“All of the studies show the primary reason people don’t vaccinate — the primary reason — is mistrust of the regulators,” Robert Kennedy Jr yesterday stated in a news conference in the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton. “The solution to this problem, to the extent that it’s a problem in New Jersey, is to restore the regulatory process, not to compel people to do something that they may feel they have very good reason not to do.”
This news conference — covered by Associated Press and published in U.S. News and World Report in an article entitled Robert Kennedy Jr. Against Vaccine Requirements — was unusual in its fair reporting of this super-charged issue. These media outlets without editorializing reported Kennedy’s statement that “vaccines are the only product that Americans are required to consume and that Congress protected pharmaceutical companies from liability for problems stemming from them in the 1980s.” To provide some context to Kennedy’s position, they also reported that “Kennedy said he supports using vaccines and had all six of his children vaccinated.”
The straight-news coverage by AP and U.S. News can be contrasted with that from other outlets. Among the dozens of erroneous articles featuring Kennedy in the last year alone, Slate magazine called him an “anti-vaccine zealot,” Time announced that he “joins the anti-vaccine fringe” and Forbes described his “dangerous anti-vaccine activism.”
For doing its job as journalists, AP and U.S. News both deserve kudos.