I knew it wouldn’t take long. I just knew it.
The moment I learned that Robert De Niro had reversed himself and decided to pull Andrew Wakefield’s dishonest antivaccine propaganda “documentary” from his Tribeca Film Festival after having admitted that he was the one who had greased the wheels to get it accepted for screening there, I knew the conspiracy theories would fly fast and furious. And so they have.
So agitated by De Niro’s decision are antivaxers that the chief antivaccine loon at his very own wretched hive of scum and quackery, Mike Adams, wrote not one, not two, but three posts in the course of a day. Behold their conspiratorial looniness:
- VAXXED film pulled from Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival following totalitarian censorship demands from pharma-linked vaccine pushers and media science trolls
- BREAKING: Robert De Niro was clearly threatened by the vaccine establishment to censor the VAXXED documentary from Tribeca… new details emerge
- Calls mount for Robert De Niro to resign from Tribeca after betraying his own autistic child in censoring VAXXED documentary film
Who knows? By the time I wake up in the morning and my post goes live, Adams may well have written two more. It wouldn’t surprise me. I had to wash the spittle off the inside of my screen after letting Adams screeds spew forth.
Right off the bat, Adams lets the conspiracies flow through him. First, he likens the decision by a private nonprofit corporation not to screen a film to “book burning” (by the vaccine industry, natch), Adams rants:
To try to strong-arm De Niro into pulling the film, intense shaming pressure was brought to bear against Robert De Niro by the vaccine totalitarians, who told De Niro this documentary was so dangerous that no one should ever be allowed to see it. Vaccine safety, they insist, can’t even be allowed to be DEBATED, they insist! Only one side of the debate may be seen by the public, and that one side must be the 100% pro-vaccine side which ridiculously claims that “the science is settled” even when no one is allowed to see the science they don’t want you to see.
OK, I’ll give Adams one of these. It’s true that intense shaming pressure was put on the Tribeca Film Festival and Robert De Niro in the form of critical articles, blog posts, and Tweets. That, my friends, is free speech. And De Niro should have been ashamed. What he did was to give a prestigious forum to a pseudoscientific propaganda film made by a long discredited antivaccine crank who’s been reduced to giving talks on a “Conspira-Sea Cruise” along with New World Order conspiracy theorists and crop circle mavens. Where Adams goes wrong is in his assumption that the vaccine industry must be behind this criticism and that any of it said that vaccine safety can’t be debated. What we objected to—and quite justifiably, in my opinion—is a prestigious film festival lifting the profile of a misinformation-packed and deceptively edited piece of antivaccine propaganda. It’s not “debate” to regurgitate long-discredited pseudoscience and more recently discredited conspiracy theories. Yet that’s exactly what Wakefield’s movie did.
Moreover, it’s not an issue of “free speech,” as much as Adams tries to make it one:
Yet De Niro discovered that even declaring yourself to be pro-vaccine isn’t enough to appease the vaccine totalitarians. The mere granting of any public platform to this explosive document is very nearly a crime in the eyes of the corrupt, fraudulent vaccine industry and all its arrogant zealots.
As more pressure was brought against De Niro for defending the free speech of what might be one of the single most important documentaries of our modern age, he caved. He pulled the film from Tribeca, participating in the censorship that was demanded by the vaccine totalitarians. The film’s page on Tribeca was also memory holed — it used to be found at this link — and De Niro felt compelled to issue a follow-up statement today that appeases the demands of the vaccine fundamentalists.
As I explained last week, no. Just no. Criticism of a bad decision does not equal censorship, and the decision by De Niro to pull Wakefield’s film doesn’t equal an infringement on Wakefield’s free speech. Wakefield has no “right” to have his film shown at the Tribeca Film Festival, and he remains free to promote his ideas and “documentary” as he sees fit. So far, Adams’ first article is just the usual antivaccine spew, the same sort of misinformation we’ve seen many times before.
Here’s where the Robert De Niro-specific conspiracy theory shows up in the second article. Declaring that De Niro’s decision was the result of a “coordinated, simultaneous attack against the Tribeca Film Festival to censor a film none of them had even seen” by the media, Adams declares:
Natural News can now report that Robert De Niro and his wife spoke directly with U.S. Congressman Bill Posey for approximately one hour on Friday, during which De Niro was given numerous assurances by Congressman Posey that the CDC whistleblower, Dr. William Thompson, really did confess to taking part in massive scientific fraud to conceal the links between vaccines and autism. It was based in part on this assurance that De Niro originally backed the film’s screening at Tribeca.
But hours later, somebody got to De Niro. Somebody powerful and connected whom we believe threatened Robert De Niro into silence. This mysterious conversation has not been revealed. De Niro has not released the names of those from the “scientific community” who threatened him, nor have the VAXXED filmmakers been offered any ability to respond to whatever accusations may have been falsely leveled against the film.
“Natural News can now report”? How cute. Adams thinks he’s a real reporter. In any case, how on earth would Adams know this? Who knows? We all know Adams spews nonsense and misinformation; so it’s highly likely that this, too, is made-up nonsense and misinformation. But let’s, for the sake of argument, consider the possibility that it is not. I’ve already discussed Posey’s pathetic attempt to spin the William Thompson’s (a.k.a. the “CDC whistleblower) accusations into accusations of massive scientific fraud, when in fact they were nothing of the sort. Indeed, when the documents given to Posey by Thompson didn’t show any evidence of fraud at the CDC, and even Thompson himself didn’t seem to buy the accusations that they did. Certainly, Thompson didn’t accuse his co-authors of scientific fraud.
(If you are unfamiliar with the CDC whistleblower story, the links cited will help, as will this primer.)
If De Niro is in any way savvy (and I rather suspect he is), talking to Bill Posey might very well have revealed to him how thin the conspiracy theory that is the “CDC whistleblower” really is.
It’s not enough for Adams to insinuate, though. He has to get explicit. In fact, he does his damndest to convince his readers that death threats had been made against De Niro:
The silencing of VAXXED, in other words, was carried out with the same secrecy under which the entire vaccine industry operates. There is zero transparency, no due process, no discussion and no debate. Robert De Niro may have even been death threated by the vaccine establishment — an industry already steeped in the maiming and murdering of children worldwide. To silence this powerful film, they would stop at nothing… not even threatening Robert De Niro with destroying his professional career or possibly his life or family.
This is the vaccine mafia at work: Threatening people into silence, censoring a powerful documentary, leveling secret accusations in secret meetings, all while ridiculously claiming they alone have a monopoly on scientific truth which can never be challenged, debated or even questioned by anyone.
It seems to me that perhaps Adams has been watching too many Robert De Niro movies, particularly his mafia and gangster movies.
Due process? Once again, as I’ve pointed out before, the Tribeca Film Festival is a private organization. It can choose which movies to screen (or not to screen) based on any criteria it deems appropriate. it can take back an invitation to screen a film, and it does not owe any filmmaker “due process.” The only penalty it might pay is if its decisions come to be seen as so capricious that good filmmakers no longer wish to submit their work to it. Indeed, it’s likely that one reason why De Niro made the decision he did was for the good of the Tribeca Film Festival, which was suffering a PR bloodbath as a result of Wakefield’s film being screened there. Filmmakers like Penny Lane were actually openly criticizing it.
I’m guessing that privately, De Niro was getting an earful from many of the stakeholders of the Tribeca Film Festival. Remember, even though he is one of hte founders, it’s not just about Robert De Niro. There are sponsors, people whose livelihood depends on a successful festival, filmmakers who don’t want to be associated with the likes of Wakefield, and, of course, the board of directors, who likely would not be pleased at the black eye the festival was suffering by association with Wakefield and the destruction of trust in the festival’s process for vetting films to be selected by De Niro’s revelation that he had meddled in the selection process to let Wakefield’s “documentary” in. In any case, Wakefield is now claiming in an e-mail to HIV/AIDS denialist Celia Farber that it was the Sloan Foundation that put pressure on De Niro, apparently because “The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, in partnership with the Tribeca Film Institute, provides funding for narrative features or series that are scientifically relevant, accurate, and exciting through the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund.” I can see how a sponsor like the Sloan Foundation might not be too pleased with the screening of a film by Wakefield at the Tribeca Film Festival.
What it all boils down to is that the credibility of the Tribeca Film Festival was at stake, but not for the reason Adams thinks it is:
In the coverage of all this, we just witnessed the mainstream media committing CREDIBILITY SUICIDE. The entire media just followed in the footsteps of North Korea or Communist China, ordering a film festival to censor a documentary that’s so powerful, it threatens the cascade of lies propping up the fraudulent vaccine industry and all its hidden truths (that are about to be exposed).
The same Tribeca Film Festival that happily previewed films like “37 USES FOR A DEAD SHEEP” and “TICKED-OFF TRANNIES WITH KNIVES” has decided that the VAXXED documentary is too dangerous for the public to be allowed to view. But this was not a decision reached with rationality and truth: It was arrived at via the process of media totalitarianism — intimidation and threats aimed at Robert De Niro to force him to silence this film and withdraw it from the festival.
Let’s see. Just because Tribeca has screened movies that might not have been the greatest, it should screen Vaxxed too? One notes that Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives is fiction. One also notes that 37 Uses for a Dead Sheep is actually an intriguing documentary about a nomadic sheep herding people, described thusly: “Pamir Kirghiz people have migrated across Central Asia from the U.S.S.R to China to Afghanistan to Pakistan and finally to remote eastern Turkey, but now they face the most serious threat to their traditions, globalization.” It’s a movie that’s won the Caligari Film Award at the Berlin International Film Festival and the award for Best International Documentary at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. I can’t help but think that Adams probably scanned the lists of films screened at Tribeca over the last several years and looked for titles that sounded dumb to him.
In a way, though, it’s the last in Adams trilogy of stupid that is the most amusing. Look at the title: Calls mount for Robert De Niro to resign from Tribeca after betraying his own autistic child in censoring VAXXED documentary film. Can you guess who’s making theese “mounting calls” for De Niro to resign? Behold:
After being maliciously attacked by a coordinated mainstream media campaign designed to censor a powerful new documentary, Robert De Niro is now facing a tidal wave of backlash from parents of autistic children who have been damaged by vaccines.
Originally hailed as a champion of free speech for his willingness to preview the VAXXED documentary at Tribeca, De Niro is now being widely condemned for turning his back on his own autistic child who was likely vaccine damaged to begin with.
Sherri Tenpenny, DO, AOBNMM, ABIHM, is among those who are calling for Robert De Niro to resign from his position at TriBeca Film Festival after pulling Dr. Wakefield’s documentary, Vaxxed: From Coverup to Catastrophe.
“De Niro released a statement citing his child’s autism as the reason to allow the conversation to happen when he defended Wakefield’s film. To turn his back on it afterwards due to advertisers or pharmaceutical influences is a grave injustice and insult to parents of autistic children everywhere. He should resign as this is inexcusable.”
Excuse me a moment.
Sorry about that. I have my laughter under control now (barely). So a bunch of antivaccine loons, led by Sherry Tenpenny, who, I note, is the founder of Truthkings.com, a new source of antivaccine misinformation, are now calling for De Niro to resign his position on the board of directors of the Tribeca Film Institute. So friggin’ what?supposedly
The rest of it really isn’t worth discussing, as Adams just regurgitates his same misguided rants about how the credibility of Tribeca is being destroyed by De Niro’s decision (it’s not; if anything, De Niro’s decision helped save its credibility), how the vaccine industry “threatened” De Niro, and how De Niro is trampling on free speech (he isn’t).
Although Adams is an extreme variant of the sorts of arguments antivaccinationists are making to try to counter the PR debacle that they’ve just suffered, it’s clear that Adams isn’t alone. For instance, on the Vaxxed website, we see Wakefield’s response to his disinvitation from the Tribeca Film Festival:
To our dismay, we learned today about the Tribeca Film Festival’s decision to reverse the official selection of Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe.
Robert De Niro’s original defense of the film happened Friday after a one-hour conversation between De Niro and Bill Posey, the congressman who has interacted directly and at length with the CDC Whistleblower (William Thompson) and whose team has scrutinized the documents that prove fraud at the CDC.
It is our understanding that persons from an organization affiliated with the festival have made unspecified allegations against the film – claims that we were given no opportunity to challenge or redress. We were denied due process.
We have just witnessed yet another example of the power of corporate interests censoring free speech, art, and truth.
Tribeca’s action will not succeed in denying the world access to the truth behind the film Vaxxed.
We are grateful to the many thousands of people who have already mobilized including doctors, scientists, educators and the autistic community.
We will be pressing forward and sharing our plans in the very near future.
– Andrew Wakefield (Director) and Del Bigtree (Producer)
To which I can only answer with two appropriate scenes from Monty Python.
Help! Help! Wakefield and his antivaccine admirers are being repressed.
Second, this one describes Wakefield’s call of “Onward!” quite accurately:
What you’ve just heard are the sounds of Andrew Wakefield and Mike Adams saying, “We’ll call it a draw” and then yelling, “Come back here and take what’s coming to you! I’ll bite your legs off!”
Then Polley Tommey joins them both by telling her fellow antivaccine activists that they should forgive Robert De Niro (as if his decision to yank Vaxxed was wrong) because he must have been frightened by someone or something and he took scientific advice from the “wrong people.”
Truly, the level of delusion of these people knows no bounds.