On-air spat between anchor and medical correspondent

Dr. Nancy Snyderman of NBC News appeared on the Today Show with Matt Lauer last week, profiling a physician-author who has written that the best science does not establish a causal link between childhood vaccines and autism. Matt & Nancy.png

Lauer, in a followup question, mis-spoke and called it a “casual” link – not causal. One wonders whether he truly knows what the words mean.

Snyderman talked about how the physician-author, Dr. Paul Offit (author of “Autism’s False Prophets”), has received death threats. Snyderman herself said she had been physically ambushed by those who contend that vaccines cause autism.

As Snyderman was wrapping up the segment, Lauer said – in typical anchor throwaway language:
“Controversial subject …”

Snyderman immediately shot back, “Not controversial subject , Matt. …It’s time for kids to get vaccinated. The science is the science. It’s not controversial.”

You can see the video here or here.

Kudos to Snyderman for educating her big-bucks anchor colleague live on-the-air.

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November 3, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Way to go Snyderman! There is way too much fear-mongering going around about the supposed link between autism and vaccines. The biggest risk to children is that they don’t get vaccinated.

Andrew Holtz

November 3, 2008 at 5:35 pm

Wow. It is almost unheard of for a correspondent to challenge an anchor on-air. And it’s also too rare to see a specialized beat reporter clearly say ‘here’s the science, it’s not just he-said,she-said.’
That said… at the beginning of her report, Snyderman called Offit ‘controversial,’ so I’d cut Lauer a bit of slack for using that same term in his wrap. And I do wonder a bit about Snyderman reporting the story of an old friend. Her report included critics, but she makes it almost too easy for the anti-vaccine folks to dismiss her story because of her personal ties to Offit.