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Celia "Career Denialist" Farber

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posted by alias bse303 on Monday 14th of January 2008 06:56:31 PM

Celia Farber claims to be an investigative *ahem* journalist. Really she is nothing more than a person who gets paid for spreading HIV denialist propaganda. Every cause has their mouthpiece. Celia Farber is an expert. Not in HIV or AIDS. No Celia is an expert in very publicly stitching herself up! The following extracts from an interview are taken from bookslut all comments in bold are my own observations: BS:You are constantly described as an AIDS dissident that does not believe HIV causes AIDS -- but nowhere in your book is this explicitly stated. So how would you describe your views? CF: Thank you for noticing that critical detail. I have never written that HIV does not cause AIDS. I don’t think I’ve ever said that HIV does not cause AIDS. I took one semester of journalism in college. Thanks Celia. Good to see that you spent a hell of a lot of time earning the title of journalist!!! CF: It is not for me to say as a journalist -- as a nonscientist -- what causes or doesn’t cause AIDS. Great Celia. You are off to a blinding start. Not only do you admit to having no substantial education as a journalist but you make it perfectly clear that you are not a scientist... BS:Do you wish you had taken a different approach reporting? Is there anything you would have done differently? CF:My quick answer is usually yes, of course. But it’s unanswerable… What I wish I had done differently, in retrospect, was to calculate the damage and the blight, both on myself and on my family and ask myself, “Is it fair to do to others?” Because what you actually do is you invite financial ruin. The damage and the blight Celia? Oh poor you and your poor family! How many of your denialist chums have died? How many people who have listened to your warped rhetoric are now dead because they did not access the treatments that could have prolonged their life? That is the damage and that is the blight Celia. NOT the fact that you did not earn more money. But I think that is more to do with just the one semester at journalist school than anything else... BS:As a non-gay male AIDS reporter and Westerner investigating Africa, did you have to deal with identity politics? CF: I never got that kind of guff from any Africans, [but] certainly from the gay community. Those that were opposed to what I was doing -- that was one of the charges: that I wasn’t gay and how the hell could I know what I was doing and what right did I have to say anything? But that’s inconsistent with the core belief system, which is that AIDS is everybody’s disease... Yes darling but you started spouting your denialist crap in 1988. Do you also have selective amnesia? Of course the Gay community were going to take exception to your denialist crap because Gay men were bearing the brunt of the numbers of deaths and the social stigma. The last thing they would have wanted when they were dying would be for someone like you to add more bulshit to the fire... I would go to AIDS conferences and go through an immense crisis each time, “Am I crazy or are they crazy?” Answers on a postcard... BS: Do you think The Constant Gardner was able to voice political dissent as it is shielded as fiction? CF:I would caution people against assuming that John le Carre is writing fiction. Let me make a generality: fiction writers today like John le Carre are doing journalism, and the journalists are writing fiction. Thanks again Celia.... i didn't need to read this interview with you to know that you talk a pile of stinking shit! But thanks for the clarification! I do wish that I could crawl away, quietly and turn up on some completely other part of the beach. So do we Celia, so do we... and take your denialist chums with you... Celia worked as a researcher on the BBC documentry "Guinea Pig Kids" This is what the BBC had to say about the programme in question: ECU ruling: Guinea Pig Kids, BBC2, 30 November 2004 and related websites Publication date: 30 Nov 2007 Complaint The Director of Planning and Policy Research of the New York-based Center for HIV Law and Policy, supported by several academics and other agencies involved in HIV research and treatment, complained that the programme unfairly claimed that New York City's Administration for Children's Services, together with a number of medical and child care institutions, "effectively conspired to force helpless children of colour into inappropriate and sinister 'experiments' when in fact they made life saving drugs already approved for adults available to children living with HIV/AIDS who were in the foster care system", that it gave a misleading impression of the effects of anti-HIV medication, and that it falsely claimed that "denying medication to children with AIDS will improve their health while appropriate treatment will kill them". BBC Editorial Complaints Unit's ruling The programme explored legitimate concerns about a research project involving the testing of anti-HIV drugs on children in the care system, where (it had emerged) there had been a failure in some cases to provide independent advocacy as required by the research protocols. However, the programme portrayed this failure as being the more serious because the drugs being trialled were, it claimed, both "lethal" and ineffective. In support of these claims, the programme interviewed an expert witness who was, though the audience was not told, a leading advocate of the propositions that HIV is unconnected with AIDS, that anti-retroviral drugs do not work in the treatment of AIDS and that they are, in fact, responsible for deaths attributed to AIDS. The audience was not told that his was a minority and controversial view which would be challenged by mainstream medical opinion. No other medical opinion was heard on this subject. The programme also gave the false impression that parents or carers who objected to their children being placed in the trials risked losing custody of their children. In fact, the three case studies which created this impression did not involve children connected with the trials. Though there was no explicit claim that "denying medication to children with AIDS will improve their health while appropriate treatment will kill them", the treatment of case studies in the programme contributed to that impression. This complaint has been partly upheld. Further action A correction will be published on, as part of the pages on which the material complained of appears, with a link to this summary. In addition, the ECU will contact other websites featuring the material in order to draw their attention to its ruling. The management of BBC News is addressing the issues arising from the ruling for the commissioning and supervision of independent productions of this kind. Celia Farber: An AIDS Denialist Masquerading as a Journalist Celia Farber, the author of the March 2006 Harper's Magazine article attacking HIV clinical research, misrepresents herself to the popular media as a legitimate journalist and science writer, interested only in doggedly covering a good story. She is in fact an AIDS "dissident" who has been publicizing and extolling the claims of AIDS denialists and attacking scientific research on HIV/AIDS since the late 1980s. Farber has signed the two defining petitions of HIV denialism and she co-authored with members of the denialist group HEAL a core tract of the denialist movement called "HIV: Against Science." She described herself in the subtitle of one of her articles as "an AIDS Dissident" and she is a prominent member of the denialist "Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis." Her denialism is well documented, but she conceals her beliefs in order to fool the mainstream media into allowing her to promote them in print. Farber's main contribution to the AIDS denialist movement is to broadcast their views to the general public in the disguise of objective journalism. In her writing for the popular press, she has consistently and deceptively refused to fully disclose her deep involvement with, and her role as a spokesperson for, the denialist camp. She has also evaded explaining clearly her own understanding or beliefs about HIV and AIDS. Instead, she allows other denialists to make the case for her in extended, laudatory quotes, while maintaining the pretense that she is just an objective reporter asking honest questions, and one who is unfairly abused for her honesty: All I ever did was follow and report, with what some may consider excessive attention, the vital debate about whether HIV is the cause of AIDS. And whether AZT is a viable therapy for those who are HIV antibody positive. And whether being HIV antibody positive is the same as "having" HIV. And whether "having" HIV necessarily means your immune system is decaying. Etc. I consider all of these questions to be very straightforward, logical, and of obvious importance. I simply picked up a thread and followed it. (Farber , "AIDS Inc." 1994). Farber's disingenuous claim to "follow and report" on an issue in which she is deeply committed to one side is one she has tried to maintain even as the Harper's Magazine piece brought new attention to the denialist clique. She is reported in The New York Times as saying that she "does not endorse [denialist Peter] Duesberg's position but is simply reporting on an unpopular view. 'People can't distinguish, it seems, between describing dissent and being dissent [sic],'" she wrote in an email to the reporter, Lia Miller. But in fact, people can distinguish between reportage and the party line, and Farber has always toed the latter. She has for two decades consistently attacked medicine, belittled scientific research and enthusiastically promoted denialists and their various claims. There is nothing even remotely balanced in her work. Despite the denialist motive that drives her writing, Farber lacks the courage of her convictions and won't publicly stand behind the denialist ideology she promotes so relentlessly. She even cravenly disclaims her own positions when cornered. In a recent email she sent to a wide circulation list, she wrote of her Harper's Magazine article, "It does not, for example, say that all AIDS drugs are ghastly, or worthless." No, perhaps not in those exact words, but Farber is being disingenuous. What her article does say is "Duesberg thinks that up to 75 percent of AIDS cases in the West can be attributed to drug toxicity. If toxic AIDS therapies were discontinued, he says, thousands of lives could be saved virtually overnight." In the same email, she asserted "In each article [in the past] where I have addressed HAART I have included, clearly, the fact that the regimens have absolutely helped people who are very sick." That statement's as absolutely false as it is hypocritical. For example, in an article about HAART published in 2000, she made two comments about the benefits of antiretroviral drugs: There are facts and figures, studies and counter-studies, a virtual blizzard of data that could be arranged to show any number of things. The new AIDS drugs have saved people's lives: that's one piece of truth. The new AIDS drugs have killed people: that's another. The new AIDS drugs have damaged and deformed some people so badly that although they are alive, they wish they were dead. And: Precisely what it means for a life to be "saved" is complicated, especially when the patient was not sick to begin with. As [German denialist Claus] Koehnlein wryly commented, "If you treat completely healthy people you can claim great therapeutic success." Both of these statements, spun by sarcasm, are in effect claims that no people with HIV/AIDS have benefited from HAART, which is a blatant lie. Farber has tried to portray herself as a neutral observer to The New York Times and critics by claiming she merely presents the contradictory views of others for the edification of the reader. But when we reviewed 34 articles about AIDS by Farber, we found that the clear thesis and topic of every single one was some variant of AIDS denialism--HIV does not cause AIDS; AIDS doesn't exist; there is no heterosexual AIDS; there is no AIDS epidemic in Africa; HIV is not transmitted by sex or by semen or by breast milk; HIV does not exist... Farber's writing style typically highlights extensive quotes from denialists, whom she describes in warm, laudatory and respectful terms and whose claims are given great credence. By contrast, she consistently attacks legitimate HIV science, medicine, researchers and AIDS activists. Occasionally, she takes the words of legitimate doctors and advocates out of context to support the denialist argument. All of this is held together with her grandiose narrative of her Quest for The Truth: This, she says, "is my private hell, but also my great Sisyphean challenge. My labyrinth…" (Berkowitz: "Interview" 2000). Celia Farber wants the world to regard her as a courageous and objective investigative journalist, but in reality she's nothing more than a lying propagandist for the denialist mini-movement. What is shocking is that Harper's Magazine's editors fell for this scam. Roger Hodge: In Cahoots or Just Incompetent? Roger Hodge, Farber's editor and, sadly, the man replacing Harper's Magazine's legendary editor Lewis Lapham, has defended his ignominious debut by claiming that he is merely airing an important controversy. It is not yet clear if he actually shares Farber's denialism or was, by failing to exercise due diligence, merely deceived by her masquerade as a journalist. Quite possibly, both of these things are true. On the question of HIV as the cause of AIDS, he told Gay City News "I don't feel like I am qualified to judge it"-a dodge similar to Farber's feints when she's in the headlights. The New York Times reported that "Mr. Hodge said the magazine stood behind the article and Ms. Farber. 'The fact that she's been covering this story does not make her a crackpot - it makes her a journalist. She's a courageous journalist, I believe, because she has covered the story at great personal cost.'" Hodge also continues to assert the accuracy of the article against the overwhelming evidence presented to him that the piece is a farrago of fabrications, errors and innuendo. Gay City News reported that he said: "It was very, very thoroughly fact-checked over the course of three months. … A lot of what people are describing as errors are differences of opinion about the data." But his fact-checkers were either biased or incompetent, because at least 58 scientific and non-scientific howlers made it into print ( Did Farber provide Hodge with her own list of "experts" to consult as fact-checkers? Or did Hodge select them based on his own knowledge of science and medicine? In either case, this vital task in the editing of any article was thoroughly botched. If all it takes to get a science-bashing article into the new, dumbed-down Harper's Magazine is to warm-over baseless conspiracy theories and wild speculation, then we can expect the next issue to feature a piece from the Discovery Institute that promotes Intelligent Design – let's teach the controversy, brave Sir Roger! And perhaps he'll offer space to the oft-maligned Holocaust denialists, too, who make the same claim that legitimate scholars will not pay attention to their theories. Hodge's quotes in Gay City News reveal that he still sees AIDS denialism as something honorable, a case of the little guy taking on the big bad wolves of the federal government and the pharmaceutical industry, standing up to be counted, risking it all for the sake of the truth and freedom of speech. If this were true, Hodge would have the full support of all of us, for we share this predisposition. We, like most scientists and AIDS activists, are liberals and progressives. That's why it's so difficult for us to accept that Harper's Magazine, a journal aimed at liberal intellectuals, would print Farber's article. The AIDS denialists are not honest dissidents, and they tarnish the word by using it. In South Africa, they even have tried to link their dissidence to that of Nelson Mandela, as if the two positions could in any way be equated. And when it comes to craven profiteering and the unethical exploitation of people with HIV, the denialists' champions, such as Matthias Rath and David Rasnick, take the cake. Where Roger Hodge got it so badly wrong was to allow such an obviously error-ridden and biased article into a once-reputable magazine. In the circumstances, Hodge should now do what is honorable and resign for the sake of his magazine's reputation. He's proven himself not up to the task of editing an article. He's proven unable to exercise intelligent judgment about scientific discourse, medicine, public health and the HIV epidemic. He's proven himself gullible and sloppy by being fooled by a writer he told Gay City News he's known for "many years." Perhaps you knew Farber both too well and not well enough, Roger? And perhaps, Lewis Lapham, you knew Roger both too well and not well enough when bequeathing your legacy to him? Jeanne Bergman, PhD, Health GAP, New York, NY John P. Moore, PhD, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York Well done Celia... keep on digging.....

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