Frank Bruni’s angry tirade against me in his Sunday New York Times column took me by surprise. Last February, we’d had a brief, friendly and mutually respectful telephone conversation. He had written an article about vaccine safety at the end of January, and I asked if he would allow me to show him some of the recent scientific studies linking thimerosal to a range of brain injuries. I also wanted to show him the transcripts of statements by CDC whistleblower Dr. William Thompson discussing the troubling disarray and deception within CDC’s vaccine program.

Bruni told me he would be delighted to look at the materials. He said he was under deadline at the moment, but he cordially invited me to call back to schedule lunch. Both of us are busy, so I was not surprised that he did not return my follow-up call the next week. Bruni now reveals that he was deliberately dodging my phone call because he was frightened that I would use the lunch meeting to “scaremonger” him.

It’s disappointing that a columnist for America’s leading publication can be “scaremongered” by facts. The sad outcome is that instead of the enlightened, civil debate our country deserves, Bruni delivers in this past Sunday’s column the same tired species of invective and ad hominem attack that have long characterized the vaccine controversy.

In the two instances that he ventures from insult into substance, Bruni gets it wrong. He erroneously suggests that mercury has been removed from all pediatric vaccines. In fact there are massive doses of mercury in some meningitis vaccines – now mandated for all schoolchildren in New York – and in vaccines given to pregnant women, infants and annually to public school kids. To the ingredients of those vaccines, pharmaceutical companies have recently added aluminum adjuvants that act synergistically to dramatically amplify the neurotoxicity of the remaining mercury. Finally, pharmaceutical companies merely reduced mercury levels in pediatric vaccines given to American children. We continue to send the range of pediatric vaccines fully loaded with mercury to children in developing nations in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, a practice that will haunt our country in many dreadful ways.

In defending thimerosal safety, Bruni alludes to the debunked industry canard that the ethylmercury in vaccines is less persistent in the body and therefore less toxic than the heavily regulated methylmercury in fish. However, the best and most recent science shows that ethylmercury is twice as persistent in the brain (Burbacher et al. 2004) and 50 times as toxic as methylmercury in fish (Guzzi et al. 2010).

Bruni acknowledges that he relies on CDC’s version of what the science says rather than reading science himself. There is a peril in unctuous faith in government orthodoxies. Four scathing federal studies by Congress, the U.S. Senate, the HHS inspector general and the HHS Office of Research Integrity paint CDC’s vaccine division a cesspool of corruption due to scandalous conflicts with the $30 billion vaccine industry. In August, CDC’s senior vaccine scientist, Dr. William Thompson, invoked federal whistleblower protection, confessing that CDC supervisors systematically require vaccine division scientists to bury data linking vaccines to autism and other neurologic harms.

In our book, a review of the published science, Dr. Martha Herbert, Dr. Mark Hyman and I identified hundreds of peer reviewed studies by leading government and university scientists showing that thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative, is a devastating neurologic toxin linked to neurological disorders now epidemic in American children, including ADD, ADHD, low IQ, speech development delays and tics. I have posted a digest of these studies on my website. We found no published study proving thimerosal safe.

Bruni is left making the strange and anemic argument that if pharmaceutical companies were truly driven by greed, as purportedly cynical thimerosal opponents believe, Pharma’s best business strategy would be to stop manufacturing vaccines, let contagions run rampant, and then profiteer on medicine sales. I’m not jumping into that shark tank with Bruni, but I will dip in one toe by pointing out that Pharma is making plenty of dough selling Adderall, Prozac and dozens of other best-selling drugs to treat the neurological injuries that now affect one in six American children. All these illnesses are consistent with symptoms documented in mass mercury poisonings around the globe.

Frank Bruni and other American journalists need to start reading the science themselves and stop allowing compromised government bureaucrats tell them what the science supposedly says.

The media’s undue reverence for CDC has emboldened bad agency behavior that jeopardizes vaccine safety. The best way to promote vaccine participation and compliance is through intense media scrutiny that will restore integrity and credibility at CDC.

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