An Email to the Today Show

In Matt Lauer's recent interview with the Peete's, he passes along tired, trite, and inaccurate information regarding autism. It's getting beyond old, and after the mess that the Wakefield interview was and his apparent lack of understanding and desire to argue with Nancy Snyderman over the vaccine link myth, I was already less than impressed with Lauer's ability to prepare for interviews. Even worse is the apparent lack of ability to fact check by the producers and staff.
You ought to feel like you have a moral obligation to get some things right. I can see that sensationalism is far more entertaining for you, but since there are a lot of families dealing with autism, it might just work out that you lose some revenue when we en masse (well, except for the woo-meisters) turn our backs on your show, your network, and your adverstisers.
That crazy statistic Matt quoted is a made-up statistic with no validity. I have covered the inaccurate marriage statistic here: http://counteringageofautism.blogspot.com/2009/12/marriage-and-autism-whatever-happened.html. Just because something makes the rounds in the popular lexicon doesn't make it true.  
And, yes, I'm sure that folk who go to the woo throw away good dollar after good dollar, but that doesn't mean all parents go broke dealing with autism or spend a fortune on snake oil salesman or even accepted therapies like ABA. Some parents work with the school system to get the OT, PT, and speech that are covered, work with the therapists and then spend their time working with their children, so that other than supplies, no money is spent, and it can work quite well to help a child progress and grow. It's not a miracle worker, but once you get your act together as a parent and realize there are no magic pills, you get more realistic, and you start working for the best possible outcome for one's children. It may not for everyone, but there is also little reason to believe the inflated numbers Matt Lauer and the Peete's threw out regarding costs. You see, rational people who don't have a fortune to go all out get practical and get the information they need and make practical decisions. It doesn't mean we've given up hope, but we realize resources are finite and throwing it away on magic beans isn't really going to produce any golden eggs. Sulfer-infused ones, perhaps. Those that aren't practical and buy into the scams may lose everything. That's why putting out accurate information is so vitally important. The Today show blows that far too often.
The Today show has an obligation to provide accurate information. You've failed to do so repeatedly on the autism front.
For what it's worth, you've lost this family as a viewer.

... Also see Ken's piece.


storkdok said...

It's probably a good thing I missed this one. For years now Matt Lauer has perpetuated the autism myths of an "epidemic" and that autism is "worse than cancer", totally "devastating to families". He has brought Wakefield on the show to "show both sides" when there is no other side to the "vaccine debate". So this doesn't surprise me. Just makes my migraine pound harder.


kathleen said...

Matt Lauer is...well...you don't observe him and think scholar. Shows like "Today" aren't about fact-they are about ratings..they create their own facts..and then bring a celebrity in to back them. We have all seen the damage in that practice. For some bizarre reason in this country-celebrity opinion trumps science . Scary isn't it?