Last Friday, I was asked to be a guest on the Dr. Drew Headline News program. It was a brief live phone interview about the illness felt by at least twelve Le Roy teens.
For the first time, famous Environmentalist Erin Brockovich was interviewed on-camera about the so-called “mysterious illness.”
ABC, NBC and CNN have been incredibly misleading with their reporting on this subject.
CNN Headline News sent a crew that tagged along with Brockovich’s representative who collected soil samples on school property last weekend.
In an interview with Dr. Drew that aired Monday, Brockovich said she didn’t want to incite panic, but has only helped further it. It’s not as though the state and school district sat on their hands until her representatives arrived.
I first covered this story in November, but headed back to Le Roy in early January and spoke with health officials in the days to follow.
Eventually, we learned that parents were told Conversion Disorder caused the uncontrollable movements and tics.
National media continue to harp on the notion that this is a mystery, when in reality, that is possible, but we know parents were given a diagnosis and are not happy with it.
Should they be upset? Yes, there are plenty of questions and their kids are struggling each day with their conditions.
But to say that no one knows, essentially throws the state health department directly under the bus. It doesn’t help that that Schools Superintendent Kim Cox ducked local media and bashed it (along with national media) over the weekend, before releasing a thoughtful and fairly thorough letter Wednesday.
Erin Brockovich has made a career of exposing environmental problems and that deserves praise, but what neither she nor CNN has been able to do, is link a 1970 train derailment which involved dangerous chemicals--definitively to symptoms being felt by the Le Roy teens.
The lack of a link hasn’t stopped her from making it sound as though she feels that may be the cause. A day before the Brockovich’s team arrived, she had already discussed the derailment and chemicals in a way that inferred a correlation.
As we cover stories, national media picks up on them and sometimes mishandles them.
Everyone seems to want these children to get better, but the guessing game and misleading headlines do little to reach that goal.
Evan White, Reporter