Sitting through the Wakefield-Lauer Interview on a Monday Morning

Interestingly, in the background before the interview, Lauer notes that the GMC found Wakefield acted "dishonestly and irresponsibly" but leaves out that the GMC also said he acted with "callous disregard."

Almost obligatory, don't you think? First off, after that hour-long piece Lauer did last year, coupled with something earlier this year that led me to write the Today show (I forget what it was), I quit watching Matt Lauer. Honestly, none of the reporters' interview styles impress me. And I hate the fake conciliatory head nods they all do. So, it took some doing to keep me sitting this morning with the Today show on, muted, waiting for the interview. The anticipation was almost more than I could stand. What would Lauer say? What would Wakefield say? Would it be a love fest? Would their eyes meet and a spark be lit, you know, like last time?

Of course, while letting the anticipation build, I wandered the web reading the various accounts of Wakefield being struck from the register in the UK. How would Wakefield respond? Okay, I kid quite a bit when I talk about anticipation and wonderment concerning Wakefield's reaction. We all should have known exactly how he'd react, so I suspect those of us willing to stomach the interview weren't much surprised that it was a governmental conspiracy to shut him down.

The first question Matt asked was if he could still call him doctor. Of course, he can, says Wakefield. You can't take the medical degree away, after all.

Wakefield immediately asserts that the government forced the GMC to rule the way it did. It was a foregone conclusion. I've written about self-justification, and this interview is a classic example of self-justification. It should be noted that in the book Mistakes Were Made (but not by me), Wakefield is uses as an example of self-justification (the book did mangle the thimerosal/MMR part). See, for years Wakefield has been playing this game that everything he did was good, right, just, and everyone else is out to get him. It at least looks like Lauer finally got that Wakefield might not be the white knight, or at least that Lauer's credibility could go down the tube with Wakefield.

Lauer asks Wakefield if this is "the final blow to your credibility" and then runs down all the blows Wakefield has taken this year. Wakefield doesn't really answer, except to finally say it is "a bump on the road."

Lauer then rebuts Wakefield's assertions that Wakefield's findings have been replicated. Wakefield keeps asserting that the American government knows that vaccines cause autism because they keep settling cases. Wakefield asserts "they've secretly been settling cases as early as 1991." Lauer doesn't rebut any of this; this is a very short interview and whether Lauer knows that Wakefield is lying or not is not clear. Lauer's gotten as confrontational as he is willing to get.

What do I take away from the interview? Wakefield will not budge: the American government knows and is in on the conspiracy! Wakefield gets essentially the last word in the interview: that he is not going away, he will "continue this work until its natural conclusion."  What the hell does that mean?


kathleen said...

Sadly, we have started another chapter in the vax wars. Look at AoA..they don't really discuss autism anymore..now it is the "government conspiracy" and poor poor Andrew Wakefield..willing to stand up for his beliefs only to be cut down by the evil pharma companies and American government! So I am waiting for the video coverage of all of the Wakefield supporters in a candlelight vigil wrapping their arms around each other singing "We shall overcome" And still I wonder..how is this helping people?

Autism News Beat said...

Wakefield was right on one important point: we haven’t heard the last of him. As long as news outlets book first and ask questions later, the public will be exposed to all manner of pseudoscience and medical quackery.

Sullivan said...

"You can't take the medical degree away, after all."

It can be done. The GMC can't do it, but the institution where he earned his medical degree could rescind it should they chose.

It is pretty rare.

While not a medical doctor, Jan Henrik Schon had his Ph.D. revoked by his university:


The reason? Research fraud.

I've heard nothing to suggest Mr. Wakefield's degree is in any jeopardy.

Sullivan said...

"Lauer asks Wakefield if this is "the final blow to your credibility""

Tough question, eh? How does one answer?

"Yes, this *is* the final blow to my credibility"


"No, this is *not* the final blow to my credibility".