Maine reporter’s private emails show sharp bias against vaccine choice says advocate

Snippet of a message from PPH health reporter Joe Lawlor to Professor Dorit Reiss discussing online comments made by supporters of vaccine choice on a news article. Screenshot of email from a California Public Records request.

AUGUSTA – A top opponent of a bill in Maine that would strip away parental choice by eliminating legal exemptions some parents use when they choose not to have their children get vaccines says that email comments made by a health reporter at the Portland Press Herald show a clear bias against advocates of vaccine choice.

“Almost cult-like” is the phrase Portland Press Herald reporter Joe Lawlor used to describe people who were commenting on a Portland Press Herald story about vaccine choice. He made the comment in an email to a Professor at UC Hastings who is known for advocating for mandatory vaccinations.

The video clips released along with the emails show that professor talking about mandatory vaccinations being “constitutional” and going well beyond what the bill being considered in Maine would do.

The professor, Dorit Reiss, even talks about the United States passing “criminal laws” like France and Germany have, which strip away all parental choice and mandate all vaccinations.

In the emails, which were acquired under California’s public information law, Lawlor exchanges numerous comments with Prof. Reiss, including one where he says he can be “more forthcoming” in a personal email to her than in a public forum. In the same email, he calls those commenting on one of the articles he had written “almost cult-like.”

In one email exchange, Reiss provides Lawlor pre-emptive talking points for upcoming legislation. In another email, Lawlor asks Reiss for information to “debunk” comments sent to him by a person advocating for vaccine choice.

Ginger Taylor, MS, who acquired the emails and authored the piece covered here says Maine Today Media, the parent company of the Portland Press Herald, has yet to respond to her inquiries.

She believes the newspaper owes an explanation to the Maine parents who want to protect their parental rights, saying the reporter used “bigoted epithets” to describe them.

You can read the full report and the emails by clicking here.

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