After more than 10 years, I stopped listening to Don Imus in the morning earlier this year. It was when he launched an incoherent rant against my former colleague and dean of the Washington press corps, Helen Thomas.
At about the same time, his program of irreverent humor, world-class political interviews, news and country music got taken over by his trophy wife, who is barely his own daughters' ages, and her crusade trying to prove a government-industry conspiracy to afflict children with autism by poisoning vaccines.
Actually, I blame his wife, who has nothing better to do than to crusade, because it's better than minding their obnoxious son, who was also getting too much air time.
Autism is a tricky subject. There are more cases than ever, but that's because the definition of autism has expanded, not, as blame-mongering parents claim because a mercury-based preservative was once used to preserve the shelf-life of the MMR vaccines all children are supposed to get.
Study after study, worldwide, has failed to show any causation between the preservative thimerosal and autism. But that doesn't stop idiots like Imus and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., from blustering about conspiracies.
In fact, autism has been linked to an increase in births to older fathers. And that probably is what has Imus in a dither.
Oh, did I mention that Imus appears on MSNBC, and the chairman of NBC has a grandson with autism and that about the same time Imus began his crusade, NBC News ran a "strip" of five stories on the subject each night for one week. How's that for conspiracy, Mr. Imus!
The upshot is that a blowhard who sucks up to company chairmen and to higher authorities like Tim Russert and Joe Lieberman has Congress ready to pass a bill that does the worst possible thing to medicine. It directs funds – outside of peer-reviewed recommendations – to fight a specific disease; a disease that while of great concern to parents, is not even among the top 10 health problems we face.