Dan Gainor

Neil Young’s song “The Needle and the Damage Done” was written about heroin addiction, but it might as well have applied to the liberal crusade against science. Young sings: “I've seen the needle/and the damage done.” But unlike heroin, this damage seldom impacts the individual making the choice. It hurts some of our most vulnerable – children.

For several years, while some liberals have pushed for health care reform, lefty wackos have been leading the charge against one of the foundations of our successful health care system – vaccines. One of the far left’s leading lights – Robert Kennedy Jr. – has spent years going after a supposed link between vaccines and autism.

Back in 2005, Kennedy was all over the news with his lunacy. On July 1, 2005, he wrote in the Boston Globe that an additive in vaccines was the problem. “Mounting evidence suggests that Thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative in children's vaccines, may be responsible for the exponential growth of autism, attention deficit disorder, speech delays, and other childhood neurological disorders now epidemic in the United States.”

Kennedy wrote a June 16, 2005, Rolling Stone article “arguing that most studies of the issue are flawed and that public health officials are conspiring with drug makers to cover up the damage caused by thimerosal,” according to The New York Times. He received positive coverage from numerous media outlets, including ABC, CBS and the front page of The New York Times.

Only, that idea has been thoroughly discredited. WebMD reported on Sept. 13, 2010, that a new CDC study says there is no link between thimerosal and autism. “Exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines in infancy or in the womb is not associated with an increased risk for developing autism, according to a new study from the CDC,” wrote WebMD.

But don’t just take their word for it. How about the courts. The Washington Post reported Feb. 13, 2009, that “a special federal court ruled yesterday that vaccines do not cause autism and that thousands of families with autistic children are not entitled to compensation.”

The anti-vaccine freak-out has been driven like so many other issues in our society – by big name, liberal standbys like Kennedy, Hollywood celebs like former Playboy model and TV personality Jenny McCarthy, whose son has autism, and a compliant media that gives deference to liberal kooks as long as they bash conservatives.

Dan Gainor

Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Free Market Fellow and director of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute.