Sitting through Dateline's Wakefield Episode Sunday

"You lost your job down in Texas..."

Not on my list of fun things to do, I recorded Dateline's A Dose of Controversy so that I'd be able to pause, rewind, replay to my heart's content so that I could blog about this, wanting to make sure I got the quotes and bits exactly right. I wish I'd kept last year's Lauer hour with Wakefield, Offit and Deer so I could have compared the footage used to see where it was just a rehashing of the previous piece. Alas and alack,  I did not. It does appear, though, that almost all of the old footage is reused (without updating the information provided in the voice-over) and added into the interview that Lauer did with Wakefield earlier this week that I dissected.

Matt Lauer asks in Dateline's A Dose of Controversy, "Was he motivated by medicine or money?" I think we can figure that one out pretty easily. It's a damn shame it seems to have taken Lauer so long to figure it out.

Anne Curry introduces the interview, and boy, have times changed. It doesn't appear that the media are loving Wakefield anymore. Says Curry: "This was a doozy." Curry continues, "What you may not know is that this entire controversy was first triggered by just one person." Doesn't this sound a wee bit different in tone compared to last year's interview with Wakefield?

Lauer starts his introduction with "He's one of the most controversial figures you've probably never heard of." He goes onto say that Wakefield's "stirred the passions of millions of parents worldwide." Yeah, I don't know about the millions. 

When Lauer then said Dateline was going to take "an unprecedented look at an emotional debate surrounding vaccines and autism," I really had to wonder where Lauer's been (or are they just reusing footage and verbage from the previous episode with Wakefield, Deer, and Offit? Were they too lazy to update and notice that Frontline recently covered this? I think, based on watching the entire hour, that yes, they were too lazy to update the voice-over).

What follows next is footage of emotional parents; I'm not sure what the intent is? Get people worked up? If a person is at all focused on this, aware of the debate, watching overly emotional parents blame vaccines (if you're not in that camp) leaves me, at least, cold and tired of people who can't think rationally.  Agghh, and the whole "sick" stuff, autistic kids aren't sick. An autistic child may be sick, but autism isn't sickness, and it's the most obvious split between the vaccines-did-it camp and the evidence-based side.

"Is Dr. Andrew Wakefield a hero who cracked the code of one of medicine's great and elusive mysteries or has he betrayed the trust of millions of parents around the world?"

Gee, what do you think?

For some reason, Lauer has to spend time talking about Wakefield's hometown as if this is important. I have no idea why. 

Snippets of the old interview with Lauer and Wakefield all but bumping knees, as the nuggets that Wakefield lets slip from his tongue follow:

17 May 1995: "the light within his eyes went out." Crap.  

Then there's a replaying of footage from last year when Lauer was still in thrall to Wakefield.  Wakefield says he was getting calls, saying "my child disappeared after a vaccine." I had no idea there were invisible kids out there, did you?

"Their children fell apart."  

Why would single vaccines over time make any difference if it's the measles vaccine causing autism? 

Hee: "His own exhaustive review of the literature." 

A hero doctor and a maverick. Yeah, not so much, is what I'm thinking.

This is just a replay of last year's video, to the best of my recollection; having to sit through it all again just to make sure is, well, deserving of chocolate, is what I'm thinking. 

Dateline then moves to the interview with Brian Deer, followed by the research that discredits Wakefield's theory, before returning to the old interview with Wakefield.

Dateline then shows video of these mothers who adore Wakefield. I just don't get why these moms think he's a hero;  I really don't. What is it exactly that Wakefield has done to actually help their kids? 

Lauer notes that Wakefield says while "he only suggested spreading out the vaccine schedule, many parents heard something different: vaccines cause autism."

Jenny McCarthy then gets her fifteen minutes (okay, maybe more like three); I can't believe Lauer didn't note the whole indigo children thing. 

Then it's Offit's turn. Ya'll remember this from last time. Lauer asks Offit for common sense advice: vaccines offer safety, says Offit. Once again, the contrast between Offit's intense, forceful reaction and Wakefield's unflappable, calm demeanor are there for everyone to see. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? 

Thoughtful House is up after Offit's interview. Lauer leaves out Wakefield's stay in Florida, where Wakefield "became "research director" of the "International Child Development Resource Center", based in Melbourne, Florida, run by a Dr Jeff Bradstreet" (Brian Deer).  In fact, Lauer and Wakefield make it look like Wakefield didn't leave the UK until he came to Thoughtful House in 2004.
 Once again, I was struck with Wakefield's assertion that he has no direct communication with patients. 

Krigsman is up next, along with a family who spent over seven grand to get their son scoped from one end to the other (the father is a frequent commentator at AoA). After Krigsman, scoping, and daily enemas with a monthly colon cleansing, Lauer is back, providing voice-over, saying parents see Wakefield as a "medical groundbreaker." Lauer asks Wakefield about "parents who are so emotionally involved in this and who are so desperate for answers that they perhaps have not examined the science carefully enough" and whether Wakefield is providing these parents with something to blame. 

Dateline then moves to reporting outbreaks of preventable diseases. Autism research is then examined. 

Dateline finally moves forward in time and discusses the GMC findings, a new (brief) interview with Deer, the Lancet retraction, the resignation of Wakefield and Krigsman from Thoughtful House, and the striking off of Wakefield's medical license. Very little of Wakefield's new interview with Lauer was shown, just the bit about the "bump in the road" and "following his work to its natural conclusion."

What did Ann Curry wrap up the hour-long rehash with: the AAP's position on vaccines and autism. "Vaccines are not the cause of autism."

No mention of Wakefield's book was made during Dateline. Interesting, don't you think?

Wakefield's down to #444 on Amazon and #22,187 on Barnes and Noble. Guess there was no bump on the bookselling, then.

Just remember, I sit through these things so you don't have to. And if you watched last year's Dateline, you're good. Don't waste your time sitting through this one.


Liz Ditz said...

Ooooh, I get it now!

There was something off in the interviews between Lauer & Wakefield -- I couldn't figure it out.

So some were repeats from last year, when he was St. Andy, and some segments were newly filmed, when he was in disgrace.

Now I get it.

kathleen said...

Thanks...now go get some chocolate. :)

Lyn said...

I watched it. Urg. Folks should just stop paying attention to Wakefield. I am not fooled by his posh British accent. Just because he has an English accent doesn't mean he has a clue.
And what is so funny about ruining a birthday party by jabbing kids with needles? Unless it's a tattoo party, which shouldn't happen outside of a clean studio, they shouldn't be poking those poor kids that way.
I've had enough of Wakefield, that whole "oh, no, his SOUL is gone!" attitude.
I felt bad for that poor autistic cub being tormented. He must have been scared out of his mind.

Clay said...

I sat through it, but I think I fell asleep for a little while. I recall thinking that the AoAers watching must have been very disappointed. Their whole schtick was shown to be a sham, and St Andy a fraud.

Michelle said...

Why isn't it plausible to believe that giving 36 vaccines to a child might not be safe?

Why is it not plausible to believe that giving 36 vaccines to All children is safe?

Why is the vaccine schedule a one size fits all program?

Why did the autism rate start to soar (1991) when the vaccine schedule had doubled in size?

Why are countless parents thought of as crazy when they say "my kid was typical" and then started to show autistic behaviors shortly after the MMR? Why did the gut dysbiosis, seizures, sensory disorders, loss of speech, etc start after so and so shot. Why can't can't it be a possibility that scores of parents observed something that merits investigation?

What if a child has an inability to detoxify the formeldehyde, aluminum, thimerosol (traces still count), and all the other preservatives in the vaccines? Why can't we do testing to identify those kids and hold off on the most important shots until the immune system is more fully developed?

What is your explanation of why the autism rate in this country is 1 in 100 and more in boys?

Why are children recovering and improving with biomedical intervention if this is a "psychiatric" genetic problem?

Why is it wrong to question authority and to want studies that definitively prove that giving 36 preservative filled vaccines is totally safe for all children? Or that the combination of certain vaccines are safe for all children?

Why is one of the more prominent pediatricians (Dr. Sears) not closing the door on the link between vaccines in his new book, "The Autism Book" and writes about biomedical intervention? (There's actually a picture of him and Dr. Wakefield smiling broadly at a recent biomedical conference - oh no -!!!)

Why is Dr. Offit so revered when he clearly has a vested interest in vaccines and has never treated an autistic child or done any investigations or studies regarding autism as a medical condition?

History has shown that pioneers and people forcing a truth that is going to turn things upside down/rock the boat are demonized, maligned, and forced into silence.

If not Dr. Wakefield, then someone else would have come along to force the discussion of vaccine safety. Get ready. It's coming-- because 1 in 100 and counting is a very, very scary thing. So, like he said, "These children aren't going away, the parents are not going away, and I am most certainly not going away." --Dr. Wakefield

Ya can't hold back a tidal wave forever!

Lyn said...

Uh, and Wakefield wanting to make his own single measles vaccine didn't have a vested interest in vaccines?
Dude charges thousands of dollars at his fear based "treatment" center for autism, where they were tormenting that kid with tests he doesn't even need and treatments that are not even proven by science to work, and yet folks STILL cling to Wakefield as if he is the Savior of those poor, pitiful autistic kids?
Wake up! The dude NEEDS to go away. He's been stripped of his credentials. His findings in larger studies were proven to be wrong, yet folks still paint this guy as a martyr.
Let's stop going on and on about autism as if the faery that is vaccines is stealing the child's soul away and replacing that child with an autistic kid and instead try to REALLY understand autism. Let's try to understand it without fear. Without hopelessness. Let's really listen to these kids, no matter how silent they are, these adults who want their experiences to be looked at and want compassion, services, jobs and IGNORE WAKEFIELD and his ilk!
Let's realize correlation is not causation and really try to learn about autism and autistic people without listening to Wakefield and company.

Sullivan said...

Why is it that people like Michelle can't see that in all their talking points, they are missing the part where they actually connect vaccines to autism?

Kim, I have video of the original Dateline if you want it. I watched a little of the "new" one and quit after finding nothing new. You saw more than I and I guess they put some of the interview from monday in there.

Dr. Wakefield had years at thoughtful house. He could have done the obvious--try to get measles virus detected by a reputable lab from biopsies taken from his patients. He didn't. Tells us all something.

He supposedly designed the Monkey Study. Let's say that autism is entirely caused by vaccines. That's one percent of the population. How was he supposed to replicate that with under twenty monkeys?

The question of whether he was motivated by medicine or money leaves out the obvious--Mr Wakefield is just not a good researcher. He has the drive, just not the talent.

He hasn't had a good idea in well over a decade. The "good" ideas he had were junk. Not much of a career for an ambitious man.