The Tribeca Film Festival drops Andrew Wakefield’s antivaccine conspiracyfest “documentary”

Well, well, well, curiouser and curiouser.

Earlier this afternoon on the Tribeca Film Festival page:

UPDATE: 3/26/2016 Statement from Robert De Niro, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, regarding VAXXED at the Festival:

“My intent in screening this film was to provide an opportunity for conversation around an issue that is deeply personal to me and my family. But after reviewing it over the past few days with the Tribeca Film Festival team and others from the scientific community, we do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for.

“The Festival doesn’t seek to avoid or shy away from controversy. However, we have concerns with certain things in this film that we feel prevent us from presenting it in the Festival program. We have decided to remove it from our schedule.”

The link to the movie on the Tribeca website is now dead, although its content is still available through its Google cache—for now. Antivaccine flying monkeys had descended upon the comment section, where they had been flinging poo in the comments for days, resulting in at least a couple thousand comments.

As you might recall, I was quite critical of the decision of the Tribeca Film Festival to screen Andrew Wakefield’s antivaccine conspiracy theory “documentary” Vaxxed and speculated that it might have been Robert De Niro who had approved its inclusion in the Tribeca Film Festival. (He has an autistic son and was in a position to do approve the film.) Similarly, I was not impressed with the excuses of the PR drones who tried to defend the decision to include the film. I was sad to learn yesterday my suspicions had been correct and that it was indeed De Niro who was responsible for letting Andrew Wakefield tarnish the reputation of the film festival he had co-founded. Today, he has taken a step towards admitting error and reclaiming that reputation.

Still, in a way I’m a bit disappointed. De Niro had made a horrible decision, but, once made, I didn’t expect it to be unmade. It would have been great to have some skeptics be among the first to see the movie in a venue that Wakefield could not completely control. I expect now that Vaxxed will probably see its first showing at an antivaccine quackfest like Autism One or a more general quackfest. Meanwhile, antivaxers will see this as yet more evidence of a “conspiracy” to suppress their viewpoint and become even more paranoid. That’s why I’m not sure if this is a victory or not.