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When the Media Thinks and Concludes for the People

In the days leading up to Robert De Niro’s decision on Saturday, Mar. 26, 2016 to pull Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catrastraphe from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival movie lineup, the veteran actor and co-founder of the event was roundly criticized by the corporate media led off by blogger attacks expressing outrage that the film would be publicly screened by Tribeca. Mr. De Niro had originally supported screening the film about the alleged cover-up by officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of a study showing a correlation between the MMR (mumps, measles and rubella) vaccine and a higher incidence of autism in some children.

On Friday, Mar. 25, Mr. De Niro issued the following statement explaining his decision to include Vaxxed among the many films screened at Tribeca this year:

Grace [Hightower De Niro] and I have a child with autism, and we believe it is critical that all of the issues surrounding the causes of autism be openly discussed and examined. In the 15 years since the Tribeca Film Festival was founded, I have never asked for a film to be screened or gotten involved in the programming. However this is very personal to me and my family and I want there to be a discussion, which is why we will be screening VAXXED.1 

The next day, Mr. De Niro issued this statement:

My intent in screening this film was to provide an opportunity for conversation around an issue that is deeply personal to me and my family. But after reviewing it over the past few days with the Tribeca Film Festival team and others from the scientific community, we do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for.2 

So what happened in the interim?

Tribeca’s lineup had been announced on Monday, Mar. 21. The film was scheduled for screening at the School of Visual Arts Theater 2 (SVA2) in New York City on Apr. 24.3 Tickets were set to go on sale on Mar. 29. Then, suddenly, in what seemed like a coordinated campaign to discredit Mr. De Niro and the film festival he founded, a series of articles began appearing online and in major newspapers and magazines around the country. The articles attacked De Niro and Tribeca for daring to show the film. They critiqued the film before it was even given the opportunity to be seen by reviewers so it could, in fact, be legitimately critiqued. There were articles in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Vanity Fair, and other mainstream publications.

The Los Angeles Times, for example, published “How Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival Sold Out to Anti-Vaccine Crackpots.”4 In that piece, columnist Michael Hiltzik wrote:

Careless actions such as those of the Tribeca Film Festival don’t contribute to ‘dialogue and discussion,’ as the festival’s PR would have it; they just spread misinformation and pseudoscience and undermine public health.4

However, isn’t that the whole point of film festivals… to allow film reviewers and the public to decide whether a movie should be trashed and forgotten or analyzed and discussed? How do you know whether a film, or any book, essay, piece of art or a scientific study for that matter, makes an important contribution to knowledge or a public conversation unless the public is allowed to see it, experience it, and then proceed to exercise freedom of thought and engage in dialogue and discussion?

It’s unclear how much impact all the media backlash to Vaxxed had on Mr. De Niro’s sudden change of heart. There may have been other things going on that were way beyond Mr. De Niro’s control. In the end, there’s no denying what the free press did, by trashing the movie outright before it was even publicly screened, was help deny its director, producer, sponsors and those interviewed in the film the right to freedom of expression—the right that our free press holds so dear for itself. Our free press engaged in nothing less than censorship.

Here’s the way the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) describes censorship:

Censorship, the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are ‘offensive,’ happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional.5 

So no, what occurred was not unconstitutional. But it was censorship.

Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei describes censorship more simply and to the point. To him, “Censorship is saying: ‘I’m the one who says the last sentence. Whatever you say, the conclusion is mine.'”6

That is what America’s so-called free press has done in the case of Vaxxed. That’s what our free press continues to do with regard to the growing national debate on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and the right of informed consent to vaccination in this country. It has taken it upon itself to do the concluding on behalf of the American people, rather than allowing the American people to think for themselves.

Fortunately, as Ai Weiwei adds, “[T]he internet is like a tree that is growing. The people will always have the last word—even if someone has a very weak, quiet voice. Such power will collapse because of a whisper.”6 

References:

1 Belluck P, Ryzik M. Robert De Niro Defends Screening of Anti-Vaccine Film at Tribeca Festival. The New York Times Mar. 25, 2016.
2 Goodman S. Robert De Niro Pulls Anti-Vaccine Documentary From Tribeca Film FestivalThe New York Times Mar. 26, 2016.
3 McGovern J. J.J. Abrams, Jodie Foster to headline ‘Tribeca Talks’ events at 2016 festival. Entertainment Mar. 21, 2016.
4 Hiltzik M. How Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival sold out to anti-vaccine crackpots. Los Angeles Times Mar. 25, 2016.
5 American Civil Liberties Union. What is Censorship? ACLU.org.

6 Weiwei A. 
China’s censorship can never defeat the internet. The Guardian Apr. 15, 2012.

16 Responses to When the Media Thinks and Concludes for the People

  1. D. Smith Reply

    April 20, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Something along this same line happened years ago when PBS was going to do a documentary on vaccines. They spent hours and hours interviewing a guy named Dr. Jay Gordon and then none of his information was included in the special. He’s vaccine choice (which is a wimpy position to take if you ask me) but nevertheless, his info was pulled. Since that time I don’t think I’ve ever tuned in to PBS for any reason. I also never watch mainstream news channels because they lie constantly. In fact, they are paid to lie, that’s how it works. When they start censoring stuff, you know they have something BIG to hide.

  2. Colorado Reply

    April 6, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    MUST READ DISCLOSURE LEAK STORY REGARDING THIS CENSORSHIP. You’re going to love this; Infowars released private email story detailing exactly how this movie became censored. Threatening calls from higher officials. Per email disclosures, first time in 50 years this happened for these indy movie venues. Verified censorship of this content, via email leaks. Must read. / http://www.infowars.com/festival-threatened-by-high-government-officials-not-to-show-anti-vaccine-film/

  3. owldog Reply

    March 31, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    I quit the New York Times digital subscription, when they endorsed Hillary BEFORE the campaign even started, and systematically ignored Bernie. I check headlines, etc. every day, but clicking the 10 free articles/month is enough for me. There is life, and better, more honest, LESS-CONTROLLED Journalism, after The Times.
    No more perpetual War!! Build food and medicine depots, to win “the war on terrorism – not more violence hyping.

    • Jo Reply

      March 31, 2016 at 9:14 pm

      The NYT: some used to call it the Gray Lady; I just call it the Gray Litter Box Liner. It’s nothing but hand-outs from the intelligence services, both East and West Knesset, and politically correct bloviating.

  4. D. Smith Reply

    March 31, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    I believe this *withdrawal* from the festival will draw a lot of attention to the documentary and will have the exact opposite effect the MSM was trying to achieve.

    One can only hope. The more noise MSM makes about NOT screening it, the more people want to know what’s in it, and that’s all good.

    Hoo rah.

  5. MARY FISHER Reply

    March 31, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    @HKELSO
    Boy you are right about that

  6. In Michigan Reply

    March 31, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    This may sound backwards… it may be a very GOOD thing that Mr De Niro cancelled the viewing. I would never have found out about the movie otherwise (except maybe because of sites like this).

    It certainly would NOT have gotten the national coverage it did.

    Did De Niro, knowing the media as he does, play them with this move? Trump seems to do that in the same way.

    De Niro seems intent on getting the message out and this time, he did.

    Either way, way to go Mr. De Niro! It worked!

  7. HKelso Reply

    March 31, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Thank you for all your efforts in making the truth known.
    “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
    In reference to big Pharma, it was already prophesied “by your Pharmakia, all the nations of the world have been deceived.”

  8. Robin Hall Reply

    March 31, 2016 at 11:53 am

    I certainly find humor in the fact that the leftists push for our rights to be squelched backfires on them. They surely are being open about their vindictiveness and controlling ways…certainly not what the Constitution is all about, and certainly not “For the People, by the People”. They are becoming more and more transparent in their evil intentions.

    • MARY FISHER Reply

      March 31, 2016 at 1:38 pm

      Robin Hall…How were your rights being squelched ? All we ever hear is Pro vaccine propaganda. This movie lets us hear the other side. You hear both sides , you make a choice Suppressing and black balling Doctors, nurses, researchers and family members of injured or killed children is not infringing or your rights. This is right to know

    • Redpill1 Reply

      March 31, 2016 at 2:31 pm

      I find don’t humor in people who constantly refer to this issue as a left-right issue. It’s a human issue. It’s an issue about the future of this country (US) and the rest of the world. It’s an issue that supersedes the pettiness of political leaning and foolish commenters who have their own agenda to push. Our children are being damaged for life and some are dying as a result of this barbaric experiment being perpetuated upon our most vulnerable. Why doesn’t this mean more to you than an opportunity to snipe at your political opposite?

      • David Rattner Reply

        March 31, 2016 at 6:27 pm

        very well said

  9. Colorado Reply

    March 31, 2016 at 11:48 am

    Robert DeNiro; On the boycott list. Unethical decision to censor this movie. A director can be biased in their own movie development efforts. The movie viewers can choose to accept the messages or not. It is not the movie theaters obligation or responsibility to control the messages the director presents. This issue is clouded behind some film festival nonsense. The movie theater censored the movie because they did not personally agree with the content. Plain and simple, censorship. They must have told DeNiro he’ll go the way of Paul Walker, if he dared to proceed. The rest is pr cover up.

  10. Focus For Health Foundation Reply

    March 31, 2016 at 11:33 am

    Barry Segal, Founder of Focus for Health Foundation, “Sounds like a big win for Big Pharma, but I’m not so sure. The film is getting decent media attention, and will likely gain more viewers due to the controversy surrounding the censorship.”
    https://www.focusforhealth.org/2639-2/

  11. David Weiner Reply

    March 30, 2016 at 11:02 am

    From the article:

    “Here’s the way the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) describes censorship:

    Censorship, the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are ‘offensive,’ happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional.”

    By this definition, when some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others, for example through vaccine mandates, they are engaging in censorship. Now I agree with this, since they are in effect not allowing others to express their convictions, but I don’t see the ACLU getting terribly worried about this type of censorship.

  12. Redpill1 Reply

    March 29, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    This is an excellent interview that ABC of course censored down to seconds. The producer Del Bigtree paid wonderful homage to Dr. Wakefield in this interview.

    VAXXED: the ABC News interview that Big Pharma didn’t want you to see:
    https://www(dot)youtube.com/watch?v=tvcdh7KlgPI

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