Robert De Niro appeared Wednesday morning on The Today Show to talk about the Tribeca Film Festival, and to defend himself for personally lobbying for the inclusion of an anti-vaccination movie. The film, Vaxxed, was pulled from the schedule after an enormous shitstorm; De Niro said today he still wants to know “the truth” about vaccines and autism.
The truth is that vaccines do not cause autism, as study upon study has proved. They do not cause autism even for children at risk of developing autism. But De Niro, who has a son with autism, remains unconvinced, he told Today’s Savannah Guthrie: “I think the movie is something that people should see.” He said he hadn’t “fully explored” the backlash against the film, “and I will.”
Vaxxed was made by Andrew Wakefield, the discredited former gastroenterologist who authored a now-retracted study suggesting a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. De Niro defended him and the movie, while also suggesting everyone see another anti-vaccination film, Trace Amounts, which, again, features thoroughly debunked junk science about vaccines. Oh my God, Robert De Niro, what are you doing?
“There’s a lot of information about things that are happening with the CDC, the pharmaceutical companies, there’s a lot of things that are not said,” De Niro added. “I, as a parent of a child who has autism, I’m concerned. And I want to know the truth. I’m not anti-vaccine. I want safe vaccines.”
De Niro appeared alongside Tribeca producer Jane Rosenthal, who sat there smiling uncomfortably while the actor suggested that discussion was being “shut down” around the film. “Nobody seems to want to address” the issue of vaccine safety, De Niro added. “There’s more to this than meets the eye, believe me.”
De Niro said his wife believes their son, who has autism, “changed overnight” after being vaccinated. “I don’t remember. But my child is autistic, and every kid is different. But there’s something there, there’s something there that people aren’t addressing. And for me to get so upset here, on the Today show, with you guys, means there’s something there. That’s all I wanted, for the movie to be seen. You can make your own judgment. There are other films that document and show —it’s not such a simple thing.”
The hosts gently asked De Niro if he knew there’s a broad scientific consensus that vaccines don’t cause autism.
“I believe it’s much more complicated,” he answered.
After being pulled from Tribeca, Vaxxed had a handful of screenings at the Angelika Film Center. A physician who reviewed the film called it “painfully inaccurate.”