The press found much of interest in these meetings, and the television news found interesting faces to present, both old and new. Postponement of the children caused wry comment on two networks, and the stockpiling debate was featured on all three. Sabin was the Goldfield of this coverage, but he was joined by others, notably Alexander, moved by three more months without a trace of swine flu. Uncharacteristically, Alexander went public:

I think the issue is, as time goes on, there—it’s becoming more evident that up till now there’s no sign of swine influenza outbreaks like the one that occurred in Fort Dix, New Jersey occurring in the United States. Most people think that the probability is there will not be an epidemic in the 1976-77 season due to swine influenza.11

Other opponents cited in the newspapers, or shown on the TV, included those who had appeared when the program was first announced. But this was no mere replay of initial skepticism; Sabin and Alexander demonstrated that. The point was not lost in such places as the Editorial Board of the New York Times, or the Washington Bureau of CBS News. Nor was it lost in Congress. Congressman Henry A. Waxman of the Rogers subcommittee, an habitual watcher of CBS News, seems to have been much struck by the whole proceeding; Senator Kennedy has told us he recalls stockpiling as an opportunity lost.


At CDC and Cooper's office, and indeed in Cavanaugh’s, reactions against Sabin (who had been so eloquently their man on TV three months ago) remind us of White House reactions against favored columnists who come up with what staffers take as slurs upon their President. But White House aides, more royalist than the king, grow angry in defending him. The health officials here, excepting Cavanaugh, were not concerned with Ford. Their anger was indeed aroused but they defended something else: as best we can discern, it was the sanctity of hierarchical decisions in their profession. They are scornful of Sabin yet. Alexander they merely cold shouldered.


And the media in their view had distorted once again, with emphasis on controversy rather than agreement.


However, these officials did not have much time, just then, to dwell upon past grievances. For they were being threatened from another quarter. The Bethesda meetings were scarcely adjourned when word came that the casualty insurance industry could find no members willing to insure the manufacturers of swine vaccine. The manufacturers refused to bottle it until somebody did.



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