On Wednesday, CBS This Morning hosted Peggy Noonan, CBS News contributor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, to discuss the ongoing controversy surrounding the measles vaccine. Throughout the interview, CBS co-hosts Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King pressed Noonan to admit that the GOP has an anti-vaccine problem while omitting President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s previous anti-vaccine statements.
During the interview, O’Donnell played up how “you have Senator Rand Paul saying first on CNBC that he has seen it cause mental disorders in children and then he has backtracked that statement” before asking “what's going on in the party?”
After the CBS co-host urged Noonan to criticize the GOP on the issue of vaccines, O’Donnell played up how the Wall Street Journal which you write for now really taking on Chris Christie's comments yesterday, today taking on Rand Paul, calling this 'the weird science of Mr. Paul’s and Mr. Christie’s and their lack of information.'"
While O’Donnell was quick to play up the Wall Street Journal’s criticism of Senator Rand Paul and Governor Chris Christie’s vaccine comments, she omitted the fact that the same article also called out President Obama and Hillary Clinton for stoking the anti-vaccine fire. In fact, CBS’s latest segment on vaccinations continues the network trend of omitting Obama and Clinton’s past vaccine skepticism while promoting isolated GOP comments.
From the Wall Street Journal:
The Democratic National Committee was quick to criticize Mr. Paul on Tuesday, accusing him of “kowtowing to the fringe rhetoric of the anti-vaccination movement.” Yet Democrats were also happy to indulge anti-vaccine parents at the height of the autism controversy.
President Obama is now telling parents to vaccinate, but as a candidate in 2008 he said that, “We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines.” He called the science “inconclusive,” which it certainly wasn’t. Hillary Clinton in 2008 responded to a questionnaire from an autism activism group with a commitment to “make investments to find the causes of autism, including possible environmental causes like vaccines.”
As the segment progressed, co-host Gayle King continued to try and persuade Peggy Noonan to scold the GOP over the vaccine issue and wondered if she was “surprised” “that measles and vaccinations are part of the political conversation... Does it hurt their chances?”
CBS’s insistence that isolated comments regarding vaccines could pose a political problem for the GOP struck a similar tone to a report filed by Nancy Cordes on Tuesday’s CBS Evening News. During the network’s vaccine coverage, the CBS reporter played up how the GOP’s “mixed messages” on vaccinations “left an opening” for Hillary Clinton.
See relevant transcript below.
CBS This Morning
February 4, 2015
NORAH O’DONNELL: And potential Republican presidential hopefuls are trying to temper the criticism this morning over the debate about measles vaccines. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul tweeted this picture yesterday. He got a booster vaccination for hepatitis one day after making controversial statements associating vaccines with mental disorders in children. Florida Senator Marco Rubio made his position clear on vaccines.
MARCO RUBIO: I believe that all children, as is the law in most states in the country, before they can even attend school have to be vaccinated for a certain panel. This is the most advanced country in the world. We've eradicated diseases in the past that killed and permanently disabled people. There's absolutely no medical science or data whatsoever that links those vaccinations to the on set of autism or anything of that nature.
O’DONNELL: Peggy Noonan joins us. She's a CBS News contributor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Peggy good morning.
PEGGY NOONAN: Good morning.
O’DONNELL: Interesting to hear the debate in the Republican Party. You had most top Republican lawmakers saying yesterday and very clearly from Senator Rubio that vaccines work, they protect children, there's no evidence that it causes autism. And then you have Senator Rand Paul saying first on CNBC that he has seen it cause mental disorders in children and then he has backtracked that statement. What's going on in the party?
NOONAN: Oh, my goodness. I think -- well, I think the overview is that since about 2008 both parties got themselves very busy being sensitive to the fears about vaccines having to do with a possible connection to autism. So they're being very sensitive and they’re being very understanding and six years later what you have is an outbreak of measles because everybody was being so sensitive. Hollywood stars were involved, politicians who knew nothing about the science of the issue were involved.
O’DONNELL: But you have the Wall Street Journal which you write for now really taking on Chris Christie's comments yesterday, today taking on Rand Paul, calling this”the weird science of Mr. Paul’s and Mr. Christie’s and their lack of information.”
NOONAN: Fair enough. To my mind and the mind of most people who have been following this, the efficacy of vaccinations for measles is very, very clear. It works, do it. Protect children, especially little babies who are between the day they are born and 12 months who can't be vaccinated yet and are vulnerable to germs carried by kids whose parents for whatever perhaps strange reason decided they didn't have to vaccinate the kids.
GAYLE KING: Are you surprised, Peggy, that measles and vaccinations are part of the political conversation, number one --
NOONAN: Oh, yes.
KING: And, number two, does it damage anyone's chances? Are you surprised?
NOONAN: Am I surprised? Yes. This is absurd and bizarre. And it’s like next are we going to be saying nobody should have a polio vaccine? This is crazy.
KING: Does it hurt their chances?
NOONAN: Will it hurt anybody? It's a bubble of hurt now. If everybody gets serious and says, look, stop this, vaccinate your kids, I think it will go away. But what an odd little argument it is.
O’DONNELL: All right. Peggy Noonan, thank you so much.
NOONAN: Thank you.