“Oh my God, I did not believe that we did what we did, but we did. It’s all there… This is the lowest point in my career, that I went along with that paper. I have great shame now when I meet families of kids with autism, because I have been part of the problem.”—CDC Whistleblower Dr. William W. Thompson, in a recorded interview with Dr. Brian Hooker.
On Aug. 19 came a bombshell revelation charging an intentional fraud at the Centers for Disease Control has put black children at greater risk of developing autism. A week has passed, and the media can’t seem to decide what to do with the story.
The advocacy group Focus Autism published on its website on Aug. 19 a press release that explained that a whistleblower inside the CDC, Dr. William W. Thompson, had helped Dr. Brian Hooker discover that a bedrock paper proving that vaccines don’t cause autism was based on fraudulent data.
The website also published a video (credited to the Autism Media Channel) documenting the amazing tale of a guilt-wracked government scientist (Thompson) and the father of an autistic child who happened to have a PhD in chemical engineering (Hooker), searching for the truth about his son’s disease.
Hooker had been examining data sets for years, trying to discover the true cause or causes of his son’s severe autism, which is a blanket term for neurological impairment.
Autism rates began rapidly rising in the 1990s (according to the CDC, in 2014 1 in 68 children in the United States has autism. In the 1970s and 1980s, the rate was 1 in 2000), and some researchers and parents of autistic children began speculating that rounds of vaccines, especially in combination, were responsible.
One day Hooker got a phone call. Thompson reached out to him—Hooker says Thompson appointed Hooker as his “priest”—and began providing clues to guide Hooker’s research.
The Focus Autism release explains how Hooker, making use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as well as a Congressional request, finally found the bombshell Thompson had wanted him to find. Upon reexamining a study published in 2004 that the CDC had used to establish the safety of the MMR vaccine, which is given to babies to inoculate them against measles, mumps, and rubella, Hooker discovered: “African American boys receiving their first MMR vaccine before 36 months of age were 3.4 (or around 236 percent) times more likely to develop autism vs. after 36 months.”
Using the original data sets of the 2004 study, Hooker published a peer-reviewed paper showing the results of the research. [UPDATE on Aug. 31: Hooker’s article was unpublished by the journal Translational Neurodegneration, and an undated notice was posted in its place. The notice says, in part, “This article has been removed from the public domain because of serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions.”]
According to Hooker, the data set for the paper was altered. Data was initially gathered on 2,583 children. When the evidence pointed to a strong link between MMR and autism, the researchers found a way to cut the study group, almost in half.
They excluded any children that did not have a valid State of Georgia Birth Certificate, which reduced the cohort by 41 percent and greatly diluted the significance of the original correlation.
The resulting paper, commonly known as the DeStefano et. al. study, was published in the journal Pediatics in 2004. “[It] is widely used by the CDC and other public health organizations to support a claim that there is no link between vaccines and autism,” says the Focus Autism press release.
The study answered a purpose. In the video, Thompson complains that higher-ups wanted certain results, and he went along.
Individuals like Hooker, who had been investigating a possible link between vaccines and his son’s autism, are dismissed by the medical establishment as “anti-vaxxers” and considered a threat to public health.
The story released by Focus Autism started to spread in alternative health media, like Mike Adams’ “Natural News,” and Jon Rappoport’s “NoMoreFakeNews,” which reported on Friday that Dr. Thompson had been “escorted out” of the CDC building.
Everything was quiet in the big media outlets on Thursday, but outraged parents began calling the CDC demanding answers.
On Friday, a woman in Atlanta who goes by “Bobby Dee” online and doesn’t want her real name revealed, heard about the video on Facebook, and decided to write an iReport story for CNN.
“I wrote it, I set it loose, and it started going crazy,” she told Epoch Times. Her story stayed up at CNN for 19 hours, during which time it began to go viral. It had 56,512 views, 235 comments, and 33,000 shares when CNN inexplicably pulled it. Gone.
The comments were mostly parents of afflicted children literally begging CNN to investigate, to cover this important story. Then there was a “troll”—a de-moralizer whose comments spread the official view on the safety of vaccines, over and over.
Dee was contacted by a producer at CNN, who asked her a list of questions about who she was and how she knew what she knew. Dee, wanting CNN to run with the story, provided phone numbers for the all the main sources in the story.
The producer promised it would go back up “if CNN could verify it.” The strange thing about that though, is that “iReport” is a page that states in its guidelines that contributors are on their own—rather like Facebook—and CNN is not responsible for content, and does not vet content.
The producer claimed the reason this story was receiving exceptional treatment was that it had gone “viral-ish,” so CNN needed to check it out.
Meanwhile, absurdly, Dee herself (out-doing “the most trusted name in news”) had already verified Dr. Thompson’s identity, by emailing him at CDC and getting a response.
“Thank you for your kind words,” Dr. Thompson wrote.
Epoch Times has learned that on Sunday, Aug. 25 some parents began receiving an emailed statement from the CDC reviewing the handling of the data in Destafano et. al. study. The statement stands behind that study’s conclusion: “Additional studies and a more recent rigorous review by the Institute of Medicine have found that MMR vaccine does not increase the risk of autism.”
The statement is published on the CDC’s website with a note that it was updated on Aug. 25. Calls to the CDC on Aug. 26 asking for comment have not yet been returned.
Also on Aug. 25, a second story was posted at CNN’s “iReport,” and this time, it went down after two hours. A third story was taken down in minutes, and outrage at CNN’s behavior exploded across the social media.
On Aug. 25, midday, CNN put two of the three stories back online, but with tags saying CNN had not vetted them. Epoch Times’ calls to CNN were not returned at press time.
CNN is carrying a story on an unofficial part of its site that it has so far chosen not to cover on its own.
A google search early on the morning of Aug. 26 does not show any other mainstream media outlet has picked the story up.
Meanwhile, the latest word from an individual in a position to know is that Dr. Thompson has “lawyered up,” and is seeking official whistleblower status, so that he can talk freely about what he knows.
Celia Farber writes and lives in New York City.
Correction: The percentage likelihood of African-American boys developing autism if the receive the MMR vaccine in the first 36 months was corrected to around 236 percent. The CDC’s statement responding to the charges made by Hooker and Thompson was added to the article around 12:45 p.m. ET on Aug. 26.