The CDC is provably untrustworthy, but instead of rebuking its deceitfulness, the mainstream media help propagate its lies.
One positive outcome of the authoritarianism witnessed during the COVID‑19 pandemic is the increased awareness of the total lack of trustworthiness of the “public health” establishment.
Relatedly, the various attempts to coerce people into accepting COVID‑19 vaccines has had the beneficial effect of causing people to question mandatory vaccination of children as a requirement for public school attendance.
Likewise, the fact that the COVID‑19 vaccines were sold to the public on the basis of lies has had the beneficial effect of increasing skepticism about the claimed benefits and risks of vaccines recommended for routine use in children by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which of course include the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) combination shot.
Public opinion surveys from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) illustrate these encouraging shifts. A survey published on May 4, 2022, showed that trust in the CDC fell from 73 percent in December 2020, when the COVID‑19 vaccines first received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to 64 percent by April 2022. Trust in the FDA encouragingly fell from 70 percent to 62 percent.
Unfortunately, there is great resistance to recognizing the untrustworthiness of the government among Democrats, who tend to irrationally maintain faith in these agencies despite the demonstrable disinformation propagated by the CDC in service to the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA’s reliance on outright scientific fraud to authorize COVID‑19 vaccines for “emergency” use in young children. Republicans, on the other hand, have begun to awaken from the delusion that “public health” officials are trustworthy.
Among Democrats, from December 2020 to April 2022, the percentage of those who said they have trust in the CDC actually increased slightly, from 88 percent to 89 percent, and trust in the FDA increased from 81 percent to 85 percent. By contrast, among Republicans, trust in the CDC fell from 57 percent to 41 percent, and trust in the FDA fell from 62 percent to 43 percent.
What can explain the persistent delusion particularly among Democrats that these agencies are worthy of our trust, despite the abundant and clear proofs to the contrary? My own answer to that question is that people who identify as Democrat tend to be much more radically in favor of massive governmental interference in our lives. They tend to be statists who believe that we require the government to take care of us and manage our society. Republicans, too, unfortunately favor big government, but not to the same extremes (although, conversely, Republicans can be even more extreme than Democrats when it comes to matters of foreign interventionism and empire maintenance).
An illustration is views toward the authoritarian lockdown measures that absolutely failed in their stated aim of reducing COVID‑19 mortality while causing such devastating harms globally. Despite the fact that the claimed benefits of these measures never manifested in the data, there are still those who maintain the delusion that these measures were not only beneficial but necessary. As we’ve seen, while Democrats tended to favor the extremism, there has fortunately been strong opposition to lockdowns among some Republicans, with Florida governor Ron DeSantis being perhaps the most notable example.
People who have a belief system will tend to maintain that belief via confirmation bias, choosing to accept information that aligns with their belief while disregarding contradictory information. Statists maintain their belief by buying into the illusion that the agencies of government are benevolent actors who have our best interests in mind. This faith in government is what I frequently refer to as “the state religion”, a phrase that I have borrowed from Noam Chomsky.
As Chomsky has explained, “Any state, whether totalitarian or democratic, must mobilize popular support for its violence and oppression.” To that end, state propaganda is highly effective, and as Chomsky and Edward Herman observe in their book Manufacturing Consent, the mainstream media serve a propaganda function in service to the state.
“There is indeed something truly religious”, Chomsky has written, “in the fervor with which responsible American intellectuals have sought to deny plain fact and to secure their dogmas concerning American benevolence . . . .” Chomsky was speaking specifically in that instance about matters of US foreign policy, but the same holds true when it comes to domestic policies.
A subsect of the state religion is the vaccine religion. Here, too, we see from public opinion polls that Democrats are more susceptible to state propaganda than Republicans.
This is illustrated by a Kaiser survey published on December 16, 2022, which found that an increasing proportion of adults are recognizing the need to respect the right to informed consent. Whereas in October 2019, 82 percent of parents expressed support for mandatory vaccination of schoolchildren compared to only 16 percent who expressed the view that parents should be able to make their own choice, in December 2022, 71 percent favored mandatory vaccination while 28 percent favored individual choice.
Among parents, support for mandates fell from 76 percent to 65 percent, while, conversely, support for informed choice rose from 23 percent to 35 percent. Once again, support for mandatory vaccination among Democrats actually increased, from 86 percent to 88 percent, while among Republicans it fell from 79 percent to 56 percent.
While we still have a long way to go, these numbers overall are moving in the right direction. Clearly, though, to really progress towards an enlightened and civilized society, we need to find a way to break the spell that Democrats in particular seem to be under. To do that requires us to combat the state propaganda generated by the mainstream media. The ultimate example of a statist propaganda outlet serving to manufacture consent for criminal government policies is America’s “newspaper of record”, the New York Times.
The findings of the recent Kaiser survey were reported by the New York Times under the encouraging headline “Opposition to School Vaccine Mandates Has Grown Significantly, Study Finds”, but of course the Times found it lamentable that “A third of parents now feel they should be the ones to decide whether to get their children immunized against measles, mumps and other childhood diseases.”
While not explicitly advocating mandatory vaccination, the Times expressed the view that mandates are essential by citing Dr. Sean O’Leary, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP’s) committee on infectious diseases, who expresses his belief that children have a “right” to “be safe in school from vaccine-preventable diseases”, which is a nonsensical concept that is fundamentally incompatible with the real right of parents to make their own informed choice about whether their children receive vaccinations. It is “not a time to be considering a rollback” of state laws mandating vaccinations, the Times expresses, quoting O’Leary. The Times does not cite anybody who maintains the opposing view that parents have a right to informed consent.
Further illustrating its lack of objectivity and its propaganda function, the Times goes on to describe the low uptake of the bivalent COVID‑19 booster shots as “disappointing”. Naturally, the Times does not present the view that this lack of demand is encouraging given the abysmal effectiveness of the shots against currently circulating SARS‑CoV‑2 variants, the alarming adverse events associated with the vaccines, the absence of data demonstrating a mortality benefit, and the detrimental effect on people’s immune systems caused by these pharmaceutical products. It is axiomatic, in the Times’ narrative, that COVID‑19 vaccines are “safe and effective”.
Similarly, a New York Times opinion piece published on December 28, 2022, lamented that “Covid Isn’t the Only Reason Children’s Vaccination Rates Are Falling”. While the decline has been “widely attributed to disruptions in public health services caused by the pandemic”, meaning disruptions caused by the authoritarian governmental responses to the pandemic, the article authors blame state governments that allow nonmedical exemptions to vaccinations. The authors advocate elimination of nonmedical exemptions, which is to say that they favor escalating the ongoing systematic violation of parents’ right to make their own informed choice.
I know of no instance in which the New York Times has published an opinion piece expressing the opposing view that vaccines mandates are barbaric laws that systematically violate the individual right to informed consent. (My wife and I homeschool our child, but as an example of how government policies result in systematic violation of this right even outside of the public school system, read the letter I wrote to the pediatric practice that expelled us for declining to vaccinate our son according to the CDC’s schedule.)
Illustrating the role of the media in spreading government-sanctioned disinformation designed to manufacture consent for criminal government policies, the Times article contains the following fearmongering claim about measles:
Measles should not be taken lightly. . . . One to three of every 1,000 children who contract measles die of respiratory and neurological complications.
That is a brazen lie, but naturally, since the claim serves the desired propaganda function, the New York Times prints it. In fact, the Times has published this false claim repeatedly. I cited several examples in an article titled “CDC Lies About, and Media Repeats, Risk of Dying from Measles”, published at Children’s Health Defense in April 2019. I cited yet another example, a New York Times article authored by vaccine developer and prominent advocate of mandatory vaccination Dr. Peter Hotez, in my article “NY Times Deceives about the Odds of Dying from Measles in the US”, which I published in January 2020. (Note that Hotez’s response to my having confronted him about his deceptions on Twitter was to block me.)
The source that the Times cites to support the false claim, naturally, is the CDC. On a webpage titled “Complications of Measles”, the CDC states:
Nearly 1 to 3 of every 1,000 children who become infected with measles will die from respiratory and neurological complications.
The CDC cites no source to support that statement, but it is easy enough to fact check by turning to the CDC’s medical textbook Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, otherwise known as “The Pink Book”. Here is what the CDC says about measles mortality in the chapter on the measles virus (emphasis added):
Before 1963, approximately 500,000 cases and 500 measles deaths were reported annually, with epidemic cycles every 2 to 3 years. However, the actual number of cases was estimated at 3 to 4 million annually.
Thus, during the pre-vaccine era, the case fatality rate (CFR) of measles was 0.1 percent, or one death per 1,000 reported cases. However, most measles infections were never reported. According to the CDC’s estimate, only 13 percent to 17 percent of cases were ever reported. Thus, the infection fatality rate (IFR) of measles, by the CDC’s own account, was between 0.0125 percent and 0.017 percent.
That’s not one to three deaths for every 1,000 children infected with measles; it’s one to two deaths for every 10,000 measles infections.
A paper published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 1975 estimated the fatality rate for measles during the pre-vaccine era in the US to be one death per 10,000 cases. A 1994 Institute of Medicine review titled “Adverse Events Associated with Childhood Vaccines” confirms that in developed countries like the US, “the measles fatality rate is 1 per 10,000 cases”, or 0.01 percent.
Historical data show that in 1960, three years before the introduction of the measles vaccine, the measles death rate was 0.2 per 100,000 population (or one measles death per 500,000 population). That compares with the rate of accidental drowning of 2.9 per 100,000. In 1960, there were 380 measles deaths, which would put the infection fatality rate at 0.01 percent assuming only 3 million cases, right in line with the IOM’s statement.
Here is what the decline in measles mortality looked like before the vaccine:
Ironically, the case fatality rate has actually increased as a result of mass vaccination, which has shifted the risk burden from school-aged children, in whom it is generally a mild illness, onto infants and adults for whom the virus poses a much greater risk.
Infants are at greater risk because of the loss of passive maternal immunity. Mothers who had experienced measles infection during childhood were capable of passing on protective antibodies through the placenta prenatally and through breastmilk postnatally. However, later-born women who were vaccinated and never experienced measles infection have an impaired ability to do so, resulting in infants being at higher risk today in the event of exposure.
Likewise, adults today are at higher risk in the event of exposure due to what is known in the literature as “secondary vaccine failure”, or waning immunity. Whereas infection was understood to confer lifelong immunity, the protection conferred by the vaccine wanes over time, leaving adults vulnerable. Apart from the superiority of natural immunity, mass vaccination has resulted in the loss of natural exogenous boosting of immunity due to repeat exposures to the virus, which also helped to keep adults’ immunity strong through old age.
For more details about how mass vaccination has shifted the risk burden away from school-aged children onto those at higher risk, see my articles “CDC Lies About, and Media Repeats, Risk of Dying from Measles” and “NY Times Deceives about the Odds of Dying from Measles in the US”.
The key point for my purpose here is that when the CDC claims that the infection fatality rate for measles is 0.1 percent, it is willfully lying and overstating the death rate by an order of magnitude.
The people at the CDC certainly understand the difference between a CFR and an IFR, and they understand that to present the former as though it were the latter is deceitful, but they do it anyway for the simple reason that it serves to instill the necessary fear in people to manufacture consent for its vaccine policies.
The mainstream media, for their part, refuse to do journalism and correct the CDC’s disinformation by properly informing the public about the very low risk of children dying from measles during the pre-vaccine era; instead, the media do public policy advocacy, mindlessly parroting the CDC’s bald-faced lie despite it being directly contradicted by the information contained in the measles chapter of its own medical textbook.
The fact that the New York Times propagates the CDC’s brazen lie is likewise explainable by the people at the Times seeing it as their duty to advocate public vaccine policy. The lie is acceptable because it serves to instill fear and help persuade people that there is a need to systematically violate parents’ right to make their own informed choice about childhood vaccinations. This is thus a useful illustration of the propaganda function that the mainstream media serve in the US.
The challenge before us is how to disabuse more people, and particular statists who identify as Democrats, of the dangerous illusion that the government can be trusted with our health and our children’s health.