Jenny McCarthy Signs Deal to Endanger Children via Chicago Newspaper

***Update***: The Sun-Times would like me to clarify that this is not a “parenting” blog; it’s a “lifestyle” blog. I fail to see how that matters. I’ve asked them for clarification.

The Chicago Sun-Times just hired anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy to write a column on a subject she has no business writing about: Being a good parent:

Jenny McCarthy (image via Splash)

And now, as she nears her 40th birthday on Nov. 1, she’s going from being the news to making the news: McCarthy has signed on to be a six-times-a-week Splash columnist, a new platform that she hopes to make the anchor of a multimedia career based in Chicago. Starting immediately, McCarthy will debut a cheeky weekly advice column called “Ask Jenny” inside the Splash print edition, as well as a Monday-through-Friday blog on the Splash website… about her life as a single mom.

Jenny McCarthy’s offering advice?! To parents?!

For those who don’t know, McCarthy believes (with no scientific evidence to back her up) that her son’s autism was caused by childhood vaccines he received. She has done this based on faulty information and has never apologized for it. For years, she has been pushing a harmful message that other parents should stop vaccinating their children because, you know, I HAVE A POWERFUL ANECDOTE!

As a celebrity, she should know better than to spread misinformation about a subject that people ought to be taking seriously. People die without vaccinations — other children are put at risk when your children don’t receive their shots — and there has been no credible link between vaccines and autism.

The Sun-Times are just desperate for attention.

(via Time Out Chicago)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Gus Snarp

    You can comment on the Splash site from the first link in Hemant’s post. There aren’t a lot of comments yet, so it’s a good time to let them know how irresponsible this decision is and that McCarthy comes with a body count.

  • Andre

    “As a celebrity, she should obviously can’t be expected to know better than to spread misinformation about a subject that people ought to be taking seriously.”

    Fixed. I can’t say that we should expect any celebrity to be responsible about the positions they advocate… or else prepare for massive disappointment.

  • Darrell Ross

    An amusing site related to this:

  • Holytape

    The distinction between media and satire is getting more and more blurred.  The Daily Show and the Onion are now as real as most cable news shows and newspapers are fake.   Poe is dead, long live poe. 

    Fear and Loathing

  • TheExpatriate700

    So just because she holds an admittedly stupid position, she shouldn’t be able to speak or express an opinion?

  • Richard Tingley

    Having an opinion is not the problem. Dishing out potentially fatal medical advice is.

  • Gus Snarp

    She has every right to speak and express an opinion. That does not mean she has to be given a specific outlet. Newspapers and their online outlets are free to chose to whom they will give a platform. They ought to weigh their social responsibility and their reputation and the honesty, or lack thereof, of the person in question when making that decision. We also have the right to complain about their decision and encourage them to change it. That’s how free speech actually works, not by saying everyone should be able to say whatever they want and everybody should be forced to publish it and we should all shut up about it.

  • Don Gwinn

    My first question:

    Dear Ask Jenny:
    Chelation therapy! Terrible idea or lethal parental incompetence?  Please be as cheeky as possible in your answer.  Thanks!
    Your Friend,
    Sympatico in Springfield.

  • Holytape

    No, people of authority shouldn’t give her a platform to speak.  She can speak an opinion she wants to, as loudly as she wants to, but the newspaper should give her a megaphone.  

  • Holytape

    Second Question,’

    Dear Ask Jenny,

    Andrew Wakefield has been shown to be a complete fraud, who also ignored all medical ethics when it came to testing the kids.  His data was faked.  His paper retracted.  And there no evidence to link vaccines with autism.  Actually, there is no question.  I just wanted to remind you of reality.

    Crap, since this is an advice column I might as well ask a question.   My child seems to be more of a periwinkle child.  Is there anyway to change the color settings on my child so that he can become a indigo child with kickass supernatural powers, because I can’t seem to find the damn RGB adjustment menu on my kid. 


    (P.S.  Why don’t you recongize me anymore?)

  • Martin Anderson

    Was the alternative diagnosis of Landau-Kleffner syndome ever confirmed? A Multiple SubPial Transaction can have dramatic effects in these cases.

  • Simon Cooper

    I disagree with your assessment that “as a parent, she should know better”. If there’s one thing life has taught me, it’s that the barrier to entry for parentdom is about as low as humanly possible. Being a parent gives you exactly sweet FA arcane knowledge. The admonition “as a parent, I think…” is completely meaningless and about as useful as “as a celebrity, I think…”.

    Ironically, McCarthy embodies both of those. It’s a shame people will listen to her for both those reasons.

  • C Peterson

    Celebrities are as capable of being ill-informed, or outright idiots, as anybody else. If their celebrity allows them the opportunity to speak out about what they believe in, we can hardly blame them for taking that opportunity (although we can continue to challenge those beliefs).

    Jenny McCarthy isn’t the problem here. The problem is the Sun-Times, and any other forum that chooses to offer itself up to those presenting bogus ideas.

  • AJ Chalom

    There is MUCH more to parenting than decisions about vaccinations (which I don’t agree with her about ) *got my flu shot two days ago*.  But until you are a parent of a sick kid looking for answers.  There is a time to withhold comment.  You missed that opportunity here.

  • Kenny

    I just don’t understand. People actually listen to her, but I can’t seem to find a single reason for that. Let’s see, what is she famous for? Appearing in Playboy? No, couldn’t be that. Winning Playmate of the Year? No. Mediocre actress in short-lived tv show? No. Dating Jim Carrey? No. So, the only thing that qualifies her is that she has an autistic child. By this logic, every cancer patient should be able to tell you what caused their specific cancer and the way to cure it. The same should apply to all diseases and handicaps. Right? You’ve experienced it personally, so now you must be an expert.

    I still say we should take all the antivaxxers and quarantine them. Then as their rates of autism remain about the same, and their rates of preventable diseases rise, we will see if they are truly immune to proof

  • Atoswald

    My two cents:

    Jenny McCarthy began her career as a model, being seen not heard, and when it comes to good parenting advice, that is how she should stay. I have compassion for her desire to help her son, but I do not support her decision to ignore the facts. She has the right to believe and say whatever she likes, even to the detriment of her own child’s health, but it is irresponsible for the Chicago Sun Times to give this woman a platform for spreading her fear induced vitriol. I suggest and hope that this publication will follow her erroneous advice with sound medical and scientific information, or better yet, ditch the anti-vaccination campaigner and hire a person who can offer real facts and sound parenting advice.

  • BrianE

     They’re already moderating comments over there and removing anything even remotely critical of her. How pathetic.

  • Raymond

    I suspect that whomever hired her for this writing gig did so in the hopes that Jenny would sleep with him/her.

  • Live from Hee Haw Hell

    Very interesting . . . a few minutes ago there were a couple of comments on Splash announcement of Ms. McCarthy’s new comment – both were critical and now they are gone.  I wonder if someone is a little sensitive to criticism.

  • Live from Hee Haw Hell

    *Ms. McCarthy’s new column*  sorry about that!

  • The Vicar

    Meh. Ever since Murdoch bought it — and yes, I know he got rid of it again — the Sun-Times has been a worthless paper targeted at people who can’t think.

    It’s sad; Chicago has two daily papers: there’s the Sun-Times targeted at the stupid, and the Tribune targeted at the right wing. It’s terribly inefficient to have one market oversaturated like that and everybody else having no daily paper at all…

  • Annie

     I think part of your comment is missing, but from what I could piece together, I would disagree.

    The parent of a sick child is the last place one should go to get reliable, unbiased, scientifically proven advice.  I say this as once being the parent of a very sick child.  When you are consumed with worry for your child’s health and well-being, you can go a little crazy.  When the medical consensus does not offer you much hope, and you hunger for just a shred of information that will be on your child’s side, you start to look to less reliable, but more comforting sources.  

    Perhaps she is going to use this platform to offer advice on how to help a child with autism cope with day-to-day issues, which would be wonderful.  However, due to her track record, I think it is safe to say that she will use her new soapbox to spew information that could put many lives in danger.

  • Mekathleen

     At least there’s The Reader. They’ve done some very good local reporting. I think they’re the only ones who actually attempt to explain our TIF boondoggles and how they take money away from the schools and the rest of our tax base.

  • Gus Snarp

    Yes, last time I saw it there were eight comments, all negative. Now there are zero.

  • rlrose63

    The reason that people listen to her, especially her direct audience, is that they are desperate for any “cure” for their child’s autism, and barring a cure, they’ll settle for a reason or cause for it, regardless if it is scientifically justified or not.  She is offering hope, which the medical profession isn’t known for caring about.  It is false hope, scientifically, but desperate times call for desperate beliefs… any Christian knows that.

    I like your quarantine idea… too bad the country as a whole frowns on putting certain demographics into relocation camps.

  • rlrose63

    Jenny McCarthy basically has a captive audience of desperate parents who desperately look for a cure or a cause of their child’s autism.  It is the rare parent who just accepts it and moves on (one of the reasons I grudgingly admire one of the Housewives of NY… her son is autistic and she has stated he did not get it from vaccines).  She offers a false hope but in their frazzled existence, that is better than no hope. 

    I just haven’t been able to figure out if she is a charlatan who knows she’s wrong and is doing all of this for the notoriety and money or if she truly believes the nonsense she espouses.

  • Gus Snarp

    I find your argument flawed. When it comes to medical advice, people should certainly turn to their doctors rather than to celebretainers, but there’s no set of expert qualifications to be an advice columnist, let alone to be listened to on a broad set of issues. By your standards Hemant should only be writing a math blog. PZ Myers should stick to biology. Phil Plait shouldn’t venture beyond astronomy. While expert credentials matter when deciding whether to listen to one individual or another on a specific matter of expertise, it’s not everything. If we only accept people with expert credentials opinions, then we fall victim to the argument from authority.

    What matters in terms of whether she should be listened to are her writing skills, her ability to construct a logical, coherent, and yet entertaining argument, and the knowledge she brings to bear on any particular issue, which may come from being an expert or from doing good quality research on that particular issue at that particular moment. By those standards it is clear that she shouldn’t be listened to by anyone on any topic, let along a major newspaper publisher. But it is because of her history of making bad arguments based on faulty research and rank dishonesty, not because of her professional resume.

  • Gus Snarp

    Funny how that happens. Of course, I expect that from vaccine deniers and creationists, not from the website of a major newspaper publisher.

  • Gus Snarp

    I was just commenting on the fact that they’re deleting negative comments and thinking of how that behavior is like an anti vaccine site, not a newspaper, when I remembered this:

    It seems the Sun Times has a history with Jenny McCarthy and anti-vaccination nonsense. I’m wondering who’s making these decisions, and why….

  • Gus Snarp

    It’s been a long time since she was the parent of a sick child, according to her. She has spent years now making the same discredited, dishonest arguments about vaccines, putting real lives in danger. How many parents have sick kids because of Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vaccine activism? How many kids are put in danger because they think that a harmful, useless treatment might help their kids’ autism because of ideas the Jenny McCarthy has used her celebrity to advance? Jenny’s friends in the anti-vaccine movement have said absolutely awful things about the parents of an infant girl who died of whooping cough, calling them liars and worse, while they were still morning the death of a little girl too young to be vaccinated and living in an area with a large number of anti-vaccine parents whose kids were exposed.

    If she had lashed out about vaccines once or twice early on, that would be forgivable. Instead she has been on a tireless crusade to convince people not to vaccinate their children and to use dangerous and ineffective quack treatments for autism. The misinformation she spreads has been clearly and demonstrably disproved and yet she continues to spread it. 

    Children’s lives are at risk. The time to withhold comment is long over. 

  • Annie

    “Now he has a girlfriend and he’s bringing her roses and stealing my
    jewelry and bringing it to her. I would say he’s on the right path.”

    And she’ll be giving parenting advice.  I just looked it up and her son is 10.  That’s a bit too young to have a girlfriend, and a bit too old to be stealing from your parent. 

  • Baal

     The problem is that in areas where the anti-vaxer message has taken hold, kids die from measels or other preventable diseases.   Now is not the time to withhold criticism of this parent who is looking for answers about her sick child.  Her answers kills others kids.

  • Deanna

    Are you kidding me?  McCarthy is supposedly offering “parenting advice” and the first question she answers at Splash, is ”
    How can I feel more confident when I’m naked? “.  

    Really, Splash? 

  • Alt3

    The Sun-Times would also like to congratulate Kent Having on his new finance column available on page C8.

  • treedweller

    “As a celebrity, she should know better than to spread misinformation about a subject that people ought to be taking seriously”. Do celebrities get special training in propaganda and its related issues?

    As a person, she should know better. As a celebrity, her idiocy is exposed to a wider audience.

  • Annie

     I think this must be meant to be viewed as comedy.  It’s the only rational way I can come to terms with the absurdity of it all.  Her advice to this question was insane.  Lose weight. Spray tan.  Put electric candles on a timer.  Time machine.  In the end, however, she does say to come to accept that you are beautiful as you are… but offers no practical ways to do that.  And shoot, she just told the letter writer that she’s old, overweight and pasty.  I doubt Alexandra made it to the final sentence.

  • Don Gwinn

    Yes, there’s much more to it.  There’s also much more to McCarthy’s persistent refusal to face reality (and her persistent insistence that everyone else follow her away from reality) than just the vaccination issue.  There’s also her assertion that spoiled kids are actually “Indigo Children” who have Very Special Auras.  Her decision to subject her son to the danger and suffering of chelation therapy without any evidence that it even *might* do anything useful for the poor kid.  That’s a start.

    She has a long history of advising people to do stupid and dangerous things for no good reason.

    By the way, the answers you say she’s looking for are not that hard to find.  They just aren’t as warm and comforting as the lies people like Andrew Wakefield are selling, and Jenny McCarthy has chosen for her own reasons to reject the truth she didn’t like in favor of the comforting lies.  Being a parent in search of answers may explain that, but it doesn’t excuse it.  I nearly watched my newborn son die, and you can bet I wanted answers to some questions.  But I didn’t want useless answers, and untrue answers would have been useless.

  • Gus Snarp

    There’s definitely something troubling about the fact that the thing that should have been mentioned first and repeatedly is a toss off in the closing paragraph. But maybe she’s just a bad writer.

  • Don Gwinn

    By my standards, if Hemant Mehta had spent the last ten years demonstrating that he didn’t understand reality, and had been especially dense about making ridiculous claims about atheism, even somehow getting people killed with those claims, then the Patheos atheist portal shouldn’t pay him to blog about atheism.  Being a math teacher would have nothing to do with my standards, but if he wants to blog about atheism he should know something about it or pay his own freight.

    I think it’s fine for Jenny McCarthy to have a parenting advice blog, but she should have to pay her own way.  I’m not calling for her to be censored, just expressing my opinion of the wrong the Sun-Times is doing.

    But, hey, if Debi Pearl can make a living selling how-to books for the best ways of beating babies with rods, why pretend to be surprised anymore?

  • Gus Snarp

    I don’t disagree with you. She has a record and can be judged on it. But the record shows that she’s dangerously dishonest and incapable of doing good research, the very things I think she ought to be judged on. The record is evidence, and good evidence. My point was solely that judging her for the jobs she’s held is essentially an appeal to authority in reverse.

  • Baal

     The easy answer is to spend more time naked.  You may also want to go outside your house or apartment after dark with all your lights on.  This will let you know about sight lines and maybe a need to beef up your blinds.

  • wmdkitty

    Oh, but she’s a MOMMY, and you know MOMMIES have that MOMMY INSTINCT. Doctors don’t know shit…

    (Yeah, I gagged while writing that.)

  • wmdkitty

    Yeah, but we lock people up all the time to keep others safe. Locking up the anti-vaxxers (and their little disease-vectors) would be done for their (and our) safety.

  • julie

    I saw the Oprah episode with her on and she just kept repeating that over and over. “That MOMMY INSTINCT just kicked in!” The focus was all on herself and her own intuition, as if it’s really hard to make an emotional guess on something and not be able to prove it right.

  • wmdkitty

    That’s not to say that instinct doesn’t have a place. You know, sometimes your subconscious mind twigs to something your conscious mind missed, and it will nag at you until it “clicks”. (It’s happened to me many times, thinking something just wasn’t right, and finding out that something really was off/wrong.)

    But the whole, “I’m a MOMMY, that makes me an expert on EVERYTHING” attitude? Has got. To go. Along with photographic evidence of bodily emissions from anyone, of any age, for ANY reason.

  • Alfredmcguffin

    Because we should all listen to celebrity know-it-alls for our medical and social advice.  We need a vaccine against stupid blondes that think they’re funny because they make faces.

  • Noelle

    On the contrary, his behavior sounds like something that a kiddo on the spectrum would do.

  • Annie

     Hmmm.  I thought Jenny McCarthy claims he has been cured.