Robert Kennedy and Robert DeNiro hold a press conference. No one cares.

16 Feb

Robert Kennedy Jr. has been for many years pushing the failed idea that vaccines cause autism. He’s particularly interested in mercury–you know, that preservative thimerosal that was removed from infant vaccines but didn’t cause autism rates to drop. A while back he actually got the ear of President Trump, coming away with the claim that he would be appointed to run a vaccine safety commission. The Trump team pushed back a bit on that claim, but, seriously, what was Trump doing wasting his time with Kennedy? I can say one thing, as the parent of an autistic child: Trump is doing the autism communities no favors. None at all.

Kennedy held a press conference today, apparently renting some space at the prestigious National Press Club. In order to pull some attention, he had Robert DeNiro along (although DeNiro’s contribution amounted to “I agree with what Kennedy said”). Kennedy has long been short of facts. So he didn’t present any new facts, or even alternative facts today. Instead he pulled out another attention grabbing gimmick: he says he will pay a journalist $100,000 if said journalist can present a study that shows mercury in vaccines is safe.

Lacking in the offer is a definition of safe.

Say, for example, we define safe as per how Kennedy usually defines unsafe: is the rise in autism diagnoses due to mercury in vaccines? Well, there are many studies which show that mercury in vaccines did not cause the rise in autism (and, since this is the backbone of the “mercury causes autism” argument, that argument fails as well).

But Kennedy knows the studies. He’s already denied their results.

What he also knows is that California pulled thimerosal from vaccines a long time ago (2006 to be exact). Infants and pregnant women in California get thimerosal free vaccines. And the number of people diagnosed with autism has continued to rise ever since. Heck, that’s got to be worth at least $10,000.

He got more press than I expected. Not much but some. Here’s some examples:

Cause Celeb: Robert De Niro continues to question vaccines

Cause: Vaccine safety. Specifically the debunked link between mercury found in early childhood vaccines and autism, a claim the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has unequivocally refuted

Robert De Niro and RFK Jr. have joined forces to push vaccine nonsense

De Niro, Bobby Kennedy son offer $100K for anti-vaccine journalism

This picture (from Buzzfeed if memory serves), pretty much sums it up.


By Matt Carey

26 Responses to “Robert Kennedy and Robert DeNiro hold a press conference. No one cares.”

  1. Lawrence February 16, 2017 at 11:56 #

    Well, that certainly looked “well-attended.”


    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 16, 2017 at 16:59 #

      Note how in real news conferences one has to filter out the constant click of shutters from still cameras?

      Yesterday’s news conference was free from such noise.

  2. Science Mom February 16, 2017 at 17:10 #

    An obvious and odious attempt at attention-whoring rather than doing something substantive for the autism community. They could at least fund their own damn study if they have cash lying around. But no, pure showmanship at the expense of autistics once again by these scientifically-ignorant numpties.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 17, 2017 at 22:52 #

      Fund their own study?

      Part of this effort is Lyn Redwood. Who, at SafeMinds, funded the thimerosal / monkey study.

      The study that shows no evidence of harm (to coin a phrase)

      Want to bet one or more of the studies Kennedy is using is/are from the preliminary work with monkeys? The ones that the SafeMinds funded study shows are wrong?

    • Greg February 19, 2017 at 03:04 #

      They’re not doing something substantive for the autistic community?

      With cash-strapped governments, every penny saved and does not have to be doled out for new cases of autism is the single most beneficial thing for the autism community. That adage applies here: Nothing beats prevention.

      • doritmi February 19, 2017 at 03:13 #

        They’re not doing anything that would prevent any autism cases, either.

        If they wanted to help anyone, they could spend that money on something meaningful. They’re not.

      • Lawrence February 19, 2017 at 12:30 #

        Well, as far as prevention goes, it would seem that avoiding having children at advanced paternal and maternal ages would be a good start.

  3. Christina February 16, 2017 at 17:16 #

    If you follow the CDC’s recommended vaccination schedule, your child will receive 49 doses of 14 vaccines by the time he/she is 6 years of age. And by the age of 18, the CDC recommends that children should have gotten 69 doses of 16 vaccines.Nov 3, 2011

    As so few Americans recall, we have been down a similar road with the big tobacco lies and greed. Oh yes, they had expert scientific data and it was suppressed because it showed cigarettes were addictive.

    In his testimony, Mr. Campbell of Philip Morris admitted twice stopping publication of a study, in 1983 and 1985, that showed that laboratory animals could be conditioned to press levers repeatedly to get nicotine, the sort of study that is key to proving that a drug is addictive. **He also agreed to waive the secrecy agreement that has kept a former company researcher, Dr. Victor DeNoble, from publicly discussing his work.**

    When big profits, lies, greed, data manipulation or suppression are involved, an unbiased commissions need to take a much closer look. Big tobacco sure didn’t care that their products was killing people as long as they made their profit.

    I am glad Trump has appointed Robert Kennedy Jr. to chair a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity. If vaccines are safe as reported by the CDC, then the CDC should welcome the review. If they don’t, more Americans will know why and stop vaccinations.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 18, 2017 at 01:00 #

      “If you follow the CDC’s recommended vaccination schedule, your child will receive 49 doses of 14 vaccines by the time he/she is 6 years of age”

      If you follow the CDC’s recommended vaccination schedule, your child will be protected (Protected) from

      Hepatitis B
      Streptococcus pneumoniae (protects against some cases of pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis)
      Influenza (multiple strains at that)
      and Chicken Pox

      Please explain how that is a bad thing.

      As so few Americans recall, we have been down a similar road with the big tobacco lies and greed

      Alive and well in the movement Mr. Kennedy represents. Hell, tobacco science was better than most of what he relies upon. People pushing the idea have made millions of dollars (literally. Boyd Haley said he sold over $1M of his fake supplement. The Geiers made huge amounts of money off the vaccine court and by selling their research ‘skills’ to the movement.) So this American remembers that sort of politically driven bad science extremely well.

      Kennedy is about as poor a choice to head a commission on vaccines as one could imagine. Incredibly biased. Unable to understand bad science, or unwilling to call it out. Willing to lie. But he says what you want to hear, so you support him.

      “I am glad Trump has appointed Robert Kennedy Jr. to chair a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity.”

      Trump hasn’t appointed Kennedy to anything. Just another example of you not having facts.

    • smut clyde February 23, 2017 at 01:55 #

      If you follow the CDC’s recommended vaccination schedule, your child

      When a comment begins with a paragraph of uncredited copy-paste, it does have the advantage of warning the reader not to expect any originality or accuracy in the remainder.

  4. jonathan February 16, 2017 at 19:28 #

    no one cares? You sure do, you’re absolutely obsessed with the autism causes vaccines movement.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) May 1, 2018 at 17:28 #

      Let’s see, Jonathan. Why do I write so much about vaccines? It’s OBVIOUS because I’ve discussed this time and time again. And you’ve read it over and over.

      I write about vaccines because of the harm the vaccines-cause-autism idea causes to our communities. As a far secondary reason, given the harm to public health caused by a small but vocal group of my fellow autism parents, I counter some of that misinformation. Which, by the way, also helps other autism parents to see the failed logic.

      Should I feel ashamed for that?

      Should I, instead, take the “gadfly” approach and wander the internet interjecting poorly informed comments and quips into discussions with the sole intent of irritating people?

      Just to be clear–yes, I’m saying that is exactly what you do. You serve no valuable purpose in the community and, instead, are a negative.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) May 1, 2018 at 17:36 #

        Further, Jonathan,

        you troll the internet for just the sorts of comments above (actually, you are looking for emotional outbursts). I know you will enjoy this. Go, write about it on your blog. I haven’t read it in years. I haven’t thought your name in over a year. The only reason this comment came up is I was searching the moderation queues and it came up. That won’t happen again. You can stop “gadlflying” here as I’ll never see another of your comments.

  5. vaccinesworkblog February 16, 2017 at 22:11 #

    I am not sure if this is sad or amusing. Quite desperate, isn’t Kennedy.

    • Proponent February 17, 2017 at 03:26 #

      I think your most recent (as of this writing) post to your blog, Kathy.. is more than a worthy addition to this article and to make mention of here:

      “Vaccines Revealed 3 – a provaxer’s view”

      In particular, the first section of “Patrick Gentempo interviews Robert (Bobby) Kennedy Jr.”.

      It more than fleshes out Robert Kennedy Jr.’s ongoing romance with “alternative facts”.

      … …

      @Sullivan (Matt Carey):

      As a suggestion..

      You should grab the photos that Orac has up for his article; “Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Robert De Niro issue a $100,000 vaccine “challenge.” It’s every bit as much as scam as Jock Doubleday’s “vaccine challenge” was a decade ago.”

      I watched the archived video of this “so-called” press conference, and what now seems to be true to form.. when it comes to these stunts by anti-vaxxers … it didn’t really provide a nice, wide-angle view to gauge attendance.

      The accompanying photos to Orac’s piece would really underscore your article’s title/header and bring your point home with more than fitting and appropriate visuals.

      … …

      Sadly, though.. the mention of the $100,000 challenge was more than some of the legitimate e-press could resist.

      But, that’s ok.

      As there will be more bumps in the road ahead, like the Revolution4TRUTH gathering/march/whatever it is.. will get some mentions come the end of March.

  6. Roberto Costa February 18, 2017 at 00:11 #

    This post and the supporting comments are vile and obnoxious. As a parent and concerned citizen, and as someone who has friends who believe their children have been damaged by vaccines, the fact that mercury was and is being injected into little bodies is just plain wrong… recent analysis of some vaccines show very odd foreign particles such as lead and other tiny particles…. I don’t think these offending “high quality vaccines’ made to “rigorous scientific standards” should be injected into anyone if they cannot make them clean.. The argument is that the environment already has toxic particles in it ….. hello!!!.. the environment is not being injected into a baby’s body and a well supported body with well functioning immune system will be able to better handle environmental pollutants than those injected into the body! Vaccine makers should just get truly professional and make a good vaccine that is not dodgy, does not contain dodgy materials, is truly efficacious and doesn’t cause a damage that the legislators legislate cannot be admitted to, yet these families who did not get damaged by vaccines get paid out huge sums each and every year through the “vaccine court” …..I mean, what a lot of hocus pocus.
    Some honesty please!

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 18, 2017 at 00:50 #

      Tell me specifically what in the above article is not honest.

      Your comment shows no evidence you actually read the article. It’s easy to say “hocus pocus” and “hello!!” but harder to actually have an exchange of ideas.

      So, be specific, what above is not honest. What is hocus pocus?

  7. reissd February 18, 2017 at 03:06 #

    It’s a shame De Niro let himself be pulled into this and lend his name to this bad cause.

  8. Judith February 18, 2017 at 19:13 #

    Robert D. looks sad. He is on obviously hurting. His son is maybe 18 or 19. Which is when a boy becomes a man. “When I was a child I spoke as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man…..”. Mr. D has been misguided. Even if a person has severe autism he can still be happy. Several comprehensive reviews have shown no evidence of harm caused by low doses of thimerosal. In animals some studies have shown central nervous system problems, coma and death, although same has not been shown in humans. They stopped using thimerosal in 2001 except in some poorer countries. Anyway, after the removal the autism rate has gone up instead of down
    But then DSM 5 and the spectrum became very wide. This vaccine controversy will not seem to go away as long as the parents of children with autism keep the myth alive. Mr.DiNero and Mr Kennedy would be more helpful if they helped to create jobs and housing for people with disabilities. Like Special Olympics.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 19, 2017 at 21:37 #

      DeNiro talks about his son as having a great sense of humor and communicating well.

      That, together with what will obviously be a lot of money to support him, gives his son a better chance at a happy life than a large fraction of the non autistic population.

      • Judith February 20, 2017 at 19:29 #

        You are right as usual. I was thinking of the stereotypical autism of long ago. $100, 000 is chump change to those two. If Autism Speaks, a charity who had millions at their disposal could not figure out if thimeosal was harmful before 2001 than WTH.

  9. Roger Kulp February 20, 2017 at 16:53 #

    Nothing much,just thought I’d pop in to post a few links

    President Trump, you need a lesson in autism – here it is
    So what if there’s an increase?

    Has Autism Prevalence Increased?

    The graph of diagnostic substitution of autism for intellectual disability is especially telling.

    How not to ‘Re-think’ Autism

    On a sort of related note,causes of autism,there was this study,published the other day,that proved the value of whole exome sequencing in autism.Particularly syndromic autism,with many coexisting medical issues or intellectual disability.

    I would like to see studies like this reported on more widely in the media.

    I am personally very thankful for whole exome sequencing,and a big advocate for as many autistics getting a WES as possible.The test found one,of two,genetic disorders,that are the causes of my autism,and many other medical and neurological problems.The disease the WES found is a unique variant of an extremely rare disease never seen with autism before.One thing that unites many in the autism community,both antivaccine and neurodiverse,is the belief that genetic research is a useless waste of time,and resources.But it has provided answers for many families,and provides clues to more common causes.Autism is not this big monolithic thing with one single cause,but it is a feature of any number of genetic disorders,that individually might be rare,but when grouped together might make up a significant number of those on the spectrum.

  10. Jasryl Martin February 2, 2019 at 10:06 #

    This article leaves out some very important information. 1. The nearly 3 hours of recorded phone calls, between Dr. Thompson and Dr. Hooker, make it pretty clear that Thompson does blame vaccines for Autism. Thompson also discusses how Thimerosal causes tics and “autism-like features”. Lusten to what he says about the SEED study and Dr. Thorsen. There is so much in those recordings. 2. Why won’t the media cover the story, and why does Congress refuse to subpoena him? The answer is pretty obvious. The media isn’t allowed to touch this story. They gave more attention to a 10 year old kid ranting about “anti-vaxxers”. 3. If there truly is nothing to this story, the people who question vaccines, and the people who worship them, should come together and demand Dr. Thompson be subpoenaed. Ultimately, we all want the truth. Right? Isn’t the health of our children more important than winning an argument?

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 20, 2019 at 23:18 #

      Three hours where Brian Hooker presented himself as Thompson’s “confessor”. And then betrayed him.

      Thompson can think whatever he wants. The data are against him.

      The SEED study–a great example of the ignorance of Brian Hooker. Everyone knew about the SEED study. But somehow this was news to Mr. Hooker.

      Why should congress subpoena Thompson? Seriously, for what hearing would that be for? Unfortunately (actually fortunately), the Member of Congress who accepted $40k in donations and then gave out Oversight hearings to the anti-vaccine community is gone. Even before he left, he stopped giving out those hearings. Coincidentally, shortly after I exposed that he was accepting huge donations.

      The media is absolutely allowed to touch this story. But after many years of being manipulated by the anti-vaccine community, they have learned not to give false balance.

      Ah, the 10 year old kid was “ranting”. Nice slur there. Care do dish out some more hate?

      “people who worship them”. Yep, keep telling yourself whatever you need to in order to not listen to the other side. Close that mind!!! Other people “rant” and “worship”. But I bet you think of yourself as “open minded”. Even pride yourself on it. LoL.

    • doritmi February 20, 2019 at 23:25 #

      As pointed out, gossip isn’t evidence. The documents do not support Thompson’s opinion. The newspapers did look into this, and a few mentioned this – but they figured out quite early there’s nothing there.

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