Accuracy in Media

It was a tiny story buried on page 6 of the Washington Post and page 14 of the New York Times. The stories were about two new studies examining and dismissing a possible link between amalgam fillings and health problems. It was the CBS 60 Minutes program which on December 23, 1990, had aired a story falsely claiming that amalgam dental fillings cause multiple sclerosis and other ailments. Correspondent Morley Safer had opened the program by asking, “Is there poison in your mouth?”

Dental amalgam fillings, a tremendous advance in dentistry, contain mercury, which combined with other metals, form an alloy that has been used for decades to restore and repair teeth damaged by decay.

AIM criticized the 60 Minutes program at the time and we urged 60 Minutes to issue a correction for running the story.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that most papers buried the news about amalgam fillings being safe, we could find no stories referring to how 60 Minutes had helped create the controversy by scaring people.

The new studies were published by The Journal of the American Medical Association. One was conducted by Dr. Timothy DeRouen, a professor of biostatistics and dental public health sciences at the University of Washington, and the other by Dr. Sonja McKinlay of the New England Research Institutes.

In some doses, of course, mercury can be toxic and can adversely affect health.

The new studies examined possible changes in intelligence, memory, attention span, and brain functions, but they did not specifically address a possible link to autism, a developmental disorder that affects one’s ability to relate to the outside world.  However, evidence which has already been developed in this area links mercury in vaccines-not amalgam fillings-to autism.

I have talked to many parents with children who showed signs of autism within days of receiving vaccinations-and years before they ever had teeth, let alone fillings. David Kirby’s book Evidence of Harm is a good source of information. That is the danger-not amalgam fillings.

After ignoring the issue for many years, the major media, led by NBC, have recently been covering the mercury-autism link involving vaccines. This is because Bob Wright, Vice Chairman and Executive Officer of GE and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NBC Universal, has a grandson who is autistic.

Wright is doing the right thing by using his network to try to solve the problem of autism. Beyond this, however, he should direct NBC to examine why so much federal money has been spent and wasted on AIDS, a disease whose number of victims has been grossly exaggerated by the U.N., to the detriment of funding a cure for autism.

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