Sigh. This is what happens when you rely on your TV show’s staff to do your thinking for you:
Stick a fork in Keith Olbermann. He’s done.
Yesterday, I thought that he may have to some extent shown signs of perhaps starting to "get it" when he named the man who started the decade-long MMR scare in the U.K., Andrew Wakefield, as his Worst Person in the World yesterday. Wakefield richly deserved such an "honor," given that his undisclosed conflicts of interest uncovered by a British journalist named Brian Deer, his research incompetence, and, most recently also uncovered by Brian Deer, his scientific fraud that falsely implicated the MMR vaccine as a cause of a syndrome of regressive autism and enterocolitis launched an anti-MMR hysteria that drove vaccination rates over the last decade down to below herd immunity. As a result, the measles has returned with a vengeance in Britain.
Too bad tonight Olbermann let himself be played like a fiddle by antivaccine propagandist David Kirby, the man who, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., was instrumental in launching the American version of the MMR scare, namely the thimerosal/mercury scare that roared into the states in 2004 and is now maintained by Jenny McCarthy–still aided and abetted by David Kirby. No, Kirby played Olbermann like Itzhak Perlman playing a goddamned Stradivarius. Indeed, Kirby played on Olbermann’s hatred of Rupert Murdoch, inducing him to embarrass himself so completely and utterly that I can never–ever–take Olbermann seriously again…
…Consider: Here we have David Kirby, the man who wrote a book called Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Mystery, which was custom-designed to hype up the idea that mercury in vaccines cause autism. He is a man who now blogs for Age of Autism, promoting the idea that vaccines cause autism every chance he gets. Moreover, he is also a man with no apparent source of income. I have seen no bylines by him in the media, and I haven’t seen him doing any writing other than on blogs promoting antivaccine talking points, usually with great sliminess. Who pays him? He certainly doesn’t appear to have a source of income other than if he’s being paied to blog for AoA. In any case, his current career, such as it is, depends upon his keeping the idea that vaccines cause autism alive. If that manufactroversy ever goes away, Kirby is out of luck. So he’s not exactly one to accuse anyone else of conflicts of interest.
In any case, so what if Brian Deer made the initial complaint? Olbermann apparently doesn’t know that the reason Deer made the complaint to the British GMC was because of what he found in his original report in 2004 and then again in 2006. In other words, Deer discovered that Wakefield had been in the pocket of a trial lawyers seeking to sue vaccine manufacturers, having accepted £435,643 in fees, plus £3,910 expenses for his "research." Who wouldn’t have reported him to the GMC for that? Moreover, once the complaint was made, Deer’s involvement appeared to be over, except for his reporting…
Leaving that aside, I repeat that Kirby played Olbermann like a Stradivarius. Inded, Kirby pwned Olbermann and made an utter fool out of him. All Kirby apparently did was to wave Rupert Murdoch’s name in front of Olbermann by pointing out that the newspaper in which Deer’s exposes ran is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and like a rabid bull on speed Olbermann charged, delving into the depths of burning stupid that reveals utter credulity and ignorance by saying "the truth about the doctor’s research may be in doubt, but not Deer’s vast conflict of interest nor the Times of London’s journalistic malfeasance."
That’s right, because he hates Murdoch so much, Olbermann slimed an excellent journalist, Brian Deer, who brought to light something that desperately needed to be brought to light, Wakefield’s unreported conflicts of interest, his scientific incompetence, and now his scientific fraud. He even descended to the level of calling it "journalistic malfeasance." Did Olbermann bother to read Brian Deer’s actual reporting? No. Did he bother to look at some of the evidence Deer posts on his website, BrianDeer.com?
Again, the answer would appear to be no.
Instead, Olbermann lapped up David Kirby’s talking points like a dog lapping up spilled gravy, and then let his emnity with Rupert Murdoch undermine what little critical thinking skills he has left by parroting nonsense. Those talking points, helpfully included by David Kirby in his HuffPo post, include his usual appeal to authority, including a list of "notables" who either believe that vaccines cause autism or have said things that could be interpreted as if they believe that vaccines might cause autism, and a list of studies that are either bad to the point of having been deconstructed here or on other skeptical blogs or that do not show what the antivaccinationists think they show. Olbermann’s team fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Nor did they consider that the U.K. has some of the most plaintiff-friendly libel laws in the world, so much so that some plaintiffs indulge in libel tourism there. If Deer’s reporting was not true, he would have been at serious risk of being sued and losing.
Exactly. When Wakefield tried to sue Deer for libel in the UK, not only did he NOT win, he withdrew his suit AND was compelled to pay all court costs. This is something that Keith or his show’s staff could have found out if they’d ever bothered to visit Brian Deer’s site, or even just Googled "wakefield libel deer". (By the way: As an independent journalist, Brian Deer doesn’t have the resources of Andrew Wakefield or David Kirby — or Keith Olbermann, for that matter — so give him a few coins if you can spare them.)
Goodbye, Keith. Oh, well, I like Rachel Maddow’s show better anyway.