Health News Review

We’re already seeing back-to-school shopping specials – even though it’s just the second day of August.

And we’re already seeing some anti-vaccination campaigns getting in full gear as well, reflecting on regulations requiring parents to have kids’ vaccinations up to date prior to the start of school.

In a piece labeled, “Doctors Debate Need for Child Vaccinations,”  Las Vegas television station – KLAS – pitted a pediatrician against a chiropractor (who only lists a BS degree on his LinkedIn profile – and the fact that for 30 years he owned “a center designed to address a proactive approach to health through hormone restoration, genetic optimalization, as well as dietary and lifestyle influences.”)

As presented, is this truly a “doctors’ debate”?

8 News NOW

The TV station’s handling of the “story” has led to a firestorm of criticism on the station’s website.  See the comments at the end of the online piece.

Las Vegas internist internist Zubin Damania – who also does rap videos as “ZDoggMD” – led the charge on Twitter and on the station’s website.

Now the cross-town Las Vegas City Life alternative weekly has blasted the TV station, with a piece, “Viral Disease Promoted at Channel 8.” Excerpt:

“In a video piece stunning for its complete lack of scientific accuracy and objectivity, the local CBS affiliate rolled up the last century of medical progress and hitched its wagon to the thoroughly discredited anti-vaxxer campaigns Wednesday morning.

The headline for the long video piece: “Doctors Debate Need for Child Vaccinations.” There was, in fact, one doctor, a pediatrician, Dr. Blair Duddy, who noted he has seen four cases of whooping cough here in the last two months.

That’s consistent with the rise of pertussis, the medical term for the whooping cough virus, that has seen epidemic outbreaks in California and an overall increase in cases throughout the developed world. Duddy noted that vaccinations may be the most important medical advance seen in the last 50 years.

But Channel 8 had another “doctor” to dispute the pediatrician (thus, the “debate”). This one, reporter Diane Tauzon claimed, was a “holistic doctor.” Dr. Steven Rudack, unlike Duddy, does not work in a hospital and is not a board-certified pediatrician. In fact, despite the claim in Tauzon’s piece, Rudack is not a medical doctor at all.

He’s a Las Vegas chiropractor.

Despite his lack of professional accreditation to diagnose or treat viral diseases, Rudack is undeterred. Channel 8 tells that “holistic doctors say” parents can fight off deadly viruses with a good diet. Really? A good diet will fight off polio, diphtheria and pertussis? If only we had known this during the 1950s, we needn’t have bothered with “medicine” at all.

While sound nutrition is obviously important for anyone’s all-around health, we can’t find any peer-reviewed science to suggest that diet stops viral infections. There are thousands, however, that prove the fact that vaccines save lives….

…it’s extraordinary that at this late stage in the “debate,” which is not a medical or scientific debate at all, a respected and respectable news station would give them such a platform.”

One person who left a comment after this piece called the TV station’s effort: “a stunning and dangerous display of false equivalency.”


By the way, ZDoggMD feels so strongly about the need for childhood immunization, he produced this video:


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dr gayle posted on August 5, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I am shocked to say the least. First you should know that the curriculum in chiropractic colleges is very rigorous and to the point that they have more required hours of neurology and orthopedics than in med school. They also have nutrition which is almost non existent in med school. Vaccines are not all you think they are cracked up to be and if you really understood more than the CDC/FDA alarmism, or that iodine was used in Canada to prevent and successfully treat polio and that vitamin C was successfully used to prevent and treat pertussis many decades ago they your comments might be more erudite. You also need to look at the cumulative effect on a young body of all the adjuvants in the myriad of vaccines almost forced on our children. We do know that the Hep B vaccine can cause Diabetes 1 and we have the issue of the vaccine shutting down the liver for 2 weeks so why do we have 18-24 month old children needing liver transplants? Why do those who get flu, pertussis, and HPV shots end of with the disease? Please educate your self first , this is a very broad issue and it needs to be free of mainstream propaganda. Having had almost no vaccines and on the advice of my pediatrician I did not do much more to my children. But in those years we were not foreced to the point of 40 shots by the age of 10.

    Gary Schwitzer posted on August 5, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Thanks for your note.

    I didn’t write one thing about the curriculum in chiropractic colleges. That was not in question. However, I did note that the “holistic physician” who was interviewed – that’s the only way he was identified by the TV station – lists no chiropractic college on his LinkedIn page – only a BS degree. BS in what? We don’t know. On my LinkedIn page, you’ll see where I went to school and that I got my degree in journalism and broadcasting.

    On HealthGrades, this individual is listed as a DC, but there is no more information.

    When I look up the pediatrician interviewed by the TV station, I can see on HealthGrades that he is board certified in pediatrics, that he was trained at UCLA, and that he is a HealthGrades “Recognized Doctor” and you can look up what that means. We know much more about the pediatrician than we know about the “holistic physician.”

    We stand by our criticism of the journalism. That’s what we do on this site.

    The TV station labeled it as a debate. I didn’t put that label on it. They did. Those who listen to a debate should know the credentials of the debaters. Then they can make a reasonable judgment about the value of the information being disseminated.

    As noted, one observer called the TV station’s effort “a stunning and dangerous display of false equivalency.”

    Davis Liu, MD posted on August 5, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    The opening that “the need for vaccines is always been a hot topic” is true. The question is for whom?

    The issue is the journalistic integrity of the news piece. The misleading title that Doctors Debate Need for Child Vaccinations says it all.

    “Vaccines have been debated for years in the medical field?”
    No not really.

    “While some doctors feel it is vital to a child’s health, other doctors have a more natural process in preventing the disease.”

    Issue – what is the definition of doctor to a layperson?

    When people clutch their chest and say “Get me a doctor” – they mean one with a medical degree. I don’t believe it is a chiropractor or how this piece titled his particular practitioner as “a holistic doctor”.

    “Whatever your belief, doctors believe it is important to consult with a physician.”

    Does the public understand that the term used in this piece “holistic doctor” is a chiropractor? If these doctors are of equal status / expertise, why shift the term from doctors to “consult with a physician?”

    Why not put MD and DC rather than both using the prefix Dr.?

    If there is evidence on “how to use diet to prevent diseases” I would like to know.

    There is no debate on vaccines among medical doctors. When the public sees a piece that doctors debate (and there are debates in the medical community, but not around the issue of vaccinations), they expect that reporters are providing medical doctors to chime in on the debate.

    If accidental and unaware of this issue and problem, the news station should rescind the piece. If deliberate in pitting medical doctors against “others” who claim the title of “doctor”, the news piece is shameful, disturbing, and far from objective or factual.

    Davis Liu, MD
    The Thrifty Patient – Vital Insider Tips to Staying Healthy and Saving Money (2012) & also Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely: Making Intelligent Choices in America’s Healthcare System
    Blog / Website:
    Twitter: @davisliumd

    ZDoggMD posted on August 6, 2013 at 1:14 am

    OK, wow, this is like a crazy reality series: “When Chiropractors Attack!!”

    In response to Dr. Kobler and Dr. Gayle:

    Let’s start with this disclaimer: I’m an MD, UCSF medical school, but have never taken a pharma buck in my life (in fact, I made this: ). Yet I know dozens of shady chiropractors who hawk supplements, scientifically bogus chronic treatments for multiple maladies, and “humoral boosters” and then are quick to point at how western medical has sold out to industry. They bash evidence based medicine in favor of kooky magical theories of spinal voodoo, and then I get to see the carotid dissections that are the result of their adorable, “natural” neck tweeks.

    Talk about “manipulation.”

    There is NO DOUBT that western medicine relies too heavily on medication, disease-ification, and intervention. We rely too little on connection, empathy, listening, physical touch, lifestyle modifications, and that all power mind-body connection that drives the placebo (and nocebo) effects. These are real problems with our practice, and we ignore them at our peril. And many of us are working to fix this. And sure, there is not much doubt that certain acute chiropractic interventions may help in pain control, at least transiently, and with a nice boost from a strong placebo effect.

    But to extrapolate these truths to the levels of anti-reason magical thinking displayed by some para-medicals (like chiropractors) simply shines a light on their obvious lack of logic and vastly inferior understanding of the science (there, I went and said what most docs actually think, but will deny out of politeness). Couple this with their constant conspiracy-theory blather and you have a toxic stew of idiocy that would be laughable if it weren’t such a deadly influence on public health.

    So a chiropractor takes “neurology” and “orthopedics” and now they are qualified to wax poetic on vaccinations? In lieu of a medical professional who takes science-based immunology and actually UNDERSTANDS how our immune system works on a mechanistic level? This kind of nonsense may work on vulnerable patients who are scared and in pain but it doesn’t fly with anyone who understands a dang thing about science and medicine.

    So, I propose you guys learn some real science and shut the heck up about stuff you don’t understand before people (like our kids) get hurt, and us docs will try to “poison” people less with drugs and interventions, listen more, and focus on the whole person. Deal? I’m not holding my breath.

    Francois T posted on August 15, 2013 at 10:09 am

    ” We do know that the Hep B vaccine can cause Diabetes 1″

    On what planet does that happen again? Who’s “we”?

Dr Jeremy D Kobler DC posted on August 5, 2013 at 7:40 pm

In response to both Dr Gayle as well as Gary, they should have given the DC’s credentials however being a DC myself many people have no idea what sort of education we actually receive as Chiropractors many in fact believe that we are not “REAL” doctors because we do not prescribe poison. Also being a “Board Certified Pediatrician” does not make you in any way an expert on vaccines. Especially considering the financial backing that medical establishments and colleges receive from vaccine and drug manufacturers these doctors are most often told untrue things regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccines. There is much more evidence surfacing now showing just how harmful NOT helpful vaccines really are especially concerning MMR and Autism. The vast majority of these vaccines actually cause more harm than the very illness they are supposed to be preventing, on top of that many of the vaccines themselves actually cause the illness that they are preventing. If you wish I can provide a mile long list of research studies showing the danger associated with these vaccines. There are a lot of things wrong with this entire picture and it all revolves around MONEY NOT OUR CHILDREN’S HEALTH. Have vaccines made a difference in a positive way? Yes of course many have, but when the greed monster set in it became about the money not the health same as the rest of health care it is all about how they can sell more drugs not actually get the patient well. WE as Chiropractors learn how to treat the patient naturally, the innate power that made the body heals the body, you want real health care reform stop prescribing first and change how Americans live their daily lives, don’t call obesity a disease so that insurance will pay for drugs to prescribe to someone that needs to stop eating garbage. To end this rant, there are many more studies coming out daily that show just how dangerous vaccines are, there wouldn’t be a fund to pay for their effects if they were safe, there wouldn’t have been billions of corrupt dollars changing hands to make laws that prevent drug companies from being sued for killing us and our children. Greed ruins all good things this is just one extreme example of it and what does it cost you may ask? The millions of lives of children.

    Gary Schwitzer posted on August 5, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Again I reiterate: this website is about the quality (or lack thereof) in journalism.

    Our original post addressed the journalism.

    Your comment brushed off the journalism in the first few words then went on a self-described “rant.”

    My post was not about “the sort of education” that chiropractors receive.

    And while being a “board certified pediatrician” may not mean you’re an expert in vaccines, it does tell readers/viewers that you’re hearing from someone who has been educated in and specialized in the treatment of children. What is it about being a “holistic physician” – with no credentials given to back that up – that makes one an expert in vaccines? Or in treating children?

Dr Toni Bark posted on August 5, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Boy, this is a heated one.
I have the utmost respect for you Gary, have been a huge fan for years. I’m an MD with a masters in disaster medical preparedness and I teach graduate students in the field as well as have two research projects going.
I totally agree with Dr Jeremy in the sense that being an MD or even a pediatrician for that matter does not translate into knowing anything about vaccines, not the science, not the production, not the policies, not the studies, The safety including risk/benefit, the law or the outcomes. The reason we don’t know the risk/benefit assessment is because there are no real safety studies. All the placebo controlled ones for phase two trials use other vaccines or adjuvants as the control, in some cases, experimental vaccines have been used as the placebo. Every Cochrane study on vaccination ends with the same line; “safety studies are needed”. Introducing a vaccine such as Hep B or HPV once the death rate in the population is low and flat and then taking the credit for the rates are exactly what is happening. Having laws which immunize the industry from faulty design, failure and death at the same time rubber stamping approvals for new products without performing true controlled trials with real inert placebos as well as not having to prove effectiveness has been a nightmare. We have real problems in our regulatory agencies in all aspects of medicine, vaccines are no different. We are “selling sickness” and pediatricians are clueless for the most part.

Wendy Sue Swanson posted on August 6, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Thanks for the clarity of what you’re writing about here, Gary. Misrepresentation of truth and distortion of the “debate” are common with the vaccine dialogue online. It’s led so many parents to misunderstand the real benefit and the real risk that comes with vaccination.

Last week, in my opinion, an even more egregious piece was published online in favor of opting out of vaccines. My rebuttal and opinion here:

Tara Haelle posted on August 6, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Gary’s critique of this piece is spot on. It is poor “journalism” that fails at informing viewers, provides sufficient information about the qualifications of its guests and promotes false balance to boot. Unfortunately, too many journalists appear uneducated, inexperienced and/or uninformed (I’m honestly not sure which) in reporting about immunizations to recognize when they have fallen into a trap of false balance, which is inextricably tied to what occurred in this piece. I wrote about a small local paper’s piece that failed in the same way:

Hopefully, through Gary’s discussion of this piece, Dr. Swanson’s discussion of the one she posted above, mine and many others, journalists will learn not to be duped by the anti-vaccination proponents who will often misrepresent themselves as often as they misrepresent (or don’t understand) the science surrounding vaccines.

Liz Ditz posted on August 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm

There was another “chiropractors know better than MDs about vaccination article published, this time in Michigan.

I am afraid the reporter, Kelsey Niemisto, is pro-chiropractic and anti-science-based medicine, and believes “feelings’ are appropriate tools to use for decision-making.

Gary Schwitzer posted on August 6, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Yes, this discussion has become heated. I hope for more light and less heat in comments on this site.

We seem to be going in circles. I am about to write for the third time that this site is about journalism.

It is not intended to be a forum for MD vs DC arguments. It is not intended to be a forum for arguments about who knows more or less about vaccines. As the person who must moderate comments for this site, I believe that the validity of some of what has already been posted in comments above should be challenged, but I don’t have the time to do so.

My original post was about a lousy Las Vegas TV news report. I’ll end the discussion that way. It was vapid, vacuous TV journalism. Unless someone sheds new light about the journalism issues at play here, I won’t post additional comments. You will find a link to our full comments policy below.