Actor Robert De Niro has promised $100k to journalists willing to publicise criticism of a controversial children’s vaccine.
The veteran star has been a vocal critic of the use of thimerosal, a substance containing mercury, in the generalised MMR vaccine, which protects children against measles, mumps and rubella.
He believes his autistic son “changed overnight” after being administered the vaccine, and links thimerosal to the development of the condition.
Sitting on a panel of speakers led by journalist and activist Bobby Kennedy Jr, De Niro urged journalists to “start talking about this issue honestly”.
He is offering $100,000 (£80,000) to the cause, and said it would be a positive step if Donald Trump would stand behind the cause.
“Trump I don’t care about, if he does the right thing he does the right thing, I don’t have to be connected to him,” the actor said.
De Niro has been criticised for getting involved in the campaign, after the study against thimerosal was discredited by the Minnesota Department of Health.
But the actor has said he is not “anti-vaccine” – he just wants a safer way to prevent diseases.
“That word ‘anti-vax’ is a dirty word used to shut down debate,” he said.
“Journalists need to stop doing that and they need people to stop talking about it.”
Last year, De Niro pulled a controversial film out of the Tribeca Film Festival after it came under fire by critics.
Vaxxed: From Cover-up To Catastrophe was meant to premiere at the festival.
The actor later said he regretted axing the film.
“All I wanted is for the movie to be seen and people can make up their own judgement,” he said. “Let’s find out the truth, let’s just find out the truth.”