NYT's Eric Lipton Defends Anti-Vaxxers as Measles Ravages Europe

By Alex Berezow, PhD — Aug 29, 2019
New York Times journalist Eric Lipton, who defended the indefensible by offering support to a group of virulent anti-vaxxers and scam artists known as Moms Across America, is a scourge on public health. The national newspaper recently demoted Jonathan Weisman, a deputy editor based in Washington, DC, for displaying poor judgment. Lipton should face the same fate.

What should we make of New York Times reporter Eric Lipton? Here is a man whose words are constrained neither by facts nor basic decency.

He fell onto our radar screen a few years ago after he he wrote hit pieces targeting two high-profile scientists, Kevin Folta and Nancy Beck. Because he is a philosophy major with no expertise in science, he did the only thing a thoroughly unqualified person can do when attempting to criticize a scientist: he launched a smear campaign, liberally using "guilt by association" (industry, bad!) and other innuendos to undermine the credibility of two reputable scientists.

Dr. Folta rightly sued Lipton for libel. But in this country, libel lawsuits are basically impossible to win. After his inevitable victory, Lipton then bragged about it on Twitter. To say that this is behavior unbecoming of a journalist at one of the most powerful institutions in the country is putting it mildly.

NYT's Eric Lipton Defends Anti-Vaxxers as Measles Ravages Europe

Well, Lipton is back. Science writer Stephan Neidenbach reported that he is defending Moms Across America, a virulently anti-vaccine organization. Let's be honest. Scaring parents away from vaccinating their kids is tantamount to promoting child abuse. Yet, here is a tweet that Lipton posted on August 28:

Monsanto is clearly guilty of potty language and planning a metaphorical beating. Nobody is being literally beaten, as Mr. Neidenbach points out. Thus, Lipton's disdain for Monsanto -- in addition to his fallacious belief that any interaction with the biotech industry is inherently nefarious -- has led him not only to twist the meaning of a cherry-picked email but to defend a group, Moms Across America (MAAM), that is utterly indefensible.

MAAM claims that vaccines contain glyphosate and cause autism. There is no good reason to believe the former statement is true, and the latter has been disproven over and over again. The website also peddles all sorts of phony medicine, such as hemp oil (the benefits and risks of which medical science basically knows nothing) and magical detox potion (for the bargain price of $35.99!) that absurdly claims to "eliminate brain fog, improve memory, and... [d]etox from heavy metals and chemicals." (Hey FDA, where are you?)

If anyone deserves a metaphorical beating, it's the scam artists at MAAM who are a clear and present danger to global public health. Yet, NYT reporter Eric Lipton defends them. Because Monsanto.

Meanwhile, measles -- a vaccine preventable illness -- is ravaging Europe. The World Health Organization just reported that there have been nearly 90,000 cases of measles in Europe so far this year alone, which is up from 84,462 cases in 2018 and 5,273 in 2016. In other words, because of malevolent forces like MAAM, measles has surged well over 1600% in 3 years in Europe.

Eric Lipton Is a Scourge on Public Health

Eric Lipton's defense of the indefensible is a scourge on public health. The New York Times recently demoted Jonathan Weisman, a deputy editor based in Washington, DC, for displaying poor judgment. If there is any justice in the universe, Lipton should face the same fate.

Alex Berezow, PhD

Former Vice President of Scientific Communications

Dr. Alex Berezow is a PhD microbiologist, science writer, and public speaker who specializes in the debunking of junk science for the American Council on Science and Health. He is also a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors and a featured speaker for The Insight Bureau. Formerly, he was the founding editor of RealClearScience.

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