Salon retracts RFK Jr. article

16 Jan

In 2005, Salon published online an exclusive story by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that offered an explosive premise: that the mercury-based thimerosal compound present in vaccines until 2001 was dangerous, and that he was “convinced that the link between thimerosal and the epidemic of childhood neurological disorders is real.”

The piece was co-published with Rolling Stone magazine — they fact-checked it and published it in print; we posted it online. In the days after running “Deadly Immunity,” we amended the story with five corrections (which can still be found logged) that went far in undermining Kennedy’s exposé. At the time, we felt that correcting the piece — and keeping it on the site, in the spirit of transparency — was the best way to operate. But subsequent critics, including most recently, Seth Mnookin in his book “The Panic Virus,” further eroded any faith we had in the story’s value. We’ve grown to believe the best reader service is to delete the piece entirely.

“I regret we didn’t move on this more quickly, as evidence continued to emerge debunking the vaccines and autism link,” says former Salon editor in chief Joan Walsh, now editor at large. “But continued revelations of the flaws and even fraud tainting the science behind the connection make taking down the story the right thing to do.” The story’s original URL now links to our autism topics page, which we believe now offers a strong record of clear thinking and skeptical coverage we’re proud of — including the critical pursuit of others who continue to propagate the debunked, and dangerous, autism-vaccine link.

Well done Salon.

4 Responses to “Salon retracts RFK Jr. article”

  1. Science Mom January 16, 2011 at 22:25 #

    Let the ‘pharma got to them’ rhetoric start flying by the usual suspects.

  2. sharon January 17, 2011 at 01:15 #

    Yep sceince mom. There’s a quote from the former Editor, that must mean she is connected to journalism, and we all know they are manipulated by science, which is in the pocket of big pharma. Makes prefect sense to discredit anything Salon say or do from this moment forward. (please note sarcasm)

  3. Sullivan January 17, 2011 at 04:28 #

    Looks like I should read the blog before writing my posts!

    Glad to see this piece pulled. Glad that Salon had the guts to do it with a clear statement, rather than quietly removing it like Rolling Stone.

    But, it’s been 5 years. This bit of junk journalism should have been pulled years ago.

  4. Science Mom January 17, 2011 at 13:42 #

    @ Sharon, some of the comments are predictable but most are very reasoned. I have to agree that Salon should keep the article up with a final, major correction culminating from the work of Offit and Mnookin. It is revisionist history to try and wipe that from the record. It probably protects RFK, Jr. more than it cleanses Salon of accomplice to pseudoscience.

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