Nursing Times online poll: Is the Daily Mail bad for your health?

January 16, 2010

Following the Daily Mail apology over their online vote about whether ME is a genuine illness, the Nursing Times website has launched its own poll on whether the Daily Mail is bad for people's health.

Their Beyond the Bedpan columnist writes:

If you need health advice, Beyond the Bedpan recommends the Daily Mail. Provided, of course, that you’re not making it up.

The Daily Mail takes pride in its health coverage, and rightly so. Just ask the thousands of children saved from autism when the paper championed an aleged link between the neural disorder and the MMR vaccine. 

And I do mean championed. The MMR-autism link went on to be categorically discredited. But The Mail battled on, brushing aside the petty protests of scientific evidence to bring it’s own lucrative version of “truth” to the masses.

Even a claim by the Media Standards Trust – that the anti-MMR claims were increasing the chances of a measles epidemic and putting children's lives at risk – failed to dampen The Mail’s righteous fire.

More recently, the paper questioned the safety of the human papillomavirus virus (HPV) jab when a 14-year-old girl died shortly after being vaccinated. And the paper continued to question it even after public health officials said the girl’s death had been caused by “serious underlying health conditions”, and not by the HPV vaccine.

So it should be no surprise to learn that that the Mail’s sympathies extend to people suffering from myalgic encephalopathy (ME). The condition causes chronic fatigue, muscle and joint pain, sleep disorders, gastric disturbances and poor memory. The symptoms are often debilitating enough to prevent sufferers from working, going to school or generally leading normal lives.

And what words of advice would our favourite health correspondents have for people suffering this debilitating symptoms? It was summed up nicely in a reader poll: “Is ME a genuine illness?”

In other words, “not only do we know nothing about your condition, but we think you might have made the whole thing up”.

Shocking stuff. So shocking, that even the immovable Mail saw fit to remove the poll and apologise. An apology that neatly blamed the fiasco on an unnamed “junior” member of staff, and couldn’t resist raising a suggestive eyebrow by reminding offended ME sufferers that “there is still a great deal to learn about what lies behind the condition”. Charming.


Is the Daily Mail bad for your health?



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