Colorado PBS: Becoming a wretched hive of scum and quackery?

Over the weekend, as I was contemplating what to write about for today, I received a rather odd and unexpected e-mail. Indeed, it was with great surprise that I read this e-mail on Saturday morning, sent to the Burzynski Movie mailing list:

Dear Burzynski Movie Subscribers:

Major International Distribution Deal For
Burzynski: Cancer Is Serious Business, Part II:

We are pleased to announce that Burzynski: Cancer Is Serious Business, Part II has landed a major international distribution deal with one of America’s top distribution companies.

We can’t give out any specific details until everything is finalized, but promise to keep you informed. All we can say is, if you live in North America and own a television set, you will be likely able to see this new documentary by summer. However, the distribution deal stretches beyond just television.

Given this new development, we had to halt all pre-sales for the DVD to follow the protocols required of us by the distribution company. We are re-opening pre-sales now, with the new ship date being July 1, 2013 (instead of March 5, 2013).

The rest of the e-mail consisted of explanations of how those who had already preordered the movie for March 5 shipping would get a bonus if they kept their orders active and waited until July to receive their DVD.

On the surface, this would appear to be a horrible development, if Merola has indeed managed to secure some sort of international distribution deal. However, I’m not quite so sure that it is, given this post, which I recommend that you read. What I’d like to concentrate on here is another highly distressing aspect of this e-mail that I noticed as I scrolled down the e-mail. There, near the bottom, I found this banner:


If you click on the link in the banner above, you’ll be taken to a web page in which the first Burzynski movie is listed. Apparently, the Denver affiliate of Colorado Public Television, CPT12, will be showing this infomercial to its viewers during pledge week. Indeed, on the page above there is this description:

This award-winning documentary tells the story of Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, a pioneering medical doctor and PhD biochemist who won the largest – and possibly the most convoluted – legal battle against the Food and Drug Administration in American history. Burzynski’s battles were centered on his belief in Antineoplastons, a gene-targeting cancer therapy he discovered in the 1970s.

The ultimate approval of Antineoplastons would mark the first time in history a single scientist, not a pharmaceutical company, would hold the exclusive patent and distribution rights on a paradigm-shifting, life-saving medical breakthrough.

Directed by Eric Merola, BURZYNKSI provides first-person testimonials of cancer patients who chose his treatment instead of surgery, chemotherapy or radiation – with full disclosure of original medical records to support their diagnosis and recovery.

During its CPT12 premiere, Director Eric Merola and Houston’s Burzynski Clinic spokesperson Azad Rastegar will join CPT12 Membership Director Shari Bernson and journalist Rebecca Stevens live in the studio to discuss the film.

So, it turns out, this is more than just an airing of the movie. CPT12 is going all out to promote Stanislaw Burzynski as a means of bringing in donor dollars, complete with an appearance by Eric Merola, a shill for the Burzynski Clinic, and the membership director of the station. There’s even a link to stream the live broadcast on Thursday evening.

All of this is really frustrating, for a number of reasons. First, although I’m under no illusion that PBS should be nothing but serious science and serious programming, I do think that it, more than most networks, should have an obligation not to promote a man like Stanislaw Burzynski. That’s what Eric Merola is doing, and by promoting Merola’s Burzynski infomercial, CPT12 is promoting Burzynski as well. As I discussed before, the movie is a massive exaggeration, full of cherry-picked anecdotes of “miracle cures” that aren’t, while Burzynski’s “personalized gene-targeted cancer therapy” is neither personalized, targeted, nor demonstrated to be effective. It’s making it up as you go along, a veritable “personalized cancer therapy for dummies,” as I like to put it. So basically, CPT12 is shilling for Burzynski and his cult of personality. Meanwhile, Burzynski has slithered away from justice yet again, getting off on a technicality and throwing the doctors who work for him under the buss. While the FDA has repeatedly slapped him down, both for inadequate human subjects protections and for promoting his “antineoplastons” without their having been approved by the FDA, but somehow Burzynski keeps on keepin’ on, as they say. Even now the FDA is auditing Burzynski and might well shut him down; yet CPT12 sees no problem promoting him in order to try to make money for itself.

One has to wonder: Does CPT12 know or care that Stanislaw Burzynski charges patients huge sums of money to take part in his clinical trials, whose results he doesn’t publish? Does Shari Bernson care that the Burzynski Research Institute is currently being investigated by the FDA? Do they care that patient after patient after patient have died while under Burzynski’s care, despite his promises to cure them? Is she aware of how only a little more than a year ago the Burzynski Clinic unleashed a legal thug on skeptical bloggers who had the temerity to criticize his science (or, more appropriately, the lack thereof) whom it was ultimately forced to disavow.

Is this really the sort of thing that CPT12 wants to associate itself with?

Apparently it is. I started perusing the CPT12 website, and what to my unfortunately wondering eyes should appear but a whole boatload of quackery and pseudoscience? For instance, CPT12 is giving away a whole collection of Gary Null videos as “thank you” gifts to donors, including:

There’s also Dr. Fuhrman’s Immunity Solution, which trots out the same old nonsense about “boosting” the immune system. Then there’s The Quantum Activist, which clearly uses and abuses quantum theory in the same way that quantum quacks everywhere. Don’t believe me? Check out the description:

For quantum physicist Amit Goswami, medicine is a timely area of application for the new science based on the primacy of consciousness. This new science has a spectacular ability to integrate conventional science, spirituality, and healing. If any field needs integration, says Goswami, it is medicine and healing.

Goswami boldly reinterprets the leading methods of alternative medicine–homeopathy, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, Ayurveda, and conventional medicine in this new edition of his popular book. He shows how these seemingly different models can be combined into a new system of integrative medicine and offers profound insights into the relationship between physics and consciousness.

This approach offers physicians and patients a whole new way of applying healthcare with a greater potential for healing and could be the basis for a major paradigm shift in medicine.

Oh, dear.

I don’t know what’s happened to PBS in Colorado, but it’s bad. It’s real bad. CPT12 has turned into a wretched hive of scum and quackery on par with or, and it appears to be doing it all to try to suck in dollars from the woo-prone. If you live in Colorado (or even if you don’t), use this form to send the management at CPT12 a comment about their choice of pledge drive material.