"Dr Andrew Wakefield is in front of the General Medical Council on charges of serious professional misconduct, his paper on 12 children with autism and bowel problems is described as “debunked” - although it never supported the conclusions ascribed to it - and journalists have convinced themselves that his £435,643 fee from legal aid proves that his research was flawed.
I will now defend the heretic Dr Andrew Wakefield.
The media are fingering the wrong man, and they know who should really take the blame: in MMR, journalists and editors have constructed their greatest hoax to date, and finally demonstrated that they can pose a serious risk to public health. But there are also many unexpected twists to learn from: the health journalists themselves were not at fault, the scale of the bias in the coverage was greater than anybody realised at the time, Leo Blair was a bigger player than Wakefield, and it all happened much later than you think...
British journalists have done their job extremely well. People make health decisions based on what they read in the newspapers, and MMR uptake has plummeted from 92% to 73%: there can be no doubt that the appalling state of health reporting is now a serious public health issue. We have already seen a mumps epidemic in 2005, and measles cases are at their highest levels for a decade. But these are not the most chilling consequences of their hoax, because the media are now queueing up to blame one man, Wakefield, for their own crimes.
It is madness to imagine that one single man can create a 10-year scare story. It is also dangerous to imply - even in passing - that academics should be policed not to speak their minds, no matter how poorly evidenced their claims. Individuals like Wakefield must be free to have bad ideas. The media created the MMR hoax, and they maintained it diligently for 10 years. Their failure to recognise that fact demonstrates that they have learned nothing, and until they do, journalists and editors will continue to perpetrate the very same crimes, repeatedly, with increasingly grave consequences."
Read the full story - it is one of the best deconstructions of the MMR scare that I've come across in a single article.