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Open Letter to WPFW: Gary Null’s Hazardous Broadcast

Lee Phillips
April 18, 2008

Bobby Hill
Program Director

Ron Pinchback
General Manager

Dear Sirs:*

I frequently tune to WPFW in search of the real jazz, as that’s the only place on the dial in the DC area where it can be found, and I am grateful for it. On several recent occasions, however, I accidentally came across a program by Gary Null in which he broadcasts medical advice.

Most recently, I listened for a half hour, during which he did little but complain about his show having been cut to two days per week by the station. I don’t know how long this rant went on, but in my opinion WPFW has taken a step in the right direction.

In fact, I think that allowing this program to continue to be broadcast at all is a disservice to your listeners and puts the station at risk. Just the week before I caught Null’s interminable complaint about his schedule reduction, I heard him casually recommend ingesting 15,000 mg of vitamin C per day.

This is an extremely high dosage of this substance, far beyond any established safe dose. A summary of research provided by the Mayo Clinic, for example, notes Upper limit of intake (UL) : Should not exceed 2000 mg/day and warns that High doses of vitamin C have been associated with multiple adverse effects, particularly at doses greater than 2000 mg/day.

An article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, reviewing the dosing safety of vitamins C and E, concludes that As safety guidance, tolerable upper intake levels have been established by the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, at […] 2000 mg for vitamin C in adults.

So Mr. Null’s advice is clearly irresponsible and puts any listeners who take him seriously potentially at risk of serious health consequences.

I realize he refers to himself as Doctor Null, and likes to decorate his name with a Ph.D., but his degree turns out to be as bogus as the M.S. that he sometimes puts after his name on publications.

I understand that Gary Null raises a great deal of money for WPFW and Pacifica, and that his broadcast is a kind of infomercial that he uses to steer listeners to his commercial website and vast array of products for sale. But I can’t believe that anyone who cares about the wellbeing of WPFW’s listeners and the reputation of the station would think that this is a good deal, after being informed of the dangerous and irresponsible content of what Mr. Null disseminates.

The vitamin C advice is not the worst of it. You need merely to look at Gary Null’s website to see that he is actively engaged in promoting the dangerous idea that AIDS is not caused by a sexually transmitted virus but by such things as malnutrition. This borders on the insane. Don’t you worry that your listeners might trust you and, by extension, trust the voices they hear on your radio station? That some of these listeners might, after hearing what this man has to say about AIDS, think that they need not practice safe sex as long as they eat well? Would you feel any responsibility if some of these listeners contracted AIDS because they believed Gary Null?

I appreciate that WPFW is committed to free speech and a diversity of viewpoints. But you also decide who gets on the air and who does not. I’m sure you would not give a regular, extended platform to someone who advocates violence, oppression, or wars of conquest. And maybe you are under the impression that Mr. Null has some sort of medical or nutritional qualifications (he does not), and that he provides only benign advice about exercise and eating vegetables. It might be that you didn’t know that Mr. Null’s advice is likely to lead to health problems, lack of competent treatment of disease, and the spread of AIDS, if it is followed. I would merely like to suggest that you look into these things yourselves and decide whether continuing to allow Gary Null to use WPFW to advertise his business is respectful of your listeners, or is morally defensible.


Dr. Lee Phillips

*This is the original text of the letter sent to WPFW with one additional reference added later.

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