Gardiner Harris  Media

February 17, 2010

 By Jake Crosby
He has been described by Age of Autism contributor David Kirby, as "perhaps the most important journalist covering the debate over autism and vaccines in America today, given the way that paper drives the news cycle in this country."
Unfortunately, Gardiner Harris of The New York Times is also "snide, cynical, wildly biased, dismissive, and arrogant," according to fellow Age of Autism contributor, JB Handley.
The evidence to date suggests Handley is overwhelmingly right. For example, a reader of Age of Autism confronted Gardiner Harris with the fact that conducting a vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study was possible, citing David Kirby’s report that former CDC director Julie Gerberding supported such research. Harris replied,
"thanks for your note. there is no credible way to compare autism rates in vaccinated and unvaccinated children.  and dr. gerberding made no such statements. david kirby got his story  entirely wrong. thanks, gardiner"
In fact, she did make such statements. When asked by Age of Autism's editor Dan Olmsted in 2005 whether or not she supported doing a vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study, Julie Gerberding replied it "could be done and should be done." So it was Gardiner Harris, not David Kirby, who got his story entirely wrong.
But that's not the end of it. This email received from Harris, Handley contends, "explains it all":
"but scaring parents away from life-saving medicines is no way to improve this terrible situation. i have met parents who lost their children to vaccine-preventable diseases, and they are haunted. if you had your way, there would be far more of these haunted souls. i hope to prevent that from happening." – Gardiner Harris
But does this email really explain it all? Findings that relate to the family of Mr. Harris suggest there is more to this story of a reporter who keeps mysteriously getting "his story entirely wrong."
One relative of Harris’, whose background is particularly relevant, is his brother, Crane B. Harris.
Here is a description of him at an event co-hosted by the Chairman, CEO and President of Proctor & Gamble, and T. George Harris, father of Crane and Gardiner Harris:
"Mr. Crane B. Harris, responsible for Jolla Pharmaceutical Co.'s partnering efforts"
So as recently as November 2004, Crane Harris worked for a pharmaceutical company and dealt with other pharmaceutical companies as well.
Every one of Jolla's top people has a connection to a company with a direct stake in this controversy:
"Dr. Gillespie (CEO) also held a number of positions at DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Company, including Vice President of Marketing, from 1991 to 1996…
Ms. Sloan (VP) served as Assistant Controller at Affymax Research Institute, a publicly held drug-discovery research company and formerly a part of the Glaxo Wellcome Group…
Dr. Smith (Chairman of the Board) was Vice President of Clinical Research and from 1992 to 1993, Senior Vice President of Business and Market Development at Centocor, Inc., a publicly held biotechnology company, which is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson…
…he (Dr. Fildes) was the Vice President of Operations for the Industrial Division of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company…
In June 2001, Mr. Martin retired from CIBA Vision Corporation, a Novartis Company…
Dr. Young is a former Commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration…" (The FDA practically counts as a drug company, too.) (HERE)
Merck, Glaxo, J&J, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis, and the FDA, a virtual cartel of pharmaceutical companies, is represented on the board of the company Gardiner Harris' brother worked for.
Not only was Crane Harris once the director of business development for Jolla, he is now the director of business development for a medical devices manufacturer called Illumina Inc. This company seems no less tied into the drug industry, stating on its company website:
“Our customers include leading genomic research centers, pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, clinical research organizations, and biotechnology companies.”
In other words, the Gardiner Harris’ brother still deals with pharmaceutical companies.
Why is this particularly relevant? Because in all the years Harris spent writing for The New York Times, denying the evidence of harm from thimerosal, the MMR vaccine or anything having to do with vaccines at all, not once did he mention this little family tie.
Just recently, he wrote an article about The Lancet’s retraction of Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s case series, which Harris portrayed as part of a greater failure to link autism to vaccinations. He also failed to mention Lancet editor Richard Horton’s false testimony about his knowledge of Andrew Wakefield’s involvement with lawyers, and bashed parents who felt their children developed autism as a result of their vaccines. Gardiner Harris did not, however, mention his brother’s connection.
Likewise, when he began covering this controversy with his notorious June 2005 hit piece, "On Autism's Cause: It's Parents vs. Research," coauthored with recent Yale graduate and rookie journalist Anahad O'Connor, who studied under Fred Volkmar of the Yale Child Study Center, no such disclosure was made either.
Harris did write an article for The New York Times last year about vaccine-related conflicts of interest within the CDC, but only because the HHS, the parent department of the CDC that also shields drug companies from vaccine litigation, issued the report that said there were conflicts.
Gardiner Harris is still a conflicted writer posing as a legit journalist, not unlike Trine Tsouderos, Michael Fumento, Ben Goldacre, and Brian Deer.
Jake Crosby is a history student with Asperger Syndrome at Brandeis University and a contributing editor to Age of Autism.