On Sunday, Dateline will devote the hour to autism. “Dose of Controversy”, reported by Matt Lauer, features an interview with Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the lead author of a famous and controversial 1998 study suggesting a potential link between autism and the MMR vaccine.
Wakefield, who has done very few interviews on his study, first turned down Dateline‘s request. The director of operations at Thoughtful House Center for Children, which was founded by Dr. Wakefield, wrote an open letter about why they reconsidered. “[W]e were persuaded to move forward when Matt Lauer was proposed as the correspondent. His reputation for being objective and thorough prompted us to reconsider.” Airing before an NFL pre-season game also helped. The letter continues: “This is scheduled to be adjacent to the Sunday night NFL football game on NBC, which means there is the potential for a large audience.”
“Dose of Controversy,” airing at 7pmET/6pmCT also features interviews with investigative journalist Brian Deer, who has questioned the integrity of Dr. Wakefield’s research, and Dr. Paul Offit, a vocal backer of vaccine safety in the U.S.