“Snopes” Gets an “F” for Predictable Propaganda in Vaccine-Autism debate

  • Snopes claims to expose “misleading” statements, but ultimately confirms the report it attempts to smear.
  • Alex Kasprak, author of the Snopes propaganda article, was once “a staff science writer at BuzzFeed.”

I have long written about propagandists’ use of sites such as Snopes and Wikipedia. Both are littered with false and misleading information mixed in with some real, benign and true information. That’s what makes it so dangerous to the uninitiated.

Now, Snopes purports to fact check my recent investigative report on the respected, pro-vaccine doctor who worked as an expert witness for the government and signed a sworn affidavit stating that vaccines can cause autism, after all, in exceptional cases. Dr. Andrew Zimmerman further states that government lawyers, who defend vaccine companies in federal vaccine court, misrepresented his opinion in order to continue to debunk vaccine-autism claims.

The report, which aired in an episode of Full Measure, received more positive feedback than any other single story we’ve produced. The story stuck to the facts, which poses a particular problem for vaccine industry interests, some of which are connected to the government. They have worked hard to shape a narrative that is often at odds with peer-reviewed science, medical opinions and court decisions. They want the public to believe “there is no debate” over vaccines and autism, even as the issues is as debated as ever — if not more so. They seek to label efforts to improve vaccine-safety as “anti-vaccine,” and to censor discussion of the topic.

The entire Snopes article is written to try to convince people to dismiss vaccine-autism links. But interestingly, in the end, Snopes agrees with the essence of my report as well as the essence of Dr. Zimmerman’s claim: 

“Zimmerman, a scientist with serious credentials who was once a government expert on vaccines, believes that narrow circumstances might exist in which the combination of pre-existing mitochondrial dysfunction and vaccination could trigger ASD.” –-Snopes

That’s just what I reported. And coming from a respected, pro-vaccine scientists, it’s something that most people had never heard. Which is why it made such big news.

But the Snopes article debunks claims that were never made and uses one-sided references as its sources— other propagandists— without disclosing their vaccine industry ties.

  • Snopes states that Dr. Zimmerman supports vaccination, as if that were hidden in my report. In fact, that was a crucial and prominent component of the story. It’s what makes Dr. Zimmerman such an important and credible voice on this issue, similar to scientists such as Dr. Bernadine Healy, former Director of the National Institutes of Health (also pro-vaccine).
  • Snopes claims my reading of Dr. Zimmerman’s sworn affidavit on the issue was flawed. In fact, I simply quoted from the affidavit. Snopes simply wants readers to believe its spin rather than the affidavit itself.
  • Snopes—as vaccine industry propagandists routinely do—attempts to misattribute all of the suspected vaccine-autism link to a retracted study from years ago. In fact, there is a great deal of peer-reviewed research, scientists and court cases supporting the notion of a link between vaccine and autism.
  • Snopes states that Dr. Zimmerman’s view is “not held by many scientists.” That may or may not be the case; but Snopes did not survey several reputable scientists I know who hold the view, so it’s unclear how Snopes would know how many scientists are in that camp. 
  • Snopes omits mention of the fact that the very view it claims is “not held by many scientists” was expressed by the former NIH Director, Dr. Bernadine Healy, among others, and was even acknowledged as a possibility by the CDC’s current head of immunization safety, Dr. Frank DeStefano.
  • Snopes brings up a retracted study that has nothing to do with my report or Dr. Zimmerman’s opinion, in order to try to taint and confuse the entire issue. Further, Snopes ignores questioned studies and scientists on the other side of the issue.
  • Under the subtitle: “Attkisson’s Claims, Addressed,” Snopes lists claims I never made, and then declares them to be false.  “Claim: The legal decisions refuting a connection between autism and vaccination during the Omnibus Autism Proceeding rested primarily on the written testimony of Andrew Zimmerman.” In fact, my report never discussed whether Dr. Zimmerman’s testimony was written, and I didn’t state that the legal decisions rested primarily on his oral or written testimony.
  • In another section, Snopes attributes to my reporting “Claim: Zimmerman’s knowledge about a potential circumstance in which a vaccine could theoretically affect ASD was hidden from the public until he came forward in 2018.” Again, there is no such claim in my report. In fact, I have reported in the past that Dr. Zimmerman’s views on a vaccine-autism link in a separate lawsuit became public in 2006 despite the government’s effort to have the case sealed so the public would never know, as government officials continued to tell parents they were crazy if they suspected any link.
  • Snopes itself is incorrect in one of its own original claims: “The existence of an alleged [vaccine-autism] mitochondrial disorder-autism link, which remains murky to this day, is not news now, and it would not have been news during the time the omnibus cases were deliberated.” In fact, this suspected link was not previously known before the so-called “omnibus” groups of vaccine-autism cases litigated a decade ago, and it is not widely known among doctors or the general public today; at least as of recently. That’s why it has proven to be so newsworthy.
  • Notably, Snopes fails to address what its headline promises: the question of whether the government censored its own expert witness’ opinion. According to Dr. Zimmerman’s sworn affidavit, once he told government lawyers that vaccines can cause autism after all in exceptional cases and warned them not to misrepresent his opinion, they went on to do just that.
  • Finally, Snopes wrote its entire article— without contacting me. Therefore, Snopes demonstrates reckless disregard for the truth when disparaging my reporting by falsely stating that it contains “misleading claims.” Snopes fabricates claims that were never made, debunks the fabricated claims, and then ultimately agrees that the report I produced was accurate.

Refuting claims never made in my report and putting out one-sided vaccine propaganda makes one wonder whether Snopes author Alex Kasprak even read or watched the report he attempts to criticize, or just blindly printed the propaganda provided to him by vaccine industry interests.

Now, more than ever: do your own research, make up your own mind, think for yourself. Links to resources below so you can do just that.


Dr. Andrew Zimmerman’s full affidavit:

Analysis of Dr. Zimmerman’s affidavit:

Dr. Bernadine Healy on vaccine-autism link:

CDC head of immunization safety stating “possibility” that vaccines trigger autism in rare cases:

The Hill article:


Snopes propaganda article:


A rebuttal to “there is no debate” narrative:

Widespread praise for Full Measure’s vaccine-autism reporting:

Original source: https://sharylattkisson.com/2019/01/21/snopes-gets-an-f-for-predictable-propaganda-on-vaccine-autism-debate/

See comments at original source: https://sharylattkisson.com/2019/01/21/snopes-gets-an-f-for-predictable-propaganda-on-vaccine-autism-debate/#respond

0 0 votes
Article Rating

Follow Sharyl Attkisson on:

Support Sharyl Attkisson

Order the New York Times bestseller “The Smear” today online or borrow from your library


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments