I've reflected a bit more on this (& this). I've pinpointed the source of my frustration: the conflation of the "anti-vaccine movement" with a "growing crisis of public confidence,” a “growing wave of public resentment and fear,” an “epidemic of fear" etc. that have pushed us to the “tipping point” at which “herd immunity breaks down” – or indeed, over it “causing epidemics” in whooping cough & other diseases because of the “low vaccination rate.”
The second is a phantom. It also warrants being identified & analyzed. How do so many come to be so terrified of something that is genuinely terrifying but that doesn't truly exist? Psychological dynamics are involved, certainly, but I suspect manipulative forms of self-promotion -- ones that reflect a betrayal of craft -- are also at work.
Whatever its cause, though, the propagation of the assertion that there is a "growing crisis of public confidence" in vaccines -- a claim frequently bundled with the empirically unsupported proposition that science is "losing authority" in our society -- deserves being opposed too. Our science communication environment should not be polluted with misrepresentation. Fear should not dilute the currency of reason in public discussion. The Liberal Republic of Science shouldn't tolerate partisan resort to "anti-science" red-scare tactics (on left or right).
The moral force of these principles doesn't depend on proof of the bad consequences that disregarding them produces. But violating them does predictably generate very bad consequences, including the disablement of our capacity to recognize and be guided by the best available scientific evidence in our personal and collective decisions.
Ironically our society, which possess more science intelligence than any in history, lacks an organized science-communication intelligence. But many, in many sectors of society, recognize this deficit and are taking effective steps to remedy it.
Science journalists are, of course, playing the leading role in this effort. We have always relied on them to make what's known by science known to those whose quality of life science can enhance. They will necessarily play a key role if our society can succeed in replacing the blundering, unreflective manner in which it now handles transmission of scientific knowledge with a set of scientifically informed practices and institutions consciously geared to performing this critical task.
So it would be ungrateful and ignorant to be angry at "the media" for being the medium of the "anti-vaccine = anti-science public" phantom. If we turn to science journalists for help in counteracting the propagation of this pernicious trope, it's not a call to "clean house." It's just a request to the thoughtful and public-spirited members of that profession to do exactly what we are relying on them to do and what they have already been doing in modeling for the rest of us what contributing to the public good of maintaining a clean science communication environment looks like.
Your grateful admirer,