A New York Times editorial attacks “anti-vaxxers” as “the enemy”, but it’s the Times editors who are dangerously irrational and ignorant of the science.
Opinion | On January 19, 2019, the New York Times published an editorial mischaracterizing anyone who dares to criticize or dissent from public vaccine policy as dangerously irrational and ignorant.1 In doing so, the Times avoided having to seriously address any of the countless legitimate concerns that parents have today about vaccinating their children according to the CDC’s routine childhood vaccine schedule. Consequently, the Times fulfills the mainstream media’s typical function of manufacturing consent for government policy by manipulating public opinion through deception.2 In this case, the consent being manufactured in service of the state is for public vaccine policy, which constitutes a serious threat to both our health and our liberty.
What the Times editorial represents is not journalism, but public policy advocacy. And to persuade its readers to strictly comply with the CDC’s vaccine schedule, the Timesblatantly lies to its readers both about the nature of the debate and what science tells us about vaccine safety and effectiveness.
The first clue that the Times editorial aims to avoid any serious discussion of the issue is the title: “How to Inoculate Against Anti-Vaxxers”. The term “anti-vaxxer”, of course, is the derogatory label that the media apply to anyone who dares to question public vaccine policy. It is reflective of the mainstream media’s routine use of ad hominemargumentation in lieu of reasoned discourse. Rather than substantively addressing their arguments, the media simply dismiss the views of and personally attack critics and dissenters—and this Times editorial is certainly no exception.
The second clue is in the editorial’s subtitle: “The no-vaccine crowd has persuaded a lot of people. But public health can prevail.” To equate public vaccine policy with “public health”, of course, is the fallacy of begging the question. It presumes the proposition to be proven, which is that vaccinating the US childhood population according to the CDC’s schedule is the best way to achieve a healthy population. Many parents, researchers, doctors, and scientists strongly and reasonably disagree.
The Times would have us believe that the science on vaccines is settled. The reality is that there is a great deal of debate and controversy in the scientific literature about the safety and effectiveness of CDC-recommended vaccines. The demonstrable truth of the matter, as the Times editorial so amply illustrates, is that what the government and media sayscience says about vaccines and what science actually tells us are two completely different and contradictory things.
Indeed, the underlying assumption that the CDC is somehow infallible in its vaccine recommendations is indicative of how vaccination has become a religion, with those who dare to question official dogma being treated as heretics.
How the New York Times Characterizes the Vaccine Issue
The New York Times begins by noting that the World Health Organization (WHO) recently listed “vaccine hesitancy” among ten “threats to global health”.3 The term “vaccine hesitancy” refers to a person’s reluctance or refusal to strictly comply with public vaccine policy, which in the US is determined principally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state legislatures making compliance with the CDC’s recommendations mandatory for school entry.
For context, children in the US today who are vaccinated according to the CDC’s schedule will have received 50 doses of 14 vaccines by age six and 72 or more doses of 19 vaccines by age eighteen.4 This has naturally led many parents to wonder what the potential unintended consequences might be of their children receiving so many vaccines, including sometimes many at once.
The Times laments that an estimated 100,000 American infants and toddlers remain totally unvaccinated, with millions more having received some but not all of the CDC’s recommended vaccines, all of which the Times describes as “crucial shots”.
The Times characterizes parents who choose not to strictly comply with public vaccine policy as irrational and ignorant of the science. According to its narrative, the internet abounds with “anti-vaccine propaganda” that “has outpaced pro-vaccine public health information.” The “anti-vaxxers” have “hundreds of websites”, media influencers, and political action committees engaged in an “onslaught” of this “propaganda”, which consists of “rumors and conspiracies”.
The response to this “onslaught” by public policy advocates, by contrast, “has been meager.” The CDC “has a website with accurate information, but no loud public voice”, and the rest of the government “has been mum”, leaving “just a handful of academics who get bombarded with vitriol, including outright threats, every time they try to counter pseudoscience with fact.”
The public policy critics and dissenters, according to the Times, are responsible for causing “outbreaks of measles, mumps, and pertussis”, as well as “an increase in influenza deaths” and “dismal rates of HPV vaccination”, the latter of which the Times editors believe otherwise “could effectively wipe out cervical cancer”.
The Times editors further argue that vaccines are “victims of their own success” because people don’t remember “how terrible those diseases once were”. To counter vaccine hesitancy, there are “some hard truths that deserve to be trumpeted. Vaccines are not toxic, and they do not cause autism. Full stop.”
“Trust in vaccines” is being “thoroughly eroded”, the editorial argues, threatening to cause “the next major disease outbreak”. To thwart this “danger”, the Times advocates that other states follow California’s example in eliminating nonmedical exemptions for mandatory vaccinations.
Describing critics and dissenters as “the enemy”, the Times asserts:
The arguments used by people driving the anti-vaccination movement have not changed in about a century. These arguments are effective because they are intuitively appealing—but they are also easily refutable. Instead of ignoring these arguments, an effective pro-vaccine campaign would confront them directly, over and over, for as long as it takes. Yes, there are chemicals in vaccines, but they are not toxic. No, vaccines can’t overwhelm your immune system, which already confronts countless pathogens every day.
Instructively, while the Times asserts that the arguments used by public policy critics are “easily refutable”, the editors avoided having to actually do so by simply lying that they ignore the past hundred years of science. While urging public policy advocates not to ignore the arguments against vaccinating, the Times editors do precisely that.
On the contrary, the critics most certainly cite modern science to support their arguments and to expose how the public is being blatantly lied to by the government and mainstream media, such as how the Times here lies that aluminum and mercury, both used as ingredients in vaccines, “are not toxic.”
Since the Times utterly fails to do so, let’s now take a serious and honest look at the subject and examine the real issues and legitimate concerns that the Times goes so far out of its way to avoid discussing.
To read the rest of this article on the author’s website, please click “How to Immunize Yourself Against Vaccine Propaganda“…
Note: This article was reprinted with the author’s permission. It was originally published on Jeremy Hammond’s blog at JeremyRHammond.com.
1 Editorial Board. How to Inoculate Against Anti-Vaxxers. The New York Times, Jan. 19, 2019.
2 I am borrowing the phrase “manufacturing consent” from Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, whose treatise Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (Pantheon, 1982) describes the mechanisms by which the mainstream media in the US manipulate information, delivering propaganda instead of real journalism in service of the state. They were in turn borrowing the phrase from Walter Lippmann, who had likewise described this phenomenon in his 1921 book Public Opinion.
3 World Health Organization. Ten threats to global health in 2019. WHO.int January 2019
4 Hammond JR. How You’re Being Lied to about the Risks of Getting a Flu Vaccine Annually. JeremyRHammond.com Jan. 11, 2019. A note on citing previous writings of mine as a source to support my arguments in this article: Where I’m citing previous writings of mine as a source for this article, it is because I’ve already written about it in more detail it elsewhere. I encourage readers to read these previous writings and to check the sources I cite to verify the accuracy of what I’m saying for themselves.