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This is an exclusive cross-interview recorded on May 5, 2021, featuring Geoff Brumfiel, the NPR reporter who wrote the recent somewhat denigrating piece about me.
Brumfiel and I agreed to ask a number of questions of one another, to be recorded and shared with the public in order to provide the full context of the written piece. Below is a detailed description of the context that led to this conversation.
NPR's "health news" section is literally called SHOTS. Yes, literally, as in vaccines. Look no further than the logo under their general banner of "health news" to see where their loyalties appear to lie.
Can you guess what side of the informed consent and vaccine risk controversy NPR is on? It's like walking into a meat market and asking the butchers their opinion on a vegan diet. It's unrealistic to expect the butcher to suggest eliminating meat from their customers' diets, isn't it? Likewise, NPR isn't likely going to be asking safety questions, or tolerate them being asked on their platform, as it relates to the industry and agenda represented by their choice of logo.
Media is a pay-to-play occupation, like most businesses, who are beholden to their funders to produce results. There is a reason why the pharmaceutical industry is the primary funder of mainstream media (outside election cycles). The influence is deeper than simply display ads. Pharma's vast resources garners profound influence and impacts the direction and tone of reporting, especially on topics like "vaccine hesitancy" or informed consent, which is diametically opposed to the pharmaceutical industry's bottom line.
It is therefore not surprising that NPR would publish a highly biased piece titled, "For Some Anti-Vaccine Advocates, Misinformation Is Part Of A Business," against me, the founder and co-founder of both a natural health information website -- GreenMedInfo.com -- and a health freedom advocacy platform -- Stand For Health Freedom. Both are ad-free and open for public use with no login or membership required, and are used by millions around the world, each year.
The title of NPR's article is highly biased and revealing, as it contains two misleading and derogatory terms: "Anti-Vaccine" and "Misinformation." I take issue with it, because of what I see as the manipulative neurolinguistic programming operative in describing a website (and its founder) that collates peer-reviewed and published scientific research on the underreported -- now outright censored -- unintended, adverse effects of vaccines as "anti-" vaccine.
The data, research and science speak for themselves and are clearly pro-transparency and pro-choice when it comes to vaccine risk information and informed consent. You can read 1,300 of these study abstracts, and hundreds of translational articles, on our vaccine database if you want to see for yourselves what they are labeling "misinformation" and attempting to deplatform and defame me over.
Moreover, I have announced publicly on various occasions that I co-founded Stand for Health Freedom to be an advocate for citizens' rights to choose regardless of whether they wish to vaccinate or not. I support your right to choose what you do with your body, including vaccinate it, even if I may strongly agree it is safe, effective, or evidence-based.
In this sense, I am more pro-freedom, pro-choice, pro-parental rights and pro-informed consent than anything else. Describing me as an "anti-vaxxer" is a clever way to both dehumanize and villify me, in order to distract from what I actually am. This is part of the increasingly hateful and discrimatory connations attributed to a phrase that none of my colleagues identify with, for the reasons just stated.
The Origin of NPR's Interest in Reporting on My Work
This leads me to the origin story of this NPR piece. Geoff Brumfiel reached out to me on May 4, 2021 with the following inquiry:
I'm a reporter with National Public Radio who's working on a story about the business side of the anti-vaccine movement. You came to my attention because of the "Dirty Dozen" report, and I've become interested in your work with GreenMedInfo.com and your new non-profit.
I have several questions about the business side of GreenMedInfo and Stand For Health Freedom (whether these entities are your principal source of income, for example). I also would like your response to those who say you are using false, anti-vaccine conspiracy theories to promote your business.
You will be featured prominently in my reporting, and so I would welcome the opportunity to speak directly. If you choose to decline, I will use your online postings as best I can to represent your views.
The best way to reach me is through my encrypted account: gbrumfielNPR@protonmail.com
Thanks very much for your time,
Geoff Brumfiel | Senior Science Correspondent | National Public Radio
It is my general policy not to "feed the trolls," so to speak, but in recent months the attacks on me have gotten personal, culminating in an organization calling itself the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) (are you ready for the irony?) publishing a digital Hit List, with my name, my wife's name and 10 other colleagues marked for targeting and deletion on it -- which they, incidentally, succeeded in by deplatforming me and my Greenmedinfo.com accounts from Twitter, Instagram, and today, Facebook, unpublishing a page that started in 2008 and had 550,000 followers.
This organization went so far as to architect an international media campaign, involving hundreds of mainstream news outlets, to discredit and defame us. I recorded a public statement on these attacks you can watch here if you want to get more context. You can also see the incredible response of thousands of supporters who were truly dumbfounded along with me by CCDH's hypocritical behavior here: 'Digital Hate' Group CCDH Awakens Ire of the Public in Failed Attempt to Silence & Cancel Health Freedom Advocates.
CCDH even managed to promote their defamatory propaganda about us to influence a recent Congressional hearing, with Senator Mike Doyle grilling Inquisition-style all three CEOs of the world's most powerful Big Tech companies to specifically delete us that day, as you can see in the video below.
It's been 24 hours and platforms are yet to respond to @USRepMikeDoyle's demand for action.— Center for Countering Digital Hate (@CCDHate) March 26, 2021
Every day they fail to act, the Disinformation Dozen are allowed to carry on spreading disinformation that costs lives.
It's time for @Facebook, @Instagram, @Twitter and @YouTube to act. https://t.co/bDBCQfXmTT
Now that's a lot of back door influence, isn't it? It makes me wonder who is funding CCDH and their campaigns, and what their true intentions are. For more context on this organization are these two articles: CCDH - The Centre for Cancel Culture and Digital Hypocrisy - Part 1 and CCDH - The Centre for Cancel Culture and Digital Hypocrisy - Part 2.
Either way, this should be a wake up call. They aren't just deplatforming health freedom advocates anymore; now they are singling us out, lining us up and digitally assassinating us with impunity.
And so, given all this, I decided to make an exception and respond as follows:
Please feel free to send the questions, and I will consider whether a response would be appropriate at this time. My experience, thus far, with media outlets such as yours, is that both your funding sources and board members and trustees contribute directly or indirectly to the nature and type of content you publish, and which often unfairly mischaracterizes those within my community who advocate for informed consent, and for honest reporting on both the risks and benefits of medical interventions such as vaccination.
It is, therefore, with caution that I would proceed in further discussion about your intention to report on the so-called "business side of the anti-vaccine movement" -- a phrase already so loaded with bias, misunderstanding, and mischaracterization, that I hesitate to respond, as I have no desire to reify falsities implicit within the language you choose to use.
That said, I am willing to give you and NPR the benefit of the doubt, as is my inclination when a human with openness, curiosity, and perhaps a modicum of good intention reaches out.
It doesn't hurt to be friendly, right? He responded quickly, and presented seven questions for my consideration, most of which were invasive, such as asking the details of my personal finances.
The questions were an obvious attempt to further reify the CCDH's claim that I, and the other 12 named, are a profit-focused "Anti-Vaxx Industry" that is attempting to defraud, harm and mislead the public or, worse, "selling death" and "literally killing people," as CEO of CCDH Imran Ahmed said in a number of defamatory remarks in his March 29, 2021 podcast "Doomed with Matt Binder: The Anti-Vaxxer Disinformation Dozen (w/ Imran Ahmed)."1
You can understand why Ahmed's organization has been identified as a hate group by a reporter from OffGuadian, who stated that CCDH "….meet[s] the Commission on Countering Extremism's definition of so called hateful extremists."2
Indeed, the NPR reporter later revealed that he had already interviewed Ahmed for the piece. I think what is more likely is that the reporter directed to write the article because it was sponsored by CCDH, in some way.
Here was question No. 5 so you can see the line of inquiry:
#5: A big part of this story is the accusation that anti-vaccine activists such as yourself are seeking to profit from misinformation you're pushing online. The idea is that you use it to both alienate people from the mainstream establishment and then get them to buy into the things you're selling or promoting. How do you respond to this allegation?
In waiting for his response, which would come a few hours later, I had time to look into some of the relationships between NPR's editorial team, trustees and funding. I figured it was a fair question to ask, since they are inquiring cynically about my personal finances and claiming I am part of a vast and powerful network of unscrupulous profiteers CCDH calls the "Anti-Vaccine Industry."
Perhaps their financing and profit model should also be inspected as a possible motivation for why they wanted to "interview" me. Here's what I found initially:
Hi. I had a few minutes to look at NPR funding and sponsorship and found National Public Media has worked directly with the pharmaceutical industry trade group PhRMA:
"Through a series of Brand Soundscapes distributed in sponsorships across NPR platforms, medical researchers and patients share how what's produced in the lab affects life outside of it.
PhRMA's Brand Soundscapes were also featured in native integrations as part of their launch sponsorship of the NPR App. This new sponsorship format was designed by the NPM Creative team to ensure a smooth and seamless user experience."
Given the tone and language of your inquiry, it now strikes me as odd that your media group accepts funding and even constructs integrations with your NRP App to promote their interests, rendering the pretense to conflict-of-interest free reporting null and void, from my seat.
I would like to ask you for an explanation or official response to this NPM/NPR connection with PhRMA before proceeding, and will likely be doing a report as well on the question of how NPR generates revenue from biased reporting in favor of its sponsors.
Also, I would like to ask you when/if the Gates Foundation funding ended. And what the money was used for, specifically, when NPR decided to accept it. Appreciated
Brumfiel responded as follows:
NPR has a pretty long list of corporate sponsors (the most recent I could find is in our 2019 annual report). Our newsroom is editorially separated from the business side of the operation. I am not in direct contact with sponsors, and they have no influence over what I write or how I write it.
As far as I know, we continue to receive funding from the Gates Foundation. It goes in part towards our global health coverage.
I appreciated his honesty, which is why I agreed to cross-interview with him.
NPR Has Taken Tens of Millions of Dollars From Pro-Vaccine Groups
Since then, I have had far more time to research NPR, and I'm grateful for what I have discovered, even if it disabuses me of a long-held belief that NPR had less conflicts of interest than, say, Fox or CNN, which I no longer see as true, given that their 990 tax filings show that the over a quarter of a billion dollars of revenue they generate, annually, includes over $100 million of contributions from private donors, corporations, grants and NGOs, all of which, I believe, wield great influence on programming behind the scenes.
Historically, NPR has suffered criticism for disregarding journalistic standards and has been openly called out for its ideological bias on a variety of topics. For instance, Lisa Simeone once accused NPR's Pentagon reporting of being "little more than Pentagon press releases."3 Another example is author Robert Jensen, also a University of Texas journalism professor, who reprimanded NPR for taking a pro-war stance in its reports of Iraq war protests.4
There's also the glaring problem that NPR has taken tens of millions of dollars from pro-vaccine groups, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, pharmaceutical companies and pharmaceutical industry trade groups, presenting opinions as facts, while at the same time being heavily one-sided, relying on unsubstantiated claims -- which are fatal, journalistic no-no's if integrity is what you claim.
The reality is that we're in a very critical time of awakening to the need for integrity and full transparency, which does not exempt me either. I appreciate that Brumfiel may truly believe that a valid chacterization of me is that I'm an opportunist profiting from the suffering that results from my anti-vaccine misinformation, as CCDH has made it a mission to amplify and spread this falsity to the farthest corners of the world via the centralized and controlled media.
But what I think is far more compelling an explanation for why this article was written (along with many others like it) is that I'm being singled out and made an example of, in order to discourage more people from both standing up themselves, in the exercise of informed consent and sharing factual information about the real risks of medical interventions like vaccines, and in order to "kill the messenger" through time-tested (though perhaps no longer as effective) ad hominen attacks and intimidation tactics.
I honestly believe this strategy will and is backfiring. Instead of getting angry, defensive and equally aggressive, it is best to stick with the facts, insofar as our human limitations allow us to identify and share them. Thats why GreenMedInfo.com exists, and we hope you continue to use our resource to empower you to make healthier choices for yourselves. And in order to protect your right to choose, Stand for Health Freedom is here to give the silent majority of health freedom loving citizens a voice, and digital means to amplify it. We hope you use it too!
And thank you most to everyone who has stood by me over the years. You are greatly and warmly appreciated.
1 Apple Podcasts, 160: The Anti-Vaxxer Disinformation Dozen (w/ Imran Ahmed) https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/160-the-anti-vaxxer-disinformation-dozen-w-imran-ahmed/id1333711260?i=1000514931931
2 OffGuardian August 12, 2020 https://off-guardian.org/2020/08/12/ccdh-the-centre-for-cancel-culture-and-digital-hypocrisy-part-2/
3 Current March 15, 2016 https://current.org/2016/03/a-critic-sees-pro-government-bias-in-nprs-reporting/