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Trump, The Doctor and the Vaccine Scandal: Channel 4 Dispatches

For the past three months Channel 4 Dispatches have been investigating Andrew Wakefield’s great American comeback. The British doctor, struck off for his misleading claims about vaccinations and the MMR scare, Andrew Wakefield has reinvented himself and claims to have the ear of the President of the United States.

Dispatches have uncovered new details about the relationship between President Trump and the disgraced British doctor Andrew Wakefield. The two men met last August, now Dispatches have uncovered recordings of Wakefield in which he talks up their relationship and claims that Trump agrees with his discredited theories about vaccines.

Donald Trump believes that combined vaccines like Measles, Mumps and Rubella cause brain disorders. Since 2012 he has tweeted over 20 times linking multiple or combined vaccines with autism. And yet, there is no credible scientific evidence to support Trump’s views. All vaccines – combined or not –have been tested comprehensively, and there have been seventeen major studies disproving the link between the MMR jab and autism.

This Dispatches investigation discovers:

  • Trump’s anti-science agenda aligning with the anti-vax movement, including one-on-one meeting with disgraced Doctor Andrew Wakefield.
  • Wakefield’s increasing prominence in the United States coincides with weakening confidence in vaccinations from the American public and a subsequent rise in cases of preventable and lethal diseases.
  • Minnesota is currently facing the largest outbreak in Measles in almost 30 years.
  • Since arriving in America Wakefield has been involved in a number of non-profits that have paid him handsomely.
  • Over the five years one of the charities spent 41% of donations on his salary – over $300,000.

Wakefield’s comeback and relationship with Donald Trump:

Andrew Wakefield has been increasing his profile in the United States, including speaking arrangements on a cruise to dedicated Conspiracy Theorists, ConspiraSea cruise. He has expanded his attack on vaccines while speaking on America’s number one conspiracy theory show – Info Wars.

But no matter how wacky Wakefield’s sounds, there are plenty of Americans listening.

  • One in ten parents in the United States now believes vaccines are unsafe.
  • In Texas alone 45,000 children are unvaccinated.
  • As a result preventable and lethal diseases are rising.
  • Measles was declared eliminated by 2000, but there have been more than sixty cases just this year.

Wakefield on Trump, He knows vaccines cause autism. That vaccine damage is real. And it’s an issue that will never lead to mandatory vaccination either state wide or States wide. And I had the pleasure of meeting the other day to discuss this very issue

The morning after the US election a video of a triumphant Wakefield was posted on YouTube, where he talks about setting up another meeting with President Trump;

So the next thing I guess is to follow up and have another meeting with Donald Trump. He - when Gary Kompothecras spoke with him last - he was very very positive about what he was going to do about autism. We all know where he is on vaccines. He said I know it happens I know vaccines cause autism. I’ve seen it and I believe it’s hit him very very closely very personally.

Wakefield was even invited to the inauguration ball.

Wakefield’s latest project is a campaigning feature film which he directs and stars in. In Vaxxed, Wakefield claims that the body which regulates vaccine policy in America – The Centre for Diseases Control – has suppressed data linking the MMR jab with Autism.

  • Dispatches heard that when Wakefield met Trump last year, he gave him a copy of the film.

Wakefield’s Lucrative Finances:

Our investigation has found that Wakefield’s journey from Doctor to director has been pretty lucrative. Since arriving in America he been involved in a number of non-profits that have paid him handsomely.

In 2010, Wakefield founded the Strategic Autism Initiative (SAI) which was set up to promote research into autism and similar disorders.

  • The body attracted lots of donations but a huge proportion went on Wakefield’s salary.
  • Over the five years SAI was running 41% of donations went on his salary - more than three hundred thousand dollars.

Dispatches presented this evidence to a 25 year veteran of America’s Inland Revenue service.

Marc Owens: I think that’s, that is a huge percentage. To have the salary of a single individual comprise the major expense of the organization over the course of years suggests something else is going on. But once again, it’s not conclusive but it suggests that there’s been a, there’s an ongoing diversion of the income of the charity into the hands of the individual in a position of responsibility and authority.

The wider Anti-Vax Movement – Robert Kennedy Jr interview:

Wakefield is not a lone voice challenging the safety of vaccines. Robert Kennedy Jr, the nephew of former President John F Kennedy, believes that vaccines cause brain disorders.

In January 2017, he went to Trump Towers where he says that the President asked him to lead a vaccine safety commission.

Although the White House has played down the prospect of the commission, he says he is ready to start. Kennedy believes that vaccines are dangerous because some of them contain mercury. Several studies have looked into this claim and dismissed it, but Robert Kennedy Junior told Dispatches that there was a conspiracy to keep it quiet.

Cathy: There’s a danger that you, that Andrew Wakefield, that President Trump are peddling discredited theories that now are undermining confidence in the whole vaccine programme and that is endangering children’s lives.

Kennedy: Well you could say that but I’m not the one who put the mercury in the vaccines. What I would say is that it’s a lack of critical scrutiny by the press that is first of all enabling a reckless behaviour by CDC and the vaccine industry.

Cathy: But you’re saying, you know, you’re saying I’m being reckless asking the questions but isn’t there a recklessness –

Kennedy: I think you’re being reckless by, by taking a position as a journalist.

Cathy: No I’m not taking a position.

Kennedy: Very much so, you’re using extremely biased, you don’t – first of all you’re not looking at the science.

Cathy: No I am really not

Kennedy: Listen, you are reading, what you’re reading is pharmaceutical company propaganda.

Dispatches were then taken across the road to a rally where Kennedy could introduce us to his supporters. There was also Wakefield supporters, including producer of Vaxxed Del Bigtree

Del Bigtree, “Children will be murdered this year by the vaccine programme. Children will have their brains damaged by the vaccine programme and the statement that mainstream medicine wants to say is that that’s an acceptable risk.”

This might be a fringe movement, but it’s a combative one and it’s chipping away at public faith in vaccines.

Wakefield’s TV series – unethical behaviour:

He’s been accused of exploiting the very children he says he wants to help. He has long believed that, not only is the MMR jab linked to autism, but that the condition can be treated.

Four years ago he came up with the controversial idea of making the treatment of autistic kids into a reality TV series. He pitched it to some of America’s biggest cable networks; Dispatches have found the pitch tape

The video shows:

  • Autistic children are filmed self-harming
  • And a fourteen year old boy has intrusive treatment with cameras and tubes going into his rectum and throat. This treatment is not blurred.

Julia Bascom, Executive Director, Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN).

So that’s obviously really disturbing content. To see autistic people being, sort of, dehumanized and used as objects to advance other people’s agendas. As an autistic person, it’s always disturbing to see that.

No one commissioned the series but it still runs on Wakefield’s YouTube channel.

Interview with Wakefield and his return to Europe:

Inspired by his success in America, Wakefield returned to Europe and even Britain. Dispatches attended one of his screenings in Berlin:

Cathy: Mr Wakefield, you were behind a massive public health scare in the UK, you were struck off and you’re now exporting your discredited theories to America and around the world.

Wakefield: It’s a reasonable question from British journalism. You will be aware, I hope, the film is not about me, the film is about a whistleblower from the Centre’s for Disease Control and Prevention who actually validates the work that we did in 2000.

So in fact, it is the British press who are discredited when they attack this hypothesis, because it turns out all these years later to be correct.

Cathy: But the whistleblower has con…

Wakefield: One question only..

Cathy: Just - just - just to - just to follow up, the whistleblower has concerns about - he has concerns about one case. What about the 17 studies that debunked your original 1998 study?

Isn’t what you’re doing grossly irresponsible because in your home state of Texas alone forty five thousand children are unvaccinated and measles is a killer.

Audience member: Go home!

Cathy: Mr Wakefield you’ve been talking about a fraud perpetrated by the CDC, by the media. What about the fact that the General Medical Council accused you of being dishonest, accused you of being callous, unethical, said your own data was fraudulent.

When are you going to take responsibility for that?

Wakefield Can you quote me in full about this? I don’t talk to fake news. Thank you

Notes to editors re: 2004 Dispatches investigation into Wakefield:

In 2004, Channel 4 Dispatches revealed that while Andrew Wakefield was claiming the MMR vaccine was unsafe he was also being paid by solicitors who were suing the makers of the MMR jab. He was also accused by a colleague of misrepresenting data.

Wakefield’s claims caused chaos, MMR Vaccination rates fell by 7% over three years.

He was struck off the General Medical Council in 2010. Dr Wakefield was said to have been guilty of ethical breaches including taking blood from children at a birthday party. He was said to be dishonest, misleading and irresponsible.

TRUMP, THE DOCTOR AND THE VACCINE SCANDAL: CHANNEL 4 DISPATCHES - Mon 8th May, 8pm

Reporter: Cathy Newman

Produced and Directed by: Tom Stone

Executive Producers: David Henshaw and Lesley Bonner

Production Company: Hardcash Productions

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