Superstar CBS Reporter Blows the Lid
Off the Swine Flu Media Hype and Hysteria
Dr. Joseph Mercola interviews Sharyl Attkisson, the investigative
reporter behind the groundbreaking CBS News study that found H1N1
flu cases are NOT as prevalent as feared.
Ms. Attkisson says:
The reason I looked into this is a couple of months
ago, I got tips from three or four different segments of public
healthcare, with folks telling me the CDC has recommended that
they go ahead and stop testing for and counting swine flu cases.
Each different entity that contacted me was concerned, thinking
that this should not be happening. They really felt that it was
necessary for the swine flu to continue to be tracked in some
details. So I went about trying to find out why this decision
was made and what the ramifications would be.
I started by contacting the CDC and the HHS and asking
some basic questions. I felt like I pretty much got stonewalled
with some of the information I really needed to get at, especially
what I needed from the states data, and information on the rationale
behind this decision to stop counting and testing for swine flu.
Because the CDC did not initially respond to Attkissons
requests, she contacted all 50 states directly, asking for their
statistics on state lab-confirmed H1N1 prior to the halt of individual
testing and counting in July. She also asked states, one by one,
to help explain the rationale behind the CDCs decision to
stop tracking H1N1 cases.
One of my good sources within the government said to
me that theyre either trying to, in his opinion, over-represent
the swine flu numbers or under-represent by not counting them
anymore. He said, You need to find out which it is.
And so to find out which it might be, I really wanted to see the
data that the CDC had at the time it made the decision to quit
counting the cases.
What Her Investigative Report Reveals
If you listen to most media outlets and even to government agencies,
you get the impression that virtually every person who has visited
their physician with flu-like symptoms in recent months has H1N1,
with no testing necessary because, after all, there's an epidemic.
We are all being led to believe that every case diagnosed as
swine flu or even as flu-like illness
is, in fact, swine flu.
But Attkissons investigation revealed a very different
picture right from her first contact with individual states. She
Across the country, state by state, they were testing
[for H1N1] until CDC told them not to bother. They were testing,
in general, the cases most likely to be believed to have been
swine flu based on a doctors diagnosis of symptoms and risk
factors such as travel to Mexico.
These special cases were going to state labs for absolute
confirmation with the best test -- not the so-called rapid
testing, but the real confirmation test.
Of those presumed likely swine flu cases out of approximately
every hundred of what was tested, only a small fraction were actually
swine flu. In every instance, perhaps the biggest number of
cases that were swine flu was something like 30%. The smallest
number was something like 2% or 3%.
Maybe theres one state where it was just 1%.
The point is, of the vast majority of the presumed swine
flu cases recognized by trained physicians, the vast majority
were not flu at all. They werent swine flu or regular flu;
they were some other sort of upper respiratory infection.
And here is the clincher that it seems the CDC just doesnt
want the American public to know
The CDC explained that one of the reasons they quit
counting was because of all the flu thats out there, most
are swine flu. Well, thats true. Most of the flu that was
out there was indeed swine flu, but they failed to say that most
of the suspected flu was nothing at all. And I think thats
the caveat the public just didnt know, Attkisson explains.
She gives even more striking examples of the numbers the investigative
report revealed. For instance:
* In Florida, 83 percent of specimens that were presumed to
be swine flu were negative for all flu when tested!
* In California, 86 percent of suspected H1N1 specimens were not
swine flu or any flu; only 2 percent were confirmed swine flu.
* In Alaska, 93 percent of suspected swine flu specimens were
negative for all flu types; only 1 percent was H1N1 flu.
Freedom of Information and Getting the Truth Out
It is not easy for journalists to access this type of information,
and they often have to wait weeks, months or even years for information
from the CDC and the FDA -- information that is readily available
and supposed to be clearly public.
Attkisson expands on the difficulties she faced in trying to
get simple data regarding swine flu cases in the United States:
They [CDCs public affairs] quit communicating
with me when I pressed on why I couldnt get certain information.
They just wouldnt answer my emails anymore. So I had to
file a Freedom of Information request, which is usually my last
choice because I know I was going into a deep black hole many
times and Ill never get an answer.
But in this case, I got an interesting response on October
19 from the CDC when I had asked for some simple, public documents
that would have been easy for them to obtain too quickly.
Journalists are allowed to ask for expedited processing of
their Freedom of Information request because, for obvious reasons,
theyre working on a story that may have public impact or
be of public interest. The agencies are not supposed to use the
Freedom of Information Law to obstruct or delay the release of
This may be the first time I was denied that expedited processing
from Freedom of Information that were entitled to as members
of the press; a letter from HHS or Health and Human Services (the
CDC is under HHS) said to me that one of the reasons theyre
denying my expedited processing is because this is not a matter
of widespread and exceptional media or public interest.
In other words, the CDC doesnt think these questions
about swine flu prevalence and these other things that weve
been asking are, at least in their opinion in this letter, not
a matter of widespread and exceptional media or public interest.
Yet, while the CDC expressed that questions about swine flu
prevalence were not a matter of widespread media or public interest,
the President had declared the swine flu a national public health
The inconsistencies at the CDC are nearly incomprehensible.
The Ramifications of the Swine Flu Policy
According to Attkissons CBS News study, when you come
down with chills, fever, cough, runny nose, malaise and all those
other "flu-like" symptoms, the illness is likely caused
by influenza at most 17 percent of the time and as little as 3
percent! The other 83 to 97 percent of the time it's caused by
other viruses or bacteria.
So remember that not every illness that appears to be the flu
actually is the flu. In fact, most of the time it's not.
Curiously, the CDC still advises those who were told they had
2009 H1N1 (and therefore should be immune to getting it again)
to get vaccinated unless they had lab confirmation.
But because very few people have actually had a lab-confirmed
case of H1N1 (and in most cases those people told they had swine
flu probably did not), this means nearly everyone is still being
advised to get the swine flu vaccine.
Attkisson has been one of the few to speak out against this
flawed system and point out the serious ramifications that come
when a public health agency is secretive about their health data.
From a public and journalistic standpoint, I believe
the mistake comes when you dont fully disclose to the public
as you go and discover the mistakes. Try to disclose and fix things
that come up.
Everybody understands that there isnt a perfect system,
but I think you need to be upfront with them, explain what youre
doing, and explain what youre discovering. If youve
made a mistake or you feel like you need to correct something,
say that, too, but dont just try to keep information from
I couldnt agree more, and Attkissons CBS News report
has stood out like a bright light of truth among all the clouds