CBS Does Turnabout on Mercury-based Thimerosal's Link to Autism

     Health news can change in the blink of an eye, and that’s what happened on CBS News January 7.


     The pharmaceutical industry had maintained all along that there’s no proven link between a vaccine preservative called thimerosal and autism. CBS repeatedly reported the opposite – until now.


     “In health news tonight, new research finds no link between mercury in vaccines and autism in children,” Katie Couric said on the January 7 “Evening News.” “Suspicion 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.”


     Not long ago, in June 2007, the “Evening News” had a different message. In a story titled “Vaccines suspected in rise in autism rates,” 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 “vaccine damages.”

     “Twelve-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,” Attkisson said on the June 11, 2007, “CBS Evening News.” “The controversy: whether their autism was caused by their childhood shots.”


     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 “CBS Evening News,” 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. “The science connecting brain damage with thimerosal is absolutely overwhelming,” Kennedy said.