After viewing Katie Couric’s show an acquaintance’s mother sent her this e-mail. Because many people believe the health information they see on TV, especially when it comes form a source like Couric who has been known, until this point anyway, as a trusted journalist.
Kate’s Couric’s “take” was about as scientific as a show entitled, “Is the sun really hot? Evaluating both sides of the controversy so you can decide,” backed by two moms (one of whom runs a sun isn’t hot website and side business) who claim the coldness of the sun caused injury with no supporting data on why we should all believe that the sun is really a ball of ice. The expert who is trotted out to speak about the sun’s lack of heat uses incorrect data and completely side steps the main tag line about whether the sun’s ice really is damaging because she wants to talk about the marketing of the sun.
But apparently this is what Katie Couric has to do to get better ratings. Afternoon TV isn’t about science and experts, it’s about “real moms”* telling their stories. If you want to know more about the “real mom” demographic read this fascinating bit on Katie Couric’s sinking ratings. Sadly, I am guessing the amount of press that Ms. Couric is getting from her hack job will only lead her further down the dangerous path towards the ratings garden of woo where undoubtedly she will be welcomed with open arms by the Queen of TV woo herself, Oprah, and her spritely sidekick, Prince Mehmet.
If you want to read more about the safety of the HPV vaccine there are great articles by Matthew Herper at Forbes, Beth Swarecki at PLoS Blogs, and Seth Mnookin that all include something Katie Couric and her producers doesn’t seem to know about, references.
And yes, pediatricians, gynecologists, nurse practitioners will all get to spend more time explaining why the HPV vaccine is safe and sadly, vaccination rates may drop even further.
Katie, there actually is a HPV controversy. Why do we have a vaccine series that appears to be less effective for African-American women? Too bad your producers didn’t think to ask anyone without an agenda other than evidence based medicine.
*For the record, I’m not sure what “real mom” actually means.