Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at

Articles by Catherine

The fringe belief that vaccines may cause autism has been thoroughly debunked at this point, and there's also no evidence that vaccines are otherwise unsafe.

But that hasn't stopped at least two potential 2016 contenders from pandering to parents who strongly oppose vaccinating their children, even as a major measles outbreak spread in the United States.

Here's where potential 2016 presidential contenders stand on whether childhood vaccines should be mandatory.

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Something surprising came out of the mouth of "Fox and Friends" co-host Peter Doocy on Tuesday morning.

"There are no two sides to the issue. Vaccines work," Doocy said.

The "Fox and Friends" crew, along with the rest of the media, was still processing remarks from several potential presidential candidates about whether parents should have more of a choice in vaccinating their children in the context of a major measles outbreak that began in California.

Doocy's strong statement of support for vaccinations contrasted with Fox's welcoming attitude toward the many anti-vaccine activists who've guested on its programs over the years. Back in 2011, co-host Clayton Morris declared "Fox & Friends" to be "at the forefront" of the debate over whether childhood vaccines were linked to autism.

So what changed? Here are some of the medical and pop culture milestones in the protracted rise and then swift fall of anti-vaccine "science." It underlines just how thoroughly the myth of a link between vaccines and autism has been debunked and how unusual it is for anyone to continue to treat it seriously.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) office had some damage control to do Monday morning after Christie said that parents need to have "some amount of choice" about vaccinations, even as a measles outbreak spread from California.

But when he was a candidate running for his first term as governor, Christie was vocal about the need for parents who believe in a fringe theory about vaccinations to have a seat at the table in the debate over government mandates.

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