I was recently tipped off to a defamation case which was lodged on December 23rd by Barbara Loe Fisher, from the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) for USD1 million against Paul Offit, Amy Wallace and the publishers of Wired magazine, Conde Nast Publications in the United states District Court.

You can read the entire case as a pdf here.

The case revolves around the article written by Amy Wallace called ‘An epidemic of Fear, One Man’s Battle Against the Anti-Vaccine Movement’ (pdf here) published in WIRED in November 2009. The offending paragraph which Fisher is claiming has defamed her character appears below (quoted from the lawsuit);

20. The following passage contains the principle attack on Plaintiff Fisher’s honesty, character, and integrity, culminating in the per se libel (quoted from Offit) that Plaintiff Fisher “lies:”

‘”Kaflooey theories’ make him (Offit) crazy, especially if they catch on. Fisher, who has long been the media’s go-to interview for what some in the autism arena call ‘parents [sic] rights,’ makes him particularly nuts, as in ‘You just want to scream.’ The reason? ‘She lies/ he says flatly.


21. Plaintiff Fisher is not a liar. The statement “she lies” is without a basis in fact. Plaintiff Fisher depends on her reputation for honesty and integrity in all of her business, professional, and personal relationships. During her 28 years at the center of the vaccination debate, Plaintiff Fisher has never made a representation that she knew to be false and has scrupulously told the truth. In fact, Plaintiff Fisher is well known for taking special care to document the written statements she makes about vaccination with numerous references from original sources in an effort to be accurate, transparently honest and trustworthy. The accusation that Plaintiff Fisher is a liar is malicious, spiteful, the product of ill-will, and is an overt attempt to discredit and destroy her reputation for honesty and integrity out of Offit and Wallace’s zealous commitment to mandatory, universal vaccination.

The overall tone of the suit is one of Fisher as the underdog fighting for the rights of children damaged by vaccines whereas Offit, (co-inventor of RotaTeq the vaccine against rotavirus) is driven purely by profit, is deeply in the pockets of Big Pharma and promotes anyone who opposes vaccination as; “ignorant of science and negligent, placing all others in society at risk of illness, injury or death”.

The reasons for Wallace also being sued are detailed here;

Before publishing the article, Wallace engaged in a lengthy interview with Plaintiff Fisher by phone and in communications with her via electronic mail. She never questioned in that interview Plaintiff Fisher’s honesty or integrity and did not thereafter confront her with the Offit charge that she was a liar and invite her to respond.

In confirmation of Wallace’s bias against those who oppose mandatory, universal vaccination, Wallace wrote and published the libel specifically choosing it as the climax of her article’s characterization of Plaintiff Fisher and following her defamatory positioning of Plaintiff Fisher as “the brain” for an entire vaccine
safety and informed consent movement which Wallace deliberately mislabeled as “anti-vaccine”
and that she condemned as unscientific and opportunistic.

Wallace knew Fisher not to be opposed to the availability and use of vaccines but to be opposed to forced use of vaccines and to vaccination without fully informed consent, yet falsely described her as a leader of the “antivaccine movement,” thus associating her within the article as a vaccine opponent who is unscientific, opportunistic, and dangerous to society. Wallace published the statement “she lies,” quoted from Offit, with knowledge of its falsity. Wallace aided and abetted Offit’s aim to discredit, debase, and defame Plaintiff Fisher by accusing her of being a liar.


After labeling supporters of informed consent and vaccine risk awareness as irrational individuals blinded by fear, after identifying Plaintiff Fisher as the “movement’s brain,” and after lionizing Offit as the leading expert on vaccination whose views the public should trust, Wallace portrays Plaintiff Fisher, in reliance on a quote from Offit, as a liar, impugning her honesty, character, and integrity.

I’ll keep you updated on further developments as they come to hand.

Tip o’ the hat to Michael

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