Frontline’s Producer Feeds the “Hungry Lie”

By J.B. Handley

The “hungry lie” on autism is both maddeningly simple and simply maddening and goes something like this: “It’s been asked and answered, vaccines don’t cause autism.”
As I’ve written about repeatedly, this is a huge lie, a critical lie, and a very “hungry” lie, because it constantly needs to be fed. Thanks to Frontline’s recent show, “the Vaccine War,” many more people will be confronted with this lie and have to sort through the rhetoric to figure out what is actually true.
Jon Palferman, who produced Frontline’s “The Vaccine War,” is different from many of the other feeders of the hungry lie in one important way: he spent nearly 2 hours sitting in my office debating and learning more about this very topic. I am certain that he fully and completely understands that only a single vaccine on the US vaccine schedule has actually been studied for its relationship to autism. I’m also certain he realizes many public health officials make bold and untrue statements all the time to reassure the public that “vaccines” have been studied and rendered “safe.”
To me, this makes Mr. Palferman’s recent public comment all the more unconscionable. On Frontline’s website, as a response to Dr. Jay Gordon’s searing critique of Frontline’s decision to not air any of Dr. Gordon’s taped interview, Mr. Palferman issued the following statement:
“Many thanks for your feedback on the program. FRONTLINE went to considerable lengths to include a wide range of viewpoints, even in the face of very strong scientific evidence against the hypothesized autism link to MMR and thimerosal. Despite the consistent negative epidemiology and the definitive verdict of the federal vaccine court, we included views from people who wanted more and different studies. The program also gave a great deal of time to the arguments of vaccine hesitant parents who think the CDC schedule is bloated. The companion FRONTLINE website contains full interviews with different stakeholders, including Dr Robert Sears, who promotes an alternative spread out vaccine schedule. The website also hosts a robust public conversation where a full range of viewpoints are being aired and engaged.”
Let me repeat for you the part of Mr. Palferman’s statement that shows he did spend 2 hours with me, but wanted to defend his position anyway:
“the hypothesized autism link to MMR and thimerosal”
You see, Mr. Palferman fully gets that no one has shown “vaccines don’t cause autism,” because I personally hammered home the point to him until he finally got it. So, he’s smart enough not to fully repeat the simple hungry lie that “vaccines” have been studied and at least tells the truth that ONLY thimerosal and the MMR have been looked at.

But, Mr. Palferman is still feeding the hungry lie through his statement, because he’s implying that somehow the meager amount of science on 2 of 36 shots our kids are given somehow implies that the position of our community is resting on shaky ground. And, he’s well aware that mainstream voices will support his statement, because they are all heavily invested in the same hungry lie. It’s a simple way for him to get out of the middle of the firing line.
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The hungry lie is so obvious to me, I struggle sometimes to see why it’s constantly repeated without anyone getting called out for saying it. Am I not communicating this clearly enough? Is there a better way to explain it?
In Jenny McCarthy’s recent HuffPo editorial criticizing Frontline, there is a trail of comments that approaches the hungry lie in a different way that makes the point with even more detail--perhaps reviewing it will highlight the issue.
SingaporeAutismDad writes:
Here's first 12 months of vaccines for American children:
Birth: Hep B
2 months: Hep B, Rotavirus, DTaP, Hib, PCV, IPV
4 months: Rotavirus, DTaP, Hib, PCV, IPV
6 months: Hep B, Rotavirus, DTaP, Hib, PCV, IPV, Flu
12 months: MMR, Hib, PCV, Varicella, Hep A, Hep B
For all you scientists out there, how many of these shots have been studied for relationship to autism? One. So, here's the schedule in first 12 months of shots kids get that HAVE NOT been studied. Are you still a scientist?
Birth: Hep B
2 months: Hep B, Rotavirus, DTaP, Hib, PCV, IPV
4 months: Rotavirus, DTaP, Hib, PCV, IPV
6 months: Hep B, Rotavirus, DTaP, Hib, PCV, IPV, Flu
12 months: Hib, PCV, Varicella, Hep A, Hep B
I thought this was great. As you can see, MMR was pulled from the second list, leaving 24 vaccines by 12 months of age that have NOT been looked at for their relationship to autism. How does an honest scientist argue with this point?
Well, the appropriately named “Mikerattlesnake” gave it his best shot:
“yes, the ONE that anti-vaxers were clammoring for to be tested ad nauseum, by the way. When a link failed to emerge, when none of the data pointed to a link beyond a simple correlation, when the proponents of the link were shown to be frauds, etc, etc, etc, it probably lost a bit of priority. Money should be spent on studies that show some promise. This link shows no promise.”
This “link” shows no promise? We have tens of thousands of case reports of declines after vaccine appointments, absolutely no science that remotely reflects the experience of our kids, but the link shows no promise? So far, that’s about the only argument I’ve heard that tries to defend studying only one of the first 25 vaccines our kids get. Most just try to avoid the question, because it’s so indefensible.
SinaporeAutismDad then asks a more clear-headed commentor named Schwartzz the following:
“Schwartzz: You make a lot of sense. Perhaps comment on why so few shots have been studied? Why do they give 20 shots in the first year of life, only study one, and say "case closed"? Is this American science, or Big Pharma science? I don't understand it.”
Schwartzz responds:
“It's quite simple: Because they don't need to study them. Why would any corporation spend money on something that in the best case maintains the status quo and in the worst case costs them a fortune?
What you have is purely a product of the system that is setup to regulate medicine. It isn't a conspiracy at all. It is the natural outcome of a flawed system.”
I couldn’t have said it any better myself.