"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.