UPDATED: Robert De Niro misguidedly gives a podium to Andrew Wakefield

UPDATE

Tribeca has taken “Vaxxed” off the schedule.
The following statement was released yesterday:

My intent in screening this film was to provide an opportunity for conversation around an issue that is deeply personal to me and my family. But after reviewing it over the past few days with the Tribeca Film Festival team and others from the scientific community, we do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for.

The Festival doesn’t seek to avoid or shy away from controversy. However, we have concerns with certain things in this film that we feel prevent us from presenting it in the Festival program. We have decided to remove it from our schedule.

Original Post

A few days ago, I learnt from Orac that the Tribeca Film Festival in New York will be showing the “documentary” Vaxxed, which was made by Andrew Wakefield.

Yes, THAT Andrew Wakefield. The one who was hired by lawyers to find evidence against the MMR Vaccine, who subjected 12 autistic children to unnecessary medical procedures, who tried to create his own Measles vaccine, who cooked the data when it pointed away from MMR causing autism, and who, after the longest trial in the General Medical Council’s history, was found guilty of three dozen charges and struck off the Medical Register.

And now we know why. Robert De Niro, the founder of Tribeca, has an autistic son, and intervened to have it placed on the schedule. The following statement was released:

Grace and I have a child with autism and we believe it is critical that all of the issues surrounding the causes of autism be openly discussed and examined. In the 15 years since the Tribeca Film Festival was founded, I have never asked for a film to be screened or gotten involved in the programming. However this is very personal to me and my family and I want there to be a discussion, which is why we will be screening Vaxxed. I am not personally endorsing the film, nor am I anti-vaccination; I am only providing the opportunity for a conversation around the issue.

No. Sorry, but no. Giving a podium to a man who:

  • Subjected autistic children to unnecessary and invasive medical procedures (blood draws, lumbar punctures, enemas and colonoscopies) to gain data against a vaccine;
  • Cooked the data when it pointed away from the MMR causes autism hypothesis;
  • Set up businesses to profit from the scare he created;
  • Failed to disclose his multiple conflicts of interest as required, and;
  • Lied repeatedly and is still lying today

…is not “providing the opportunity for a conversation”. It is spreading propaganda. Tara Haelle’s Forbes article nails it.

Providing an opportunity to discuss misinformation does not help the conversation about autism or vaccines — or autistic people. For nearly two decades, funding for autism research has been continually diverted away from study into treatment and supports for autistic individuals and instead toward debunking a fear that has been debunked dozens of time. That harms autistic people. Misinformation that leads parents to skip vaccines harms their children and their communities, leaving both more susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases that can maim and kill.

De Niro has blundered. Not only did he interfere in the scheduling of a festival, he has helped give exposure to a liar telling lies about vaccines causing autism. He would do very well to reconsider.

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About autismjungle

I am a Software Test Analyst. Shortly before I turned 21 I was officially diagnosed, although I had long suspected I was autistic. Welcome to my blog
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