Why should anyone care about Jenny McCarthy joining ABC’s “The View”? The comedic actress replaces Elisabeth Hasselbeck on the morning discussion roundtable, joining Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar and Sherri Shepherd. It’s a powerful platform to reach millions of women who are fans of the show.
And that’s a problem. McCarthy has given cover to those who blame childhood vaccines for causing autism.
McCarthy’s own son was diagnosed with autism as a toddler. According to McCarthy, he was undiagnosed after she radically changed his diet, removing sugar and wheat and giving him vitamins. He has attention deficit disorder, but that’s it. But she was so grateful to Generation Rescue, an organization that gives hope to parents of children with autism, and stayed involved. She’s now president of the group.
McCarthy is careful to say she is not anti-vaccine on the Generation Rescue website. But she also introduces parents who blame vaccines for causing autism. She doesn’t dispute them. It’s disingenuous at best: She gets to disavow the vaccine connection, while lending her name to a group that promotes it.
The accusation has been debunked by science. Seth Mnookin, co-director of MIT’s Graduate Program in Science Writing, recently wrote “The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy,” and has reprinted the chapter on Jenny McCarthy’s crusade on his blog. It’s worth reading to get the full sense of her crackpot views of medicine, and the power she wields over parents desperate for answers.
The danger in abstaining from vaccines cannot be overstated. This is how we virtually eradicated epidemics such as smallpox and polio. And refusing a vaccination isn’t just a choice for your kid. It’s a dangerous choice for everyone else.
McCarthy has a right to take her place on “The View” roundtable. But if she’s going to appear on a network program that discusses the issues of the day, her co-hosts and viewers should hold her accountable for her slick evasions on an issue that can mean life or death to millions of children.