Update: Chicago Sun-Times Tells Me That Jenny McCarthy Will Never Write About Vaccinations

I just heard back from the Chicago Sun-Times regarding newly-hired columnist and anti-vaccination proponent Jenny McCarthy.

Jenny McCarthy (image via Splash)

Here is their statement (via email):

“Jenny McCarthy has signed on to share her special brand of humor with fans through her Splash column and daily blog. As our readers know, Jenny’s contributions are lifestyle focused and light-hearted. The vision for the column is not medical advice, therefore medical topics, like vaccination, are not within the scope of the column and will not be addressed.

Good to hear.

Now let’s see if that’s still the “vision” months from now after this initial furor has died down.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://twitter.com/crankyhumanist Cranky Humanist

    “By the way, Jenny, don’t talk about vaccination, ok?”

    I doubt she’ll take that well. 

  • Isilzha

    Let’s make sure we all hold them to that.

  • TheExpatriate700

    So in other words, you went into a tither about her column when they were never planning to talk about her vaccination beliefs anyway. Given that anti-vax is basically a fringe movement, I could have guessed that in the first place.

    • DeviousSoybeans

      A “fringe movement” with a body count. 

      • JohnnieCanuck

        The Jenny McCarthy Body Count website claims that 1016 vaccine preventable deaths have occurred since she began promoting her anti-vax rhetoric in June 2007.

        Last I heard there was an epidemic of whooping cough occurring in Whatcom and Skagit counties in Washington state, attributed to her and hers.

        Nation wide, pertussis cases more than doubled between 2007 when they had been in a decline, and 2010.

        A fringe perhaps, but a sickening, lethal fringe.

    • Coyotenose

       McCarthy is known for two things: her Playboy spread, and advocating against vaccinations. Guess which one she was likely to talk about? And writing about medicine in regards to her children is completely within the scope of a column where she would be talking about her children.

      • TheG

        I remember enjoying her MTV show for awhile.
        Of course, there’s not much about those days I remember too well.

    • Gus Snarp

      We shall see what the future holds for the site. I don’t think anything is proven by the assurances from PR representatives in the face of criticism.

      And it’s not as fringe as you might think.

    • Don Gwinn

      I think you meant a “lather.”  A tither is just a person who pays a tithe to a church.

      • 3lemenope

        It’s a localism that is at least familiar to me here in New England (and if I’m not mistaken, it actually originates in the Long Island Sound area). It’s pronounced differently than tither (a person who tithes) as the “i” is pronounced as a schwa in the sense that Expatriate used it (the “i” sounds like somewhere between a short-i and “eh”), rather than a long-i in the sense you’re talking about. It’s usage is similar to “tizzy” and has similar origins, and means roughly “worked up over a trifling or insignificant detail”.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    We’ll see how long that lasts.

  • Fargofan

    Assuming they stick to it, that’s a relief.

  • DougI

    I wish I had the experience of posing nude in Playboy, that way I’d be qualified to write for the Chicago Tribune.  Clearly I wasted too much time in journalism classes.

    • http://twitter.com/Freemage69 Freemage

       *Ahem* Ms. McCarthy may be qualified to write for the Sun-Times, but the Tribune has not quite sunk to that level.

    • Snap

      Well, in all fairness, you also don’t have the experience of having dated Ace Ventura (I presume). So you are REALLY not qualified.

    • brianmacker

      I think her qualifications for writing a humor column are that she is a comedian.

  • Coyotenose

    This doesn’t actually fix anything. This column is for raising her profile and thus getting more people to check out her website, and all the sites it leads to. It’s about normalizing her deadly conspiracy theory.

  • Gus Snarp

    And will she also not talk about any other alt med BS? McCarthy’s raison d’ etre in the media has been to spread anti-vax and other dangerous alt med notions, and I don’t imagine she isn’t planning to bring it up with this new platform. I wonder if she’s been informed of this restriction on what she writes? I would also note that the Sun-Times has a history of endorsing McCarthy’s discredited ideas about vaccines and autism: http://blogs.plos.org/thepanicvirus/2012/05/17/sun-times-endorsement-of-autism-quackfest-remains-online-even-after-editor-claims-it-was-incorrect/

  • Don Gwinn

    I guess it’s better than having her advocating her anti-vax views on their dime (and again, yes, she has the right to advise people not to vaccinate their children, just as the Pearls have the right to advise people to beat their toddlers with rods, and just as the Sun-Times has the right not to pay her a salary to do it.)

    That’s if she sticks to that rule . . . and wasn’t their last talking point, “Don’t worry, she’s not going to write parenting advice”?  Which they said after she posted several parenting pieces?  Their credibility is low.

  • IDoubtIt00

    I’m having a hard time believing there will be NO talk of children’s health issues (a “medical topic”) on a parenting blog. That’s possibly the #1 thing parents have concerns about.

  • http://lisamorguess.wordpress.com/ Lmorguess

    I really enjoy your blog, as I am an atheist, and I think you present of valuable and entertaining information.  I’m confused, however, why you post so much regarding vaccinations – what do vaccinations have to do with God or atheism?  Hopefully you don’t just think that it’s religious extremists who don’t vaccinate their kids; I can assure you that there are those of us who are non-believers who also don’t vaccinate their kids.  It has nothing to do with religion, and without going into all the whys and wherefores of vaccinating vs. not vaccinating, I personally wish people would give those of us who choose not to vaccinate the benefit of the doubt that the decision is not lightly made, that we’ve done our research and perhaps just come to a different conclusion than you have.  I’d hate to think that your disdain for non-vaccinating parents is part of some stereotypical image you might have of religious zealots.  In any case, again, I’m not at all sure what the topic has to do with atheism, or what sort of parent Jenny McCarthy (of whom I’m not a fan and know very little about) is has to to with religion or atheism.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Because by not vaccinating your children, you are putting other people in danger. Why do you want the elderly and disabled and immune-compromised to die?

    • Michaelbrice

      Thanks for posting Lmorguess, I too have noticed and also find it odd. It seems several ‘friendly atheists’ who post here seem to require that a lack of belief in a god or gods also requires a commitment or belief in the efficacy of vaccines and pharmaceuticals,  global warming, GMO foods etc. And a lack of belief (condemnation?) of acupuncture, chi and the efficacy of herbs, meditation etc.It is not my intention to open a discussion regarding any of those topics, I am just saying…..I noticed it too and found it somewhat disconcerting. I wonder, do people endorse atheism on pro-vaxx or anti-vaxx websites? Do they get angry about it? Are all pro-vaxxers supposed to be atheists? Or is it the other way ’round?I was given a long list of things to believe when I was taken to church as a kid, and was told of the horrible consequences if I didn’t believe in the list. That I would hurt others by not believing the list.  I was asked why would I want to hurt other people. That the list was infallible and that even questioning the list was a terrible thing. I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it any better 50 years later. I would much prefer this website to be more atheisty and less vaxxy.In spite of neither endorsing or rejecting any of the above  topics (I said before that I didn’t want to open a discussion) I fully expect some snark. So, fire away, enjoy!

      • Michaelbrice

        Hmmmmm………

        why do my paragraphs and other formatting all morph into one long giant sized paragraph when I ‘post as’ ? Anyone else have that issue, or is it me?

        • 3lemenope

          Disqus is quite fickle with formatting. Some browsers have more trouble than others. 

      • http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/ Andrew G.

        It’s called “having a close personal relationship with reality”.

        The fact (not belief) that vaccines are effective and that acupuncture is not (beyond placebo effects*) has been established beyond reasonable doubt by the best method that humanity has ever discovered for investigating reality.

        Many atheists are atheists because they looked at the claims of religion and found them to be false in reality. But it is irrational to argue that because some beliefs are unjustified, that therefore all are; instead, the challenge is to believe only in real things, and (this is important) be prepared to change your beliefs as knowledge of reality improves.

        People get angry about anti-vaxxers not because they are questioning some cherished belief but because there is a provable causal link between the decision not to vaccinate and the increase in deaths from preventable diseases.

        (* – good-quality clinical studies of acupuncture use a control group which is given “sham” acupuncture, either by using retracting needles that don’t penetrate or by inserting needles at randomly-chosen points.)

    • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

      “I personally wish people would give those of us who choose not to vaccinate the benefit of the doubt that the decision is not lightly made, that we’ve done our research and perhaps just come to a different conclusion than you have.”
      First, a bit about vaccines:Accepting the science behind vaccinations and choosing not to vaccinate is quite different than claiming that vaccines do not work or that they cause autism (a la Jenny McCarthy). The most vehement anti-vaccination zealots are usually so on religious grounds.

      Vaccine effectiveness functions on the theory of herd-medicine. That is, you make 90% of the population immune and the remaining 10% which cannot get vaccinations is protected. A single person choosing not to vaccinate their child endangers the most vulnerable around their child – other children and the elderly. Large pockets of anti-vaccination people lead to outbreaks of diseases long ago forgotten.

      Second, atheism only means one thing.
      Personally, I think Hemant takes the Atheism+Social Justice stance although I could be wrong. There are plenty of pure atheism blogs out there that ramble on about the same stuff. I like the mix on this one.

      • Michaelbrice

        Hey Darrell,

        there are some things I never do under any circumstances, these include knowingly ingesting or injecting into my body the following :

        aluminum, formaldehyde and mercury.

        MSG, I am highly allergic.

        Egg protein, I am vegetarian, I don’t eat chicken fetus’.

        Here is a partial list of vaccine ingredients according to the U.S, Centre for disease control: aluminum, formaldehyde, mercury (thimerasol), MSG and egg protein.

        Does that make me an ‘antivaxxer’?


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