Amy Wallace gives “lessons from the field” to health journalists

7 Sep

In a recent article on the University of Southern California’s site Reporting on Health, Amy Wallace gives lessons learned in her activities covering the vaccine/autism discussion. The site, part of the Annenberg School for Communication, hosts her piece, Covering Vaccines.

Amy Wallace wrote a piece for Wired Magazine last year, An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All. As you might imagine, this piece was not well accepted by parts of the autism, nor the self-styled “vaccine safety” communities. Ms. Wallace first had to endure the negative responses of those communities online, with emails such as an essay Paul Offit Rapes (intellectually) Amy Wallace and Wired Magazine as well as blog posts depicting her sitting down to a thanksgiving feast consisting of roast human baby.

She, her publisher and Dr. Paul Offit were also subjected to a lawsuit by Barbara Fisher of the self-named “National Vaccine Informational Center” over a statement by Dr. Offit quoted in the piece:

Paul Offit has a slightly nasal voice and a forceful delivery that conspire to make him sound remarkably like Hawkeye Pierce, the cantankerous doctor played by Alan Alda on the TV series M*A*S*H. As a young man, Offit was a big fan of the show (though he felt then, and does now, that Hawkeye was “much cooler than me”). Offit is quick-witted, funny, and — despite a generally mild-mannered mien — sometimes so assertive as to seem brash. “Scientists, bound only by reason, are society’s true anarchists,” he has written — and he clearly sees himself as one. “Kaflooey theories” make him crazy, especially if they catch on. Fisher, who has long been the media’s go-to interview for what some in the autism arena call “parents’ rights,” makes him particularly nuts, as in “You just want to scream.” The reason? “She lies,” he says flatly.

“Barbara Loe Fisher inflames people against me. And wrongly. I’m in this for the same reason she is. I care about kids. Does she think Merck is paying me to speak about vaccines? Is that the logic?” he asks, exasperated. (Merck is doing no such thing). But when it comes to mandating vaccinations, Offit says, Fisher is right about him: He is an adamant supporter.

The phrase “she lies” was singled out in the lawsuit, which was dismissed on its merits.

The article brings the story to health journalists, who are being educated in the manner in which some groups use in response to articles with which they disagree. Such responses as those levied against Ms. Wallace do not further the needs of disabled children or adults, in this readers opinion.

One Response to “Amy Wallace gives “lessons from the field” to health journalists”

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  1. Tweets that mention Autism Blog - Amy Wallace gives “lessons from the field” to health journalists « Left Brain/Right Brain -- Topsy.com - September 8, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alltop, Alltop. Alltop said: Amy Wallace gives “lessons from the field” to health journalists http://bit.ly/d9d8yy […]

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