There was a tremendously biased, partial and unbalanced programme on the BBC this week, but The Conspiracy Files: Vaccine Wars (BBC2, Thursday, 9pm) had every right to be.
Detailing the rise in the anti-vax movement – which believes harm done by vaccines is covered up by governments and ‘big pharma’ – the programme made clear it stood for science.
It also made clear that parents with genuine concerns over the health of their children were being hoodwinked by quacks, charlatans and snake oil salesmen with agendas to push and money to be made.
Men like the ludicrously-named TV producer Del Bigtree, who helped the discredited doctor Andrew Wakefield – the man who helped spread the fallacious link between the MMR vaccine and autism –film a documentary pushing his specious claims.
Of course, in an era when even our political leaders claim that we have ‘had enough of experts’, those convinced by the anti-vaxxers will not have their minds changed by this documentary, despite the parade of senior names in the administration of medicine, in this country and the US and France, lining up to present the – tested – evidence.
Much misinformation about vaccines is spread by the media through journalists who misunderstand –or wilfully misrepresent –the data, so it is up to the media to try to counter that.
And with the advent now of social media, where anti-vaxxers can spread false information unmediated and without balance, why shouldn’t the media also present the scientific case with equal force?
On an issue like this, where a decline in vaccination rates leads to more children dying, it amounts to a public service.
As the country descends into farce, there is a bright spot in the form of Marvellous (Prime Video), the beautifully heart-warming true-life tale starring Toby Jones. Seek it out to lift your mood.
Also on streaming services, but rather less life-affirming, is Unbelievable (Netflix), a series based on the search for a rapist in north-west USA. Beautifully written, and with terrific performances.