Backlash at supermarkets’ magazine move
The publisher of an alternative medicines magazines pulled from supermarket shelves yesterday believes the decision was "misplaced and reactionary", while outraged readers have claimed it was an act of "censorship".
Sales of the April-May 2020 edition of What Doctors Don't Tell You have halted in Coles and Woolworths stores after a push from Sydney 2GB radio host Ben Fordham on Tuesday, who said it was a "dangerous magazine filled with dodgy medical advice".
The front cover of the current edition, raised by Fordham, hints at articles on healing spines without surgery, healing diabetes and "healing your heart after a heart attack".
"Protect yourself from Wi-Fi and 5G, a step-by-step guide to staying safe," another headline states.
Both supermarket chains responded that afternoon and said they would be removing the magazine from sale.
Fordham described it as a "win" for his radio show on his Facebook page overnight.
THE PUBLISHER RESPONDS
Nuclear Media chief executive Michael Downs said the publisher did not blame Coles and Woolworths "for not wanting to court controversy in this age of social media when there can be lasting and damaging effects".
"We obviously think the decision is misplaced and reactionary, but this is the world we live in," he told news.com.au on Wednesday.
"Our problem is not with the supermarkets, it's with Ben Fordham and 2GB.
"How pathetic that ruining livelihoods, censoring well-researched information and shutting down freedom of speech is considered 'having a win' by this immature individual."
He said the "5G article in question" was thoroughly researched and "very sensible".
Mr Downs pointed news.com.au to the magazine page featuring the editorial panel - including doctors from the US and UK - described as "leading pioneers in nutritional, environmental and alternative medicine".
Asked if he would be approaching the supermarkets to reconsider or for any further comment, Mr Downs said "I think this ship has sailed".
The bimonthly magazine launched in Australia and New Zealand in August 2019.
It began as a newsletter in 1989, published by UK-based author Lynne McTaggart and her husband Bryan Hubbard who recently held a series of COVID-19 webinars.
The edition that came under fire was the fifth to be released Down Under.
"We wanted to help Australians and Kiwis make better health choices," Mr Downs said.
"Plain and simple. No conspiracy! We'll continue to do this."
Mr Downs said the feedback from readers had been "overwhelmingly supportive" and they could still source the magazine through newsagents or via online subscriptions.
On the WDDTY - Australia/NZ Facebook page, one man described the decision as "censorship".
"I'm always happy to consider another view," he said.
Another man said the public should be free to make up their own mind and likened it to actions in the 1930s.
"Deleting books and magazines and ideas is similar to the action of burning the books deemed wrong and/or misleading by the Nazis," he said.
The administrator of the page, responding to customer feedback, labelled the external complaints "nonsense".
"Herd mentality at its worst. Quite pathetic," it states.
Other pages were flooded overnight with comments from readers responding to the call by the supermarkets.
On Australians for Safe Technology, which has over 46,000 members, one man said "no body or organisation can stop an inquiring mind".
"Now you have a population saying 'wow, what were we missing there?'" he wrote.
"Surely we as adults can consult with the materials we choose to."
In the NO WI-FI IN SCHOOLS public group, one woman said she was not surprised the supermarket chains "have pulled this stunt".
The Becoming Educated and Informed group, liked by more than 13,000 people, said in a post overnight the call was "absolute tommyrot".
"Controlling the narrative … yet they happily sell magazines full of lies and half truths, and supporting hollyweird," it read.
Others took to Fordham's page to tell him the move "goes against Freedom of Speech".
"I'm a bit sick of those who believe they know exactly what's best for us dictating the play," one man said.
"I'm a grown up and entitled to consider all positions thank you and I don't need you to sort it out for me. Freakin nanny state."
HOW DID IT ALL START?
UNSW School of Medical Sciences cancer biologist Associate Professor Dr Darren Saunders said he found the $7.95 publication "lurking" on the shelves at Woolworths on Monday night.
"The reason doctors don't tell you this is because IT'S DANGEROUS BULLS**T," he wrote on Twitter.
"It gets worse. A quick scan of their website shows it full of anti-vaccine rubbish, fluoride conspiracy etc etc."
That was quick! I found this lurking at the supermarket last night and by this afternoon both major chains had agreed to take it off their shelves. https://t.co/KMuWfCvGtZ— Dr Darren Saunders (@whereisdaz) April 28, 2020
Victoria's Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton was asked in the comments whether he thought it was a good idea for Woolworths to sell the publication.
"No," Prof Sutton replied.
Dr Saunders pushed for their removal from Coles and Woolworths stores when he appeared on 2GB yesterday.
"These kinds of magazines, there's a trick to them," he said.
"There's little bits of science, science-y sounding words, and they use that as a hook to draw you into all of the conspiracy stuff and dangerous advice."
A Woolworths spokeswoman told news.com.au the supermarket chain appreciated its customers' concerns.
"We've informed the supplier we'll be removing the magazine from sale," she told news.com.au.
"As always, we would encourage our customers to seek and follow expert medical advice."
In a statement to news.com.au, Coles said the WDDTY magazine had been ranged as part of a two-week trial.
"Coles does not endorse the content of the magazine and it is now being removed from sale and will not be part of our range going forward," a spokesman said.
"Coles encourages all Australians to follow the advice of government health authorities on all health matters including COVID-19."
Originally published as Backlash at supermarkets' magazine move