A Major Media Outletâs Specious Story Fans the Vaccination Debate
Discovery Communications bills itself as the âNo. 1 nonfiction media company,â which made it even odder when an article titled âWhy Shouldnât We Vaccinate Our Children?â popped up recently on one of its websites.
The post â by writer Josh Clark of HowStuffWorksÂ â appeared on the Learning Channelâs (TLC) website; both HowStuffWorks and TLC are owned by Discovery Communications. Riddled with mistruths and flat-out errors, the post prompted a coalition of physiciansâ organizations and vaccine activists to collaborate on a sharply worded letter signed by 19 groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Medical Association, defending immunization as âone of the most important decisions parents make to ensure their childrenâs healthâ:
Parents need accurate, complete information about immunizations â which they often look for online. So we were astounded when we found an article on a Discovery Company website that perpetuates dangerous myths and untruths about vaccines. We cannot understand how a company that celebrates the latest in scientific achievements would feature an article so inaccurate and wholly biased against science.
The letter was sent last Thursday to Eileen OâNeill, group president for Discovery Channel and TLC; later that day, the article was removed from the site. A representative from Discovery did not respond to requests for comment or for an interview with Clark.
âDiscovery took down the article tonight = good things happen when smart people band together to support science!â e-mailed Amy Pisani, executive director of Every Child by Two, a vaccine-advocacy organization that learned about the article from a group of mothers who practice attachment parenting (the subject of TIME magazineâs ĂŒbercontroversial cover story earlier this month). The mothers, according to Pisani, were shunned from their online attachment-parenting group because they vaccinated their children.