Last week ABC canceled a story about a dangerous chemical in child inoculations. Last night, the network broadcast a recut version of its original story that had been edited into a piece of industry propaganda.
ABC’s original program showed how the vaccine industry, working with public health officials from the CDC and the federal government’s Institute of Medicine (IOM), may have poisoned a generation of American children with the mercury-laced vaccine preservative thimerosal. ABC had made an exclusive agreement to air the story after reading early drafts of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s article on the thimerosal scandal which appeared simultaneously in Salon.com and Rolling Stone last Wednesday. ABC was to air pre-taped stories on Kennedy’s piece on ABC Nightly News and Good Morning America. The shows were reportedly “in the can,” having been thoroughly edited by “several layers” of ABC staff. The night before the scheduled airing, the shows were cancelled by high-level ABC officials. After a news item on the incident ran, ABC received hundreds of angry emails from the parents of autistic children demanding the show be aired. The network re-edited the show into an "industry" piece, trotting out a parade of scientists from IOM and CDC to denounce Kennedy and defend thimerosal. The most vocal of these, Steve Goodman, participated in the controversial IOM panel that exonerated thimerosal. ABC failed to identify his bias in the piece. ABC produced its in-house doctor, Tim Johnson, who used entire phrases pulled directly from an IOM press release. He ended by pronouncing IOM “impeccable.” ABC bracketed the Kennedy story with two advertisements from pharmaceutical industry sponsors.
“When ABC asked us for this exclusive they said they believed in the story and were anxious to tell it to the American people,” said Robert F. Kennedy Jr. when contacted by the Huffington Post. “The story that ultimately aired was so biased with vaccine industry distortions and spin and so filled with deceptions that it shocked even people who were already cynical about the journalism on network news.”