Statement on "The Pathological Optimist"
September 22 2017

How Miranda Bailey film lied

for vaccine fraud Wakefield


Brian Deer (left) reveals how unscrupulous filmmakers tricked both him and audiences to gain distribution of a propaganda documentary: "The Pathological Optimist"

miranda bailey pathological
Wakefield's delight: The research cheat gloats at his latest deception as Miranda Bailey (center) fawns

Five years ago, on September 12, 2012, I got an email from a guy named Gabriel Geer, who said he was an associate producer of a impending documentary "about the MMR Scandal". He'd "heard" that I was to speak at an event in Wisconsin, he said, and invited me to be interviewed while I was there.

At the time I was working in a remote part of Australia. But despite sporadic wifi, I asked Geer for information about the project with which he was involved. I've made documentaries for British television, and know how important it is to be made aware in advance of the context of any contribution.

I'd also become wary of anything about vaccines, having been caught out on that subject in the past. For example, when the research cheat Andrew Wakefield was arraigned by the UK General Medical Council for fraud and dishonesty in his notorious Lancet study of February 1998, I attended his disciplinary hearing in London and was the victim of an amateur "documentary".

That incident involved a man named Alan Golding, who gathered video of me talking to Wakefield supporters outside the hearing, where I explained that the evidence being heard inside was that children in his research didn't have inflammatory bowel disease, contrary to his claims in The Lancet. But a woman named Heather Edwards had brought a poster of her son, who did have inflammatory bowel disease.

Edwards had nothing to do with the hearing. Her son wasn't in The Lancet research. And he'd had a chunk of gut chopped at a different London hospital: not where Wakefield had worked. But being the man that he is, Golding intercut my comments about the cases being heard, with images of that boy, creating the impression that I was stupid, a crook, or both.

So, forearmed against the unethical, in September 2012, I responded to the email from Geer. "Forgive me for being somewhat cautious," I wrote, "but I have seen what has happened in the field of Aids denialism, where people have cooperated in good faith with documentary makers only to find themselves presented in unexpected and unfair contexts."

I alluded to the Golding scam, and added: "In the UK, where I've made films, we normally tell participants things like the names of the producers, the drift of the project and the context within which the participant might feature. So I would really need a better idea of what you had in mind."

Five days later, Geer replied. In an 11-paragraph email, he told me that the producers were Marc Lesser of Lucky Tiger Productions and Miranda Bailey of Ambush Entertainment. And he said that the "genesis" of the documentary was an earlier film, "Greenlit", which he said emerged out of "an argument" between Bailey and Lesser about aspects of the film business.

"As 'Greenlit' was being completed, Miranda had a child and began talking to Marc about the topic of vaccines," Geer wrote. "Again, two viewpoints were discussed and they realized that this should be their next project together. After exploring many story ideas within this controversial topic, Marc and Miranda decided to focus on one story in particular which interested them, the MMR scandal.

"Obviously, you are a major player and hugely knowledgeable on this topic. Therefore to do any justice to a film about the MMR controversies we would like to use our own interviews of you speaking with us as opposed to just using news footage or found footage."

Staged sequences

What I didn't know then, but I do know now, is that whoever wrote that email was lying. They weren't making a film "about the MMR controversies". For the previous 19 months, they had been working with Wakefield, filming with him in staged and choreographed sequences, as he pursued a vexatious and hopeless gagging lawsuit against me and the British Medical Journal.

The film they were making - released in September 2017 - was a hymn to a medical charlatan. Bailey had offered herself to Wakefield: the essential terms that he invariably requires to secure his exposure to third-party questioning. Running for 93 minutes, and titled "The Pathological Optimist", her "documentary" platforms Wakefield, his wife Carmel O'Donovan (pictured above, left, who in the film disgustingly mimics and smears a judge), Wakefield's children, supporters, and anti-vaccine campaigners, railing over and over against me. No alternative comment, or even neutral contribution, of any kind whatsoever is permitted.

Make no mistake. When they approached me, they were lying. Their emails were intended to mislead. And, three days after Geer's, Marc Lesser sent another, volunteering to meet me in Wisconsin.

"Over the past 2 years, throughout our exploration of this topic, your name has come up repeatedly," he wrote, without mentioning the 19 month collaboration with Wakefield. "I can assure you that our intention is not to misrepresent you, but rather to tell the story of the MMR Scandal as impartially as possible. [my italics]"

With wifi restored, I replied a week later, on September 27, 2012: taking what Lesser had told me at face value. "Pretty much every week somebody asks me to assist them in some way re MMR, but I just don't have the time or resources to provide that kind of service," I told him. "I'm a working journalist, and the story I investigated is work. I'm not campaigning for anything, and my involvement isn't a hobby. So unless someone commissions me to do a job of work, or there is some clear public interest in my giving over the time, I don't go beyond what is already out there. Life is just too short."

All of this was accurate, and my honest feelings. People seem to think I'm Wakefield Central - available to help out with their research. And while much of immense value has emerged from various approaches to me (particularly from parents involved in Wakefield's Lancet research, including those denouncing it as "fraudulent" and a "fabrication"), I also get everyone from school kids seeking quotes for classroom essays to professors keen to debate medical ethics.

"I'm sure you understand," I told Lesser in my reply. "If you asked me to paint your house or repair your car while I was in the neighborhood, I'm sure you wouldn't expect me to jump at the chance."

There were a couple more emails, with no change in the situation. I didn't agree, or disagree. I just left it. "To be clear, this project has nothing to do with taking sides," Lesser wrote again, lying. And when I told him that I'd been informed that he was working in cahoots with people aiming to "disrupt" my Wisconsin trip [they had been], he told me. "We haven't been working in cahoots with anyone."

After that, there was nothing. I didn't contact them. They didn't contact me. Instead, they continued in cahoots with Wakefield. They filmed his family, friends, lawyers, and supporters, as they performed for the camera to try to damage me, and to contrast with the findings of my award-winning Sunday Times, Channel 4 Television and British Medical Journal investigation, the main findings of which the "documentary" doesn't report.

It's Wakefield, instead, who's assigned to describe my work: falsely setting out the allegations (proven) against him. It's his wife and his lawyer who are invited to explain the law - notwithstanding rulings from both county and appeals courts, proving their assertions false. Prominent anti-vaccine campaigners (not identified) are enlisted to speak for "the autism community", showering praise on Wakefield and damning me.

Miranda Bailey feeds Wakefield

I'm not just featured in "The Pathological Optimist". The structure of the film is essentially a series of replies to video snips featuring me. A few-second clip from CNN, for example, will be screened to begin a false account from Wakefield, melding lengthy public relations sequences (including dogs, children, and breakfast tables) with sly interviews in which Bailey and her people feed him opportunities to fool the audience.

It's a glorification of the former doctor, and a highly motivated, personal attack on one individual: me. I can't reliably count the number of times I'm abused, but I'll pick one unethical deception to illustrate how desperate Miranda Bailey, Marc Lesser and their team were to keep their spotlight on me.

A bizarre minor charge found proven against Wakefield was that he'd been videotaped bragging about buying blood from children at a birthday party, and laughing about the kids' distress. It was a side-show compared with his research fraud in The Lancet, but Wakefield and Bailey play it big. At 45 minutes into the film, Carmel Wakefield claims that the first she knew about the videotape (shown throughout the UK, where she lived at the time, on at least three national TV networks) was when she saw it on my personal website.

This was nothing to do with the substantive charges against Wakefield, which aren't reported in the film. In fact, he was struck off the UK medical register in May 2010 on some three dozen counts, including four of dishonesty in his Lancet research (one of which he submitted, through counsel, to be a charge of "fraud"), concealing conflicts of interest, deceiving a hospital ethics committee, practising clinical medicine when contractually barred, lying to other doctors trying to understand his recruitment methods, and instigating the medical abuse of uniquely vulnerable young children affected by developmental issues.

Miranda Bailey (who takes the film's possessory credit) was likewise keen to exploit the party. So she sent her team into YouTube and my website, and they manipulated both to make it falsely appear that the video about the event (which I took from TV) was posted on the front of my site. They made it look as if I was obsessed with Wakefield, or that this was the big story for me. She then plays the clip, in her position on my homepage, disgracefully deceiving the audience.

In British television, you could be fired just for that. The offending network, moreover, might be required to transmit a narrative onscreen apology. But in American "documentaries" - at least by Miranda Bailey - it seems that anything goes. And that's how it is at the end of her film, where she displays her own onscreen statement.

Just at that point when the audience has been inflamed by an hour and a half of smears and abuse of me, hearing me beaten over-and-over, with no sign of my response to what's said, that audience is waiting for the great confrontation between good and evil. An ending. A century of cinema vocabulary demands it. What does Deer say to all this?

I know something of such things in programme-making. Indeed, in the slot on my homepage, that Bailey manipulated, I'd placed a clip of me pursuing a wretched pharma executive whose drug trial in London had severely injured six men. After writing to the executive, and getting no response, I traveled to Boston to finally put the complaint, and the interviewee I sought ran away.

And underneath that - at - is a similar pursuit of Wakefield. After twice writing, telling him what what our programme was about (not pretending that it was general feature about vaccines), I flew with my team to Indianapolis, where he attacked our camera and fled. In her effort to service her hero, of course, Ms Bailey doesn't show that clip.

But there at the end of her "documentary", with the audience wanting blood, what appears on the screen? A statement lying about her dealings with me.

We asked Brian Deer to participate in this documentary.

An in-your-face, on the nose, lie. They told me nothing of a film about Wakefield, or his lawsuit.

And, then, with a slow reveal, another lie fades in. Deer has no answer:

He declined.

miranda bailey pathological optimist

Documentary deception: How Miranda Bailey closing statement lied to film distributors and audiences

This was, I believe, a lie for money. I don't think for a moment that the executive producer - a well-known filmmaker, Jennifer Fox - would have allowed "The Pathological Optimist" to go out in her name if she'd known I'd been treated unfairly. Along with the production's lawyer, Greg S. Bernstein (who placed "The Pathological Optimist" with distributors Gravitas Ventures), Fox had a duty to ask about my position, and to get assurances from Miranda Bailey and Marc Lesser.

Alerted to their lies, in September 2017, I straightway reached out to Bailey and Lesser. They were then preparing to launch their "documentary" at the Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival.

By now, I knew, I would be deluged with abuse, the first of which I received last night. Every time Wakefield appears, lying about his self-destruction, I'm targeted with relentless hatred.

"I’m shocked to learn of your deceit," I wrote to Bailey on September 16, 2017. "Since you had said you wanted information and comment on 'the MMR scandal', I responded in 2012, as I do routinely (including to various documentary makers), saying that I don’t have time to provide content for other people’s projects, as I’m too busy with my own."

I told them: "Not only did I have no knowledge that you were making a documentary about Wakefield, or his lawsuit, but if I had known, I would have been delighted to participate: whether in 2012, or at any time since. My points would have included that:

"(a) His failed Texas lawsuit was only then the latest in a string of such attempted gagging actions, which led a senior judge in the London High Court to accuse Wakefield of using litigation 'for public relations purposes' and as 'a weapon in his attempts to close down discussion and debate over an important public issue.'

"(b) Wakefield was lucky that his suit was thrown out in Texas. Had the court, for some bizarre reason, claimed jurisdiction over a UK resident and a UK medical journal, a counter-suit was scheduled to be heard before the same judge – the next day – in which we sued the charlatan for our attorneys’ fees and costs, which might have set him back many hundreds of thousands of dollars."

I also wrote:

"I have always been willing to discuss my journalism with any responsible party, plus occasionally those, such as yourself, who wish me harm. The smear you cast on me is that I’m somehow reluctant to be candid. Doubtless your film also insinuates that I’m working with the drug industry [it does] – another staple Wakefield lie. I suppose, in your own mind, you had no option but to do what you’ve done. You had to say something about my response to his claims (as you acknowledge by screening a statement that names me), but you didn’t want me to ruin your narrative by challenging your expensively-gathered purported facts. So, rather than tell me what you were doing – your clear ethical obligation – you went ahead with a false onscreen statement aiming to rescue the astonishing bias and one-sidedness of your material by pretending that I, the BMJ, and perhaps others, were unwilling to address the issues."

And finally:

"Contrived 'documentaries' are ideal vehicles for the unscrupulous to profit from falsehood: as of course Wakefield knows with his own recent projects. At a time when 'fake news' and a rising culture of deception are matters of intense debate, it may be that you provide a case study of how the public can be effortlessly tricked. In this instance, of course, your victims include parents of children with disabilities who, thanks to your hero Wakefield, blame themselves for vaccinating a son or daughter.

"In my opinion, you and your associates bring disgrace upon yourselves, and discredit to independent documentaries. You injure the reputations and opportunities of countless competent, ethical, and honest directors and producers competing for the public’s confidence."

Read the complete email thread held by Miranda Bailey

And now see how sly Miranda Bailey responds:

Miranda Bailey never sent me any reply to my letter, but on September 21, or thereabouts, she posted a response on her website. She refused to correct her purported "documentary", claimed that her onscreen statement was accurate, and accused me of asking for money.

Now see what she does. It's classic Wakefield. She redefines the complaint to suit her denial, placing her own words in the mouth of her critic, then denies her own false formulation. He must have done this hundred times, to my knowledge, and here she is doing the same:

"We concluded the film with several facts and one of them is that we reached out to Brian Deer to participate and he declined..."

She omits any mention of my complaint about her film: that it wasn't what I was told she was making. Remember her onscreen statement is this [my italics]:

We asked Brian Deer to participate in this documentary.

Except that she didn't. Yes, she "reached out", five years ago, and, yes, I "declined" - to give my valuable time to a quite different film that she and Lesser had told me they were making.

Then she skips further down the Wakefield path, continuing the above paragraph:

"... Which your emails show IS TRUE. To accuse me of lying about reaching out to you while sending me email exchanges where you quote them is a bit perplexing."

Really? Do I accuse her of lying about "reaching out" to me? No. I accuse her of lying about the project she was involved in, and reaching out to me in a dishonest way. She was making a film about Andrew Wakefield and how he was suing me (vexatiously) for libel.

In case of any doubt, here's the summary of her film, that she has published online to promote it:

THE PATHOLOGICAL OPTIMIST takes us into the inner sanctum of Wakefield and his family from 2011- 2016 as he fights for his day in court in a little known defamation case against the British Medical Journal.

Would you believe this individual? Do you think she can be trusted? Or should people be wary of Miranda Bailey? She plainly intended not to tell me what her "documentary" was about - withholding from me the truth. In my view, Miranda Bailey would be out of the door from any reputable media entity.

And then there's more: the retaliatory smear. It's another vintage Wakefield specialty. It muddies the water, gives ammunition to their people, and throws up the chaff of irrelevance:

"My producers and I felt that you were very clearly asking for money. We didn't pay Wakefield or any other person in the film or anyone who ended up on the cutting room floor. Most documentary filmmakers don't pay people to speak because it is unethical."

If you can find me asking for money, tell me where. The issue is notification of allegations. Otherwise, look again at that photograph above. How the pair of them deserve each other.

Read the complete email thread held by Miranda Bailey

Miranda Bailey film that lied for Wakefield
"The Pathological Optimist"

Copyright, Brian Deer. All rights reserved. No portion of this article on Miranda Bailey's "The Pathological Optimist" may be copied, retransmitted, reposted, duplicated or otherwise used without the express written approval of the author. Responses, information and other feedback are appreciated - via the contact page