Robert F. Kennedy, Jr is wrong in calling Forbes’ shoddy journalism on vaccine-autism link

CC BY-SA 4.0 File:RFKJr Headshot.jpg Uploaded by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Created: 5 October 2014

CC BY-SA 4.0
From Uploaded by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Created: 5 October 2014

Editors Note:

Autism Daily Newscast has followed Robert F. Kennedy, Jr stance on vaccines for some time. In July 2014 we reported: Robert Kennedy Jr : Thimerosal, vaccination and political fireworks. Then in April this year we reported: Robert Kennedy apology for autism holocaust blunder remains problematic, in which he publicly apologized for comparing the vaccination of children to the Holocaust. I do not share Kennedy’s views but have continued to report these stories as factually as possible. However, Kennedy has finally stepped over the line in his recent accusations on Forbes and writer Emily Willingham.

In the past, Kennedy’s articles have appeared in reputable publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Nation, Outside magazine, and The Village Voice.  Yet the following piece is from the ultra political conservative WorldNetDaily which has repeatedly publicized conspiracy theories about Barack Obama’s citizenship status.  Kennedy references SafeMinds extensively in this article.  Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH, a retired epidemiologist who has worked in the areas of preventive medicine, infectious diseases, medical outcomes research, and evidence-based clinical practice guidelines has questioned the “credibility of the organization” SafeMinds. Meanwhile, Kennedy without proof, refers to Forbes as a newspaper that “prioritizes Pharma’s mercantile interests ahead of the health of American children.”

Emily Willingham is a respected journalist who not only quotes other sources but qualifies as an investigative reporter who goes to the source to verify her information. Her background as a biologist only brings credit to her writing. Because she is outspoken in her writing of unvalidated conspiracy theories and pseudo science pretending to be legitimate, she gets her fair share of criticism.

In the article reprinted in full below,  Kennedy criticizes Willingham for stating no one faulted Thorsen’s landmark Danish studies.  Ms. Willingham had in fact qualified her statement two days earlier,”clarify that obviously, the results of the Madsen paper, now 13 years old, have been called into question through some nonconventional channels.”   Contrary to Kennedy’s opinion, we did not see Willingham as defending Dr. Thorsen or claiming his innocence. In my view, she was continuing her consistent efforts to challenge conspiracy theories based on questionable “facts”. I look forward to Willingham response to Kennedy’s article, but I feel that she will not stoop to bother given the questionable sources Kennedy cites.

There was a time when I had a great deal of respect for the work that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr did in raising environmental issues.  I even had the pleasure of meeting him about 11 years ago and am saddened by his instance of the vaccine and autism link. Kennedy closes with, “If we want to restore credibility to government science, we might start by revitalizing the journalistic commitment to research and integrity.”  Really M Kennedy? I fear it is your credibility that needs to be restored.



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