THE INCONSTANT GARDINER
A FEW MONTHS AGO I described New York Times science correspondent Gardiner Harris as “a man on a mission.” Harris, you may recall, had reported on bogus data in drug trials, ghostwriters replacing researchers in medical journals, and even conflicts-of-interest between the drug companies and the psychiatric medicine machine in Washington. For a brief time, Harris’ stories seemed to indicate that he was the new Sheriff in the nation’s capital — and that he would help deliver a knockout punch to the profiteers whose scandalous ways had been ignored for too long by the medical establishment.
I am sad to report that it must have been a brief mirage — a blip in the career of Gardiner Harris, who for some strange and seemingly contradictory reasons, put forth legitimate reporting on the use of psychiatric medicines.
But a few weeks later, Mr. Harris has told me that he has no interest in investigating the claims made in my film, which reveal the true depths of the deception, collusion and corruption at FDA. Even though he asked me not once, but twice to send him a DVD of GENERATION RX, Harris told me this morning that he wouldn’t be watching the film — and that he never requested to see the documentary in the first place. “I only communicated with you because you were persistent,” he claimed.
How very honorable of you, sir.
I admit to being persistent in my work, but three emails and one phone call over a five week span is not exactly like holding a 24/7 vigil outside of the N.Y. Times offices. I didn’t pressure Mr. Harris in any way, so the rest of his claim is utter nonsense. He did, in fact, request to see GENERATION RX and in fact emailed me his address and contact information weeks ago — including his cell phone and direct business line. Would he have supplied this private information if he had not expressed interest in seeing my film? I think not.
As you know by now, GENERATION RX uncovers the shoddy science behind the drugging of children with psychiatric medications. Mr. Harris’ own reporting has proven that drug company payoffs do exist — and that their “independent” researchers have been quietly lining their pockets for years now. I have written about this repeatedly — and it is front and center in GENERATION RX. After reading some of Harris’ articles, I thought he would be interested in the bigger picture. . .it seemed like common sense.
But when I provided Harris with the direct link to blatant conflicts-of-interest by three FDA officials — particularly as they pertain to psychiatric drugs — the New York Times reporter, the man I hailed as being “on a mission” to obliterate back room deals, simply whimpered and feigned disinterest.
What I told Harris should have concerned him — in fact it should have piqued his interest. What the film shows is that Thomas Laughren MD, the Director of the Division of Psychiatry Products at the Food and Drug Administration is clearly guilty of concealing information about the dangers of Prozac and other SSRIs dating back 22 years. “As you will see," I told Harris, "the film clearly proves that Dr. Laughren was not only aware of the Prozac side effects, but helped strategize with Lilly to conceal the facts. For 22 years, if not more, Dr. Laughren has been part of one of the most blatant coverups in FDA history. How many people have died as a result?”
Today Harris claimed that he has “seen quite a bit of evidence” about the FDAs Laughren covering up the side effects of Prozac and other SSRI drugs, but that he will NOT be pursuing that story.
Why? Because it came from a documentary filmmaker and not the New York Times?
Either he watched GENERATION RX and decided the issue was too hot to handle — or he truly does have this "evidence" and refuses to report on the deep corruption within the FDA. If it’s the latter, why is he protecting Tom Laughren — a man who may be responsible for more antidepressant deaths in the U.S. than anyone else in the federal government?
While it is troubling to consider, perhaps Mr. Harris doesn’t want to threaten his “insider’s status” at “Club D.C.” Because as all journalists inside the beltway know, you’ve got to play the game if you want to be fed exclusives on Washington’s juiciest stories. It’s one thing to report on some nasty drug companies and their paid researchers, but it’s quite another to investigate the ghosts inside the perpetual money machine in government.
Perhaps Mr. Harris simply doesn’t have the courage to go that far.
Finally, I am not alone in my disappointment over Mr. Harris’ journalistic ethos. J.B. Handley is a contributor to a fantastic blog and news site called “The Age of Autism.” http://www.ageofautism.com/ For years, Handley, Kim Stagliano, Dan Olmsted, and others have been reporting links between vaccinations and autism in their “Daily Web Newspaper of the Autism Epidemic.”
J.B. Handley crossed paths with Gardiner Harris recently. It’s safe to that neither enjoyed the experience.
“I've probably talked to a hundred or so reporters in my time.” Mr. Handley wrote on his Dec. 15th blog, “and he (Harris) is unquestionably the biggest jackass I have ever encountered.”
He accused Harris of “being snide, cynical, wildly biased, dismissive, and arrogant,” and Handly also revealed an email Harris apparently wrote scolding those who doubt the supreme safety of vaccines. “Scaring parents away from life-saving medicines is no way to improve this terrible situation.” Harris wrote. “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, as it turns out, is “a man on a mission,” as I wrote earlier. He has somehow embraced a dual journalistic identity: one that slaps the hands of academics and shills who profit from unreported drug company incomes — while the other Harris refuses to write about or investigate serious charges against a FDA bigwig who has colluded for 20+ years with drug companies to hide serious adverse events from the public. And he did so while overseeing the largest increase in the use of psychiatric medications in history.
Meanwhile, Harris castigates the cause of actress Jenny McCarthy, J.B. Handley, Kim Stagliano, Dan Olmsted and others. He criticizes them merely for telling the ‘other side of the story’ about how vaccines have caused autism and death. Conversely, Harris also correctly reported that the bipolar drugs being used by millions of kids are no more effective than placebo.
Perhaps we can simply call this ‘bipolar reporting’ by one of the nation’s most revered — but seriously flawed newspapers. As naive as it must make me sound, it hurts me to realize how selective American media has become about reporting “the truth.” Since I studied journalism during the Watergate era, I really believed that journalists would never compromise the truth, nor wield power on behalf of the powerful or protect corrupt public officials.
Those ideals crashed to Earth again today, thanks to Mr. Harris. At least I know now that he is no hero — but just another reporter trying to scoop the competition — and play the Washington game.
Sometimes he reports the truth — and sometimes he buries it — or at least doesn’t pursue it.
While I acknowledge again that Harris has revealed ghostwriting scandals, the use of bogus data in drug trials, cover-ups and conflicts of interest in medicine as a whole, he seems unwilling to take the final step that all great journalists must in order to truly serve the public.
That is to report the whole truth — no matter what the costs.
When we produced GENERATION RX, we enjoyed no security — and we put ourselves at great risk. Yet we investigated every lead and unveiled many shocking and horrible truths along the way. We did so, as I’ve said so often, for a simple ideal called “informed choice.”
Harris and his comrades, meanwhile, enjoy the protection of the mighty New York Times and its’ phalanx of lawyers. And look around the web, friends, and you’ll see that Thomas Laughren of FDA is still the “go-to” guy when a quote is needed about psychiatric medications.
His word is reported as Truth — and in Washington, the beat goes on.
But I have one piece of advice for Mr. Harris. Please refrain from telling parents and others who have been victimized by this unbelievable spike in Autism, ”If you had your way, there would be far more of these haunted souls.”
If you had bothered to watch GENERATION RX, you would have seen plenty of “haunted souls” in there as well, Mr. Harris; beings who’d like to look Tom Laughren in the eyes. But since you are a big time reporter for a world-famous newspaper, I guess you can simply ignore that information.
After all, it’s anecdotal, right? They’re only people.
Go accept your Pulitzer.