Trump Campaign Spokesperson and Former AntiVaxxer Exec Lies About His Vaccine Beliefs

Donald Trump spokeswoman Elizabeth Emken, a former executive with the leading advocacy group Autism Speaks, was put in a difficult position Monday when asked about the frontrunner’s earlier statements linking vaccines and autism.

Asked on CNN about Trump suggesting a scientific link exists between childhood vaccines and autism during a fall 2015 presidential debate, Emken sidestepped a direct rebuke of Trump’s claims.

“The position of Autism Speaks has been for quite awhile that we need to find out what’s happening. We know there’s a genetic component and there’s an environmental trigger and until we get to the bottom of what’s happening, no one knows what causes autism. Anyone that tells you what does or what doesn’t cause autism is simply not basing that on facts.

“We don’t know, we need to keep looking,” Emken continued, saying she hadn’t discussed the issue with the GOP frontrunner. “But the bottom line is, look, vaccines are the most successful health program in the history of the world, so I don’t believe that’s at all what he was saying.”

(h/t Talking Points Memo)

Reality

Donald Trump spokeswoman Elizabeth Emken made 2 rather large fibs.

First she claimed that “we don’t know what causes autism,” but just before she made the misleading statement that “we know there is an environmental (vaccine) trigger”.

Second, she is lying about Trump’s stance on vaccines:

A little back story… way back in 1998 there was a Doctor called Andrew Wakefield who published a study in the well-respected medical journal The Lancet that linked the MMR vaccine to autism. Funny thing about well-respected scientific journals is, people in your field of study read your paper and try to duplicate the results, this is called peer-review. Nobody could duplicate the results so people became suspicious. Looking harder they found a sub-standard sample size of only 13 subjects, many subjects who already showed signs of autism at the start of the study, discovered data that was fraudulently modified, uncovered plans by Wakefield exploit the new market he created by profiting from his findings, and a discovered conflict of interest. Every single study that has been performed in regards to vaccines and autism continues to find no link between the two. In short Doctor Wakefield is now Mr. Wakefield and can never study medicine again and vaccines remain one of the greatest discoveries of human history.

According to ScienceBlogs, Emken used to be the Executive Director of Autism Speaks, an “autism advocacy” group that used to be very much into anti-vaccine pseudoscience. Indeed, after much foot dragging, it wasn’t until 2015 that Autism Speaks finally grudgingly admitted that there is no good evidence linking vaccines to autism after a large study was published showing no evidence of a link between vaccines and autism and a meta-analysis involving over a million children similarly failed to find a link. It’s not for nothing that Autism Speaks has been quite appropriately accused of speaking up too late on vaccines.

Just like Mr. Trump, you probably have one friend, who is not a doctor or scientist, who has some story that might shed doubt in your mind that vaccines do cause autism. Think about this; That is just one story versus the vast body of evidence in well-performed scientific studies over decades of time, all publicly available to read, and all show absolutely no link. Know anyone with polio? Know anyone who died from smallpox? I’ll bet good money the answer is no. Thank you vaccines. And thank you evidence-based science.

There should be zero surprise that year after year we experience outbreaks of vaccine preventable disease in the areas that have the lowest vaccination rates where many adults and children die. We’re not at all implying that Donald Trump is responsible for these deaths. What we are saying is that when you are a leader and you go around promoting dangerous conspiracy theories, what you are doing is reinforcing someone’s deeply held beliefs and this makes it all the more harder for them to accept new factual information. It is very irresponsible and dangerous on the part of Donald Trump to propagate these false claims.

More info can be found in the links below.

Media

Links

Here is the journalist who helped shed light on Mr. Wakefield’s skullduggery.

Here is an explanation in pretty comic book form.

The original, now retracted, study in The Lancet.

Here’s a study that looked at half a million subjects with zero link found.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *