I noted earlier today that Chris Christie has come under fire for comments he made in response to a question about vaccinating children to immunize them from measles. Christie’s statement wasn’t a model of clarity, but I argued that under a fair reading it was perfectly reasonable. Had Christie been a Democrat, his comments would have been a non-story.
Christie has now clarified his remarks. His spokesperson said, not at all inconsistently with Christie’s initial statement:
The Governor believes vaccines are an important public health protection and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated. At the same time different states require different degrees of vaccination, which is why he was calling for balance in which ones government should mandate.
That should be the end of the non-story.
But now, the mainstream media is looking back five years to support its narrative that Christie is anti-science on the issue of vaccination. In 2009, according to the Washington Post, Christie met with parents concerned about autism rates and listened to some who expressed fears that the disease might be linked to vaccinations.
That same year, according to the Daily Beast, Christie wrote to campaign supporters to express sympathy for parents concerned by New Jersey’s “highest-in-the-nation vaccination rate.” Chistie also said that he stands with those who are fighting for “greater parental involvement in vaccination decisions that affect their children.”
Two years later, just before a town-hall meeting, Christie accepted a copy of a book about a possible connection between vaccinations and autism and later called on the author to ask a question. The Post is really reaching here.
Obviously, listening to anti-vaccination activists and calling on one of them to ask a question is not the same thing as taking an anti-vaccination position. And “greater parental involvement” doesn’t necessarily mean a parental veto over vaccines for serious illnesses
Moreover, the state of the science was different in 2009 than it is today. Now, as I understand the situation, it is now widely considered settled that no link exists between autism and vaccinations. Back then, there was still a debate.
In fact, Hillary Clinton was one of those pushing the debate ( Barack Obama was another). Chuck Ross of the Daily Caller reports:
As a U.S. senator and presidential candidate in 2008. . .Hillary Clinton called for more research into the autism-vaccination link in response to a questionnaire from A-CHAMP, an autism awareness group. Clinton wrote that she was “committed to make investments to find the causes of autism, including possible environmental causes like vaccines.”
And in response to the question of whether she would support more research into a link between vaccinations and autism rates, Clinton wrote: “Yes. We don’t know what, if any, kind of link there is between vaccines and autism – but we should find out.”
Clinton’s position was reported at the time by left-wing organs like the Huffington Post and the American Prospect. It took the Daily Caller, though, to remind us of this now that Christie is taking for being willing to listen, years ago, to people who were voicing the same concerns Clinton was expressing at the time.
As Daniel Foster says, “this is the next two years.” And not just for Chris Christie.