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3/6/2006 2:56:07 PM

Updated 02/24/06

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Networks will report just about anything you say… if your name is Kennedy
‘Environmentalists’ claim mercury link with autism is ‘absolutely overwhelming’

by  Megan Alvarez
July 15, 2005

     When do journalists repeatedly cover something that the medical community agrees is bogus? When the man behind those claims is named Kennedy.

     CBS added itself to the list of media outlets that have given coverage to a discredited claim linking a preservative that contains mercury, thimerosal, in children’s vaccines to autism. As a result, it gave a left-wing “environmentalist” a chance to further his hidden global warming agenda on national television.

     On CBS’s “Evening News” on July 14, 2005, anchor Bob Schieffer called the link between autism and mercury a “controversy,” even though he said medical experts did not believe there was a link.

     But Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. does and that’s all that matters.

     Kennedy, who CBS labeled an “environmental attorney,” appeared on the show claiming, “The science connecting brain damage with thimerosal is absolutely overwhelming.” He even claimed the government knows about this link and that it was being covered up in some grand conspiracy.

     CBS didn’t mention that Kennedy was president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, a liberal environmental group that currently has a campaign to combat mercury contamination of the world’s waterways. This group has also had ties to numerous other left-wing environmental groups, including the Ban Mercury Working Group, Greenpeace, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. None of the media that interviewed Kennedy even bothered to ask why the Waterkeeper Alliance is suddenly interested in autism.

     All of those groups are trying to shut down coal-fired power plants, allegedly because they release mercury into the environment. However, a quick glance at the NRDC Web site makes it clear what the real reason is. Under the global warming question and answer section, there is the following question: “What causes global warming?" The answer: “Coal-burning power plants are the largest U.S. source of carbon dioxide pollution -- they produce 2.5 billion tons every year.”

     CBS skipped over this information, even though it would essentially link Kennedy’s campaign against thimerosal to environmental regulations on coal-fired power plants, not a way to help children.

     Kennedy, who has now received coverage from numerous media outlets, including ABC, the Raleigh News and Observer and The New York Times, complained on CBS’s program that the media has been reluctant to cover this issue. This is ironic, given the coverage Kennedy has received. The latest CBS story appeared both on the “CBS Evening News” and on “The Early Show.” The New York Times piece ran on the front page and filled a full page inside. And the ABC piece was four minutes long.

     Despite all that coverage, medical experts firmly disagree with Kennedy that there is any threat at all.

     Dr. Tanja Popovic from the Centers for Disease Control said on CBS when talking of thimerosal and autism, “Based on what we know right now, we don't think that there is an association.” In The New York Times story from June 25, 2005, a doctor was quoted as saying the link between thimerosal and autism was “voodoo science,” which explains why CBS reporter, Sharyl Attkisson, asked Kennedy, “When you first heard about it, did you think it was kind of nutty?”

     Attkisson ended the report about the link between thimerosal and autism saying, “With the Kennedy name attached, it seems destined to survive for now,” only because networks, like her’s, continue to lend credence to his bogus claims.

     Other FMP stories on news coverage of thimerosal include “ABC’s Mercury Straw Man” and “Times Does Cover Story on Voodoo Science.” Both of which have shown how the media has reported on this bogus connectrion without linking it to a left-wing environmental agenda.


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