A lot has happened over the last year since I began this website. After many interviews with media people, I've come to the conclusion that my premise is absolutely correct concerning the bias and/or ignorance in the media.
Although many reporters and radio people have been sympathetic to chiropractic, they are clueless about the medical war against chiropractors. To me, that's equivalent to a reporter being uninformed of the history of racism or its roots going back to the slave trade before the Civil War.
Often the interviewers ask me, "Why is this war still going on?"
My answer is simply: money, pride, and prejudice.
People have no idea the amount of money involved in the spine care business (~$300 billion annually in the US), nor do they understand the intense pride medical spine practitioners in their profitable yet ineffective drugs, shots, and surgery. Certainly, the depth of medical bigotry surpasses anything people understand.
Most naive patients actually trust their MDs despite the failure of the medical healthcare system that has bankrupted this country as Americans lead the industrialized nations in every category of disease. As well, American men rank last in longevity and women are second to last.
Despite the failings of American medicine, medical chauvinism is a strong factor in American healthcare to the extent of being a quasi-religion when patients "believe in" medicine without any real understanding and while ignoring these poor clinical outcomes.
This can easily been seen in medical spine care in America.
Considering the AMA waged the most intense political and propaganda program to "contain and eliminate" chiropractic as a profession, is it little wonder we lead the world in back pain when the best solution to 85% of these cases has been soiled by political medicine? As I told one reporter, imagine if the AMA had attacked dentistry as badly, how would our nation's smiles look? Rather bad, no doubt. That is exactly the condition we chiropractors see with most patients--multiple areas of old spinal misalignments (aka, vertebral subluxations) combined with advanced degeneration, no doubt injuries from their youth.
It remains my contention supported by expert opinions that the primordial problem with these "mechanical" back problems is joints issues, not disc problems. But I have yet to find one media person who even realizes there are joints in the spine. The "perceived wisdom" for back pain as the medical media has taught the public for years remains the "bad disc" notion despite the plethora of research debunking the discogenic theory. Indeed, when the US Public Health Service announced only one in 100 cases of acute low back pain requires disc surgery, the implication is 99% have more to do with joints and spine function than bad discs.
Considering back pain is the #1 cause of disability worldwide, one would hope American news people would investigate why this occurs, but they haven't yet. Nor do they understand the intensity of the 100-year medical war against chiropractors. People in the media and in the public simply do not understand the important issues facing spine care in America.
So, my battle is not just with a regressive AMA, but with a naive media that remains ignorant of the issues, events, and players in the medical war against chiropractors.
I have also been attacked by the medical trolls online at the Institute for Science in Medicine and Science-Based Medicine, both false fronts for medical demagogues like Harriett Hall, Jann Belamy, and Stephen Barrett, all notorious and prideful medical bigots. These folks are not interested in evidence-based spine care as they profess, but they are interested in carrying on the tradition of the Committee on Quackery to misinform the public. Indeed, after twenty years of research, the spine science now falls on the side of chiropractic for the epidemic of back pain, yet few in the media is telling the public of this new-found discovery.
Sadly, medical bigotry remains an acceptable prejudice in medicine as well as in the media. Chiropractic has always gotten short shrift in the media. Some may call it a bum rap while others may admit there is an obvious media bias against chiropractors. Indeed, how many articles about the benefit of chiropractic care can you recall seeing on television or in the newspapers?
Despite being the third-largest physician-level health profession in the nation, we get a paltry amount of publicity in the media. This is not mere coincidence or bad luck, but it is embedded in the long history of warfare wrought upon chiropractic by the AMA and its "wither on the vine" strategy to "contain and eliminate" chiropractic.
The fact remains the chiropractic profession is the Mystery Science profession that rarely gets fair and balanced reporting despite the epidemic of back pain and the research that shows our brand of spinal care is superior to the medical treatments of addictive pain drugs, ineffective epidural shots, or expensive and disabling spine surgery based on an outdated disc theory.
discussed the history of the medical demagoguery and warfare against
chiropractic as well as the new paradigm in spine care in my new book, The Medical War Against Chiropractors: the untold story from persecution to vindication.
This 262-page book has 755 footnote references to support my
contentions; obviously anything I said would be attacked by the medical
bigots who will demand proof. If proof is what they want, then I will
give it to them, but I doubt any scientific proof will change their
bigotry and bias. "Don't confuse us with the facts" seems to be their mantra now. It is shameful.
is my hope to bring this problem to the forefront and demand equal time
in the media.This inequality in the media will only stop when we bring
it to the attention of the fair-minded public.
As you can see in the above two cartoons, the inequities in healthcare and in the news media is not a new phenomenon. Today, we find the same media boycott of chiropractic newsworthy items as they saw back in 1949 when the one cartoon was first published.
the Committee on Quackery’s goal to have chiropractic “wither on the
vine” is not only evident in insurance limitations, but in the media
with the virtual absence of attention despite the fact we are the
third-largest physician-level profession in the nation.
As well, chiropractors are now deemed to be America's primary spine care providers by virtue of their superior education in musculoskeletal disorders. Did you know only half of all medical schools teach only one four-hour class in this area whereas chiropractors study nearly 2,000 hours in this field? Don't be fooled by inept MDs who pose as expert in back pain; all they know is everything is either a "pulled muscle" or "slipped disc" that require painkillers, muscle relaxers, shots, or surgery. Poppycock, I say.
in no way do we get an equivalent amount of media exposure for our expertise. Indeed,
unless it’s a story about some DC committing insurance fraud or sexual
abuse, we remain the Mystery Science profession or stand accused of
being a “pseudo-science” by our medical critics. Despite being
unsupported by evidence, this medical slander prevails in the mind of
many because we chiropractors have never had the opportunity to refute
This widespread medical slander is easy to illustrate. During the Wilk et al. v. AMA et al. trial in 1976, the AMA leadership accused chiropractic of being quackery, dangerous, or pseudo-science. Our attorney, George McAndrews, asked them for proof for their accusations, but they had none. They were simply parrotting the same propaganda that they heard a thousand times from their own Committee on Quackery. Again, it was shameful for a supposed evidence-based profession to be so stupid and biased.
The New Zealand Commission on Chiropractic in 1978, perhaps the most in-depth investigation into chiropractic at that time, found the same thing--the medical critics had no proof whatsoever for their defamation. In both instances, however, proof was presented by medical witnesses that chiropractic care was safe, effective, and had better clinical results than medical care. These "admissions against interest" were, in effect, confessions that persuaded both the trial judge and the commission. Yet the public has never been told of these facts. To this day, many MDs continue to parrot this propaganda.
When there are relevant topics discussed in the media, such as the overuse of spine surgery, rarely is chiropractic mentioned as the leading alternative. When pain pill drug addiction and deaths are discussed, never has chiropractic been shown to be an alternative to this drug madness we now see. When CAM is mentioned in regard to general health issues, rarely is chiropractic’s concept of neurophysiology touted as non-drug option to Type M or Type O disorders.
My point is clear: we chiropractors have no voice in the media today. We are constantly insulted in the media such as the recent NPR story on military health services when it quoted Harriett Hall, a former Air Force flight surgeon, who also fought against Obama’s healthcare reform that called for non-discrimination. According to the NPR report, she “shares the skepticism found in many corners of the medical community. ‘We call that 'quack-ademic' medicine when it gets into medical schools,’ she says.”
a bigot! This is what I refer to as Chicken Little journalism.
And where was the chiropractic input or response? Again, this was another example of unfair journalism that enables medical slander of our profession without any response.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta broadcasted on CNN a 2008 video stating chiropractic causes
hundreds of strokes annually, where was the chiropractic response? When I
filed a complaint, the video came down but I got no response or apology
from Gupta; indeed, the damage was already done.
A more recent example of Gupta's bias occurred on Nov. 18, 2012 when he aired an expose, Deadly Dose, concerning the 38,000+ deaths annually in the US from narcotic painkillers. Ostensibly, after reviewing the situation where 75% of these chronic pain patients are taking these narcotics like OxyContin for back pain, a viewer might assume Gupta was searching for a non-drug solution to back pain, right?
Yet, in this one hour program, Gupta did not mention chiropractic care even once. To my amazement and to the millions of viewers who use chiropractic care, his oversight was obvious medical bias, shoddy journalism, or a bad case of professional amnesia. Indeed, Dr. Gupta has no objectivity when it comes to chiropractors, the name rivals for spine surgeons.
My question is obvious: where is his "fair and balanced" reporting? Okay, stop laughing.
But wait, that's not CNN's motto, but that of FOX News that has also ignored chiropractic care. Indeed, as long as Big Pharma pays their bills, no TV commentator will attack their drugs. Have you noticed the primary advertisers on TV are drug makers? Forget about beer, truck, IT products, or junk food purveyors, drugs dictate what will be sponsored on commercial TV.
When I wrote yet another complaint to CNN and to former President Bill Clinton's Global Initiative since he asked Gupta to do this report after a friend's son died from mixing OxyContin with alcohol, there were no responses. My book publicist phoned both men to find more bias at CNN when he was told I was "blackballed" due to my "baseless accusations."
Are the people at CNN nuts or what? Since CNN touts itself as "the most trusted name in news," I find it odd that when Gupta makes a huge blunder by omitting chiropractic care from a discussion on deaths by drugs for back pain, it shows more clearly than what I could ever write concerning the bias in the medical-media.
Dr. Gupta is not alone with his medically-biased reporting. When Edzard Ernst publishes “Deaths After Chiropractic,” in Medscape, nothing is said about his biased reporting. I responded, but once again, got no comment by the editors for this sensational article. In fact, this article ranked among the most popularly read articles on Medscape, no doubt feeding the fuel of medical bias among other medical bigots.
This is reminiscent of the FSU fiasco when Raymond Bellamy lashed out in similar terms against the inclusion of chiropractic into the curriculum that was passed by the Florida legislature by a vote of 151-1. Throughout the many newspaper articles, rarely was there any feedback by Alan Adams or Jay Triano, the two DCs who were to head this graduate level program. Again, the public was awash in medical propaganda without any effective response from the chiropractic community.
my book I recount other infamous examples of the Spin Doctors in the
media, such as columnist Ann Landers, so I won’t cover that ground here
again. Daily we see similar examples of misinformation, but it appears
no one in the chiropractic community has stood up to defend our
profession, unless you consider a sternly worded one-page response from
the ACA’s PR staff. I have made this point to the ACA and F4CP for years
without any response other than me undoubtedly appearing petulant to
the leadership. I have also offered a new type of ads that were ignored.
Nonetheless, my plan is to bring this issue to a head by starting a new website named “Chiropractors for Fair Journalism.” Some think I might call this website “Chiropractors Fighting Against Medical Misinformation.” I daresay that if there were fair journalism in the media, there would not be medical misinformation to fight.
Here are my goals:
1. Post examples of medical misinformation in the recent news along with a chiropractic response.
2. Become a source of news information for the media and public by posting notable articles, such as the recent paper concerning DCs as primary spine care providers written by Donald Murphy, Brian Justice, Ian Paskowski, Stephen Perle, and Michael Schneider that I thought was a great idea.
3. Encourage local DCs to become proactive and responsive to their local news media.
4. Promote journalism in our chiropractic colleges. Although some students are trained in producing academic/scientific papers, we need future journalists to write popular articles for the lay media and to monitor the media when it publishes one-sided articles. We need to encourage our academicians to develop courses for credits in this arena.
We must become a voice in the news media with clout, so whenever any news journalists writes or broadcasts an article concerning spine care or healthcare reform in general, we need to be the source of their information. As well, we must monitor the media and respond to unfair journalism such as the recent NPR broadcast.
Just as the Jewish Anti-Defamation League protests against biased statements or articles in the media, we need to do the same—be that voice to respond to future attacks by medical misinformers. It is past time to call out these medical propagandists and to hold the media’s feet to the fire when they purposely omit chiropractic from any discussion in our field. It is past time we are ignored or defamed in this national discussion on health and spine care.
Ideally, chiropractic needs a cable TV program featuring the variety within our profession; teach the public of the value of our brand of natural healthcare, and to promote a better image. I’ve written to CNN about starting such a series of Chiropractic & Alternative Healthcare but, of course, got no response. As long as MDs like Sanjay Gupta are in sole control of the health news programming and Big Pharma pays his bills, we can expect this boycott.
However, if we had power from numbers and an organization dedicated to promoting fairness in journalism, a similar request would have more clout and credence and certainly gain more media attention.
If we are to win in the war against the medical misinformers, we need to develop an effective and long lasting information bureau of aggressive journalists knowledgeable of the recent research and politics of healthcare.
As long as someone states, “chiropractic might be good for some people, but I wouldn’t want my daughter to marry one,” we have a huge image problem.
in this age of evidence-based healthcare, we have the research to back
up our claims that chiropractic spine care is the most cost and
clinically-effective brand of spine care on the market. Now if we can
overcome the skepticism and slander bred by the medical profession, we
can help reduce pain and suffering to a public addicted to drugs and
subjected to unnecessary shots and spine surgery.
Indeed, spine research is now on chiropractic's side.
Medical spine care consisting of drugs, shots, and surgery that have been proven dangerous, addictive, expensive, ineffective, and deadly. Mark Schoene, editor of an international spine research newsletter from Georgetown University, could not be clearer when he said: “Spinal medicine in the US is a poster child for inefficient spine care.”[i]
Indeed, this plethora of spine research reveals the paradigm shift away from “bad discs,” a concept disproved by researchers such as Scott Boden, MD, and even chided by Rick Deyo, MD, MPH, who labeled them irrelevant and dubbed them “incidentalomas.”
Furthermore the recent deaths caused by epidural shots contaminated by meningitis and the 38,000+ deaths from prescription narcotic painkillers, mostly taken for chronic back pain, illustrate the ineffectiveness of these medical methods kept alive by a greedy medical profession.
On the other hand, chiropractic care has proven to be at the top of the heap as Dr. Tony Rosner, PhD, testified in 2003 before The Institute of Medicine: “Today, we can argue that chiropractic care, at least for back pain, appears to have vaulted from last to first place as a treatment option.”[ii]
The historic spine studies, such as the AHCPR guideline, Manga Reports, UK BEAM, and the New Zealand Inquiry, as well as more recent seventeen recent international guidelines, have also recommended our brand of spine care over medical care in the majority (85%) of cases—the so-called “non-specific” mechanical cases where joint dysfunction is the main problem.
The medical mismanagement of this pandemic of back pain is enormous and, when low back pain is combined with neck pain, these [iii] These painful
spinal disorders are second only to ischemic heart disease in its
impact on the global burden of disease according to Scott Haldeman, MD,
DC, PhD, a leading spine expert.
This is yet another way the 80,000 chiropractors could improve this dire U.S. health disadvantage with their superior diagnostic and clinical skills in spine care.Chiropractors now must assume the mantel of America's primary spine care providers due to our superior training and clinical treatments.
[i] The BACKPage editorial vol. 27, No. 11, November 2012.
[ii] Testimony before The Institute of Medicine: Committee on Use of CAM by the American Public on Feb. 27, 2003.
[iii] Scott Haldeman DC, MD, PhD, FRCP(C) and Simon Dagenais DC, PhD. A supermarket approach to the evidence-informed management of chronic low back pain. The Spine Journal, vol. 8, Issue 1, January-February 2008, Pages 1-7.