On Thursday 20th October at 8:32pm, The Herald Sun broke what would become front-page news: a story so important that it was covered by all the major TV networks and leading online news sites across the country. The article, titled: “Jill Hennessy gets abusive tweets from anti-vaccine campaigners”, discusses vaccine injury denialist Jill Hennessy and the online bullying she has been subjected to. The article contains a video of Jill, the Victorian Health Minister, who holds an Arts Law degree and has no qualification in health, reading out 14 abusive tweets she allegedly received. You’ll soon discover that it was however, all just one big exaggerated lie.
The morning of these allegations, many Australians woke to the incredible news that at least a dozen senior scientists at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) emerged as whistleblowers. They allege that the CDC is cooking data to ensure that results of studies represent the most favourable outcome for corporations and that of political interests rather than the citizens it is supposed to protect. These allegations also confirm what Dr. William Thompson, a whistleblower and senior scientist at the CDC, stated in 2015 about scientific fraud in a study which found a causal link between vaccines and autism.
You can read his public statement here.
Given that many regulatory bodies around the world, including the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Australian Department of Health rely on some of the studies conducted by the CDC to determine the safety of products sold in this country, one would expect that if the CDCs credibility was called into question, it would spark the interest of the Australian media.
Rather than report on this astonishing news, the media went into overdrive to cover the story of Jill and the relentless cyber bullying she endured from the “well organised” anti-vaxxers. Her plight to gain public sympathy however, appeared to be nothing more than an attempt to try and discredit those in the pro-choice movement who were once pro-vaccine like Jill, but stopped vaccinating due to the suffering their children endured for the sake of the “greater good”. This story, profiling Jill as the victim, can only be seen as a move that is straight out of the Manipulating Public Opinion playbook.
Following suspicion of the authenticity of this story, an investigator commenced a search to see how much truth lay behind these claims. Their findings were shocking, but were we really surprised by their revelations? Let’s take a look at the evidence.
1. Herald Sun alleges “Jill Hennessy gets abusive tweets from anti-vaccine campaigners” [emphasis added]. They provide a video of a smug looking Jill reading out the alleged tweets she received. You will note in the video and the screen shot below, that the Twitter logo appears beside each message read. Of the 14 tweets Jill reads, only two usernames are provided, the remaining contain only a first name.(click on graphics to get a larger view)
2. The first username provided, wawasonqo, belongs to Irene Beune. Her profile contains 0 tweets, 0 images, 0 likes, is following no one and has only two followers, one of which is Damian Woods who, from his tweets, appears to be an obvious supporter of vaccination.
To find out more about Irene, a Facebook search was conducted. This revealed just one active profile belonging to an Irene Beune, who lives in the Netherlands. A subsequent Google search returns results indicating that Irene is an Obstetrician and Gynecologist (OBGYN). No other person by the name of Irene Beune can be found.
Below is a screen shot of Irene’s alleged tweet. You’ll note that it is exceptionally long, 220 characters to be exact. Twitters character count is 140.
Most importantly, here is a message received from Irene Beune, which confirms, as we suspected, that she is an OBGYN who lives in the Netherlands and is a supporter of vaccination. She has also never heard of Jill, nor has she ever sent a tweet before and is a supporter of vaccination.
There is no doubt the skeptics will proclaim that the screen shot is doctored, so here is further proof that Irene has never sent a tweet. If you refer to the image below, you will note that there is no cache for Irene’s Twitter profile. A cache is a snapshot taken of a page by Google as a backup. It does this periodically depending on the level of activity on the page in question but typically varies from weeks to months. Given Irene created her profile on Friday 11th March, 2011 at 9:08am, it would be implausible to believe that no cache was ever stored by Google if there had been any activity on the account. This once again confirms that no tweet had ever sent by Irene from this profile.
3. The second username provided belongs to ausfreedom21. A quick search of this profile will show that it doesn’t exist. An attempt to register this username was successful at 7:39pm on Saturday 22nd October 2016 – 2 days after the allegations from Jill and The Herald Sun surfaced. This indicates that the username was never registered or, was deactivated at least 30 days prior. However had this tweet ever existed, Google would likely have indexed it; yet, there is no evidence of this tweet ever being recorded by Google. More on this later.
4. To locate the remaining tweets, the investigator used the Twitter advanced search option. This allows one to search for any combination of keywords used in tweets that were sent to a specific individual. You’ll note from this link that none of the tweets Jill allegedly received could be found. As mentioned above, if the tweets had all been deleted after Jill’s story went live, they would still be found on a Google search.
5. The day after the story broke, an administrator of a secret vaccination choice group posted on Facebook that he had doubts about the authenticity of the tweets. A serial cyber stalker and professional bully, Reasonable Hank whose real name is Peter Tierney and who is a single father who resides on the NSW South Coast, spending most of his day tweeting and blogging with the goal of defaming natural health practitioners, medical professionals and those who object to vaccination, took a screen shot of the comment which you’ll see below. He tweeted it to his followers, which preceded him providing evidence to prove Jill’s bullying.
However this merely revealed Jill never received any such abusive tweets. They were in fact comments made about Jill in secret or closed Facebook groups dedicated to supporting vaccine choice. They were never made directly to Jill. While name-calling is never acceptable, a group of frustrated people making heated comments amongst a group of peers is hardly harassing or bullying an individual.
Peter provided evidence that 10 of the 14 comments Jill read out in her video were made (though they were made in the above-mentioned closed groups and never sent to Jill) which leaves the missing 4 comments.
We now know Irene’s and ausfreedom21s comments were fake, and we can’t find evidence of the remaining two so we will just assume those were also fabricated. Not surprisingly, the 4 messages we couldn’t find any evidence of were also the ones that were the most controversial. They were the ones that wished cancer on Jill, called her a traitor, a pedophile and called for her execution.
So what does this tell us? We don’t doubt Jill has received nasty comments sent directly to her. In fact, every politician who has ever served in parliament would at some stage receive angry emails or negative social media comments. Why aren’t they naming and shaming individuals? Is it because they have better things to do? We can only assume the only real “abuse” Jill received directly was so tame that it wouldn’t have made headlines so her staff exaggerated her story by making up lies to yet again undermine the credibility of those in the pro-choice movement. In the process, Jill and her team have defamed the good name of a medical doctor who supports vaccination.
It’s also important to ask, how did Jill even know about these comments made about her in secret and closed Facebook groups? Was she trolling about trying to gather evidence to further her vaccine agenda on the tax-payers’ dollar? Or did Peter, who had saved these screen shots months earlier, give her these comments and if so, for what purpose? Peter has demonstrated despicable behaviour and issued death threats against those who want choice in vaccination. He writes “Every time you utter your dangerous bullshit you make me more determined to see the end of you” This is the sort of person Jill associates with.
News.com.au, who along with the Herald Sun, is owned by Rupert Murdoch who has strong financial links to a pharmaceutical company that manufactures vaccines. He states that the Minister also received support from medical researcher and Australian Skeptics vice-president, Rachael Dunlop in this article. Dr Dunlop states “I’m frequently abused,” however the following screen shot shows the pot calling the kettle black. This is a comment she made on twitter to Meryl Dorey, former president of the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN); “I give up. You people are just too stupid and do not deserve science or medicine. Please go away and die. That is all”.
If Jill’s cries of abuse were really about online bullying, why didn’t she call upon everyone, including those in the pro-vax camp to be respectful? Her allegations of abuse would not have been confirmed to one minority group when there is ample evidence to show many have ill feeling towards her on other matters including but not limited to those who don’t support abortion. Here are some more screen shots of the side of the debate Jill and the media forgot to mention – the unrelenting abuse those who are pro-choice receive from Jill’s friend Hank, members of Stop the AVN and others Jill has frequently tagged in her tweets. You can also watch this video here of Tasha David, current AVN President and Meryl Dorey, AVN past President, reading out just a small sample of the death threats they have received.
6. As if by coincidence, following Peter attempts to prove the “tweets” were real, the Herald Sun promptly removed its original article, which was published on 20th October with the title “Jill Hennessey gets abusive tweets from anti-vaccine campaigners”. Whilst the title still appears in Google search, when you click on the link it leads to a new article with the headline “Social media applauds Vic Health Minister for taking on anti-vaxxers”. It is obvious the original article was amended not only because the old link led to the new article but because the new article had the original articles date. If you refer to the screen shot below, you’ll note the date at the top as the 20th, however further down you’ll see tweets from the 21st October. Was this an attempt to cover their tracks as they knew those in the pro-choice movement had started to question the existence of these tweets? It’s also interesting that the Herald Sun published the screen shots of people applauding Jill in this article but never attempted to show proof of any of the tweets Jill alleges to have received. Perhaps that is because there was no proof to show.
When a page edits its content, the effects on that page are immediate. However, Google needs to revisit that site to confirm that changes have been made in order to update its search history. This can take weeks or months, depending on the amount of activity on the link. This is why, even though the Herald Sun edited the content of the original article five days earlier, the old article title still appears. This is how it can be confirmed that none of the tweets were ever deleted, otherwise, they would show up on a Google search. You can view this video for further clarification.
The 10 comments we found thanks to Peter, which we have posted for you below, were made in relation to two major events that occurred this year involving Jill. The first is an irresponsible comment Jill made stating “There are no risks to vaccinating…” Imagine for a moment that your child died, or regressed into autism, stopped breathing, suffered brain swelling or seizures following vaccination and you heard Jill make such an absurd comment, one that’s even in conflict with the vaccine manufacturer. The slap in the face couldn’t be any bigger than that. Wouldn’t you be angry enough to scream profanities to people who understand you?
The second incident in which these heated comments were made, again, in a closed or secret group Facebook group and never directed at Jill, involved the censoring of the documentary Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe. The first screening in Australia was due to air at the Castlemaine Film Festival. Some people believe that Jill may have been responsible for leading a coordinated attack, which included threats of personal violence against the organisers if they did not pull the screening. This included the harassment and intimidation of board members via their Facebook pages and phone calls to their employers to advise that their employees were supporting an ‘irresponsible’ anti-vax movie. The screening was promptly pulled due to personal safety concerns.
Jill also intentionally misrepresented the film as an anti-vaccination movie however, it is far from that. The documentary uncovers the story of the CDC Whistleblower, Dr William Thompson who we mentioned earlier, and his involvement in a cover-up to hide a vaccine-autism link. In her media spin following the allegations of abuse, Jill stated that she was “…absolutely up for a full-and-frank debate” yet here she was, stopping people from finding out not just that the CDC committed scientific fraud, but also that vaccines can cause autism.
If Jill really was interested in protecting the health of children as she so passionately claims, why would she stop parents from finding out that there is a possible problem with the MMR vaccine?
Whilst the following may be a petty point to make, it shows just how callous Jill is as she attempts to ridicule Linda for her spelling mistake. In her video she says “Just a tip Linda, dumb is spelt with a b at the end”. If you observe the screen shot below, you’ll note however that Linda spelt dumb correctly three times and it was in fact Jill’s screen shot that was incorrect. You’ll also note from the yellow circle that the original comment by Linda was never edited either. Did Jill’s staff make the error or was it a deliberate way to make pro-choice people look stupid?
This now leaves us with a multitude of questions. Why did Jill cry foul about being relentlessly harassed by a group of people she had never met, nor had direct contact with? If even one of the tweets were real, why are there no screen shots and why can’t they be found? And if she lied about receiving abusive tweets, what else has she lied to us about?
The likelihood is, Jill was looking for a way to once again belittle pro-choice advocates to distract people from what is really going on. The fact is that vaccine science is questionable, not only because of the allegations made by the CDC Whistleblowers, but because of the ample published scientific evidence that proves vaccines can and do cause harm, including death.
Jill needed a quick story and she got one thanks to her friend Hank. He has trolls in every one of these groups who take screen shots so that he can harass, intimidate and blog about these individuals. This is then followed by complaints lodged with their employers and/or the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Authority (AHPRA), the Teachers Union or another such authority so he can get them sacked or silenced.
Jill, if you are genuinely sincere in your quest to protect children, we invite you to watch a free screening of Vaxxed. We invite you to read the ample scientific evidence that proves vaccines are not a one-size-fits-all preventative. And finally, we invite you to use your taxpayer salary more wisely.
Trolling Facebook groups for negative comments about yourself is not one of them.