Former Salon editor admits "shameful role" in publishing RFK Jr.'s "mendacious, error-ridden" article on vaccines

In 2005, web magazine Salon, with Rolling Stone as its partner, published Robert F. Kennedy's article "Deadly Immunity," about how thimerosal in childhood vaccines supposedly led to a rise in autism, and how government officials supposedly covered up the causal link.

With Robert F. Kennedy's vaccine opposition back in the news because of his declared candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination, former Salon editor Joan Walsh wrote in The Nation that she accepts responsibility for her role as editor of the piece, which she now calls mendacious and error-ridden.

But I've come to believe I have a responsibility to write about Kennedy because of my own shameful role in sending his toxic vaccine views into public discourse…. From the day "Deadly Immunity" went up on, we were besieged by scientists and advocates showing how Kennedy had misunderstood, incorrectly cited, and perhaps even falsified data. Some of his sources turned out to be known crackpots.

It was the worst mistake of my career. I probably should have been fired, but since Rolling Stone founder and then-editor Jann Wenner was on the Salon board at the time, that wasn't going to happen. … We dutifully (and increasingly anxiously and ashamedly) published correction after correction.

Walsh wrote that she decided to leave the article online, with all corrections, but six years later, as Kennedy's claims continued to be thoroughly debunked, it was decided to take the article down and issue a full retraction.

Kennedy has told The New York Times and Joe Rogan, on his podcast, that Salon retracted the article under pressure from government regulators and the pharmaceutical industry.

Walsh forcefully disputed that.

That's just another lie. We caved to pressure from the incontrovertible truth and our journalistic consciences.