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The Smear Artist
Jason Zengerle's Heimlich article
by Peter M. Heimlich

Jason Zengerle is a senior editor at the New Republic. He graduated from Swarthmore College. He writes about politics, culture, and (when his editors indulge him) college basketball. His work has also appeared in The Atlantic, GQ, New York, the New York Times Magazine, and other publications; and it has been anthologized in several books, including The Best American Political Writing and The Best American Medical Writing. He lives with his wife, son, and daughter in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Bio from the website of the New Republic)

Peter Heimlich's campaign to challenge his father's eponymous "maneuver" for choking and "malariotherapy" for AIDS now includes a 2007 article by Jason Zengerle in The New Republic magazine. Among Peter Heimlich's complaints are TNR's use of outdated information and interviews, abuse of confidentiality, inaccuracies and a concealed conflict of interest in which he says Zengerle's physician wife had professional links to the elder Heimlich. After editor Franklin Foer rejected Peter Heimlich's complaint and questions, Cincinnati lawyer H. Louis Sirkin pressed the issue with TNR. A TNR lawyer summarily dismissed both queries. (Ben Kaufman, Cincinnati CityBeat, February 13, 2008)

If you're an editor, fact-check every sentence Jason Zengerle submits. If you're a source, don't trust the bastard - PMH


SUMMARY:
In Spring 2005 my wife Karen and I were approached by Jason Zengerle, a senior editor at the New Republic magazine. He said he had a freelance contract with the New Yorker magazine to write a 7000-word profile of my father. In an introductory e-mail, he wrote that he got interested in the subject after a friend of his doing HIV research in Africa told him about my father's "malariotherapy" experiments. After Zengerle assured me his article would only mention me in passing, we welcomed him into our home and allowed him to copy about a thousand pages from our files. During the next year, Zengerle regularly solicited me for information and documents. During that period he repeatedly assured us the article would only mention me in passing, as a leading critic of my father's work.

Shortly after he submitted his article in late 2005 to New Yorker editor Amy Davidson, the magazine rejected it after Radar magazine beat them to the punch with a scorching two-part expose by reporter Thomas Francis about my father's bizarre career and my efforts to call attention to his crackpot medical claims that put the public at risk. At the time, Zengerle told me that Davidson was extremely upset with him.

Two years later, I learned why.

In April 2007, the New Republic published his article entitled The Choke Artist: Who are the Mysterious Critics Hunting Henry Heimlich? Contrary to what Zengerle had repeatedly assured Karen and me, his story was a hit piece against me borrowing a theme first used two years before by Cincinnati Business Courier reporters Andrea Tortora and Dan Monk.

Because of my famous last name, I chose to use pseudonyms in order to obtain and circulate information. As I told Cincinnati Magazine a year later, Tortora and Monk knew all along who I was because I was the primary source for their story. Nevertheless, for a cheap headline, they lied to their readers
in their January 2005 article in which they pretended to "out" me.

Same goes for Zengerle. Trivializing my my father's history of fraud and my whistleblowing efforts, his article cast me as an oddball son with an unspecified grudge against my father, whom he portrayed as a befuddled but harmless, past-his-prime medical innovator.

Zengerle also used nonexistent documents as part of his attempt to discredit me. It wasn't the first time he pulled that stunt. He was caught using fabricated documents at least once before in an attempted smear of the late blogger Steve Gilliard. As a result, Zengerle got publicly-hoisted, including this item by Glenn Greenwald, Does The New Republic have a new Stephen Glass in Jason Zengerle? (As it happens, Zengerle was a fact-checker for Glass, TNR's infamous staff writer/fabulist.)

Zengerle refused to provide me with the dubious documents he used in his article to slam me - public records he claimed to have obtained via the Internet. So I had my attorney Louis Sirkin ask New Republic editor-in-chief Franklin Foer to provide copies. Foer, who says he edited Zengerle's article, refused. In an e-mail to Cincinnati blogger Jason Haap, Foer also falsely claimed that Zengerle's article was independently fact-checked and called it "a masterful piece of writing and reporting."

Why all the duplicity? Why did Zengerle lie to us, copy a considerable portion of my work, then slam me in print and gloss over my father's outrageous history of fraud, especially the Heimlich "malariotherapy" experiments on African AIDS patients? Zengerle was even given access to those medical records. Any decent reporter would have used that paperwork as the money shot to expose the experiments and undoubtedly grab a national headline. But Zengerle's article buried the information.

At the time, I couldn't understand why. It also made no sense why he chose to portray me as a loose cannon and an unreliable source, meanwhile using my work as the foundation for much of his reporting.

Then, shortly after his article appeared, in-house audio interview with Zengerle by managing editor Katherine Marsh was posted on TNR's website. He told her he got interested in the Heimlich story after his wife, an AIDS researcher, had told him about the Heimlich "malariotherapy" experiments in Africa. He told Marsh his wife heard about the experiments from "some colleagues."

That contradicted what Zengerle wrote me in a March 3, 2005 e-mail when he was maneuvering to gain access to our home and our files. In that e-mail he claimed he gotten onto the story because "a friend of mine doing HIV research in Africa told me about his malariotherapy ideas several years ago."

That made my antenna go up. Why would he lie about that?

So after hearing the audio interview, I wrote a cordial e-mail to Zengerle and asked for his wife's name. His reply?

"None of your business."

From property records I learned that his wife is Claire Farel MD, a Harvard-trained, NIH-affiliated AIDS/malaria researcher. To my untrained eye, her work seemed remarkably close to my father's "malariotherapy" interests. For example, she'd co-authored a journal article with leading HIV researchers at NIH whose work has been repeatedly cited by my father to support his claims that induced malaria will cure HIV. (She's now at the University of North Carolina in a program run by AIDS expert Charles van der Horst, for whom she worked as research assistant from 1995 until at least 1999.)

I wanted to know why Zengerle had been playing games with me and with TNR readers. He wouldn't answer my questions, so between December 2008 and July 2009, I sent Dr. Farel these four brief e-mails and copied her husband. Among other questions, I asked if she had any knowledge or connections to the Heimlich Institute's "malariotherapy" experiments:

 
s

I've never received any communications from her, but ten months after my last attempt, I received an unsolicited May 5, 2010 e-mail from Zengerle that included:

A little while ago, a reporter emailed Claire some malariotherapy/Heimlich questions. Since the reporter wasn't you - or one of your obvious cat's paws - she sent him a response. I thought I'd pass it along to you. She wrote:

"I heard about Henry Heimlich's malariotherapy work in the summer of 2000, when I was in between my first and second years of medical school. I spent that summer in Malawi, where I worked on predictors of outcomes in children with cerebral malaria. Since I was already in Malawi that summer, I was able to attend the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa. It was during that conference, in casual conversation with some of the other attendees, that I heard one of them mention Heimlich's malariotherapy work in the context of how crazy it was. (I'm sorry, but I can't recall who mentioned it; there were thousands of people at this conference.) Heimlich and his malariotherapy ideas were fairly old news among HIV docs, although they remained a source of morbid fascination, but I'd never heard about them before. In fact, I didn't even realize that the Dr. Heimlich who'd invented the famous maneuver was still alive - much less engaged in something as dubious as malariotherapy for HIV. When I got back from Africa, I mentioned to Jason these two strange facts, and that was how he got interested in the subject of Heimlich and malariotherapy."

In other words, Farel claims to have told her husband the information in year 2000. Four years later, when I'm making considerable headway in exposing the experiments -  resulting in a major news expose about UCLA professors who were investigated for their involvement - her husband suddenly decides to do an article on the subject, lies to my wife and me to gain access to our files (from which he copies a thousand pages), lies to us over the next few years saying I'll be mentioned in his article "only in passing," then makes me a primary focus of the article and portrays me as a kook. 

Zengerle's e-mail didn't mention if this unnamed reporter had submitted to Dr. Farel any of the questions I sent her - about whether she had any connection to the Heimlich Institute or to the "malariotherapy" experiments - or whether she provided the reporter with any related responses. He also didn't mention why his wife was unwilling to answer questions from me.

The next day, Zengerle sent me a follow-up e-mail in which he claimed he was no longer bound by the reporter/source confidentiality agreement he made with me when he was employed by the New Yorker. He also threatened to publish information I provided to him based on that agreement.

My brief May 7, 2010 reply - which I copied to editor Amy Davidson and to my attorney - suggested that before proceeding, Zengerle might wish discuss the matter with the legal department of Condé Nast Publications which, of course, publishes the New Yorker.

In days to come, I hope to obtain answers to the lingering questions about Zengerle's 'Heimlich article' and my father's "malariotherapy" experiments in Africa. If you have information to send me, please click here.

In the meantime, if you're an editor, fact-check every sentence Jason Zengerle submits. If you're a source, don't trust the bastard.


1) The New Yorker assigns - then spikes - Zengerle's Heimlich article
2) Stephen Glass's fact-checker
3) "None of my business" - Zengerle's AIDS researcher wife
4)
"Conjecture, leaps of logic, and assumptions of almost epic bad faith"
5) Zengerle's threat to violate reporter/source confidentiality
6) Conclusions
Addendum A: (More) Zengerle family values
Addendum B: Questions

 

1) The New Yorker assigns - then spikes - Zengerle's Heimlich article

In Spring 2005, my wife Karen and I were gaining traction in our efforts to bring the various Heimlich medical frauds to public attention via the media. A handful of articles had appeared, among them the widely-reported story of how UCLA immunologists had been involved in the notorious Heimlich Institute experiments in which Chinese AIDS patients were deliberately infected with malaria. That story started with a front page expose in the Cincinnati Enquirer and resulted in separate bylined stories in the New York Times, the Los Angles Times, Reuters, and elsewhere.

At that time we were approached by Jason Zengerle, a senior editor at The New Republic magazine. He wrote me that he'd heard about the Heimlich "malariotherapy" AIDS experiments in Africa from "a friend" of his doing HIV research there and that he'd landed a freelance contract with The New Yorker to write a 7000 feature about my father's career, focusing on the AIDS experiments. He assured us that he had no interest in writing about us, but wanted to fly in to visit us in order to look at our research.

We were nervous but excited that a quality magazine like The New Yorker was going to report about "malariotherapy" and my father's other dangerous quackery, so we agreed and invited him to our home from April 19-21, 2005. We spent three eight-hour days poring through our files and answering his questions. At the end of each day, the three of us drove to the local Office Depot and copied hundreds of pages. The last day, we agreed to do a taped half-hour interview with him based on his assurance that we'd only be mentioned in passing in the article as my father's "most persistent critics."

During those three days, Zengerle's behavior was confusing. One moment he'd express utter disdain for my father; minutes later he seemed to take the opposite position.

For example, he told us my father reminded him of Stephen Glass, The New Republic's infamous fabulist. Zengerle said he thought my father was a serial fabricator like Glass. (Incidentally, Zengerle told us he used to be Glass's fact-checker at the magazine, a claim he repeated in this article from the Swarthmore College Phoenix, New Republic Editor Decries State of Media. Zengerle and his wife are Swarthmore alumni.) Zengerle said he didn't believe my father invented the Heimlich maneuver and said he thought my father suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

But when discussing the specifics of my father's frauds, such as this March 16, 2003 Cincinnati Enquirer article, Heimlich Falsely Claims He Invented Surgical Procedure - Romanian Replaced Esophagus Years Before, Zengerle would come up with all sort of excuses for my father, claiming the reporter got something wrong, etc. This bothered us enough that the second day of Zengerle's visit, we sat down with him and expressed our concern that he seemed to be giving my father far too much benefit of the doubt. Karen and I both remember that moment because Zengerle's hands started to shake.

As the months went by, Zengerle flew around the country doing interviews and preparing his article on The New Yorker's dime, and regularly asking me for information. Interestingly, my father, who for years had refused to talk to any reporters doing serious stories, granted Zengerle considerable access and multiple interviews.

Zengerle handed in his Heimlich article to The New Yorker around October 2005. What happened next was dramatic. Zengerle told us that when his New Yorker editor (Amy Davidson) read the November 2005 two-part Radar Magazine article by Thomas Francis, she was extremely angry. Francis's Radar articles were tough and revealing, all about my father's history of medical fraud and our efforts to bring the information to public attention.

If the publication of the Radar articles was a surprise to Davidson, it wasn't to Zengerle. He knew all along that Francis was working on a parallel track. In fact, when Zengerle first approached us we asked him if it was a problem if we worked with Francis or any other reporters. (Likewise, we informed Francis that Zengerle was working on a New Yorker story because we didn't want to mislead either of them.) Zengerle was blase and said the New Yorker didn't care. In July 2005 I was present when Zengerle spoke to Francis on the phone. Zengerle even asked Francis to share information from one of Francis's interviews!

I don't know if Zengerle informed New Yorker editor Davidson that for the better part of a year he knew Francis's article was in the pipeline for another magazine. If he didn't, maybe that's why she blew a fuse when she saw the Radar stories. In any case, a short time later Zengerle wrote me that the New Yorker had rejected his article.

 

2) Stephen Glass's fact-checker

Zengerle told us he spent the next year unsuccessfully trying to place his article with other publications including The New York Times Sunday Magazine, the Atlantic, and others. On April 23, 2007, The New Republic (TNR) eventually published it - click here.

Reading it for the first time was a shock. Per the title, The Choke Artist: Who are the Mysterious Critics Hunting Henry Heimlich?, I discovered that he'd made me the focus of the article. As opposed to the fact-filled, quote-laden Radar expose, Zengerle had produced a rambling mess that trivialized my father's dangerous medical frauds and belittled me for trying to bring the issues to public attention. Short on facts and long on melodrama and unattributed quotes, not only was the article's entire premise false - that my father was being stalked by "mysterious critics" who, gasp, turned out to be his own son - Zengerle lifted it verbatim from a January 21, 2005 Cincinnati Business Courier article which floated the same overheated - and provably false - premise more than two years earlier.

For the backstory behind the Business Courier's article about me, see The Heimlich Maneuvers by Linda Vaccariello, Cincinnati Magazine, December 2005. Briefly, medical beat reporter Andrea Tortora worked with me for months, preparing an article about two Cincinnati hospitals who were mixed up with Heimlich-related frauds. At the 11th hour, publisher Doug Bolton - whose principal function appears to be a cheerleader for area corporate interests - decided to flip the article into a silly "unmasking" of me, presumably to protect the interests of the hospitals. Why else would a business newspaper run a front page "family feud" article? To their discredit, Tortora (who exposed me as a confidential source), her co-author Dan Monk, and editor Rob Daumayer went along with the charade.

Zengerle's article took that two-year old bushwa to the next level by publishing more information he knew to be false, created characterizations of both me and my father which he knew were absurd, and trumpeted bogus conclusions based on non-existent documents. Zengerle and his editor Franklin Foer have since refused to provide the documents to me or to my attorney, First Amendment expert H. Louis Sirkin.

Here's Sirkin's January 9, 2008 letter to Foer asking him to provide the documents which, according to Zengerle's article, were publicly available on the internet, and the January 14 reply from TNR's lawyer, refusing to provide the documents:

This isn't the first time Zengerle used non-existent documents to craft a hit piece. See Glenn Greenwald's "Does The New Republic Have a New Stephen Glass in Jason Zengerle?" and "Lessons Drawn from the Zengerle/TNR Debacle" which describe how he got caught using bogus e-mails in an attempt to smear the late Steve Gilliard and other liberal bloggers.

My only voice in the article came from that 30-minute interview Zengerle did with Karen and me on April 21, 2005 in our home. At the time and repeatedly thereafter, he assured us we'd only be mentioned in passing in his article. Instead he made me into the protagonist, portraying me as the "mysterious critics hunting Henry Heimlich."

Based on my experience, reasonable observers perceive me as a son who inadvertently uncovered an unprecedented and wide-ranging history of medical frauds centering around his famous father; that I was faced with challenging ethical decisions regarding the choice to expose the frauds; and that by doing so I might be exposing myself to considerable scrutiny and criticism.

As it turned out, the brunt of most criticism was fueled by Robert Kraft, my father's Cincinnati press agent, a former Cincinnati Post editor turned press agent. (Kraft has apparently left the PR industry and now works as a writer for an options trading tip sheet.) While my father hid from reporters, Kraft provided them with this dramatic storyline: my father was being harassed by a mysterious internet "stalker," intent on tearing down Dr. Heimlich's reputation.

That's the identical theme of Zengerle's TNR article. Incidentally, shortly before his three days with Karen and me, Zengerle said he'd just come from a meeting with Kraft in Cincinnati. (Incidentally, when he was at our home, Zengerle mocked Kraft, portraying him as a local Cincinnati press hustler who promoted car shows. But that's apparently water under the bridge, since Zengerle & Kraft are now Facebook friends.)

As for the Zengerle's "mystery stalker" theme, (which originated with Kraft), there's one problem. Zengerle knew it was false when he wrote it. When he visited Karen and me in 2005, we gave him a copy of this bizarre November 10, 2003 letter from my father in which he admitted he knew who the "mysterious critics" were:

The letter was also mentioned quoted in the January 21, 2005 Cincinnati Business Courier article:

Another letter (from Dr. Heimlich), postmarked November 10, 2003, reads: "Dear Pete, I want you to know I am aware you are the one writing letters and disseminating them and other material. Others you have mentioned are also aware of this. All my love, Dad."

Zengerle's New Republic article references the Business Courier article, so he can't claim he was unaware of the letter.

In other words, in 2007 Zengerle knowingly misled TNR readers with his "mystery stalker" theme, a theme that had been reported in depth in 2005 by the Business Courer and that Zengerle knew was bogus since I showed him the letter at my home. What's more, he'd in touch with Linda Vaccariello and read her December 2005 Cincinnati Magazine article that exposed the Business Courier's ridiculous "Peter Heimlich unmasked!" article. So why would he write an entire article based on old news and a theme that he knew to be a lie?

What about The New Republic? Why did they publish Zengerle's outdated nonsense in 2007? That responsibility falls to TNR editorial honcho Franklin Foer, who has stated he was Zengerle's supervising editor for the Heimlich article.

First, all these problems could have been avoided if Zengerle's TNR article had been independently fact-checked. That never happened. Apparently the total fact-checking of his article was this April 4, 2007 e-mail to me from Zengerle, two years after he visited our home and a few weeks before publication:

When I received this e-mail, considering that so much had happened with the Heimlich story since his half-hour interview with me and Karen two years earlier, I offered to provide Zengerle with fresh quotes. His reply? No, that wouldn't be necessary. Then he goes to print and portrays me as if I'm hiding in the shadows.

Like any writer, Zengerle is entitled to disagree with me and to characterize me as he chooses. But writing a critical article about someone while denying them the opportunity to speak or defend themselves is fundamentally dirty journalism. What reputable newsmagazine would accomodate that?

When these and other concerns were brought to Foer, here's how he responded in an October 2, 2007 e-mail:

The article was factchecked by a member of our editorial staff (writers are not permitted to factcheck their own work)...I was also aware that Jason's article had been rejected by several other publications--and was in fact grateful that it had been since I was excited for TNR to run it. It is a masterful piece of writing and reporting.

But I was a centerpiece of the article and Zengerle's April 4, 2007 e-mail was the only fact-checking communication I ever received. Others mentioned in the article have told me they were never contacted for fact-checking, so Foer was either lying, incompetent, or both. In any event, the situation raises at least two questions:

1) According to Foer, Zengerle violated TNR policy by fact-checking his own article - "writers are not permitted to factcheck their own work" - so shouldn't Zengerle be disciplined?

2) If I had been contacted for a legitimate fact-check, I could have fixed the numerous factual errors in the article. Better yet, I could have alerted the magazine that Zengerle was intentionally duping its readers. Here's one indisputable example:

(Dr.) Heimlich started off, in the mid-'50s, by introducing a surgery that made it possible for people with severe esophageal damage to swallow food. He called it the "Heimlich operation."

Zengerle was aware of this 2003 Cincinnati Enquirer front page article that exposed my father's false claims about the esophosgus operation, but ignored it. Why would he give undeserved credit to my father and mislead TNR readers about this straightfoward fact?

And why, after expressing such antipathy to my father, did Zengerle portray him in such an uncritical (and false) light, meanwhile going to great lengths to set up and then sucker-punch me? If he wanted to write a story that was critical of me and my response to my father's work, why not just write it? Why all the deception?

 
3) "None of my business" - Zengerle's AIDS researcher wife

After the TNR article appeared in April 2007, we realized that Zengerle had punk'd us, but we didn't know why. So I started digging. I started with old e-mails and immediately realized Zengerle had lied to us from day one in order to gain access to us and to our files. When he first contacted me, I asked how he got interested in writing a story about my father. Here's his answer from a March 3, 2005 e-mail (my underlining):

As for how the story of your father came to my attention, a friend of mine doing HIV research in Africa told me about his malariotherapy ideas several years ago and since then I've been following his story and waiting for the right moment to write about it.

But two years later, in the first few minutes of this April 27, 2007 in-house audio interview he gave to New Republic managing editor Katherine Marsh, Zengerle told the same story, but with a significant change:


Marsh: We're talking about Jason Zengerle's fantastic story called "The Choke Artist" about Henry Heimlich. Jason, one of the things I'm sort of interested in finding out is what attracted you to Heimlich's story and how you became interested in it in the first place?

Zengerle: Well, a few years ago my wife who at the time was in med school was doing some HIV work in Africa and she heard from some colleagues over there about Henry Heimlich and how he had this idea about malariotherapy which was treating HIV by intentionally infecting people with malaria and she came back to the states and told me about that and I just thought, first of all, I didn't even realize that there was such a person as Henry Heimlich.

So the "friend" was, in fact, Zengerle's wife? Why did he lie to us about that? I smelled a rat, so I wrote a polite note to Zengerle and asked for more information. Here's the Q&A:

PH: What's your wife's name? What she was doing in Africa, where was she working, when was she there, and who was her employer? Who were the "colleagues" who told her about the Heimlich Institute's African experiments?

JZ: None of your business.

I disagreed, so I started poking around. Zengerle lives in Jamaica Plain, near Boston, so I checked Suffolk County, Massachusetts property records. It turns out that he co-owns a condo with his wife. Her name is Claire Farel.

I then Googled her name and what do you know? Dr. Farel is an AIDS and malaria immunology researcher, affiliated with Harvard and the National Institutes of Health, who has authored articles in prominent medical journals.

                                                             photo source

Claire Farel MD

To my inexpert eye, Dr. Farel's expertise appeared to be related to aspects of my father's "malariotherapy" claims. For example, she was lead author on an AIDS research study in which three of her co-authors had written an earlier NIH AIDS research study, a study my father has repeatedly cited as key evidence to support his "malariotherapy" theories.

Dr. Farel is also a colleague of two of the most prominent critics of my father's AIDS experiments, Drs. Anthony Fauci and Paul Farmer. Dr. Fauci was interviewed by Brian Ross in the ABC 20/20 report about my father. Strong critical quotes from Dr. Farmer were included in this 2003 Lancet article about the China experiments.

From Infection Induction and Maintenance Therapy with Intermittent Interleukin-2 in HIV-1 by Claire E. Farel et al:

Acknowledgment: The participation of the patient volunteers, the numerous contributions of the Clinic 8 nursing staff, and the ongoing scientific guidance of Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Director NIAID, throughout the performance of these trials are acknowledged with gratitude.

Here's Dr. Farmer participating in Dr. Farel's graduation from a special medical residency program in Global Health at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital. From what I gather, she has a special interest in providing with quality health care to patients in underdeveloped countries.


From left, Paul Farmer, Claire Farel, Howard Hiatt, Amy Sievers and Jim Yong Kim at the second graduation ceremony for the Global Health Equity Residency.

Before then, from 1995-99 she worked as a research assistant to leading AIDS expert Charles van der Horst MD:

My point? Ten years before her husband published his TNR article, Zengerle's wife worked with one of the world's leading AIDS researchers and dealing with sophisticated medical and bioethics issues.

You might think that given such ready access via his wife to such top-flight experts, Zengerle would have interviewed them for his Heimlich article. If he did, there's no sign of it in his article. Zengerle's story does include a quote from Dr. Fauci, however he lifted it without attribution from Pamela Warrick's landmark 1994 Los Angles Times front-pager, "Heimlich's Audacious Maneuver."

On the other hand, I'm aware that Zengerle did interview at length a string of prominent medical experts who have been vocal public critics of my father, but left them out of his article. Why?

In 2003, after I helped expose the Heimlich experiments in China, the result was a media firestorm with separate bylined reports in the NY Times, the LA Times, CNN/Reuters, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and elsewhere. Therefore Zengerle knew that exposing the Heimlich "malariotherapy" experiments in Africa would have made international headlines, perhaps an even bigger explosion. Instead he buried the information in his TNR article:

"Now I will tell you about the malariatherapy, or immunotherapy as we now call it, in Africa." He began to read from one of the sheets. "The Heimlich Institute has been collecting CD4 and viral load data on patients who are HIV-positive and have become infected with malaria. This data will provide support for the concept of using malariatherapy for treating HIV infection." The study involved the questionable practice of initially withholding treatment for malaria, so Heimlich would not tell me where in Africa this new malariatherapy trial was being done. "You never know how the politicians will react in these countries," he explained. But, according to a public health physician who has worked on AIDS in East Africa and has knowledge of Heimlich's latest project, the study site is in Ethiopia. An official with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health told me that the ministry is unaware of any malariatherapy work being conducted in the country and that, if it is, it is being done without proper notification and permission.

Still reading from the papers, Heimlich boasted about the study's early results. Six of the first seven HIV patients treated with malariatherapy, he claimed, had experienced decreases in their viral loads. Now he was eagerly anticipating results from the 42 other patients in the study...

Zengerle was granted unprecedented access to my father and to the medical records from the clandestine Africa experiments. Zengerle knew the data in those records was obtained in violation of international laws that protect human research subjects. Any expert, including his wife, could have told him that.

Publishing the details - the names of participating medical professionals, the medical facilities that were involved, the funders - would have been a major media coup for Zengerle and The New Republic. Instead his article failed to include any identifying details, such as the "public health physician who has worked on AIDS in East Africa and has knowledge of Heimlich's latest project...in Ethiopia" from the above paragraph.

To my knowledge, Zengerle is the only reporter who has ever had access to the who/what/where/when details of the Africa experiments, yet none of those details are in his article. Why not?

 

4) "Conjecture, leaps of logic, and assumptions of almost epic bad faith"

What if anything did Dr. Farel know about the Heimlich experiments? Rather than jump to conclusions, I took to heart Zengerle's assessment of my work from his TNR article:

(Some) of the most damning accusations Peter has leveled...appear to be based on a combination of conjecture, leaps of logic, and assumptions of almost epic bad faith.

So first I wrote Zengerle, but he didn't answer, so I decided to try and get answers from the horse's mouth:

Date: Sat, 20 Dec 2008 12:12:04 -0500
From: "Peter M. Heimlich" <pmh@medfraud.info>
To: Claire Farel MD
Subject: research inquiry

Dear Dr. Farel,

I'm trying to get in touch with you regarding the Heimlich Institute's "malariotherapy" experiments. Please confirm receipt and I'll follow-up with my inquiry.

Thanks and looking forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Peter M. Heimlich
(Address redacted)
vm/FAX: (208)474-7283
e-mail: pmh@medfraud.info

http://medfraud.info

I didn't receive a reply to the above e-mail or to a January 2, 2009 follow-up. Six months later I sent this to her and copied her husband:

Date: Wed, 01 Jul 2009 08:01:55 -0400
From: "Peter M. Heimlich" <pmh@medfraud.info>
To: Claire Farel MD
CC: Jason Zengerle <jzengerle@tnr.com>

Dear Dr. Farel:

I attempted to contact you via a December 15, 2008 e-mail to your husband. I didn't receive a reply, so I sent you an e-mail & fax on December 20, 2008. I didn't receive a reply so I made a second attempt on January 2, 2009. I didn't receive a reply to that either.

I'm attempting to learn more about your knowledge of the Heimlich "malariotherapy" experiments in Africa, which your husband says you learned about from colleagues when you were doing HIV work in Africa. For publication, I'd appreciate your answers to the following questions.

1) Approximately when did your colleagues tell you about the experiments? Who were the colleagues and what did they tell you?

2) At the time, who was your employer and what sort of HIV work were you doing? Was your work publicly-funded?

3) Did you or anyone else you know report the Heimlich experiments to any oversight organization?

4) Have you ever communicated with any employees or representatives of the Heimlich Institute?

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to receiving your answers. I may have follow-ups.

Sincerely,
Peter Heimlich
(Address redacted)
ph/FAX: (208)474-7283

cc: Jason Zengerle

Again, no reply. Here's my fourth and final e-mail:

Date: Wed, 22 Jul 2009 10:10:55 -0400
From: "Peter M. Heimlich" <pmh@medfraud.info>
To: Claire Farel MD
CC: Jason Zengerle <jzengerle@tnr.com>

Dear Dr. Farel:

I have not received a reply to my July 1, 2009 e-mail to you that was courtesy-copied to your husband, Jason Zengerle. For publication, I would appreciate your answers to the following questions.

1) Have you ever had a financial relationship with any employees or representatives of the Heimlich Institute?

2) Were you in any way involved with the Heimlich Institute's "malariotherapy" research in Africa or elsewhere?

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to receiving your answers. I may have follow-ups.

Sincerely,

Peter Heimlich
(Address redacted)
ph/FAX: (208)474-7283

cc: Jason Zengerle

I've never received any communications from Dr. Farel, but ten months after my last attempt, I received an unsolicited May 5, 2010 e-mail from Zengerle that included:

A little while ago, a reporter emailed Claire some malariotherapy/Heimlich questions. Since the reporter wasn't you - or one of your obvious cat's paws - she sent him a response. I thought I'd pass it along to you. She wrote:

"I heard about Henry Heimlich's . malariotherapy. work in the summer of 2000, when I was in between my first and second years of medical school. I spent that summer in Malawi, where I worked on predictors of outcomes in children with cerebral malaria. Since I was already in Malawi that summer, I was able to attend the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa. It was during that conference, in casual conversation with some of the other attendees, that I heard one of them mention Heimlich's malariotherapy. work in the context of how crazy it was. (I. m sorry, but I can. t recall who mentioned it; there were thousands of people at this conference.) Heimlich and his malariotherapy ideas were fairly old news among HIV docs, although they remained a source of morbid fascination, but I'd never heard about them before. In fact, I didn. t even realize that the Dr. Heimlich who. d invented the famous maneuver was still alive - much less engaged in something as dubious as malariotherapy for HIV. When I got back from Africa, I mentioned to Jason these two strange facts, and that was how he got interested in the subject of Heimlich and malariotherapy."

Zengerle's e-mail didn't mention if the reporter had submitted to Dr. Farel any of the questions I sent her - about whether she had any connection to the Heimlich Institute or to the "malariotherapy" experiments - or whether she provided the reporter with any related response.

 

5) Zengerle's threat to violate reporter/source confidentiality

The next day, Zengerle sent me a follow-up e-mail in which he claimed he was no longer bound by the reporter/source confidentiality agreement he made with me when he was employed by the New Yorker. He also threatened to publish information I provided to him based on that agreement.

Here's what I wrote back:

 

6) Conclusions

As a whistleblower who uncovered a complicated 50-year history of fraud - centering around my famous father no less - I owe lifelong gratitude to the many journalists who helped bring out the truth, from the alt-newsweekly reporters who did much of the heavy lifting up to Brian Ross's ABC 20/20 news team. The experience taught me deep and abiding respect for the importance of a free press and the power of the news media.

Unfortunately, along the way I also had experiences with a few bad apples who misused that power. Zengerle was by far the rottenest. His threat to violate reporter/source confidentiality is only the most recent example.

Was Jason Zengerle's AIDS researcher wife involved with the Heimlich Institute's "malariotherapy" medical atrocity experiments in Africa? Was his Heimlich article a clumsy attempt to derail me from eventually getting to that information? All I know is that when I sent courteous, reasonable questions to Dr. Farel, she wouldn't answer.

As for Zengerle - who writes almost exclusively about politics - he claims he decided to write about this obscure medical subject precisely when I was making headway exposing the Heimlich atrocity experiments. He lied to my wife and me to gain access to our files, copied a thousand pages of our work, lied to us repeatedly over the next few years after the New Yorker spiked his article, then managed to get the New Republic to publish what turned out to be a hit piece about me, filled with information he knew to be false, and which - contrary to a lie told by his editor Franklin Foer - was not independently fact-checked.

In days to come, I expect to learn more. In the meantime, here's my advice: if you're an editor, fact-check every sentence Jason Zengerle submits. If you're a source, don't trust the bastard.



Addendum A: more Zengerle family values

        
          Joseph Zengerle, Esq.                          Lynda Zengerle, Esq.     

Jason Zengerle is not without his supporters. Here's a letter from his parents, both big shot lawyers in Washington DC (click their names for identification):

We just saw the 20/20 segment tonight on Dr. Heimlich, which tracks almost exactly the long piece called "The Choke Artist" in the April 23, 2007 issue of The New Republic by our son, Jason Zengerle. That story represents an extraordinary research and writing effort on his part, not to mention his original thinking in conceiving the story, and it looks like you cribbed it without so much as an attribution. Shame on 20/20 and ABC for not having more integrity about where you get your ideas, indeed the structure of the entire script.

         Joseph and Lynda Zengerle, June 2007

Presumably Ma & Pa Zengerle didn't know that their son cribbed the theme of his article, a theme he knew to be false, from the Cincinnati Business Courier, published two years prior. So much for original thinking, attribution, and integrity. As for their son's "extraordinary research and writing," The New Yorker and the string of other publications that rejected his article weren't impressed.

Nevertheless, such parental concern is touching. After all, how often do the parents of a national newsmagazine journalist publicly speak up to defend their child?

 

Addendum B: Questions

- Should Zengerle have disclosed to TNR readers that his wife was an AIDS immunology researcher who provided him with the information that led him to report about the Heimlich AIDS experiments? Wouldn't that have added some color to his article? Why did Zengerle lie to Karen and me, transforming his wife into his "friend" in order to gain access to my home and to my work?

- Why did Zengerle copy 1000+ pages of my research, then knowingly use fabricated information in an apparent attempt to undermine my credibility? Why did he lead us to believe I would be mentioned only in passing in his article, then make me a focus? Putting aside that deception, if he wanted me to be the focus, why would he only rely on a half-hour in the record interview he did with me over two years before his article was published? Why did he refuse my 11th hour offer to provide him with fresh quotes?

- Why did Franklin Foer falsely claim Zengerle's article had been independently fact-checked? Why did Foer claim that TNR writers were not allowed to fact check their own work, yet the only fact check contact I had was with Zengerle? Along with all the other problems with Zengerle's article that had been rejected by the New Yorker and a string of publications, why would TNR want to publish stale two-year-old information as if it were fresh?

- Since 2003, dozens of reporters have written serious, critical articles about my father. For years, he refused to speak to all but one: Jason Zengerle, who was granted full access and interviewed my father for hours during repeated trips to Cincinnati, presumably on his New Yorker expense account. Why did Zengerle get carte blanche while all other reporters were handled by Bob Kraft my father's former press agent and Zengerle's Facebook friend?

- How is it that Zengerle, who writes almost exclusively about politics, happened to choose to write an article about an obscure medical topic exactly when Karen and I were starting to make headway in the press to expose the Africa "malariotherapy" experiments which - if the details and participants were tagged - might result in a media blow-up similar to what happened in 2003 when UCLA researchers got nailed for participating in the Heimlich "malariotherapy" experiments in China? Zengerle conducted hours of interviews with my father, but didn't get around to asking him for the names of the doctors who ran the Africa experiments, which could have resulted in a similar monster story for him in The New Yorker? After reading Thomas Francis's hard-hitting, fact-laden Radar expose, did New Yorker editor Amy Davidson realize that Zengerle had punk'd her, too?

- How was it that Zengerle's 2007 TNR article failed to mention US congressional candidate Dr. Victoria Wells Wulsin, who worked on the Heimlich Africa project and was a key focus of Thomas Francis's 2005 Radar expose? Zengerle wrote me this June 7, 2005 e-mail saying he had left a message for her, but then he left her out of his article. Why would Zengerle - a political writer - avoid such a newsworthy hook? (Since then, Dr. Wulsin has been dogged by her affiliation with the experiments, which became a central issue in the 2008 Ohio 2nd congressional race, probably the first time abusive human subjects research was used in a political campaign. Click here for more information, including video ads produced by her political opponents regarding Dr. Wulsin's involvement with the Heimlich Institute.)


 

 

 

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