CBS Does Turnabout on Mercury-based Thimerosal's Link to Autism
Health news can change in the blink of an eye, and thatâ€™s what happened on CBS News January 7.
The pharmaceutical industry had maintained all along that thereâ€™s no proven link between a vaccine preservative called thimerosal and autism. CBS repeatedly reported the opposite â€“ until now.
â€śIn health news tonight, new research finds no link between mercury in vaccines and autism in children,â€ť Katie Couric said on the January 7 â€śEvening News.â€ť â€śSuspicion had focused on a vaccine preservative called thimerosal, which contains mercury. Thimerosal was eliminated from most vaccines in 2001, but since then a study in California showed that, instead of going down, autism cases there continued to climb.â€ť
Not long ago, in June 2007, the â€śEvening Newsâ€ť had a different message. In a story titled â€śVaccines suspected in rise in autism rates,â€ť CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reported on the plight of the parents of an autistic child and their fight to win money from a federal fund for â€śvaccine damages.â€ť
â€śTwelve-year-old Michelle Cedillo doesn't know it, but she's the center of a landmark case that started today in federal vaccine court, one that could open the door for thousands of autistic children to be paid by a government fund,â€ť Attkisson said on the June 11, 2007, â€śCBS Evening News.â€ť â€śThe controversy: whether their autism was caused by their childhood shots.â€ť
Seven months later, the study, supported through the California Department of Public Health according to a press release, got little fanfare. It got only a brief mention on â€śCBS Evening News,â€ť despite CBS airing six stories over the past two-and-a-half years that sounded alarm bells over thimerosal, according to a Nexis search.
One CBS story, aired on July 15, 2005, included the ranting and ravings of environmental extremist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. â€śThe science connecting brain damage with thimerosal is absolutely overwhelming,â€ť Kennedy said.