The Washington Post has published a major exposé about a wealthy New York family who has bankrolled a massive campaign to spread misinformation about vaccinations to the tune of millions of dollars.
According to the Post, hedge fund manager and philanthropist Bernard Selz and his wife Lisa Selz have donated at least $3 million to organizations that stoke fears about vaccinations causing autism, while also downplaying the threat that measles poses to young children.
What’s more, this funding has had a significant impact on public opinion about the safety of vaccinations, which has led to an increase in children contracting preventable diseases.
“Their money has gone to a handful of determined individuals who have played an outsize role in spreading doubt and misinformation about vaccines and the diseases they prevent,” the Post writes. “The groups’ false claims linking vaccines to autism… have led growing numbers of parents to shun the [measles] shots. As a result, health officials have said, the potentially deadly disease has surged to at least 1,044 cases this year, the highest number in nearly three decades.”
The Selz family accounts for three-fourths of the funding for the Informed Consent Action Network, an anti-vaccination group whose chief executive, Del Bigtree, has mocked people who are concerned about measles spreading within their communities.
“They should be allowed to have the measles if they want the measles,” Bigtree recently told reporters while defending his organization. “It’s crazy that there’s this level of intensity around a trivial childhood illness.”