Pierpoint, it could have only one meaning in this case. He was so exercised that he persuaded his superiors to put his findings in the same story as Ford's announcement of March 24. The Cronkite show that night had Pierpoint saying:

Some experts seriously question whether it is logistically possible to inoculate two hundred million Americans by next fall. But beyond that, some doctors and public health officials have told CBS News that they believe that such a massive program is premature and unwise, that there is not enough proof of the need for it, and it won’t prevent more common types of flu. But because President Ford and others are endorsing the program, those who oppose it privately are afraid to say so in public.

A day later all three networks aired dissent from open sources, mainly Dr. Sidney Wolfe, a frequent critic of the public health establishment. But the critics Pierpoint mentioned were the ones who left a mark at CBS. For him, for his bureau chief in Washington and for at least some of the Cronkite show’s producers, Ford’s program was forever suspect: dubious in expert eyes, hence probably political. As one of them put it to us:

It was a rotten program, rotten to the core. We thought it was politically inspired … it certainly was awful in technical terms… unwarranted… unnecessary. That impression came straight from CDC. We didn't get onto Wolfe until later.

It might be that the President himself had been imposed upon. Pierpoint liked Cavanaugh and thought him a good citizen. As both remember, Pierpoint called to tell him (without revealing sources) that there was dissenting medical opinion in the government. Cavanaugh was startled, having heard none, nor had Cooper, nor had Mathews. Sencer had reported unanimity from the ACIP, polled on the phone, and so had Meyer from polling a panel of his own. Sencer’s polling may have been a bit contrived; one member told us he remembers hearing that an all-out program was required for congressional approval, another that the White House was insisting on immunization. Cavanaugh knew nothing of such details. Besides there was no going back; the thing was done.



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