most visible anti-vaccine propaganda organization, one can’t help but wonder whether the NVIC felt an intense need to try to recapture attention from GR and become viewed as relevant again, even at high cost. After all, it can’t be cheap to run an ad on a JumboTron at one of the most trafficked locations in the world, which makes me wonder where the NVIC came up with the bucks to do it.

Be that as it may, I join Skepchick and the Skeptical Teacher in urging you to sign the Change.org petition, an excerpt of which reads:

We are asking CBS not to run Mercola and the NVIC’s anti-vaccine ad in Times Square.

Mercola and the NVIC have cooperated to run an ad in Times Square on April 26. This ad directs viewers to their sites to learn more about vaccines. Upon visiting these two sites, consumers are falsely informed that vaccines cause autism, learning disabilities, seizures, cancer and death. Mercola actively encourages the public to refuse vaccines. And the NVIC works to ensure that parents have opportunity and reason to refuse vaccines for their children.

Their information is wrong. And the fear these two organizations are spreading is deadly. In the last four years, in the US alone, almost 77,000 people have been infected with vaccine preventable diseases. over 700 of those people died. According to the WHO, measles kills 200,000 people worldwide annually.

If you don’t believe that Mercola and the NVIC are anti-vaccine to the core, simply check out these searches:

Go on to Tweet @CBSOutdoor and use #VaxCBS to tell CBS that these ads are unacceptable. E-mail them as well. Maybe while we’re at it, we can get CBS to finally fire its anti-vaccine correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.