Free Beacon Shows Ignorance Trying for Gotcha

The Washington Free Beacon: Lying for Conservatives Since 2012!

There has been a lot of discussion of vaccines these past few days. For some reason, all the potential 2016 presidential candidates have been asked if they think that measles vaccines cause autism. For the record, they don’t. If vaccines caused autism, someone would have noticed it a very long time ago and there would be no question. But whatever.

The Republicans have not done a good job in responding to these questions. There is Chris Christie who comes off as, I don’t know, a total hypocrite when he says that parents ought to be able to do anything they want, after he quarantined a nurse for clearly political purposes. But even worse was Doctor Rand Paul. He thinks generally that vaccines are a good thing. But parents shouldn’t be forced to give them to there kids because, you know, freedom. Or rather slavery:

I think the parent should have some input. The state doesn’t own your children; parents own the children and it is an issue of freedom.

The mind boggles. Paul, of course, is very much an anti-choice guy. So apparently, once a child is born, the parents own it. But before birth, the state owns it. Or it is a full citizen that must be protected. But not against measles.

But the smart people at The Washington Free Beacon thought it a good idea to protect their conservative heroes. So they launched a shot across the bow, When Hillary and Obama Gave Credence to Anti-Vaccine Theories. Back in 2008, it seems, both Clinton and Obama equivocated regarding vaccines. During his race for the White House, Obama said, “We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it.” At the same time, Clinton said the much less provocative, “I am committed to make investments to find the causes of autism, including possible environmental causes like vaccines.”

And now they are both claiming the opposite. Obama recently said, “The science is, you know, pretty indisputable.” And Clinton tweeted:

And the conservative crowd goes wild!

But wait. There’s something different about these claims. Oh, I know: they are separated by seven years! I wonder if anything happened during those seven years that would move the thinking of a thoughtful person from “suspicious” to “indisputable”? Perhaps science? The suspicion about vaccines came from a 1998 Lancet article that linked autism to the MMR vaccine. In 2004, a major conflict of interest was discovered and most of the co-authors on the paper repudiated it. But it wasn’t until 2010 that the journal itself fully retracted it, calling it “utterly false.”

This is the way that science works. Or at least, it is the way that science is supposed to work. Obama and Clinton were acting responsibly based upon the facts that they knew. That’s not true of Chris Christie and Rand Paul. Science my change but their their opinions never will because their opinions were never based on science in the first place.

But there is something more. Remember Free Beacon quoted Obama as saying, “We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it”? Well, that’s a selective quote. Via PolitiFact, here is the full quote:

We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Nobody knows exactly why. There are some people who are suspicious that it’s connected to vaccines and triggers, but — this person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it. Part of the reason I think it’s very important to research it is those vaccines are also preventing huge numbers of deaths among children and preventing debilitating illnesses like polio. And so we can’t afford to junk our vaccine system. We’ve got to figure out why is it that this is happening so that we are starting to see a more normal, what was a normal, rate of autism. Because if we keep on seeing increases at the rate we’re seeing we’re never going to have enough money to provide all the special needs, special education funding that’s going to be necessary.

Who would have guessed that Obama would actually have been making a nuanced point like that? It is so unlike him! Clearly, the charlatans at The Washington Free Beacon knew exactly what they were doing. It must be hard to be a conservative. You have to spend all that time apologizing for evil idiots and pretending that your enemies are different than they are.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

6 thoughts on “Free Beacon Shows Ignorance Trying for Gotcha

  1. Your point about science’s adjusted thinking concerning vaccinations due to further studies is lost on most in the anti-vaxx crowd. Lazy thinking does that. Though we can pin most of the blame on the corporate media’s sensationlized coverage of the issue, the political class and the pundits deserve some of the credit for muddying the waters.

    • You may be right. But I’m kind of hopeful about the left wing of the anti-vaccine crowd. I’ve seen a number of people talking about it, and they seem like their commitments are wavering. Of course, regardless what you think of the 1998 MMR article, it was never all that convincing. But is it asking so much for these people to stop quoting it?

  2. The fact that Paul is willing to say, out loud and in public, that parents ‘own’ children should be deeply troubling to everyone. Imagine what he and his advisors joke about when the cameras are off! There are very few countries in which even the hardest-right politician would say that parents own children. We’re fucked, evidence number #54979.

    • I think the reason he’s not getting much push-back on that is that everyone knows that it was awkward and that he didn’t really believe it. I’m sure that Paul doesn’t believe parents should be able to sell their children. But it does highlight his way of looking at the world as a question of property rights. It is a fundamental problem with libertarian thought that it makes property rights into a kind of sacrament. Hence it isn’t surprising that he would frame the discussion as a conflict over property rights of parents versus the government.

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