Posted by Gary Schwitzer in Health care journalism
Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus, and blogging under that same title, writes, “Katie Couric promotes dangerous fear mongering with show on the HPV vaccine.” Excerpt:
On July 10, 2012, I received an email from a producer at Katie, Katie Couric’s daytime talk show, about a show the program was planning on vaccines. Here was the pitch:
I am interested in talking to Seth Mnookin about his book ‘The Panic Virus.’ I am researching a story about parents who opt out of immunizations for their children because of their personal beliefs. As Seth knows, parents’ fears have lead to a resurgence of diseases like measles and Pertussis and it poses a real danger to society. The goal of the hour will be to better inform the public that still questions links between vaccination and autism and need to better understand the scientific truth.
Over a period of about a month, the producer and I spoke for a period of several hours before she told me that the show was no longer interested in hearing from me on air. Still, I came away from the interaction somewhat heartened: The producer seemed to have a true grasp of the dangers of declining vaccination rates and she stressed repeatedly that her co-workers, including Couric herself, did not view this as an “on the one hand, on the other hand” issue but one in which facts and evidence clearly lined up on one side — the side that overwhelmingly supports the importance and efficacy of vaccines.
Apparently, that was all a load of crap. Here’s the teaser for tomorrow’s show on the HPV vaccine:
The HPV vaccine is considered a life-saving cancer preventer … but is it a potentially deadly dose for girls? Meet a mom who claims her daughter died after getting the HPV vaccine, and hear all sides of the HPV vaccine controversy.
….But hey, you know, what’s years of data based on hundreds of thousands of verifiable results when you have a single “mom who claims her daughter died after getting the HPV vaccine,” right Katie?
Couric has side-stepped the evidence and journalism ethics on other occasions with other health care topics, as we’ve written about in the past. Examples:
Addendum on December 6:
Many other voices have joined in the criticism of Couric’s program. Among them:
Addendum on December 11: Couric blogged: “Following the show, and in fact before it even aired, there was criticism that the program was too anti-vaccine and anti-science, and in retrospect, some of that criticism was valid. We simply spent too much time on the serious adverse events that have been reported in very rare cases following the vaccine. More emphasis should have been given to the safety and efficacy of the HPV vaccines.” But this statement drew even more criticism, as in the following:
Follow us on Twitter: