Vaccines, or lack thereof, are in the news again. So it is worth remembering that then-businessman and candidate Donald Trump spent years falsely insisting that vaccines cause autism, among other things.
Amid a recent measles outbreak, Fox News has been highlighting the story of 18 year-old Ethan Lindenberger,who got himself vaccinated over the objections of his mother, who ” believes vaccines cause side effects like autism and brain damage.”
Where could Ethan’s mother have gotten an idea like that? Unfortunately, the list of suspects is long, and includes Trump.
Trump occupies the vaccine “skeptic” space in the anti-vaxxer universe, claiming, without evidence, that vaccinations should be spread out. This is nominally better than saying kids shouldn’t be vaccinated at all, but medical experts say it still creates needles risks for children.
But Trump has accompanied his baseless “skepticism” with terrifying lies about vaccines. He’s been blaming vaccines for autism since at least 2012, in a series of tweets like these:
In 2015, radio host Hugh Hewitt asked Trump to explain his campaign against vaccines, and Trump explicitly told Hewitt that he believes in a causal link between vaccines and autism. He repeated his suggestion that vaccines be spread out over a longer period of time, insisting that autism will go way down” if that happened.
“So you believe there’s a causal connection between vaccines and autism?” Hewitt asked.
“Well, a lot of people do,” Trump said, and added “I know at least two people, one of them who works in the building that I’m in right now, a beautiful woman, has a child. The child is 100 percent healthy, takes the child, who was I think around a year and a half or two years old to get the shot, gets this massive shot of fluid pumped into the baby’s body, and a few days later, catches a fever, and all of a sudden, is severely autistic.”
Hewitt even asked Trump if he would change his mind if scientists — like those at the Centers for Disease Control that Trump is now in charge of — told him he was wrong, and Trump stuck to his guns.
“Well, I’ve seen babies that were totally healthy that weren’t healthy, and I’m not asking for anything. All I’m doing is saying spread it out over a period of time,” Trump said.
A few months late, Trump spread this dangerous lie on national television, at a September 16 presidential debate. Moderator Jake Tapper asked the candidates about Trump’s vaccine lies, also following a measles outbreak.
Ben Carson gently tried to break the facts to Trump, then insisted “I think he’s an intelligent man and will make the correct decision after getting the real facts.”
Seconds later, Trump corrected him.
“Autism has become an epidemic,” Trump said, and launched into another rant about having personally witnessed autism getting caused by vaccines. “Just the other day, two years old, two and a half years old, a child, a beautiful child went to have the vaccine, and came back, and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.”
I only say it’s not — I’m in favor of vaccines, do them over a longer period of time, same amount.
“Dr. Carson, you just heard his medical take,” Tapper said.
“He’s an OK doctor,” Carson joked, then added “the fact of the matter is, we have extremely well-documented proof that there’s no autism associated with vaccinations.”
The lies about autism and vaccines go back decades, and have been promoted by a long and bipartisan list of celebrities, most prominently by actress Jenny McCarthy. They began with a since-retracted paper by a UK doctor named Andrew Wakefield.
Watch the clip above, via CNN.
[Image via screengrab]
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