The Daily Mail, truncheon bearer to the lunching classes, has once again been trying to hit the MMR-Autism nail on the head. Softened, perhaps, by the indolence of a quiet August Bank Holiday, The Truncheon last weekend let slip a dossier of drivel that managed to combine monumental insult to an honest story about a vaccine damage payout with a level of disingenuity that would have even the Prince of Darkness blush.
The bare facts of the story are straight-forward. Some years ago, a Master Robert Fletcher developed severe brain damage shortly after receiving the MMR vaccine. The family alleged causation, and now, after a 13 year appeal, a medico-legal panel has decided, by a two to one majority, to allow the claim, on the grounds of temporal association. Robert and his family have been awarded £90,000 compensation.
The honest story is of course that it took so long to get such a paltry sum. But honest stories are often dull stories, and the Fletchers and their paltry payout would most likely have ended up spiked, were it not for the fact that the vaccine in question was MMR – and MMR is a vaccine that has form. All The Truncheon’s subs needed to do was add an innuendo here, and an insinuation there, and suddenly the dullest of local stories would be catapulted into the international arena of the MMR vaccine damage war – and whoomf! It is, after all, wars, and not paltry payouts, that sell papers.
Right from the off, The Truncheon drops hints like farts in a spacesuit. Even the headline has it: ‘Family win 18 year fight over MMR damage to son: £90,000 payout is first since concerns over vaccine surfaced’ – as if none of us could possibly imagine what those ‘concerns’ might possibly be.
HumInt (that’s Interest, not Intelligence) is maxed out, Truncheon-style. Multiple family snaps show Robert at various ages: early photos of a cute healthy baby, unable to talk, stand unaided or feed himself, but oddly keen to clean his teeth. Later pictures show a teenage Robert, also unable to talk, stand unaided or feed himself. The dreadful toll of vaccine damage is plain for all to see. One hardly dare wonder what has happened to Robert’s teeth since the vaccine drove its nails of despair into the innocent and unsuspecting Fletcher family…
As we read on, so the whiff of autism gets stronger – despite the fact that Robert is not autistic. Hope is given to a rising tides of hundreds of parents. Before long, Dr Wakefield, chief architect of the MMR-Autism myth, makes an appearance – and even has a photo – despite the fact that Robert is not autistic – and the fact that Wakefield has been struck off and discredited.
Next thing we know, MP Nadine Dorries, a member, no less, of the powerful Commons Health Committee, declares hope for ‘thousands of children and parents in the same position’ – despite the fact that the assessment panel stressed that the decision is ‘fact-specific and it should not be seen as a precedent for any other case…In particular, it has no relevance to the issue…as to whether there is a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.’
This is scurrilous journalism of the worst kind. The Truncheon may not have stooped to ‘MMR killed my hamster’ headlines – indeed, it makes it clear on several occasions that Robert does not have autism – but it nonetheless spends much of the article talking about autism – to the extent of mentioning autism nineteen (at Dr No’s last count) times in an article about Robert Fletcher – who does not have autism.
If Robert doesn’t have autism, why does it keep on turning up in The Truncheon’s report on Robert?