Wednesday, Jan 17, 2018
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Opinion

EDITORIAL

Nixing ‘Vaxxed’

TV-Rickles-Tribute

Robert De Niro removed the anti-vaccination documentary ‘Vaxxed’ from the lineup of his Tribeca Film Festival, after initially defending its inclusion.

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The Tribeca Film Festival opens April 13 in New York minus one film from the original lineup: Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe. It’s a crackpot documentary purporting a connection between vaccines and autism. The decision last weekend to withdraw the film, after a public outcry, is good for the moral health of the festival — and for the physical health of children.

It is the work of Andrew Wakefield, once a respected British doctor. He lost the right to practice medicine after his 1998 research linking the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine with autism was proved to be fraudulent. Since then, he’s become a conspiracy monger, spreading spurious notions about the safety of vaccines. The anti-vaxxing crowd, which includes celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy, can point to one worrisome development: Measles are on the rise, thanks to unvaccinated people.

Mr. Wakefield preys on the fears of parents who are searching for the cause of their child’s autism. Robert De Niro apparently is one of them. The actor, a co-director of the prestigious festival, has an 18-year-old son with autism. Mr. De Niro initially said the film should be shown because he and his wife “believe it is critical that all of the issues surrounding the causes of autism be openly discussed and examined.”

But we’re glad that one of America’s greatest film actors changed his mind and declined to confer legitimacy to a documentary that should only be denounced.

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