Tuesday night on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” host John Stewart skewered those who hold anti-vaccine beliefs, both left and right.
“Why is measles, a disease that had effectively been eradicated by vaccination, suddenly back?” he asked, “Like most things, you can blame it on science-denying … affluent California liberals.” (RELATED: Rand Paul Trolls ‘Liberal Media’ With Twitter Pic Of Him Getting Vaccinated)
But missing from his entertaining monologue is an admission that Stewart once interviewed an anti-vaccine activist and all but endorsed his views. In 2005, Stewart invited Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. For seven minutes, Kennedy pushed anti-vaccine memes, saying that “the science is overwhelming, that there is a link between autism” and certain vaccines.
Did Stewart challenge Kennedy’s claims? Barely. Stewart only asked one mildly critical question during the interview, letting Kennedy monologue for the most part. Toward the end of the interview, Stewart all but endorsed his views:
“And if nothing else, it does seem that it’s very hard to argue the idea that putting mercury in things—some people would argue I guess that we’re surrounded by all sorts of mercury contaminates in everything and the vaccines aren’t as much. But with so many passionate people on the case of it, there must be something there. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
The autism-vaccine link was just as discredited in 2005 as it is today. In 2004, for example, The Sunday Times revealed that the author of original vaccine-autism paper had been paid £55,000 by lawyers, with the understanding that a link would allow them to sue pharmaceutical companies for billions.