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Keith Olbermann: Played for a fool by the antivaccine movement

Stick a fork in Keith Olbermann. He’s done.

He has now officially degenerated into a liberal version of Rush Limbaugh, except that Rush Limbaugh is occasionally funny. Maybe he’s more like Sean Hannity, particularly in his apparent dedication to the truth, or, rather, lack thereof. Hannity detests liberals and will immediately attack on the slightest pretense, even if the information given to him of “liberal wrongdoing” is dubious or outright wrong. Like Hannity, Olbermann will never turn down an opportunity to attack Bill O’Reilly or his paymaster Rupert Murdoch. Somtimes it’s justified, but dubious reasons don’t stop him from letting “Bill-O” or Murdoch have it with both barrels. The following is one such example.

True, I rather used to like Olbermann’s broadsides against Bill O’Reilly, for example, when he took down Bill O’Reilly for blaming the Malmedy massacre on American troops. Of late, I had become less enamored of his “Worst Person in the World” schtick (and, let’s face it, schtick it is) as he became seemingly more interested in entertainment and vindictiveness rather than accuracy. Indeed, when he was parodied by SNL a while back, I ate it up. Yesterday, I thought that he may have to some extent shown signs of perhaps starting to “get it” when he named the man who started the decade-long MMR scare in the U.K., Andrew Wakefield, as his Worst Person in the World yesterday. Wakefield richly deserved such an “honor,” given that his undisclosed conflicts of interest uncovered by a British journalist named Brian Deer, his research incompetence, and, most recently also uncovered by Brian Deer, his scientific fraud that falsely implicated the MMR vaccine as a cause of a syndrome of regressive autism and enterocolitis launched an anti-MMR hysteria that drove vaccination rates over the last decade down to below herd immunity. As a result, the measles has returned with a vengeance in Britain.

Too bad tonight Olbermann let himself be played like a fiddle by antivaccine propagandist David Kirby, the man who, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., was instrumental in launching the American version of the MMR scare. That was the thimerosal/mercury scare that roared into the states in 2004 and is now maintained by Jenny McCarthy–still aided and abetted by David Kirby. No, Kirby played Olbermann like Itzhak Perlman playing a goddamned Stradivarius. Indeed, Kirby played on Olbermann’s hatred of Rupert Murdoch, inducing him to embarrass himself so completely and utterly that I can never–ever–take Olbermann seriously again:

How do I know Kirby put Olbermann up to this smear job against a competent and dedicated journalist who exposed great wrongdoing? Easy, earlier today Kirby bragged about it on the Huffington Post:

Countdown’s producers clearly took the Sunday Times story at face value, without doing a little due diligence. After all, Wakefield had denied the allegations in the original article, he issued a formal statement of denial earlier this week, and the autism treatment group he works for in Austin, TX also issued a statement. Olbermann’s people should have picked up the phone and called Austin before he blasted Wakefield for faking scientific data.

Which brings us to today’s Best Person in the World — Keith Olbermann, who is issuing an eloquent and fitting correction on tonight’s show.

I contacted his office today, as did many, many people, to see if he would address the issue. And address it he will. Here is the email I got back this afternoon:

Here is Keith’s script from tonight’s show, where Brian Deer will receive (at least) the bronze Worst Person in the World honors… it will air tonight, barring breaking news:

The bronze to Brian Deer.

He wrote the Times of London report that Dr. Andrew Wakefield had allegedly altered key research linking the Measles, Mumps and Rubella triple-vaccine to autism in children, which earned Dr. Wakefield a spot on this list yesterday.
The Times of London did not bother to mention that the British investigation into whether or not Wakefield did that was the result of a complaint by… Brian Deer.

The guy who wrote the article about the investigation never mentioned he was the complainant who precipitated the investigation.

The truth about the doctor’s research may be in doubt here, but not Deer’s vast conflict of interest nor the Times of London’s journalistic malfeasance.
The paper is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and it’s my bad for forgetting his new motto: “We have never been a company that tolerates facts.”

My irony meter exploded when I read that. Consider: Here we have David Kirby, the man who wrote a book called Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Mystery, which was custom-designed to hype up the idea that mercury in vaccines cause autism. He is a man who now blogs for Age of Autism, promoting the idea that vaccines cause autism every chance he gets. Moreover, he is also a man with no apparent source of income. I have seen no bylines by him in the media since 2005 (other than AoA and The Huffington Post), and I haven’t seen him doing any writing other than on blogs promoting antivaccine talking points, usually with great sliminess. Who pays him? He certainly doesn’t appear to have a source of income other than if he’s being payed to blog for AoA. In any case, his current career, such as it is, depends upon his keeping the idea that vaccines cause autism alive. If that manufactroversy ever goes away, Kirby is out of luck. So he’s not exactly one to accuse anyone else of conflicts of interest.

Addressing Olbermann’s spoon-fed talking point, so what if Brian Deer made the initial complaint? Olbermann apparently doesn’t know that the reason Deer made the complaint to the British GMC was because of what he found in his original report in 2004 and then again in 2006. In other words, Deer discovered that Wakefield had been in the pocket of a trial lawyers seeking to sue vaccine manufacturers, having accepted £435,643 in fees, plus £3,910 expenses for his “research.” Who wouldn’t have reported him to the GMC for that? Moreover, once the complaint was made, Deer’s involvement appeared to be over, except for his reporting.

Leaving that aside, I repeat that Kirby played Olbermann like a Stradivarius. Indeed, Kirby pwned Olbermann and made an utter fool out of him. All Kirby apparently did was to wave Rupert Murdoch’s name in front of Olbermann by pointing out that the newspaper in which Deer’s exposes ran is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and like a rabid bull on speed Olbermann charged, delving into the depths of burning stupid that reveals utter credulity and ignorance by saying “the truth about the doctor’s research may be in doubt, but not Deer’s vast conflict of interest nor the Times of London’s journalistic malfeasance.”

That’s right, because he hates Murdoch so much, Olbermann slimed an excellent journalist, Brian Deer, who brought to light something that desperately needed to be brought to light, Wakefield’s unreported conflicts of interest, his scientific incompetence, and now his scientific fraud. He even descended to the level of calling it “journalistic malfeasance.” Did Olbermann bother to read Brian Deer’s actual reporting? No. Did he bother to look at some of the evidence Deer posts on his website,

Again, the answer would appear to be no.

Instead, Olbermann lapped up David Kirby’s talking points like a dog would spilled gravy and then let his emnity with Rupert Murdoch undermine what little critical thinking skills he has left by parroting nonsense. Those talking points, helpfully included by David Kirby in his HuffPo post, include his usual appeal to authority, including a list of “notables” who either believe that vaccines cause autism or have said things that could be interpreted as if they believe that vaccines might cause autism, and a list of studies that are either bad to the point of having been deconstructed here or on other skeptical blogs or that do not show what the antivaccinationists think they show. Olbermann’s team fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Nor did they consider that the U.K. has some of the most plaintiff-friendly libel laws in the world, so much so that some plaintiffs indulge in libel tourism there. If Deer’s reporting was not true, he would have been at serious risk of being sued and losing.

Worse for Olbermann, he didn’t even bother to check whether the key talking point he had been fed by Kirby, namely that Deer had made the complaint against Wakefield to the GMC, was in fact true. Brian Deer has already commented on it, pointing out that he is not the one who complained and thus initiated the General Medical Council investigation into Andrew Wakefield’s behavior:

There’s so much in what’s going on at the moment to disturb right-thinking people.

  1. It has become clear in recent days that networks of anti-MMR “campaigners” now quote each other’s website falsehoods, so as to create the impression that these have substance. Ultimately, with regard to me, these can be tracked to two or three cranks and malicious liars, who spread disinformation much as do those people who create trojans and viruses intended to harm other people’s computers. That children’s health could potentially be impacted by such disordered obsessives is a matter of great concern.
  2. David Kirby’s role has become extraordinary. In one day, today (I’m in the US, and it’s still my today!), he asserts that my latest findings are false, even though he has no access to any of the data upon which my investigation rests; and he also asserts as fact that Michelle Cedillo was injured by MMR. I suppose we should regard him as some form of psychic paediatrician who can determine the medical conditions of children he has neither met nor seen records of. Maybe he learnt that craft from Dr Wakefield, who honed that skill to a fine art.
  3. The cranks and malicious liars assert that I am the “complainant” in the GMC case against Wakefield, even though they know I am not. The GMC’s case was initiated following a concurrence between Wakefield and the health secretary John Reid, that such an investigation should be held. I was subsequently approached and asked for my cooperation, which, as a matter of public duty I was bound, and indeed anxious, to give. I have a letter from the GMC’s lawyers, which was also supplied to Wakefield, stating that I am not the complainent, but that I am an “informant”, like, say, a health authority. Were I the complainant, I would have been entitled to legal representation at the GMC. The haters furthermore allege that I have a “conflict of interest” in my role in supplying material to the GMC and in continuing to investigate the Wakefield matter. It would plainly be contrary to common sense and the public interest were journalists who supplied evidence to a statutory regulator to then be disbarred from continuing to pursue their stories. Were such a principle to be accepted, journalists would not supply their findings to regulators (as they do all the time), and so the public interest would be damaged.

I believe that Dr Wakefield himself knows that the game is up, which is why he broke with the guidance of his lawyers and published this weekend what I say is a false and mendacious statement. He now has no chance of claiming that he wasn’t given an opportunity to respond, or that he couldn’t because of the GMC, since he plainly did respond.

The only thing I can say about this is that Olberman is a tool. He is a fool. He is, to borrow the U.K. lingo, a total wanker. The only way to describe Kirby’s pwnage of Olbermann is EPIC FAIL on Olbermann’s part.

Think of it this way: If Olbermann can be so completely and utterly pwned by a propagandist like David Kirby, he is nothing.

Please tell him so at [email protected].

ADDENDUM: It’s even worse than I thought. A reader sent me these links:

“Dr Wakefield said that he would insist on a full GMC inquiry after it was suggested by John Reid, the Health Secretary, on Friday.”

“The doctors’ watchdog GMC agreed to consider a full investigation into the work of Dr Wakefield last week at the request of the Health Minister John Reid.”

“In the wake of the Lancet’s revelation, Britain’s Health Secretary John Reid has called on the doctors’ watchdog the General Medical Council (GMC) to mount an inquiry into Wakefield’s conduct “as a matter of urgency”.”

“Last night, Dr John Reid was banging the drum for an “independent inquiry” into Dr Andrew Wakefield, the scientist who links autism and the MMR vaccine.”
(anti-vax source)

“The General Medical Council (GMC) is considering launching an inquiry of Dr Andrew Wakefield, the man at the centre of the measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine furor, after The Lancet reported undisclosed conflicts of interest in a key article.”

In other words, Olbermann was completely wrong, and Kirby’s claim that Brian Deer initiated the complaint is a lie–a lie that Olbermann mindlessly parroted.

ADDENDUM #2: Brian Deer has responded to Keith Olbermann.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

95 replies on “Keith Olbermann: Played for a fool by the antivaccine movement”

I had written a faux-special comment I was going to post here, but you basically ripped all my talking points from me.

The only thing Olbermann has done, besides make himself look like a total tool, is give the anti-vax wackos another soundbite. It’s another thing they can use to say “see, it’s all a conspiracy against Andrew Wakefield – Keith Olbermann thinks so!”

You know, it’s not so much that Olbermann got the story wrong that burns me, it’s that he got it so obviously wrong. I mean, even the most cursory research would’ve brought up the 2004 investigation and the subsequent complaint to the GMC.

And for what? Another potshot at Rupert Murdoch? Thousands of kids are sickened by measles in the U.K., some sick enough to be hospitalized, and Olbermann sells them out so he can do his crappy pirate imitation?

The sad part is that there’s no way – even if Olbermann realizes he got played – that he’ll ever come back on TV and admit it. He’s too much of a pretentious, Ted Baxter-esque blowhard to ever take accountability like that.

Kirby must be dumbfounded that he actually got away with this.

Shame on Olbermann, or whoever writes his lines. I guess it is too much to hope that a news reporter (commenter?) would actually understand what he was talking about.

Not that any of this should come as a surprise. The vaccine-paranoid segment of the population has been surviving on imaginary facts for a long time now.

Prediction: Kirby’s little stunt will backfire, especially if Olbermann’s enemies in the right wing media (and they are legion) get wind of this. The last thing Wakefield and GR need is the tsunami of bad press that may result from Kirby’s meddling.

Well done getting this up so fast: you’re very quick off the mark. Thank you also for continuing to battle this kind of non-sense so decisively.

Well done, Orac. And I was about to praised Olberman (as an aside, I like his bending of the truth on FDR, including the first two years of WW2 in the New Deal).

What a waste of bandwidth that guy is. How spineless.

Oh come on, Olberman is a reporter. If he actually does have a degree in journalism, so what? The curiculum is hardly enough to qualify him for any type of objective intelligent opinion of anything. He is a fool and always will be.

Wow, that’s … wierd. I thought the guy had hithertofore had clue. I wonder if there’ll be a special comment?

If we were famous enough, we could make a game of seeing who could get Olberman with the craziest things by linking things to Murdoch.

“You know, Keith, I heard a Murdoch-owned paper once printed an article claiming the earth is round…”

In hindsight, I don’t know why I thought fame would really be necessary. Strike that part and let’s make Olbermann a flat-earther!

I emailed with my objections and suggested that Kirby be the next “Worst person”. Doubt it will happen though.

Well I thanked him yesterday, so in the interest of balance I thought it only fair and worth five minutes of my time to rip him a new one on how he had been manipulated by his auto-hate for anything Murdoch, complete with links to the real facts about Wakefield, Kirby and Brian Deer. Yeah, I know, probably a waste of five minutes, but, what the hell.

A fine post on a depressing topic. As you point out even a cursory look into Brian Deer’s investigations of Wakefield would have shown Olbermann that Kirby was playing him…but Olbermann somehow doesn’t seen to have considered that a leader of an anti-vaccination campaign might be less than honest.

I hope Olbermann and his clearly incompetent staff get it in the neck for this.

The media savvy, anti-science, anti-vaccine extremists (Kirby, Gen Rexu, Age of Autism, Handley/Best, Mark Blaxill, etc) simply dangled the Rupert Murdoch carrot in front of Olbermann and it was too juicy not to bite.

Kirby’s message to Olberman:

Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

Here’s my suggestion to Countdown:

1. Ask David Kirby to produce evidence that Brian Deer is the initiator or complainant who precipitated the GMC hearings.

2. If David Kirby fails to produce said evidence, name David Kirby “worst person in the world.”

It’s the least Mr. Olbermann could do to make up for having smeared one of the best investigative reporters of recent times.

A fine post, as usual. I have to take issue with one statement, though:

“In any case, his current career, such as it is, depends upon his keeping the idea that vaccines cause autism alive. If that manufactroversy ever goes away, Kirby is out of luck.”

Unless this was meant as very subtle irony (in which case I apologise and applaud simultaneously), this is exactly the type of argument people propagating alternative cancer treatments or so use against doctors: “Oracs career depends on there being breast cancer, therefore…”

Wow. Whodathunkit that Olberman is that easily manipulated.

Olbermann hates Rupert Murdoch. Apparently, David Kirby must have known this. All Kirby had to do was to point out that The Times is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and Olbermann was putty in his hands for all the other misinformation, appeal to authority, and list of “studies” that Kirby sent him, because Olbermann can’t believe that a Murdoch paper or TV news station can ever get a story right.


You realize, of course, I was simply pointing out the hypocrisy of Kirby’s claim that Brian Deer’s career somehow depends on keeping the investigation of Wakefield alive.

anonimouse:”The only thing Olbermann has done, besides make himself look like giving us yet more proof he’s a total tool…”

There. Fixed it for ya.

Thanks for this, Orac! My guess is that Keith didn’t come up with this, but that his staffers did. KO probably doesn’t know autism from anthrax — if he did, he wouldn’t be so easily played.

Good god. The next time some well-meaning liberal tells me that us left-wingers need liberal loudmouthed blowhards to counter the right’s loudmouthed blowhards, I’m going to remind them of this clusterf**k and ask them if they still think it’s a good idea.

Makes you wonder, if Murdock just had donated 100k to the Obama campaign early on, and “leaked” that to Olbermann…
It’s good to have enemies you can focus on, it’s bad if others can manipulate you with it.

The fact you ever took Olby seriously at all is sad enough. How can, I, the reader take seriously what you say here when it is clear you aren’t smart enough to see what Olby is from the very start. Sad for you. Sad for your regular readers.


“In any case, his current career, such as it is, depends upon his keeping the idea that vaccines cause autism alive. If that manufactroversy ever goes away, Kirby is out of luck.”

Unless this was meant as very subtle irony (in which case I apologise and applaud simultaneously), this is exactly the type of argument people propagating alternative cancer treatments or so use against doctors: “Oracs career depends on there being breast cancer, therefore…”

I suspect that the reason the woos accuse doctors of that sort of thing so readily is because it is in fact the way they themselves operate. Partly this is projection, but I think a lot of them are conscious of it, and think that by accusing doctors of what they themselves are doing, they can deflect critical attention away from themselves. And as folks like Kirby demonstrate, while it doesn’t fool science, it does fool enough potential customers to keep them in business.

I’ve seen some good rants of his on YouTube when dealing with denouncing obvious evils like Prop 8, but I guess that was a couple gems in what’s looking like a big pile of crap. He’s that easily manipulated by well poisoning? Definitely not good journalist material. I’ll be ignoring him from now on.

I wonder how many of the British Newspapers that were Wakefield’s eager accomplices in propagating the MMR scare are owned by Rupert Murdoch? If any of them are, someone should point this out to Olberman.

The Gaurdian which hosts Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science is a lefty newspaper.

Cnn Breaking News Headline Feb 12, 2009:

Special court rules against compensation in three cases where parents contended vaccines caused autism in their children.

Coincidence? CNN has a breaking headline, Fox News has a story, but nothing on MSNBC.,2933,491526,00.html

“U.S. Special Court: Measles Vaccine Not to Blame for Autism
Thursday, February 12, 2009

A special U.S. court has ruled against parents with autistic children, saying that vaccines are not to blame for their children’s neurological disorder.
The judges in the cases said the evidence was overwhelmingly contrary to the parent’s claims — and backed years of science that found no risk.
More than 5,000 claims were filed with the U.S. Court of Claims alleging that vaccines caused autism and other neurological problems in their children. To win, they had to show that it was more likely than not that the autism symptoms were directly related to the measles-mumps-rubella shots they received.

The court still has to rule on separate claims from other families that other vaccines played a role.”

[It looks like the Vaccine Court ruled on a General Causation basis — finding that there was no credible basis to conclude that vaccines caused autism. That’s a complete repudiation of Wakefield (and AoA, Green Our Vaccines, Gen. Rescue, MIND Institute, National Autism Institute, David Kirby).

CNN is reporting that the special court has ruled against compensating parents for vaccine related issues and their autistic kids. Yeah!

AoA is already freaking out over it. The commenters want to take it to a jury next. I guess if you lower the bar far enough (like down to their level) you can find someone dumb enough to believe it.

Of course Fox says “court ruled against parents of children with autism.”

Not true! The court ruled IN FAVOR of searching for the real cause of autism and IN FAVOR of parents who want healthy children and IN FAVOR of medicine based on science and evidence.

Olbermann really missed a chance to be on the right side of an issue. If he’d just stuck with his “Wakefield is worst person in the world” story, he could have had a glorious followup with today’s court ruling.


CNN is reporting that the “preservative thimerosal, found in MMR and other vaccines at the time”

I thought that MMR, being a live-virus vaccine, never had thimerosal?

Although I’ve enjoyed KO’s special comments when I agreed with them, some that I disagreed with strongly lifted the veil and allowed me to see that his “righteous indignation” was over-the-top scenery-chewing.

I suppose I should have seen this coming several years ago when he repeated the “JFK called himself a jelly donut and the Germans laughed” canard several times as an example of politicians’ verbal gaffes. I e-mailed him each time, but he never corrected the mistake.

Enkidu said “CNN is reporting that the “preservative thimerosal, found in MMR and other vaccines at the time””

That is because journalists want the quick sound bite and don’t bother reading anything past a press report.

Wakefield is scheduled to appear today at noon on “Radio Idiocracy”,I mean,The Gary Null Show, WNYE.*Quelle* timing!

Militant atheist

indeed some of the murdoch press reported this at the outset- although recently it has been the opposite with the Sun as well as the Times now firmly for MMR. But the Daily Mail is one of the main culprits which isn’t a murdoch paper- and indeed the Observer (the guardians sister paper) recently published a load of wakefield tosh including a fawning interview with the slimeball himself.

Just went for the delight of reading the comments at AoA.

They just cannot understand that evidence does not mean
“Just believe what WE tell you”.

They simply refuse to ever accept that they could be wrong, they “Know” they are right just like religious people “Know” there is a god (and it is their god not the other guys). Facts and evidence have nothing to do with it, the only answer they will ever accept is the one they give.. vaccines cause autism, everything else is a conspiracy against them and a travesty of justice.

I continue to be impressed by people like Orac who fight against never ending stupidity, I don’t have the endurance.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff in the decisions of the Special Masters. For example, did you know that Big Pharma conspiracy theories were basically cited in arguments? They tried to strike Dr. Bustin’s testimony, which was highly damaging, of course. This was the argument:

Moreover, petitioners assert that “[m]ost of Dr.
Bustin’s testimony at the Cedillo hearing and all but 4 (of 25) slides in Dr. Bustin’s Power-Point[sic] presentation were also based on Dr. Bustin’s work for Mer[c]k, Aventis, and GSK.” Id. (citations omitted). Noting that the “claimants in the U.K. litigation relied on PCR testing from Unigenetics laboratory for both claimant specific evidence and in support of the general proposition that some children with regressive autism might have persistent measles infections,” petitioners contend that Dr. Bustin “was hired by Merck, Aventis and GSK to discredit the PCR results from Unigenetics laboratory.” Id. at 2-3. Accordingly, petitioners move to strike those portions of Dr. Bustin’s reports, testimony, and slides “that are based on the review of Unigenetics laboratory’s procedures and PCR results” that Dr. Bustin performed for the defendants in the U.K. litigation.

The special master points out that:

Additionally, having had an opportunity to observe Dr. Bustin during his testimony in the Cedillo hearing, the undersigned found Dr. Bustin to be a credible and very knowledgeable witness, who demonstrated a learned facility with the subject matter of his testimony.

“Well done, Orac. And I was about to praised Olberman (as an aside, I like his bending of the truth on FDR, including the first two years of WW2 in the New Deal).”

Well, given that World War II start dates are a social construct and many of the conflicts that will become subsumed into “World War II” (1) start long before the official 9/1/1939 start date given the war by American historians, it could be argued that all the alleged New Deal impacts where the result of the war.

(1) The Ustasha vs. Yugoslavia conflict started in 1929. Japan began rampaging in 1931. The Spanish Civil War began in 1936. The Winter War saw round one begin in early 1939.

After everything else that’s come out about Wakefield- the funding by a lawyer seeking ammunition for lawsuits, his reliance on a lab which not only couldn’t exercise proper precuations against contamination but also couldn’t be arsed to carry out the negative-control tests that would have detected the problem- finding out that he misrepresented the data bout the cases he supposedly studied was no surprise at all.

Had Olbermann been aware of all the background, I doubt that he would have so easily fallen for Kirby’s bullshit.

Apparently, the modern standard for journalism is not only to ignore the possibility of informing oneself about the background to an issue, but also to lack enough simple monkey curiosity to acquire some basic knowledge of what’s been going on as it happens.

Ktesibios said “Apparently, the modern standard for journalism is not only to ignore the possibility of informing oneself about the background to an issue, but also to lack enough simple monkey curiosity to acquire some basic knowledge of what’s been going on as it happens.”

Which is what irritated me in the biology course I took last term. We were required to find three biology related stories in the media each week and write a summary. I usually editorialized my summaries by noting what errors the journalist made in the story.

My capsule review of today’s Gary Null Show :”Null, Wakefield,Kirby, Loe Fisher, and (lawyer) Krackoff-all of them grasping at straws”…correction, make that: “Frantically grasping at straws.”

My capsule review of today’s Gary Null Show :”Null, Wakefield,Kirby, Loe Fisher, and (lawyer) Krackoff-all of them grasping at straws”…correction, make that: “Frantically grasping at straws.”

Quoted from msnbc:
An attorney for the families did not respond immediately to a request for comment. But the head of one consumer group that questions vaccine safety, the National Vaccine Information Center, said the court’s ruling will do little to change the minds of most parents who suspect a link between vaccines and autism. She said more studies are needed.

“I think it is a mistake to conclude that, because these few test cases were denied compensation, it’s been decided vaccines don’t play any role in regressive autism,” said Barbara Loe Fisher, the center’s president.

BLF = Big Looney Fanatic

I suppose when 30 or 300 more of these cases are ruled on and the parents lose, she’ll be crying the same blues. A good day for science indeed.

You realize, of course, I was simply pointing out the hypocrisy of Kirby’s claim that Brian Deer’s career somehow depends on keeping the investigation of Wakefield alive.”

Sorry for tuning in late again – as I said, if your statement was meant as this kind of subtle irony…

So, I offcially apologise for not realising this and applaud your cleverness.

Its amazing how ANYBODY would ever look at Olby going nuts on TV and think he was in any way a rational, sane person worth listening to. How are so many people fooled by idiots like this so easily?

Also, I herd u liek mudkips.

Surprised? Nope, this is standard issue Oralmann… the guy is a baseball card collector playing a newsman on TV.

Anyone who ever takes a single thing this guy says at face value should have their head examined.

Nightly reports/corrections of Oralmann’s lies, plagiarism, and propaganda can be found at:

This website needs to apologize to Keith Olbermann. All you guys need to come back to reality. you are letting your hate for someone else to could your judgement about Olbermann. He never refuted that the evidence is in doubt just that one claim. He was not swayed by nay anti vaccine lobby. He is journalist Limbuagh is an idiot. When someone tries to compare him to Limbaugh I know they are not telling truth just showing angry. I also take real hate who people who lie a about what Robert Kennedy Jr all this guy done is tell the truth. I sorry you do not like this guy on Hughington Post that still does not give you the right to lie and compare Olbermann to a hate-monger like Rush. Maybe all you guys need to admit that you are wrong on this one issue.

Gioden: Olbermann watch is a hate website. It was started by a gossip guy named Bob Cox who hated the fact that he got caught in a lie by Olbermann. That site bashes Olbermann not watch or keep his feet to the fire. If it comes from that site like Johnny Dollar, News buters, and Olbermann Watch and it is about Olberman, Olbermann is correct and those sites are not.

Stick a fork in this author he is done, because he and the his followers want smear people like Olbermann and the guy from huhgington post and Robert Kenndy JR. Then talk about the facts. This is a smear piece not a factual piece.

history, your precious Olbermann just got busted for reporting spoon fed talking points. This offense by his own words qualifies him as the third Worst Person in the World – as he handed out to the night of the original Wakefield broadcast. Take it up with him if you do not like the assessment, he made the rules.


Of course OlbermannWatch is a hate site. The only one I ever go to. Oralmann should be hated by everyone who values journalistic ethics, research, and knowledge of what goes on in the world. Personally, I get most of my news right from the source,

I wonder if his head almost exploded when he was at the super bowl and David Petreus was in the coin toss ceremony as an American hero. Oralmann still can’t admit the surge worked. Maybe he thinks the military was “pimping” him out to the NFL. Still no apology for that one, but the Clinto’s sure got one. “We are dreadfully sorry” gimme a friggin’ break with that fraud… a baseball card collector playing a newsman…what a joke!

Agreed that Olbermann seriously fucked this up and needs to correct his mistaken correction. Also agree that he has the same type of overblown ego that O’Reilly does and it can be very annoying to watch. That said, I don’t think Olbermann is on anywhere near the same plane of bad journalism that O’Reilly is. At least Olbermann does issue retractions and make an effort to correct his factual mistakes when he makes them, and I don’t think he makes anywhere near as many. Hopefully there will be a correction on this, the need is definitely there.

Let’s see- Olbermann gets played by the anti-vaccine folks, and therefore Olbermann is a blight on humanity. I don’t mean to downplay the importance of the vaccine issue, and since I’m not a scientist, I am willing to accept the obvious and strongly-held belief here that vaccines have no relationship to autism.
Having said that, it sure looks like the majority of folks on this site are taking great delight in using Olbermann’s position on one issue, which was one segment in one show (which followed, I might add, a show in which a segment about Wakefield strengthened the pro-vaccine position), to make ad hominem attacks against the man, his show, his views, etc.

Just a few observations:
1) Maybe- and I’m just brainstorming here- some of the commenters here are slightly to the right of Olbermann, politically speaking, and so Olbermann’s mistake of listening to Kirby’s lies is further proof of Olbermann’s stupidity, irrelevance, blah blah.

2) Is it your position that Olbermann was the first member of the media to be misled? I could have sworn that I’ve heard of instances where other journalists printed stories that turned out to be untrue. If only I could think of some examples…oh well, they’ll come to me. But at least those other journalists- the ones I can’t remember- didn’t cause any harm by their misleading or untrue stories….

3) If you want to bash Olbermann, go ahead- that’s your right. But if your basis for doing so, other than the Kirby issue, is limited to hate websites and statements of opinion (the statement that Petraeus is an American hero being perhaps the most obvious- and telling- example), maybe you should spend your time doing something more productive and leave the debate to others more qualified than yourself.

For the record, I have watched Olbermann’s program before, but I am far from a ‘big fan’ of his work. I, too, think his over-the-top bombast gets old really quickly. But I realize that Olbermann, like, oh, ALL reporters on TV, is concerned first and foremost with ratings. Does that make Olbermann a paragon of virtue? No- but it certainly doesn’t single him out for the kind of blind hatred he’s getting here.

I’ve enjoyed many of KO’s special comments, and I’m disappointed by this episode. Disappointed, but not devastated. Let this serve as a reminder that anything heard through the media — whether or not the source is one we like — needs to be held at arm’s length and subjected to critical analysis.


If you’re not a native English speaker, it helps to say that before you write things that are so malformed they are difficult to understand.



Apparently you are not familiar with the fact that Gen. Petreus started paying the Sunni insurgents in Iraq. Or that he gave orders to get out of the tanks and Humvees and actually talk to the Sunni population in their homes as guests. It can certainly be argued that those two steps lowered the violence level in Iraq at least as much as a simple matter of more troops in the country that “surge” promoters cite all the time. Simply adding 20%-25% more soldiers to a hostile zone will not in itself, automatically lower violence. Think about it, and put yourself in the shoes of the Iraqi population. If a foreign invader were occupying the city you lived in, would it make any difference to you if there were 15 soldiers in a particular patrol versus 12? It wouldn’t to me. Now, if those 15 soldiers are actually engaging me as a person, or heck, even if the original 12 are engaging me as a person, that is going to make a much larger difference.


Morganella Fairchildia:

Of course it is a hate site. There is nothing redeemable about Oralmann. He deserves to be hated for what he has done to liberals in general, and journalism in particular.

So if you have to wash up after looking at OlbermannWatch, do you need to delouse after watching Oralmann’s nightly program? Perhaps you prepare for his program by putting on a bio-hazard suit like the movie ‘Outbreak’? That way the constant BS he spews doesn’t get all over you.

The folks at OlbermannWatch have a little fun with their work…so what? It is a thankless task to monitor such sleeze on a nightly basis, you should cut them some slack and look into the archives to see how they constantly call him out for plagiarizing the blue blogs, inventing history to fit his agenda, and generally nail him for being the biggest fraud on TV today. They link to every story, research every falsehood, and generally do a better job at journalism than the Keith the baseball card collecter pretending to be a newsman who makes $7mil a year.

Exit question: now that GE is taking billions from the Feds, and NBC is owned by GE, does anyone think that Obama will let his waterboy fall under the executive salary cap rules the next time GE comes begging with their hands out…not likely. But it sure sounds like KO’s version of ‘fascism’. GE is a major defense contractor, owns media outlets [that have been totally biased in favor of the new President], and is now receiving major bailout funds from the Feds…

Will KO call himself a fascist? Don’t hold your breath sports fans…KO consistency only exists to make sure that no opposing views ever get heard on his show… Yo K.O., George Orwell is calling, he wants 1984 back.

Anybody that takes Olbermann as credible is seriously in need of professional help. He has always been a loon of the first order.

Stick a fork in this author he is done, because he and the his followers want smear people like Olbermann and the guy from huhgington post and Robert Kenndy JR. Then talk about the facts. This is a smear piece not a factual piece.

Of course, Orac did talk about the facts; his post’s full of them. He made a detailed case for why Olbermann is wrong on this one. A case you’ve failed utterly to engage with.


Your points are correct. I was simply using ‘the surge’ as sort of a catch all phrase to keep my post short. However, Petreus literally rewrote the book on counter insurgency, and took on a job that most people in the top brass of the military had either already failed at, or were unwilling to risk their careers as the public face of. Petreus is a real hero, and deserves every bit of credit he gets. Especially since he never fails to mention all of the other people/factors that made it possible.

All fair minded people acknowledge that without a change in strategy, or a change of heart/employer for the Sunnis, ‘the surge’ would not have worked.

On the flip side, the awakening movements that began before the surge, would not have worked without the surge either. Col. Mcfarland got a call from Sheik Sattar about his desire to flip sides and the US proceeded to park a tank in front of his house for protection… and the rest is history, mostly… I live right near Camp Pendelton so it is easy for me to get past the media filter… Semper Fi!! OOO-RAH…

Huffpo has stupid rules for moderation.

I tried very gently to suggest that perhaps Kirby had some conflicts of interest in this story he might want to disclose. Gee, killed in mod. But all the “Great story, Kirby! You’re teh bestest” comments go right through.

I’m sick and tired of folk mythology taking away from actual research that could benefit my son. Who, btw, has autism and is fully vaccinated. If I had it to do over, I’d vaccinate him again.

Hi5, Autismnostrum! I’d vaccinate my son all over again, too. And myself, too, for that matter. And intend to, as soon as it’s time for our next boosters, lol!

I am late to the party– ironically, from planning a party activity for a class-full of kids with autism– but just had to come SQUEEE and HOP UP AND DOWN CHEERING over the Autism Omnibus results!!!!


I’m happy, in case it wasn’t obvious!

🙂 🙂 🙂 smiley overkill!!!!!!!!!!

“Semper Fi!! OOO-RAH…”

I can’t wait ’til I’ve earned the right to say that.

Whether Wakefield’s data was true/false I don’t know, but his conclusions were correct, and kudos to Olbermann if he learns something. I’m 60yoa, BA, MSs, 8yrs univ biology/chem/math, high gpa, research with statistical design. Oservations of family members and med records provide 100% scientific certainty that autism and many other disorders, however diagnosed, are caused (mostly, about 90%, but not 100%) by vaccines and/or amalgams, or rather the mercury (MOSTLY, but also other) toxins in them. Few are properly diagnosed, or morbidity overlooked due to the large number of uncontrolled variables and lack of profit in real medicine. Claims that vaccines ae effective are based on heavily biased studies and coincidental correlations w/o support for cause and effect, aka lies. For those affected by the vaccines, your lives may well also become the living hell of a victim being slowly, rituallly murdered by the gov/med “system.” Do you really think it’s just autism or only 1/150? Don’t you thnk the joker laughs at YOU? You may find the statistical theorem I wrote for spoofing bias in statistical designs to sharpen your scientific / academic wit, the result of my scientific career after being fired for refusing to embezzle money in the gov under dire threat. Click on the button, Randomized Block (google mercury xx poisoned)


Uh, are you cutting and pasting the same comment at every critical blog you can find? This same post was just made at Autism News Beat.

Is that out of the Generation Rescue playbook?

I understand that Wakefield had merely invoked a “Mannian enHansenment” in regard to the data.

Alan Foos said “Whether Wakefield’s data was true/false I don’t know, but his conclusions were correct,….Click on the button, Randomized Block (google mercury xx poisoned)”

Wakefield demonized the MMR vaccine, which has never contained thimerosal. A good way to tell that someone (like Mr. Foos) does not have a a clue is when they say something stupid like “the mercury in the MMR.”

Oh, by the way… if you had actually passed your statistical classes you would know that if the data has to be fudged it is automatically WRONG!

IAmSoWise: If you are going to correct other peoples’ ignorance, it would help if you knew the facts yourself.

The Spanish Civil War ended on April 1, 1939, five months before WW II started.

The Winter War between Finland and the USSR started on November 30, 1939, three months after WW II started.

There were a handful of shootings by the Ustashe in the 1930s, but nothing resembling a war – most Croatians supported the Peasant Party, a mainstream group which contested elections and sat in Parliament.

There is rather more connection between the 1931 Japanese invasion of Manchuria and the Pacific War of 1939-1945, but there was a truce of 5 and 1/2 years (from the end of the Manchuria invasion to the Marco Polo Bridge incident in 1937.

If one is going to stretch WW II that way, one could claim it never ended, as there was Arab violence in Palestine as soon during the war, and as we know, down to this day.

Yeah, this idea that the data doesn’t matter as long as the conclusion is truthy enough is deeply dubious. Anyone who sincerely cared about the facts and honesty in public debate would be a bit more concerned about inaccurate data.

Jesus Christ, get a grip. He makes Andrew Wakefield Worst Person in The World, and it’s a grudging “eh”, but he says something you don’t agree with and suddenly he’s Satan Incarnate and everything about him is diseased and wrong.

I mean, for God’s sake, someone came to Olbermann or his producers with a plausible story, and instead of, I dunno, correcting him, informing him, or making the slightest effort to find out what happened so you can set the record straight, you go straight to the screaming unhinged whack-a-loon-style rant about stuff you’re SURE happened — I mean, is that a style you want to emulate here? — which is richly ironic because it’s pretty much what you accuse Olbermann of doing.

There’s not the slightest indication in your spittle-flecked posting that you made the slightest attempt to be, well, rational about things, just going straight for the putting Olbermann on the List of Enemies of the State.

Maybe if you get your glandular eruptions under control you might, I dunno, actually talk to him like an adult. This IS supposed to be a science-based blog, not Rush Limbaugh in a Lab Coat, after all.

Calton Bolick opined:I mean, for God’s sake, someone came to Olbermann or his producers with a plausible story, . . .

What you’re leaving out is that he didn’t bother to research this story, but instead, ran with it and used it as some jumping off point for some weird anti-Murdoch rant.

What kind of journalist doesn’t do even a cursory amount of fact checking? The fact that he runs with an unconfirmed rumor and then uses it as a basis to draw some weird conspiracy connection speaks volumes about Olberman’s character and competence. Seriously, one O’reilly is too many, do we really need a liberal copy-cat version too? (Oh, and I notice he didn’t apologize for this slander in last nights show.)


The Spanish Civil War’s official “end date” of April 1, 1939, was one given by historians. Ask Republican participants in the Spanish Civil War or read the literature on the matter and you’ll know that they view their struggle as going well past that date. Given that Republican forces launched guerrilla raids and such on Spain after that date, they have a strong case but one that hinges on the socially constructed definition of “war’s end”. Other historians, like Cary Nelson ( I believe) agree.

“The Winter War between Finland and the USSR started on
November 30, 1939, three months after WW II started.”

You got me there. I was wrong.

As for the Ustashi, notice I said conflict and not war, but it has been argued that the killing of King Alexander was the first shot of the Second World War.

“There is rather more connection between the 1931 Japanese invasion of Manchuria and the Pacific War of 1939-1945, but there was a truce of 5 and 1/2 years (from the end of the Manchuria invasion to the Marco Polo Bridge incident in 1937.”

True, but there was a phony war period between the Allies and the Axis in 1940.

Also, another thing is the Germans launched lots of different conflicts at different times for different reasons. Only gradually did these conflicts get subsumed into the greater England vs Germany fighting that started in 1939.

Oservations of family members and med records provide 100% scientific certainty

Bzzzt! Wrong. Observations and medical records cannot prove any theory with 100% certainty. Ever. Game over, you lose.

@ Calton Bolick – Olberman wasn’t just wrong. The antivax movement has killed people, mostly young children and disabled many more. If they had their way the body count would soon go into the thousands. In addition to slandering a real investigative journalist, by uncritically swallowing the antivax line Olberman was shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater.

How many times do studies have to show that immunizations DO NOT cause autism before that myth is forever debunked?

*bangs head*

Alan, autism didn’t rise; it is being diagnosed more often and other conditions, such as language disorders, are being diagnosed less. Also, milder cases of autism are being diagnosed when before they would have been excluded. Yes, the medical definition has changed and become less stringent. If you like science by anecdote, you can ask around and find people with autistic children who say they were the same way but never diagnosed as such.

You are so full of shit Orac YOU NINCOMPOOP! if you know what that means you ASSHOLE. And What is Brian Deer’s motivation in doing his so called “journalism”? KACHING-KACHING-KACHING! You IDIOT!

Recycling some stuff I found earlier today, cut and pasting from another blog I posted it on (I am plagiarizing myself!)…

First an article on Wakefield and his finances NOT written by Brian Deer:

Then some testimony from the Autism Omnibus on how Wakefield handled data, again NOT written by Brian Deer:

Here is some more information on the way Wakefield handled data in a questionable manner. This is testimony in the US Court of Federal Claims:

It starts on the fifth page (about 2280, of all the testimony). On page 8 of the pdf file is this bit (hand transcribed because it does not let you cut and paste):

Q: What results did you receive from the gut biopsy materials for measles RNA?

A: They were all negative.

Then on to page 10 of the pdf:

Q: Did you inform Dr. Wakefield of the negative results?

A: Yes. Yes.

….. continuing on the next page…

Q: Did you tell Dr. Wakefield about the problems with Dr. Kawshima’s results?

A: Yes, I did.

…. More stuff… then on pages 13 -14

Q: You also state in your affidavit that you believe DR. Wakefield was aware of all of your negative results when he submitted his paper, “Ilieal Lymphonodular Hyperplasia, Nonspecific Colitis and Persuasive Developmental Disorder,” which was published in 1988 to the Lancet.

A: Yes, that’s correct.

Q: You were working at the lab at that time and you had published some articles with Dr. Wakefield other subjects, hadn’t you?

A: Yes. Yes.

Q: Why isn’t your name one the paper I just referenced?

A: Well, my name isn’t on that because non of my data went into the paper. There was a manuscript witch did use some of the PCR data I think from Dr. Kawashima’s lab, and I asked for my name to be taken off anything that was related to PCR data because I wasn’t comfortable with the quality of the data.

Q: You specifically asked that your name not be on that paper because of your reservations about the data?

A: Yes, that’s right.

Solomon demonstrated the use of ad hominem personal and ad hominem circumstantial:

“You are so full of shit Orac YOU NINCOMPOOP! if you know what that means you ASSHOLE. And What is Brian Deer’s motivation in doing his so called “journalism”? KACHING-KACHING-KACHING! You IDIOT!”

Solomon, has Brian Deer’s coverage of Wakefield put half a million pounds into his pocket? Not a shred of evidence has been presented to suggest that this or anything like it is the case.

But Wakefield has taken in nearly half a million pounds for attacking the MMR vaccine. He would have taken in even more if the MMR had been abandoned in favor of single vaccines, such as the measles vaccine he patented.

Of Deer and Wakefield, the one who shows more signs of abandoning professional standards for KACHING-KACHING-KACHING is Wakefield.

Uhm, I’m going to sound like a complete loon for supporting Olbermann, but he’s right, it’s a conflict of interest. He’s not recanting on Autism/Vaccines, but he’s simply pointing out that Brian Deer writing about … Brian deer’s complaint and subsequent investigation. That is a conflict of interest.

Deer didn’t file the complaint, that’s the part the Olbermann got from Kirby. Deer was approached for information he had researched, but it wasn’t him trumping up his own story.

Kirby was quite clever in throwing out the Murdoch card, it got dulled the chance that they would do any research. Kirby simply lied because he is watching his meal ticket slowly slip away. That flushing sound you heard last Thursday was the lingering sales of his book going down the toilet.

Taiki —

I must admit, I am puzzled as to how someone could read what has been already written above about the allegation that Deer is the complainant, and understand it, and still write what you have.

Is it your contention that Brian Deer is flat-out lying when he denies that he is the complainant? I am not an authority on the legal systems involved, but it’s my understanding that “complainant” is a specific legal role, akin to “plaintiff”. (Just as one does not become a professor simply by “professing” one’s beliefs, one does not become a “complainant” simply by voicing a complaint.) If you are in fact asserting that Brian Deer is the complainant who brought the case before the GMC, you really need to tell us why we should believe that Deer is telling a bald-faced lie when he says he is not, not to mention how all those news sources saying it was John Reid who initiated the inquiry got it wrong.

The other interpretation is that you are using “complainant” in a colloquial rather than legal sense, such that Brian Deer becomes a ‘complainant’ simply by having … a complaint. This is frankly a bizarre position; are investigative journalists only supposed to investigate situations with which they have no complaint? Are they supposed to expose wrong-doing, but only so far and then they have to stop, because their blowing the whistle on some of the wrong-doing makes for a conflict of interest in reporting on the rest of the wrong-doing?

I try to believe the best of people, and so I would like to believe that at least some of the people who are going around claiming that Deer is the “complainant” in the case are doing so only because they don’t realize that the word designates a specific legal role that does not apply to Deer in this case. But I would also like to believe that once they know better, they will stop vectoring false information.

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