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Journalism Ethics 101 – Liam Scheff’s Conversations with New York Times’ Reporter Janny Scott

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Introduction In 2005, journalist Liam Scheff was interviewed by New York Times reporter Janny Scott about the Incarnation Children’s Center (ICC) scandal. Scheff’s investigation had revealed that orphaned children were being used in taxpayer and Pharma–funded drug studies in a Catholic orphanage in New York City.

In 2003, Scheff had entered the ICC orphanage itself, undercover with one of the families he was working with, and reported on what he saw there. Scheff’s published work featured interviews with the medical director of the ICC, and children, guardians and current and former employees from the orphanage. Scheff’s original report, “The House That Aids Built,” was published in January, 2004.

Scheff’s work also named and reviewed the studies as listed in the government’s clinical trials database; as well as medical literature on the drugs and HIV tests used in the ICC orphanage.

The New York Times caught up with the story by mid 2005; Times reporter Janny Scott interviewed Scheff by phone and email, but suppressed most of his sources and evidence in her reporting. The Times did not print or respond to Scheff’s letters–to–the editor (or anyone else’s), written in response to their front–page version of events.

In 2008, Scheff again wrote Janny Scott, and addressed his concerns to her. She responded, and revealed that in her reporting for the Times, she did not, in fact, read or review a single medical record of any of the children held at the orphanage.

Her report also did not reveal a single negative drug side–effect, list a single FDA drug warning, or list or review any of the actual studies being done at the ICC.

She also revealed that she took, but did not use, interviews with Scheff’s major sources, mothers who had children in the ICC. She also claimed to have forgotten or lacked the ability to remember important pieces of information, including whether she did or did not interview the medical director of ICC, Dr. Katherine Painter.

The final letter, from Liam Scheff to Janny Scott, features a list of 20 questions for the Times, seeking clear answers to the ethical guidelines, standards and practices of their reporting on contentious pharmaceutical issues, such as the use of orphans in clinical trials.

Neither Janny Scott, nor New York Times editor Joe Sexton, has yet responded.

Please find the full exchange below.

References
  1. The House That Aids Built Altheal.org (January, 2004)
  2. Related and independent follow-up investigation/reporting:
  3. Liam Scheff's ICC and Aids drug/Hiv test reporting prior to Times article:

    Immediately following the Times article:

    Since then:

  4. Interviews with Dr. Katherine Painter, Medical Director of the ICC: "House that Aids Built," "The ICC Investigation Continues," "Orphans on Trial," (see footnote 3). Extended interview with Audio: The ICC Interviews ARAS, 2007.
  5. Janny Scott's New York Times 2005 Article: Belated Charge Ignites Furor Over AIDS Drug Trial Janny Scott, Leslie Kaufman, New York Times (July 17, 2005). Sunday National Edition, p.A-1, First Section, Front Page.
  6. Unpublished Letters to the NY Times:
ONE – From: Liam Scheff To: Janny Scott Date: May 30, 2008.Ms. Scott,

You and your work partner, Leslie Kaufman, interviewed me at length in 2005 for a story on the abuse of orphans in NIH clinical trials at the ICC orphanage.

I'm writing to clear up some discrepancies. I worked with you on the preparation of your article, providing telephone interviews, contacts and a great deal of printed material, and was then shocked and terribly upset by the omission of almost everything I provided you when your article wen to print. I sent you several notes correcting egregious errors in your article at the time of its publication, but never heard back, so I looked you up, and saw you're still writing, mostly on Barack Obama. [Note - search "Janny Scott, Barack Obama]

Regarding the 2005 story, It was confirmed (at the time and since) by all involved, - my sources, and yourself and Ms. Kaufman - that I gave you phone numbers and email addresses for my contacts, so that you could interview them, which you and they told me, you did.

That is, [protected name] (Mona in "House that Aids Built"), Jackie Herger and the film's director, Milena Schwager, all agree that they were interviewed by you for your '05 story. Yet you don't report this in your version; your story claimed that all persons were 'made up names', implying they were 'made up stories.'

But they were interviewed by the Times. How is this ethical?

During our interview process, in the extended email correspondence that followed my second phone interview, I sent you two dozen citations on AZT alone, from the medical literature, yet your report cited nothing from any medical literature on AZT. The only reference to AZT was from the doctor who took money to set up the ICC/NIH clinical trials - Dr. Stephen Nicholas, formally of Columbia Presbyterian. He's doing AZT work in the Dominican Republic now (an very poor country where many of the ICC children came from, and many of the ICC workers, too).

We were in email correspondence for quite some time, so I'm confused as to why you didn't look into the massive lists I sent on the drugs used in the studies done at the ICC; studies which even your article agreed took place.

We spoke, and I referred you to the 7 or 8 articles already published by myself in other journals on the ICC, or on Hiv testing, which you said you had possession of and would read. But in your New York Times' article, you only attributed one piece of work to me, and then made many factual errors in describing it.

My emails to you also provided at least a dozen studies (possible two dozen) on "micronutrient" therapy, but you made no mention of any non-AZT-type therapy used in Aids, though many therapies are analyzed in the medical and scientific literature that I provided you. You only made mention of non-AZT-type therapy in one passage, where you seem to ridicule the fact that I know some people who don't take the drugs, or who do, but also have a macrobiotic practice, and who are alive 20 years after their diagnosis.

I'm deeply confused and upset by the omission of any balanced reporting on these issues, especially considering our relatively long correspondence prior to your report. Why was it that you chose to ignore any negative study with any drug used at ICC?

You also mis-reported what I told you about the publication of the original story. I told you clearly that the original story was in line for publication at two other journals, Red Flags Weekly and Mothering magazine, but that I chose to pull it from consideration and publish it myself, because I didn't want to do a rewrite for either for length (I didn't want to cut any of the interviews), or wait for 10 months for Mothering to have a cover opening. But you reported that I put it out on the internet because "nobody would touch it." What I told you very specifically was that "nobody on the Left would touch it," specifically referring to a conversation I'd had with a Village Voice editor, who couldn't believe that 'Hiv tests' have no standard for interpretation, a pathetic reality that I explained to you in detail in our long phone interview. You can find that reference throughout the literature on testing, and in the Abbott labs Hiv test, which I drew your attention to again and again in our interview. But you ignored that in your article as well.

But leaving out the people you interviewed - that's just rude, isn't it? They gave you their time and testimony, after all. How are these individuals supposed to have any faith in the press, if they come to it openly, disclose all their information, and have none of it reported? How do you come by this omission? You knew their names, you had their numbers, and you, or a Times reporter, called them. This was verified by all involved during the process.

Why leave them out?

These are some of the questions that have bothered me greatly since your report was published. I thank you for your time.

Liam Scheff

TWO – From: Janny Scott To: Liam Scheff Date: June 2, 2008Dear Mr. Scheff,

Thank you for your note. I will attempt to address your questions in the order you raised them.

As you know from our conversations in 2005, the aim of the article the Times published was to explain the history and context of the controversy that resulted in 2004 and 2005 from your article; we did not presume to determine the relative advantages and disadvantages of, for example, using AZT or micronutrient therapy or other approaches in children with HIV in the late 1980's. We are newspaper reporters, not biomedical researchers.

We never suggested, as you say, that the cases you cited in your article online were "made up stories." We simply noted that the article that had triggered the controversy did not include the actual identities of the people involved in cases you cited. As you know, the use of anonymous sources and pseudonyms in journalism is noteworthy, in that in some people's eyes it can influence the credibility of allegations being made.

Yes, we interviewed many people whom we did not end up quoting in the article. That is common practice in heavily reported newspaper pieces. It is simply not possible to include comments from every person one interviews and to still produce an article of a length that a newspaper can run.

What are the "many factual errors" you say were made in describing the article cited? And I don't know what you mean about "ridiculing" the fact that you know some people who are alive 20 years after their diagnosis.

There seems to me nothing ridiculous about that. It's simply a fact that, it seemed to me, understandably influenced the way you viewed what was done at ICC.

I am quite certain that I did not "mis-report" what you told me about the publication of the original story. You certainly did not tell me that it was "in line at Red Flags Weekly and Mothering magazine" and that you decided to pull it. You never said, "Nobody on the Left would touch it." The quote I used was a direct quote and would not have been changed.

Finally, you say you sent several notes after the piece ran "but never heard back." The Times moved a year ago so I no longer have a lot of older files, but I do not recall receiving your notes and am quite certain I would have responded had I received them.

Sincerely,

Janny Scott

THREE – From: Liam Scheff To: Janny Scott Date: June 20, 2008Hi Janny,

Thank you for writing me back last time. I'm sorry I'm late in returning, it's just been unbearably busy.

I received your answers and am considering them. You say you lost the emails I sent, but I did send them, and I think you should look for them, whether you moved or not. I have a couple questions for follow up:

  1. First, did you review any of the kid's files from ICC? Did you review any of the patient files of the kids in the studies, or kids who were wards at ICC?

    I got to see some of the medical files of two of the kids, Mona's kids, and I talked with five or six kids in total. Shawn, Dana, Seon - Seon died. He'd had the plastic surgeries for the buffalo humps. That was horrible. Michelle. Andre. Then I saw other kids in the ICC who I spoke about with the nurses and childcare workers I interviewed. And they told about the rest of the daily side effects, they told me so much about the other kids, the ones I saw and met, and the ones I didn't, that it's like I got know the rest of them through the nurse's stories. Gregory, Shyanne. She died, she had the tube. Ashley. She died more recently, she had the tube as well.

    There was the one who jumped in my arms when I was there. I don't know if that was Ariel, I have to talk to Mona and figure out who that was. But Ariel died not long after I started investigating. Another one with the tube.

    Anyway… sorry, horrible memory lane. Okay,

  2. Did you review any of the NIH studies that were done there at the ICC or other hospitals? Did you review any of the drugs that were used in the studies? Did you review any of the known side-effects of these drugs?

  3. Did you interview Cathy Painter (Dr. Katherine Painter), the head of ICC now, and at the time of my and your articles? Did you ask her about any of the drug side effects? I did, and she at least told me that they existed, and that the drugs (AZT) caused anemia, but you didn't mention any side-effects in your whole article.

  4. Mona [protected name] told me that when you interviewed her, you didn't ask her about her kids, but you did ask her about me, and my beliefs about Aids and AZT. Why would my beliefs about Aids be relevant? Why didn't you ask her about her kids, and their side-effects?

    Shawn's [her boy, has] been in the ICU multiple times after taking Nevirapine. Dana had a kind of cancer after being on the drugs. Andre, too - not Mona's boy, but another boy I interviewed - had a blood cancer after a childhood on AZT. It doesn't make sense that you wouldn't ask her about these things.

  5. Jackie Herger on the other hand, told me that she told you the whole story, the drugs, the rash on her girls, and all of it, so at least you were interested in that case. So, I don't understand why you'd properly interview one and not the other. But you left that out of your story too, which is just bad reporting. I went out of my way to give you Jackie's contact info, and to arrange it with them, both of them, Mona and Jackie, so that you could interview them, and that took a lot of time and effort, and trust to get them to do it, and you wasted your opportunity.

    Jackie Herger was interviewed by the NY Post and in the movie, and on Bill O'Reilly, long before your article. It's not like it was hidden story. Why wouldn't you report that her kids, according to her, at least - and she is a Pediatric Aids nurse - that they had major side effects from the drugs?

    Mona was interviewed for the movie, too. They just didn't use her, I don't know why, I wasn't the editor, but I was there when she was filmed. Probably they didn't use her because she insisted on having her face blurred. She was interviewed on TV in Europe, she told the story there. She's been afraid to reveal her identity, because CPS has been after her for a decade, everytime she tries to negotiate less toxic drugs and drug doses for her kids. But her boy was filmed for the movie, and he's in it. So, what's the deal? Why leave them out?

    You left out Milena Schwager, too, the film's director. You interviewed her, but you left her out. I want to know why? She would've confirmed that these drugs at least have side-effects, and you didn't report that.

    I'm sorry these aren't the friendliest of questions. I appreciate your time, and thanks for answering the last ones. I think the NY Times should be doing better, more balanced reporting on drug side effects, especially regarding drugs used on wards of the state in medical studies. I hope you can try to understand that drugs do have side effects, and they should be reported on fairly.

    bests,

    Liam Scheff

FOUR – From: Janny Scott To: Liam Scheff Date: June 26, 2008Liam,

Thank you for your email and my apologies that it has taken me a few days to get back to you.

As I said in my last note, the aim of the Times story was to explain the background, history and context of the increasingly public controversy that had arisen out of the allegations made in your article. We did not set out to render a verdict, a decade and a half later, on the rightness or wrongness of experimental drug therapies used in the late 1980's on children with HIV. You seem to feel that we should have done that - and, in not doing so, we failed.

I did not say that I had lost emails that you sent; I said I do not recall receiving them and it is unlikely that I would not have responded if I had received them. There is no trace of such emails in my email directory.

As for our interview with Mona, there is no way we would have interviewed her primarily about your beliefs; there was no need to since we knew your beliefs directly from you.

As for what materials we reviewed, we reviewed everything that you and anyone else we spoke with suggested, including some of the studies in question. We interviewed people on all sides of the controversy; we reported your allegations, some of the physicians' responses, city officials' admissions and the findings of the Office of Human Research Protections. As I said earlier, yes, we interviewed far too many people to be able to quote all of them. We believe it is a balanced story.

Janny

FIVE – From: Liam Scheff To: Janny Scott Date: June 27, 2008Hi Janny,

Thanks for the prompt reply. I am considering your answers.

I asked one particular question which you did not answer, so, I'll ask again,

Did you interview Dr. Katherine Painter, ICC's medial director? If so, why leave her out? If not, why not?

In your last email you said you looked at some of the drug studies.

Which NIH ICC studies did you look at, and what drugs did you review? And again, why was there no reporting on drug side-effects or FDA warnings in your article?

A couple points I find unsatisfactory:

You say you left out Jackie Herger and Mona, along with many other people you interviewed, because you couldn't fit them all in, but that seems improbable. Choices are made in editing, and you, or your editor had to choose who to keep, and who to discard. That's a choice, not a loss due to restriction of space.

You stated that you didn't ask Mona about my "beliefs about Aids and AZT," but after some 5 years of knowing her and working with her, I have no reason to doubt her veracity in reporting conversations she's had. If she says you asked her about these things, and about little else, I believe her. It's what she said in 05, when you interviewed her, and it's what she says today.

Thanks,

Liam

Saturday, June 28, 2008 12:21 PM
From:"liam scheff"
To:JannyScott@aol.com, janscott@nytimes.com
Re: ICC story - Liam Scheff to NY Times reporter Janny Scott - last question, thanks.

Hi Janny,

One last thing, (in addition to the last email I sent).

In your article, you wrote:

"At Incarnation, Dr. Nicholas said, no child had died of a reaction and "no child ever had an unexpected side effect."

1) Did you ever get to review any of the patient's medical files from ICC? Did you inquire what an "unexpected side effect" from the drugs would be?

From your article:

"He [Dr. Stephen Nicholas] said that, with one exception, no children had been included in the trials without "absolute proof" by advanced testing methods that they were infected and not simply carrying their mother's antibodies."

2) Do you know what those methods, described as "advanced testing methods," were or are?

And from the previous email, two questions:

3) Did you get to interview Dr. Katherine Painter?


4) You say you looked at some of the studies. Which NIH ICC studies did you look at, and what drugs did you review? Why was there no reporting on drug side-effects or FDA warnings in your article? Isn't that important information when talking about drug studies?

Thanks for your time in answering. I appreciate being able to understand your thinking and methods in doing your work. These are my last questions that I can foresee. Again, thanks.

bests,

Liam

SIX – From: Janny Scott To: Liam Scheff Date: June 29, 2008Liam,

No, we did not review patients' medical files. I would be surprised if that would not have been a breach of patient confidentiality if someone had shown them to us.

An unexpected side effect would have been a side effect not previously seen in response to those drugs, presumably.

Advanced testing methods were the methods available at the time for diagnosing HIV infection.

I do not recall interviewing Dr. Painter but I may simply not remember. As you know, the Times moved to a new office a year ago. It was not possible to move all of our files. In my case, I threw away files that were more than 12 months old. As you know, the story you are asking about was done in 2005.

I do not recall which studies we looked at. There were a lot of them - some more easily accessible than others, as you know.

As for mentioning side-effects and FDA warnings, there are side-effects and FDA warnings on many if not most drugs. The side-effects of early AIDS drugs have been written about extensively. And, as I have said before, we were not presuming to judge whether or not experimental AIDS drugs should have been tried on children - a question that I suspect few journalists would be qualified to answer; we were attempting to put a public controversy in context.

If you have further objections to the way the story was handled, I suggest you contact Joe Sexton, the editor of the metropolitan news section of the paper and the editor on that story.

Janny

SEVEN – From: Liam Scheff To: Janny Scott Date: June 30, 2008Sorry,

last thought.

You said that the reason you didn't include some of the many people you interviewed, ie, Milena Schwager, Jackie Herger, etc, was a physical room-on-the-page, versus amount-of-material issue.

You wrote:

"It is simply not possible to include comments from every person one interviews and to still produce an article of a length that a newspaper can run."

Would that have been a decision of the editor, Joe Sexton, or of you and Leslie Kaufman? Or both?

That's it, thanks,

Liam

EIGHT – From: Janny Scott To: Liam Scheff Date: June 30, 2008Joe Sexton's email is _sexton@nytimes.com_ (mailto:sexton@nytimes.com) .

Decisions about story length are made by editors; decisions about what to include are generally made by reporters.

Janny

NINE – From: Liam Scheff To: Janny Scott Date: June 30, 2008Thanks. I understand that the "who to include" would have been your decision. So, forgive me, but why leave out Jackie Herger, and feature Omowale clay? She had two kids at the ICC, she was a pediatric Aids nurse. She worked there in the early 1990s. Doesn't make sense to me.

Liam

[Ms. Scott made no reply to this mail]

TEN – From: Liam Scheff To: Janny Scott cc: Vera Sharav (AHRP.org), Patricia Warren (A&U Magazine), David Crowe (Rethinking AIDS) Date: July 5, 2008Janny,

I've been reviewing your responses, and have discovered many serious inconsistencies in your answers. I was interviewed at length by you in 2005, and was misrepresented and misquoted by you in print. I have sent letters to the editor that have never received a response or been printed in your paper.

Please address answers the following, to myself and to your editor.

(Please find attached a record of our current email correspondence, the letters-to-the-editor sent to the Times in 2005, and three letters from our 2005 email correspondence).

  1. You said that the purpose of your story was not to render a verdict on the ethics of the drug trials at the ICC orphanage.

    You wrote: "We did not set out to render a verdict, a decade and a half later, on the rightness or wrongness of experimental drug therapies used in the late 1980's on children with HIV."

    But your story opens with the line:
    "It was seen as one of the great successes of AIDS treatment. In the late 1980's and early 1990's, hundreds of children in New York City were dying of AIDS. The only approved drugs were for adults, and many of the patients were foster children. So doctors obtained permission to include foster children in what they regarded as promising drug trials."

    You later admit that the "permissions" for many of these children are "missing," (or were never there) but that fact doesn't affect your opening pitch. You don't bother to entertain the question of ethics around inventing "permission" to use orphans in clinical trials. You support it, from your opening line.

    A few lines later, you add:
    "[T]here is little evidence that the trials were anything but a medical success."

    You provide no data in any portion of your article on any study done on these children at the ICC. You provide no medical data or personal interview from any child from the orphanage. You provide no data on the effects of the drugs used on any individual who was enrolled in any of these trials. You describe no negative effect of the drugs. You credit them with saving lives, but you give no single example of a life that was saved, and you buried the stories of women whose children were made sick from the drugs.

    You rendered a verdict from the opening. Your claim to have done anything else plainly dishonest.

    Q1: What is the New York Times' policy on reporting the details of drug trials?

    Q2: What is the New York Times' policy on reporting "missing permissions" for orphans used in drug trials? Is it standard practice to defend organizations that claim to have "missing permissions," that they can only claim to have ever had, in order to justify the use of orphans in drug trials?

  2. You say that "there is little evidence that the trials were anything but a medical success." But you admit to not reviewing a single medical case history. You wrote: "No, we did not review patients' medical files."

    Q3: Did you interview any children from the ICC?

    Q4: Did you ask them about their health on and off the drugs, or about the effects of the drugs?

    You also revealed no study data, and no drug warnings or effects.

    Q5: On what grounds do you make a claim that these studies benefited any particular or specific child?

    Q6: Can you name and give a detailed history of any particular child who was benefited by any of the three dozen studies done at the ICC?

  3. You quote Dr. Stephen Nicholas, who set up the orphanage as an NIH clinical trial center, saying that "no child ever had an unexpected side effect" on the drugs at the ICC. The drugs in question are AZT and its analogs, Nevirapine, and protease inhibitors, including Ritonavir.

    You wrote me saying that "An unexpected side effect would have been a side effect not previously seen in response to those drugs, presumably."

    You stated that you did not list a single FDA warning about the drugs used here because: "there are side-effects and FDA warnings on many if not most drugs. The side-effects of early AIDS drugs have been written about extensively."


    Q7: Did you research any of the "expected side effects" of AZT and Nevirapine?

    Q8: Do you know why these drugs have an FDA Black-box warning?

    Q9: Why did you not report on any of the "known side effects," in an article about the allegations that there were major side effects experienced by children at the ICC who were put on these drugs?

    Q10: If the FDA has recorded that a drug has caused permanent disability or death in adults who've taken it, at its normal, prescribed dose, what is the New York Times' policy in reporting that?

  4. You stated that "We did not set out to render a verdict, a decade and a half later, on the rightness or wrongness of experimental drug therapies used in the late 1980's on children with HIV."

    Q11: Why are you referring to the "late 1980s?"

    The ICC trials began in 1992 and continued, in various forms, through 2004 or 2005. From ICC's webpage (as of 2004, when they took this information down):
    "In 1992, an outpatient clinic for HIV-positive children was established; the same year, with funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the clinic became a sub unit of the Columbia University Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trials Unit…"

    The page also gave a list of trials active at ICC in 1996. As for what happened in the late '80s, I'll refer you to their webpage once again:
    "Pediatric AIDS was first recognized in 1982-83. Early in the epidemic, HIV disease of childhood was considered to be down-hill course leading to death. But in the late 1980's, before AZT was available, many very ill children admitted to ICC got dramatically better with proper nurturing and high-quality medical and nursing care."

    Imagine that? Better without AZT, says ICC, in the "late 1980's."

    When I interviewed Dr. Katherine Painter, ICC's medical director, in 2003, she told me that children in ICC could participate in clinical trials by being enrolled in local hospitals. From my 2003 interview with Dr. Katherine Painter (Quoted in "House that Aids Built," 2004; in the New York Press, "Orphans on Trial", 2004,; and reprinted with audio at http://www.aras.ab.ca/articles/icc/PainterInterview.html).

    Dr. Painter in 2003:
    "[A]nd again, many clinics that refer to us are participating in clinical trials programs.

    So if a child is on a treatment protocol, they would undergo that monitoring, testing, protocol entry, supply of an experimental drug through um, their outpatient clinic - and we can maintain that treatment here.

    So If a child is on an experimental drug, the um, clinic site supplies the drug to the child, and their caregiver of course is the one who actually picks it up, either the nursing aid who accompanies them from a store or their parent or caregiver, and brings it back, picks it back to us if, if it's not a drug that's available through a pharmacy.

    Currently the children who've been recently here who've been on newer therapies have been on T20 or Fuzeon, and it's now available through a progressive access program from a pharmacy, which is Hoffman La Roche - and previously until very recently was the children who were receiving it were in an expanded access clinical protocol."

    [end citation]

    She's describing enrollment of ICC wards in late 2003 into clinical trials and "expanded access clinical protocols" with "experimental drugs." The kids stay at the orphanage, and are enrolled at neighboring hospitals.

    You radically misplaced and misstated your timeline. Who knows what you were writing about in your article.

  5. You say you're not sure, or can't remember if you interviewed ICC's medical director. You wrote: "I do not recall interviewing Dr. Painter but I may simply not remember. As you know, the Times moved to a new office a year ago. It was not possible to move all of our files. In my case, I threw away files that were more than 12 months old."

    Q12: Did you or did you not interview Dr. Katherine Painter?

    It's not a difficult question. You claim to have memory of individual lines that you attribute to me, remembered from a telephone conversation from three years ago. You claim a perfect memory of these lines, despite the fact that I dispute your use of them as wildly de-contextualized misquotes. If you claim perfect memory on these, then you certainly can remember if you interviewed the medical director of the orphanage whose studies you were defending. If you can't remember, then it should be understood that your entire memory is suspect.


  6. You interviewed Mona, the great aunt and adoptive mother of two children in the ICC, but, according to her, asked her only about my "beliefs about Aids and Aids drugs," but not about her children, or their reaction to the drugs, or their time in the ICC.

    I put this to you, and you responded:

    "As for our interview with Mona, there is no way we would have interviewed her primarily about your beliefs; there was no need to since we knew your beliefs directly from you."

    I didn't ask you what you "would have" interviewed her about. I asked you what you did interview her about. Mona is one of three major witnesses/sources for my first story. She says that you asked her about my "beliefs about Aids and Aids drugs, and little else," and she does so on tape, and on the record.

    Q13: What "did" you ask Mona about?

  7. You state that "the aim of the Times story was to explain the background, history and context of the increasingly public controversy that had arisen out of the allegations made in your article."

    Q14: How did you plan to do that when you suppressed your interviews with all three of my major adult witnesses/sources for my first article:

    (1) Mona, the great-aunt and adoptive mother of two children who've been in and out of the ICC their whole lives; (2) Jackie Herger, former pediatric Aids nurse at the ICC and adoptive mother of two children from the orphanage; and (3) Dr. Katherine Painter, the medical director of ICC?

    You claim that you excised interviews from your article for reasons of space: to be able to "produce an article of a length that a newspaper can run." But your piece ran on the front page of section one, in the Sunday edition, nation-wide. Space was not an issue.

    Q15: Why did you bury the interviews with Mona and Jackie Herger?

    Q16: Why didn't you interview Dr. Katherine Painter? Or, if you did, why did you bury her interview?

    You cannot claim to have been looking into the allegations made in my article without interviewing or citing these three witnesses.

  8. In your article, you asserted that I told you that I could not get the first story published anywhere. This assertion is contradicted by the email record of our long exchange in 2005, prior to the publication of your article.

    You grossly misquoted, misrepresented and selectively reported my telephone dialog with you, and this total misrepresentation formed the crux of your article. I've been interviewed elsewhere, on film, in print and on radio, and I've never made any statements consistent with those you attributed to me. This is because you invented them, by wildly de-contextualizing tiny portions of our over-hour long conversation.

    You committed fraud in mis-representing and mis-reporting my statements, and I said so in my letters to you at the time. I've been vocal about it since, in interview with other journalists, and in my own published writing, but I've never had a response from the Times.

    In our telephone conversation I absolutely informed you about the Left (Village Voice, Democracy Now, NPR) and the bias against critical reporting on Aids (which you've proven in practice), and I would swear in court to that fact. It was in that context, and that context alone, that I said that I'd had trouble finding an outlet for the "House" article in 2003. By the time you interviewed me in 2005, however, I'd had at least seven articles published on the subject, in various print and web outlets. The idea that I couldn't get my work published was and is ludicrous.

    I'd worked at a paper in Boston prior to publishing the "House" article at Altheal.org. I'd had a great volume of work published in print and online. Your statement was intended to create an illusion that I was not a journalist or a serious investigator. It was a specious and dishonest claim on your part, and I can only assume, it's the angle you intended from your pitch.

    I absolutely informed you that I had pulled "The House" article and research from a print magazine for the purpose of getting out faster to news agencies and the public. I have an email record stating as much.

    You asked me (June 30, 2005): "I can't seem to find in my notes the month that you posted the Incarnation article on indymedia.org. Was it January 2004?"


    I answered (also June 30, 2005): "I researched and wrote The House That AIDS Built from June through Nov. 2003, started emailing it out in Dec. 2003. Had a magazine interested in Nov, but they backed out. Had an offer to rewrite it and get it out by Aug 2004 in a print mag, but felt speed was more important."

    (Find those emails attached).

    You claim to be missing emails, files, etc, to have thrown items away, to have perhaps, lost items in a move. The NY Times has a century or more of archived work publicly available. If your description of your disordered and disrupted files were true, I doubt that your newspaper could function.

    Q17: Do you have a complete email record of our 2005 pre-article correspondence? If not, would you like me to email you and your editor a copy?

    Q18: What is the New York Times policy for misrepresenting someone in print?

  9. You claim that you "do not recall receiving," but may have lost in a move, or thrown out, my letter-to-the-editor from 2005.

    You wrote: "The Times moved a year ago so I no longer have a lot of older files, but I do not recall receiving your notes and am quite certain I would have responded had I received them."

    I absolutely wrote the Times with a letter for print, immediately after the publication of your article in July, 2005. I have four sent versions in my email exchange because I sent the letter in duplicate to several NY Times email addresses, including yours, your co-writer Ms. Kaufman, and to the letters department.

    I then posted the letter publicly at GNN, (where much of my reporting has been done), as an open letter to the Times editorial and letters department, and listed the Times "letters" email, in case any reader was motivated to seek a response ("NY Times to the Rescue," GNN, July 2005).

    My letter was then reposted at the website of the Alliance for Human Research Protection (AHRP.org), along with six additional letters from other journalists, researchers and doctors, who'd written the Times about inaccuracies and gross misreporting in your story ("Seven Unpublished letters to the New York Times Re: AIDS drug/vaccine experiments on babies/children in NYC foster care" AHRP.org, August, 2005).

    Vera Sharav's letter was sent to Byron Calame, Public Editor New York Times, and was copied to Victor Navasky and Michael Hoyt, Columbia Journalism Review, and Ann Pincus, Center for Public Integrity: Investigative Journalism in the Public Interest. These letters have been online and publicly available for three years.

    In order for you not to have received or been made aware of these letters, you would have to have never used the internet, or have any friends who did, and also have no co-workers, or employers/editors, who receive email, use the internet, or receive feedback on their published work.

    Q19: What is the New York Times' policy on printing letters-to-the-editor from interview subjects who make serious allegations of being mis-quoted and mis-represented in print by a Times' reporter?

  10. You claimed, in your article, that the information I provided was done through un-named sources and un-documented research.

    You wrote:
    "Most of the [ethical] questions have arisen from a single account of abuse allegations - given by a single writer about people not identified by real names, backed up with no official documentation as supporting proof, and put out on the Internet in early 2004 after the author was unable to get the story published anywhere else.

    And you concluded:
    "Whatever the outcome, the controversy has already demonstrated the power of a single person armed only with access to the Internet and an incendiary story to put major institutions on the defensive."

    None of what you wrote is in evidence. It's a total fabrication.

    1. I didn't have access "only to the internet." I took interviews with children who'd been placed in the orphanage because their parents stopped or limited FDA-Black Boxed drugs. I had access to their medical records, and, of course, to their parent's testimonies.
    2. People were, in fact, identified by real names, in my first report, and in subsequent reporting. Jackie Herger, (former nurse at ICC and adoptive mother of children from the orphanage), and Dr. Katherine Painter (medical director of ICC) were featured in my first, second and third reports on ICC ("House that Aids Built", "The ICC Investigation Continues", "Orphans On Trial"), and then in subsequent reporting as well ("The ICC Interviews - Dr. Katherine Painter", "Inside Incarnation").


      Mona, a great aunt (and adoptive parent) of two children in the ICC, was provided an alias, as were the children in the story, and I provided her real name, and contact information to you, which you used to interview her.

      To make a claim that a story is potentially false because of the use of a single alias, is not defensible. To raise suspicions about the nature of a witness using an alias, is only defensible if the reporter is unwilling to share the identity of that alias. I provided her name and contact information for you in 2005, and you used it, interviewed her, and suppressed that information.

    3. "No official documentation." I listed, described and gave detailed analysis to many of the three dozen studies in the National Institutes of Health Clinical Trial database (clinicaltrials.gov), and directed you to it, to do your work. I reviewed the Physician's Desk Reference, and FDA database on the drugs used in the studies at ICC, and gave a detailed listing of the recorded side-effects of the drugs.
    4. I reviewed, listed, described and gave analysis to dozens of studies printed in the standard medical journals on the non-standardized tests and the drugs.
    5. I was able to enter the physical orphanage itself, record and report my observations of what I saw, and on several children I interacted with, whose stories I followed up with my sources.
    6. In late 2004, through 2005, I conducted face-to-face interviews with nurses and child-care workers who worked at the orphanage, and cared for the children, and reported on their daily drugging, and the vomiting and diarrhea, rashes and deformities, that occurred as the known and predictable result of the drugs; they also reported in great detail on the deaths that occurred - deaths that were very strongly tied to commencement of drugs or of certain drug regimens, or enforcement via stomach tube of new drugs, including Thalidomide.
    7. At the same time, I conducted further interviews with adolescents who'd been residents at the orphanage, and who had been held and drugged there against their will. Some of these children had developed serious illnesses, including cancer, after a childhoods spent on AZT, and its analogues, drugs which are known carcinogens.
    8. This was reported in the New York Press two weeks after your story was released ("Inside Incarnation," NY Press, July/Aug 2005). You never did any follow-up, however, after it was revealed that your assertions couldn't possibly have been true.

    Q20: What is the New York Times policy for committing libel against a source or journalist?

    I look forward to receiving your answers.

    Liam Scheff

Attachments


From: Janny Scott
Date: June 7, 2005 2:46:35 PM EDT
To: Subject: interview request

Dear Mr. Scheff,

I am a reporter at The New York Times and am working with Leslie Kaufman on a piece about the controversy over the testing of AIDS drugs on foster children. Would you have some time in the near future when we could speak?

Thanks. I look forward to hearing from you.

Janny Scott
212 [XXX-XXXX]


From: Janny Scott
Date: June 13, 2005 12:43:17 PM EDT
To: Subject: my email address

Liam,

Thanks again for your time on Thursday.

Here is my email address. I look forward to receiving whatever you send.

Janny


From: Janny Scott
Date: June 30, 2005 1:17:42 PM EDT
To: liam scheff Cc:
Subject: date of first article?

Hi Liam,

I can't seem to find in my notes the month that you posted the Incarnation article on indymedia.org. Was it January 2004?

Please cc your answer to Leslie Kaufman as well as me, leslie@nytimes.com, as I may be out of the office.

Thanks very much,

Janny


From: liam scheff Date: June 30, 2005 2:04:07 PM EDT

To: Janny Scott
Cc:
leslie@nytimes.com
Subject: Re: date of first article?

Hi,

I researched and wrote The House That AIDS Built from June through Nov. 2003, started emailing it out in Dec. 2003.

Had a magazine interested in Nov, but they backed out.

Had an offer to rewrite it and get it out by Aug 2004 in a print mag, but felt speed was more important. Crossed my fingers and sent it out to 50, 60 people. Put it on indymedia in Dec. 2003, the guys at altheal [Altheal.org] put it up for good in January 2004 - I think it says so at the top of the page.

The film company contacte me in late jan or early feb.

Doug Montero from the Post contacte me in Jan or early Feb, I still have his emails.

He interviewed me, then put out the story w/o credit. They put my name in a day later.

The published something a week or so ago, and credited me properly.

Janny, drop me a line, you had some questions for me that I've thought about and wanted to answer better.

LS

Final Note

[This email correspondence, and the published work and research listed in the references section above, provides substantial evidence that Liam Scheff was misrepresented, misquoted and libeled by Janny Scott and the New York Times. Neither Ms. Scott nor her editor, Joe Sexton, has responded to this accusation, or the evidence provided herein.

We invite further legal and media inquiry into this matter.]

© Copyright May 18, 2009 by Rethinking AIDS.