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Science Libel Wars: Celia Farber Appeal Exposes Richard Jefferys’ Underhand Calumny

Tells How Drug Company Financed HIV Defender Libeled Seasoned Reporter and Duesberg

Falsehoods Exposed In Machinations of Jefferys and others in Battle to Stop Semmelweis Awards

Standards in Gutter as HIV Flack Fomented Lynch Mob Threatening Her Career and Even Life

As we made clear in our last post on the topic, the public debate on the rights and wrongs of established science in the arena of HIV/AIDS has been severely distorted by science and social politics inside and outside the field.

Part of the huge problem is that the very few reporters and writers who are prepared objectively to tackle the topic of why and how the dogma of HIV/AIDS is clearly wrong have run into almost insuperable career problems. The NIAID PR personnel won’t allow their scientists to talk to them, the drug companies won’t return their calls, editors tell them to find another topic, publishers fire editors who publish them, and there is a large baying pack of lay hounds allied to the standard dogma for financial, social or psychological reasons who will suffocate any support they win on blog threads, even changing Wikipedia entries back to suit HIV propaganda if any illuminating changes are made there.

In other words, a big factor in the restriction of truth about good science in HIV/AIDS in public is the great number of people outside science who will attack and attempt to defeat public review of the official dogma, as viciously if they were defending a religion, and the critics were religious heretics, deserving to be burned at the stake. In this they are following the edict of HIV researcher John Moore of Cornell, a fairly rabid propagandist who once famously wrote in an ill considered email that his efforts to curtail HIV heresy would amount to all out war, objectivity be damned:

This is a war, there are no rules, and we will crush you, one at a time, completely and utterly.” John P Moore, PhD, Cornell Weill; AIDS researcher to AIDS dissident Michael Geiger, 27 January 2007.

Subverting truth with lies

Perhaps the worst behaved of the science outsiders who have followed John Moore’s lead in take no prisoners warfare in public discussion is the remarkable Richard Jefferys of the drug company financed Treatment Action Group, who careful readers of this site will recall tried very hard to put a spanner in the works of the Semmelweis Society, when they proposed to give both Celia Farber and Peter Duesberg the Semmelweis Award for Whistleblowers.

Jefferys failed in this effort, but not for lack of trying underhanded methods to scotch the award ceremony which eventually took place. Just how vicious and extreme were his attacks in word and action on Celia Farber’s reputation and peace of mind has not been fully made clear until this week, when the lawyers for this renowned investigative reporter on the HIV sham made it all transparent in their current appeal against the summary verdict which earlier blocked her libel case against Jefferys and two other miscreants involved on November 2 last year.

The “perfected” appeal was refiled last week, Sept 6 Thu 2012. It deals with the mistakes in judgment and law that Judge York surely made in prematurely dismissing the libel suit, and clarifies the nature and culpability of Jefferys et al in their literally obscene machinations off the public stage to silence Celia Farber and Peter Duesberg and prevent them from receiving the award for their bravery and public service.

The Appeal gives the Story

Here are some key parts:

Justice York was wrong to shelter Richard Jefferys’ false accusations of fraud against Celia Farber under the constitutional umbrella of “marketplace of ideas”:

Plaintiff-Appellant Celia Farber (“Farber”) brings this appeal to this Court because Justice York committed reversible errors in giving constitutional license (under cover of fostering the oft-cited “marketplace of ideas”) to Defendant-Appellee Richard Jefferys’ (“Jefferys”) false accusations of journalistic fraud against Farber, a journalist who has reported in the tradition of a war reporter (i.e. covering conflict) on the thousands of prominent scientific and medical experts who fall within the “dissident” views surrounding the idea that HIV is a new pathogen that causes AIDS and who has thereby attracted the ire of AIDS activists, such as Jefferys and his cohorts who sought to silence the expression of dissident views.

Justice York counted Jefferys factually erroneous, or to put it bluntly, lying emails as “protected speech” in a “robust public debate”, hardly the right way to characterize Jefferys’ efforts to spread fear and hysteria and to wage war to silence Celia Farber’s reporting, a campaign which led to threats on her life:

In erroneously categorizing Jefferys’ defamatory e-mail as “protected speech,” Justice York conflated the idea of “robust public debate” with Jefferys’ ongoing campaign to destroy Farber’s reputation as a journalist and spread fear and hysteria to engage others to wage war against Farber, which was intended to silence her and which has even led to threats on Farber’s life.

Jefferys’ emails to Semmelweis members to get them to withdraw their award to Celia Farner included outright factual misrepresentation, ie knowingly fraudulent assertions, which he was to prove unable to back up with any proper examples when challenged:

The accusation that Farber was a “liar” was part of a statement that she “for many years” has used journalistic “fraud” that included “altering of quotes from scientific literature” and “false representations from published papers, etc.”; and the accusation was made in an e-mail and not a letter to the editor or op-ed column.

Hollow assertions with malice

Justice Louis B. York, the appeal notes, prevented the presentation of evidence that Jefferys was motivated by malice and was grossly irresponsible by preventing discovery (the demand for relevant papers to be produced by the defendant), which was unfortunate for all who want to spill all of this particular can of worms onto the table (side note: the brief uses the word “genocide” here and elsewhere when evidently “homicide” is meant, a mistake with a certain irony since the deaths of tens of thousands of AIDS victims from knowing mismedication is certainly likely to be labeled genocide by activists if the full story of HIV scientists manipulating public policy ever comes out):

When deciding on the issues of actual malice and gross irresponsibility, Justice York failed to allow the parties the benefit of full discovery and effectively thumbed his nose at the rules governing summary judgment, never citing and never applying those rules but instead making various pronouncements that were at best fact-finding contrary to the rules governing summary judgment and did not reflect a balanced view of the record.

In concluding that Jefferys was engaged in protected public discourse, Justice York dismissed relevant evidence which tended to raise an issue of fact as to Jefferys’ “actual malice,” and, instead, took Jefferys’ hollow assertions at face value when he claimed to have written his literary genocide in reliance on various papers and articles supporting the hypothesis on HIV/AIDS of Dr. Robert Gallo. Justice York erred in his reliance on Jefferys’ assertion that he quoted from medical journals to show “eight inaccuracies” in Farber’s writings, notwithstanding that the record demonstrated Jefferys’ obvious inability to show any inaccuracy, let alone fraud, on Farber’s part or the lack of a single example of how Farber’s work has ever been challenged for inaccuracy or fraud by any periodical that has published her work. Justice York accorded no weight to Farber’s evidence and concluded that Jefferys was merely wrong or confused or giving his opinion when writing the e-mail that “launched a thousand ships” to destroy Farber’s career. Jefferys’ attack was not an example of the “marketplace of ideas,” but, instead, exhibited the very gross irresponsibility and reckless disregard of the truth that falls outside of the scope of protection under the
First Amendment.

Fortunately, the appeal allows a full statement of the true qualifications of Celia Farber and her journalistic achievement, a substantial edifice against which Jefferys and the other hounds of hell baying at Farber’s heels in their defense of the indefensible can throw themselves as hard as they wish without effect – so they resorted to lies. Small wonder that they did so, since maintaining the rationality and usefulness and validity of the theory that HIV causes AIDS symptoms, which has none of these virtues, necessarily involves lies, and no surprise that they are now accused of libel in asserting slanderous falsehoods in attacking Farber’s integrity and reputation.

Farber Has Been A Well-Respected Journalist Since the 1980’s Without Incident And Without Retraction By Any Periodical.

Farber, a veteran magazine journalist, began her work as a print journalist in high school in her native Sweden and continued as a print journalist while attending college in New York, starting to write for the US rock magazine SPIN in 1986. Her first “beat” was AIDS, a subject she reported on between 1986 and 1994. She edited and frequently wrote SPIN’s AIDS column which she created, called “Words From The Front.” These “columns” often grew into lengthy, investigative feature articles that required global travel, including across Sub-Saharan Africa and across Europe.

In 1987-88, the column featured the second print interview in the U.S. media of virologist Peter Duesberg, allowing him to explain his published contention that retroviruses, including HIV, are harmless. The following month, SPIN published a response from virologist Dr. Robert Gallo, in which Dr. Gallo, in colorful but abusive terms, declared why he felt Dr. Duesberg was wrong and he was right, about HIV being the cause of AIDS. This argument soon bloomed into extensive coverage of the burgeoning “HIV debate” which Plaintiff Farber was assigned to cover assiduously over the coming decade. (R. 807-809.)

Farber, prior to 2006, wrote publications for numerous periodicals, including Rolling Stone, (German) Vogue, Interview, New York Post, New York Press, Salon, The Herald on Sunday (Scotland,) Stop Smiling, Alive, Media Post, as well as numerous online literary and journalistic outlets. She was invited to lecture on journalism around the world, including London, Buenos Aires, Nairobi, Amsterdam, Los Angeles and elsewhere. In 1994, she spoke at the American Association For The Advancement of Science (“AAAS”) on a panel that included Nobel Laureate Dr. Kary Mullis and other distinguished scientists. Her writings were used as course material in several college media and science courses, and she continues to lecture to journalism students to this day. She also wrote scripts for VH-VH-1, BBC radio, Swedish Radio (Sverige’s Radio) and co-produced a documentary film for BBC, in addition to appearing on numerous radio and TV shows, including CNN, The Today Show, Politically Correct with Bill Maher, The Charlie Rose Show, ESPN, and the Keith Olbermann Show on MSNBC. (R. 807-809.)

Since the start of her career in 1986, not a single periodical has ever accused Farber of fraud, lies, or even inaccuracies.

In other words, Celia Farber is a seasoned and accomplished writer and journalist who has built a substantial career by delivering copy to a wide variety of publications and editors and her accuracy in reporting has never been questioned – aside of course from the egregious antics of the HIV goon squad, of which Jefferys has always been a leader, even attempting to muddy discussion on this site.

That a clear and accurate factual statement of this affair has now been made available to the public, which can read for itself the clear evidence for the way in which public review and discussion of the unproven and so far useless HIV claim has been headed off by dirty tricks from the HIV goon squad, is not only a blessing for Celia Farber but a helpful contribution to public understanding of what is going on in the science and politics of HIV/AIDS.

Officials and their staff, politicians and others with influence can read the appeal on the Science Guardian page here and make better informed decisions about the validity of the current dogma and the need for review. One thing they should bear in mind is the enormous violence involved on the social and psychic level when such lynch mobs are fomented by lies from HIV defenders.

Why the case is justified

In the case of Celia Farber, perceptive onlookers have long been aware of the damage perpetrated on her career and her psyche by these attacks, which have been ongoing ever since she began to cover the topic of whether HIV made any sense as the cause of AIDS more than twenty five years ago. The wave of crowd assault engendered by the efforts of Jefferys in the Semmelweis affair was a psychic tsunami in its effect on a reporter whose livelihood depends on the trust of editors and whose public reputation rests on the confidence of readers.

Asked about its effects recently Farber likened it to a “cancer that gums up the whole works and prevents you from functioning, a solitary hell that even those close to you can’t fully understand.” The finely calibrated social antennae used in reporting and writing on a literary level – the level practiced by Farber in her magazine work, which reached a high point with her remarkable piece Out of Control: AIDS and the Corruption of Medical Science in Harpers in March 2006 and which was celebrated in a book collection, Serious Adverse Events: An Uncensored History of AIDS published by Melville House 2006 – are suddenly exposed to the social violence of an abusive mob. Like this week’s sacking of the US embassy in Tripoli in which an absurd home movie resulted in the death of the ambassador and two colleagues, the results can be fatal to both career and life:

“When you are targeted by systemic abuse, as all whistleblowers know, it can cripple you. It doesn’t happen right away, it happens over time. The worst thing for me was when everything fell silent, after the initial faux storm in 2006, when all hell broke loose around my Harper’s article. Friends disappeared, colleagues, even people in intimate relationships. This cancer is designed to metastasize to every organ in the body of your life. You lose your footing, and feel more and more vulnerable. You’ve been pariahed, an “un-person”.

“Exile, betrayal, social ostracization, all these things are catastrophic to the human psyche. The ancient Greeks felt that exile is a worse punishment than death. There is a sense of being in a cell, alone. That is the worst part. When I stopped being able to earn a living, when even an editor of a major publishing house that commissioned me to ghost write a book about O.J. Simpson’s case started screaming in a board meeting that I was a discredited denialist…I began to crack. It gets harder and harder to hold your head high.

Suffering that assault can lead to severe depression for whistleblowers of all stripes, and for a preternaturally sensitive social reporter who lives by her awareness of the reality behind the surface of people’s faces and words it is not surprising that Farber suffered by her own account

“shame..deep shame over being a failure at providing for your family…depression came like a typhoon, landing me finally in hospital. The pain was unrelenting. We’re not designed to withstand this kind of lunacy. In short, it was hell. My whole life was shredded, I disintegrated, and I had no idea how to stop the process.”

This is the kind of damage which social lynching can do, which is why it is an effective weapon against heresy of any kind, and why free thinking is not as common a virtue as one would wish. But for the purposes of covering the Semmelweis Affair and Farber libel suit, it must be pointed out and recorded how damaging libel can be, and how justified a suit for damages for libel can be.

Prevailing against judicial prejudice

As the appeal goes forward, it remains to be seen, however, whether it can win against the impediment which blocks review of any kind in this arena – the innate prejudice judges like the rest of the establishment have against the challenge to authority, especially in science.

Can libel actions ever succeed against the entrenched prejudice of courts in favor of the supposed expertise of scientists peddling a globally accepted dogma, such as HIV/AIDS, however logically inane and scientifically incredible that dogma might be, as it is in the case of HIV/AIDS?

Those supporters of letting a little rational light into the world of AIDS on behalf of all its victims who were disappointed when Farber’s libel suit against HIV defenders ran into summary dismissal last year, while now hoping that her appeal will succeed, might have been forgiven for thinking at the time that the answer to that important question is No, such actions can never succeed.

For last year it seemed more than likely that part of the problem was that the Judge York believed that HIV/AIDS dogma must be by definition be true and good science, and therefore a reporter like Celia Farber, who more than any other has attempted to make the politics and bad science of HIV/AIDS clear to the world, must by definition be on the wrong side of authority in science and health and therefore a poor reporter, just as the claimed libel stated.

As we have seen, and the appeal makes clear, this is the opposite of the truth, as proper study of the scientific literature will confirm. But will the appeal succeed against this prejudice, even though it should be irrelevant to the decision, and any judge who feels it should recuse himself from the chair in this case?

We shall see. But many hope that Farber will succeed in her appeal and that this will be yet another step in what could finally lead to the ultimate resolution of the HIV/AIDS debacle in the downfall of the dogma

We are referring to the recent court decision in Fort Bragg in favor of a man accused of endangering his lovers by not telling them he was HIV positive. As noted in recent comments, this decision suggested that the prosecution was unable to convince the court that being HIV positive necessarily endangered any lover.

If this trend continues – and another case recently suggests that it might, slowly – then the resolution of the scientific scandal of HIV/AIDS might come in the courts.

Let’s hope for a successful resolution of the Farber suit as a windsock blown in that direction.

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