CBS stations make claims of "miraculous" BP changes from chiropractic

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CBS4-WFOR, Channel 4, in Miami, is the latest CBS station to report on chiropractors “using a new adjustment to the neck to help bring down blood pressure.”

“If the bone is out of alignment and putting pressure on a nerve, it interferes with the ability of the heart to function properly,” a chiropractor explains on the WFOR website.

The story cites two anecdotes – one person whose blood pressure became normal “after a few visits,” the other who was able to “cut his medication in half.”

But the story provided no data – only claims of “miraculous changes in blood pressure.”

Nearly identical stories are popping up on CBS websites around the country. This is what we get these days in local TV news, with one station supplying the core of a story which is then copied – with perhaps a local doctor and/or patient thrown in – to make it look like it was original local enterprise reporting. In each case with this story, though, each local CBS website claims that someone on its staff did the reporting. Take a look.

• On WCBS-TV New York.

• On WBZ-TV Boston’s website.

• And on KDKA Pittsburgh.

And probably coming to a CBS station near you soon.

One last disturbing angle to this. Look how conveniently WFOR Miami allowed an ad for chiropractors to appear right alongside the chiropractic news story – something we saw on the KDKA Pittsburgh site as well.

chiro - BP.jpg

How’s that for making almost everyone happy?

• The news director, because he/she got a story from the CBS feed without having to invest in full local reporting.

• The sales department, which landed the chiropractic account.

• The chiropractors, who got their ad placed in valuable real estate adjacent to the unquestioning “news story.”

Everyone should be happy – except viewers, who got no evidence, no balance, no scrutiny, no real reporting.

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Comments (12)

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May 26, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Agreed that this is wrong and horrible “journalism,” but I think the ad placement is more likely a result of the “keywords” on the page resulting in ads that are relevant. It could have just as easily been a story about how bad chiropractors are and the ad might have appeared. It’s also unlikely that the sales department “landed” a chiropractor account and instead they’re using some sort of algorithm for ads.


May 26, 2010 at 3:20 pm

The local stations simply have no standards. It’s bad enough that they will report anything called a “study,” but this is outright quackery.

BJ Perry

May 27, 2010 at 10:22 am

This is a good catch about copied news stories. I do see this type of “journalism” on local news stations. These stations should come up with their own ideas and do their own investigations. However, I agree with James that the ad placements may not be the fault of the news station. I just looked up hotels in Tahoe for a trip, and when I went to the local news site, there, amazingly, appeared hotel ads from Tahoe on the site. I’m sure I have adware covertly lurking in the background on my computer. You must also.

Anne Asher

May 27, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I agree with the commenters above regarding both keywords and blatant bias.
But I’d like to say that I have interviewed a researcher at the U of Chicago on this or a similar topic. Here’s the link to my post (not meaning to advertise, just want to point you to my write up of the research): Basically it says that a specific type of chiro called NUCCA is being studied for its effects on blood pressure. So far results are promising. Dr. Bakris, PI, is not a chiro – he’s an MD and a researcher.
I’ve had the experience where I interviewed a (different) PI because the news anchors from several national networks butchered the results of a study on the upright MRI and office sitting posture. The anchors really don’t understand the topic of back pain so they read from the copy, using terms they don’t understand. If they have time left over on the segment, they make fun of the information they’ve misrepresented!


June 1, 2010 at 5:15 pm

It is always outrageous when bad science, which competes for the same research dollar, is funded over more promising research promulgated by the scientific method. This often happens at NIH with its parasite, NCCAM, burning through money at an alarming rate with almost nothing to show for it. Check the link on NUCCA for a short primer.

Janet Levy

October 7, 2010 at 3:14 pm

I read your article entitled ” CBS Stations Make Claims of Miraculous BP Changes from Chiropractic” where you wrote that local stations just pick up anything without researching it etc….
This is especially true of chiropractic. A local chiropractor will make outlandish claims of how they can treat or cure bedwetting, asthma, ADD, AHD, behavioral problems in children..etc…and have no scientific evidence or proof of what they claim..but they get a local producer/director to air their story because they sat next to chiropractor so and so at a recent Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Besides helping chiropractors to mislead the public, they never look into anything so that whatever a ” doctor” says, they tout it as truth. Then major talk news shows pick it up.
I am President of VOCA, Victims of Chiropractic Abuse. It was started 5 years ago as a response to the number of people that I met, myself included, who had major strokes as a result of a chiropractic manipulation. Since then, thousands have contacted us who have been seriously injured by mamipulations which they were told were safe. Many stroke victims have been interviewed by GMA , Today show etc. and the exec. producers always went to chiros to get their opinion of what happened. When chiro bigwigs called them and flat out denied a neck adjustment could cause stroke, permanent disability or death, the news story was yanked. Its funny, they would never yank a medical mishap story that caused a person to stroke or die. Just because these guys harass and hound news producers.why should they yank the story.? Do you have any suggestions? Why are most chiropractors so unscupulous?
On a personal note, I, myself was interviewed by GMA because they were doing a recent story about VAD’s.vertebral artery dissections, which can lead to stroke/death and how they can happen. One way this can happen is by chiropractic neck manipulation, they can tear a person’s artery, and do!. The producer who interviewed me said that her boss pulled the chiropractic “angle” because he was close to a chiropractor.
Again, so what? But they keep pulling our stories off. Again, if a person died at the hands of a medical doctor, they would be only too happy to air the story. Kaiser Permanente Insurance recently delisted chiro neck adjustments because they said it can cause stroke or death. So we aren’t wrong, and we certainly aren’t vindictive or anti-chiropractic as they would like to believe .( It is easier to discredit us that way.), we just think that people have the right to know about the serious health risk with a chiropractic cervical adjustment. We are NOT against chiropractors, in fact we would welcome a chance to have them dispute this claim(which they can’t) on national TV, along with us. (but of course they won’t) you should also know that there are chiropractors who are completely on our side and stand behind us.They do not want to hurt anyone and no longer do neck adjustments. These chiropractors also warn their patients about the very real serious risk of a chiropractic manipulation
Gary, I would appreciate your feedback ..
Janet Levy