WND's Chief Medical Misinformer
WorldNetDaily loves Association of American Physicians and Surgeons president Jane Orient because of their shared agenda of right-wing politics and medical misinformation.
By Terry Krepel
Dr. Jane Orient
Another fave is current AAPS president Jane Orient, who like Hieb and Vliet dutifully engage in the hallmarks of an AAPS commenter: right-wing politics and medical misinformation.
Since 2003, Orient has also been the managing editor of AAPS' Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, which means it was under her watch that a notorious 2005 journal article appeared ranting against illegal immigrants as filthy foreigners and falsely claiming that cases of leprosy in the U.S. have exploded. Even though the claim was discredited nine years ago, we could find no reference to the journal issuing a correction on the AAPS website, and the PDF of the article on the journal's website remains uncorrected.
In 2012, Orient rushed to defend Missouri Republican politician Todd Akin's medically unsupported assertion that rape rarely causes pregnancy because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." "Akin gave a layman’s restatement of the point made by some pro-life physicians that the female body has some defense mechanisms against pregnancy in cases of rape," Orient wrote, because " Stress is conceded to make miscarriage more likely by disrupting the hormonal milieu. What could be more stressful than a forcible rape?"
Despite complaining that "Medical science is being replaced by political demagoguery about the issue of rape," Orient went on to do exactly that:
Starting from one extreme, some radical feminists appear to believe that most if not all sex involving a man and a woman is a rape. The man is always the perpetrator, and the woman, a victim. Clearly, there are activities that are not forcible rape and do not involve the same emotional reaction, but are still not legitimate. These would include statutory rape, “date rape” and seduction. To suggest that a woman ‘s dress or behavior might in some cases have contributed is, of course, unacceptable.
Remember, Orient was just accusing others of replacing medical science with "political demagoguery." Or was she talking about herself?
In December 2014, Orient tried to capitalize on concerns about Ebola by teaming with WND to publish a a free e-book on the subject; all it cost was your email address so WND could put you on its mailing list. WND claimed: "It authoritatively answers every practical question and then some you may have regarding Ebola, all without even a smidgeon of the political correctness infecting the government’s statements, reassurances and policies." In 2015 WND issued another free e-book-slash-mailing list builder from Orient, this one titled "Emerging Diseases: Protecting Your Family from Pandemics, Viral Threats, and Rogue Vaccines." ("Rogue vaccines"?)
Based on what she's written for WND on these subjects, however, her goal in addressing these issues is to fearmonger.
In an October 2014 WND column, Orient insisted that, contrary to pretty much every other medical opinion on the subject, Ebola is an airborne virus:
Officials are frequently reassuring people that the virus is not “airborne” and that “direct contact” with a sick person is required to get infected. It is not possible, we are told, to get Ebola from a person who does not have symptoms. We just need hand-washing and other “simple, basic precautions.”
What Orient is doing here is the medical-scaremongering equivalent of doctor-shopping, clinging to an anomalous finding that contradicts all other established medical opinion on the subject. Vox pointed out that the Canadian study that was the basis for this finding examined if Ebola can travel from a pig to a primate and is not necessarily applicable to human transmission of Ebola.
Nevertheless, Orient continued to freak out that "sometime between Oct. 1 and Oct. 2 the Agency actually changed the language of their Pathogen Safety Data Sheet on Ebola to softer, less alarming language on airborne transmission, including the removal of citations to key scientific literature." Perhaps the agency realized that people like Orient were cherry-picking its report in order to scare people and decided to make it more accurate, but Orient seems not to have considered that possibility.
(Orient didn't limit her Ebola fearmongering to WND. In an October 2014 video interview with CNSNews.com, the Media Research Center's Dan Joseph baselessly presented Orient as an "Ebola expert" and let her rant about how Ebola can be spread by immigrants "crossed over our Southern border" and that terrorists and sociologists think Ebola is a great tool for reducing the Earth's population: "There's been so much talk about how wonderful it would be to have something like Ebola to wipe out 90 percent of the population. There are people who think the Earth is greatly overpopulated and people who would like to destroy Americans and they don't mind blowing themselves up with a suicide vest." Joseph mildly challenged Orient on that last point, to which Orient responded, "We don't know it's happening, but on the other hand, we don't know that it isn't.")
Blaming Zika on vaccines
Jane Orient's Feb. 8 WND column is headlined "Zika virus: What should we do about it?" What Orient plans to do about is spin a conspiracy theory that vaccines, not Zika virus, are responsible for the microcephaly epidemic in Brazil:
There is, however, still no definitive proof that microcephaly and associated defects are caused by ZVD [Zika virus disease]. Some interesting facts:
Except that, well, the science doesn't really support Orient going anti-vaxxer on Zika. As science blogger Tara C. Smith pointed out, the DTaP vaccine is suggested in the 27th to 36th week of pregnancy, too late in pregnancy to have such a severe effect on brain and skull development. And the president of the Australasian Society of Infectious Disease said there is no evidence to support a link between the resurgence of the Zika virus in Brazil and the vaccine.
As befitting a not-very-credible doctor, Orient's solution to Zika virus is that old right-wing standard, DDT. She claimed that if Zika results in efforts to reverse the "disastrous decision" to ban DDT, "it will save millions of lives and even help us win the war on bed bugs." Actually, most bedbugs and most mosquitoes are immune to DDT because of past overuse, so bringing it back would accomplish little beyond creating even more DDT-resistant buggers.
After the Centers for Disease Control has definitively confirmed that Zika causes microcephaly and other fetal abnormalities, Orient still wasn't buying it. So she followed up with an April 15 column (a version of which was also published April 18 at Newsmax) ranting that the CDC is offering "politically correct advice on Zika," and she's sticking to her anti-vaxxer conspiracy theory:
Zika virus has been found in the brain of a few babies born with microcephaly. But two things are very clear: MOST microcephaly is NOT caused by Zika. About 7 of 10,000 babies born in the U.S. have microcephaly no thanks to Zika. Most (more than 90 percent) of the Brazilian babies recently confirmed to have microcephaly tested negative for Zika.
We don't know where Orient got her claim that "Most (more than 90 percent) of the Brazilian babies recently confirmed to have microcephaly tested negative for Zika," since she provides no link for it. She may be referring to a report last month that of 2,197 have so far been investigated by Brazilian officials, 854 have been confirmed as microcephaly, and in 97 cases laboratory tests have confirmed a link with the Zika virus. But Nature reports that while Brazil lacks reliable historical baselines for comparison, "an increasing number of reports on individual newborn babies, or stillborn or aborted fetuses with microcephaly, show Zika viral RNA at the scene of the crime."
Orient is eager to downplay the threat of Zika -- "while Ebola has killed thousands, Zika has likely not killed anyone," she writes, ignoring those stillbirths linked to Zika -- but the fact remains it's the first mosquito-borne virus linked to congenital brain defects.
Orient, meanwhile, was still not done fearmongering about vaccines, attempting to link an outbreak of microcephaly in Vietnam to the Tdap vaccine. In fact, it may not only be related to Zika, but may be linked to a chemical, pyriproxyfen, used in the country to kill mosquitoes.
Orient renewed her call to un-ban DDT, adding: "In the 1990s, Mexico agreed to abandon its DDT program as a condition of NAFTA. Mosquitoes travel." Actually, according to the Global Health Group, Mexico had largely abandoned DDT use by the time NAFTA was approved because it was no longer working; using alternative treatment and vector control methods, cases of malaria, a mosquito-borne disease, in Mexico dropped 83 percent from 2000 to 2010. Further, Mexico has the potential to be free of malaria by 2020.
More vaccine fearmongering
Orient wouldn't be a good AAPS representative if she didn't engage in some anti-vaccine scaremongering.
Following a September 2015 Republican presidential debate, in which Donald Trump fearmongered about an "epidemic" of autism he suggested was caused by vaccines and Ben Carson asserted that children are receiving "too many" vaccines, WND -- which also has a thing for fearmongering about vaccines, usually with the AAPS' help -- was thrilled. GOP candidates agree on vaccines!" enthused the headline of a WND article following the debate, declaring that "three of the candidates agreed that American doctors have become too vaccine-happy." And Orient used her Sept. 27 WND column to defend Trump's fearmongering about vaccines:
The American Academy of Pediatrics, or AAP, was quick to accuse candidates of making “false statements.” But AAP’s consistent advocacy for all “recommended” vaccines notwithstanding, the following statements are true:
Further, Orient is lying when she claims that nobody knows why there is an autism "epidemic." It may just be that there is an increase of autism diagnosis instead of an increase of the number of people who have it, given that autism spectrum disorder is a fairly recent medical discovery.
But Orient won't listen to things like science; she insists that "A multi-billion dollar industry benefits from vaccine mandates and has enormous influence over groups like AAP."
Orient then ranted:
Children are affected by many non-vaccine preventable conditions, some fatal, such as enterovirus D68, which swept through the nation in 2014. It caused hundreds of hospitalizations and at least 12 deaths, compared with one death from measles. Trump might want to look into the possible consequences of dispersing inadequately screened immigrant children.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control have found no evidence of a link between illegal immigrants and enterovirus outbreaks in the U.S.
Not that actual evidence sway WND on such things; Jerome Corsi was declaring the year before that "The EV-D68 epidemic occurred only after the surge this year of unaccompanied alien children illegally crossing the border from Latin America" and that "but government data show the virus was rare in the U.S. before this year."
In that WND article, Orient asserted that "Latin American children likely have some immunity and may not be sick, while still contagious," and that "some serious work needs to be done to get to the bottom of this." That may be true, but don't expect Orient and the AAPS to do any of that "serious work" -- or WND, for that matter -- if those filthy illegal immigrants can't be blamed for it in the end.
Repeating false internet rumors
Orient isn't above embracing odd internet memes to push her agenda. She wrote in a Jan. 17 column:
The economy, despite Obama’s State of the Union celebration, is as dead as the logs in Ollie’s fireplace. One map shows that there are no cargo ships crossing any of the earth’s oceans. They are all stuck in port.
That would be alarming if it was true. It's not, of course.
The mythbusters at Snopes detailed that the claim originated from some previously unknown website known for publishing false stores, which ignored the fact that tracking system from which it drew its map covers only certain coastal areas, not the middle of the ocean. Other tracking systems show numerous cargo ships in the Atlantic.
Attacking medical science with politics
Orient and the AAPS even tries to insert its right-wing political agenda on something like sexually transmitted diseases. A Feb. 25 WND article by Paul Bremmer about the federal government removing three rare and obscure STDs from the conditions that keep foreigners out of the country. Cue the right-wing AAPS making it political:
Jane Orient, M.D., executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, said this new rule shows the Obama administration’s disregard for its own constituents.
Hieb chimed in by going even more political: “If people are coming in with this, what that does is it doesn’t open the gates to three-year-old girls; this opens the gates to, in my opinion, the 18-year-old gangbangers who couldn’t get in because of these diseases. ... Think about it. It’s not little girls that can’t get in because they have chancroid; it’s young men. Why are we bringing in all these potential-problem young men into our country?”
Nowhere in this article does Bremmer even link to, let alone quote from, the ruling in question, which pointed out that these STDs "no longer pose a threat to public health" and removal from the list barring entry "does not mean that persons will not be treated for these infections if the infections are found during the medical examination."
But that would have blown up all the AAPS ranting, and WND wouldn't have an article. That's not the way either organization does things.