Jenny McCarthy, Who Wrongly Believes Vaccinations Cause Autism, Named Co-Host of The View

If you want to have a panel of opinionated women for a TV show like The View, it makes sense to include a couple of conservative Christians like Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd to offer a dose of opposition to the liberal Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg. Sure, it’s infuriating at times, but it makes for a spirited debate.

I didn’t think The View would sink lower after the departure of Hasselbeck. But they’ve now gone from woefully misguided to dangerously ignorant, hiring Jenny McCarthy to replace her:

Jenny McCarthy, who thinks her son’s autism was caused by childhood vaccines he received.

Jenny McCarthy, who has been telling parents for years not to vaccinate their children because of her anecdotal, non-scientific, harmful beliefs.

Jenny McCarthy, who inspired a “body count” because her beliefs have led to the deaths of so many people.

Jenny McCarthy, who was once dropped from speaking at a charity event to raise money for cancer research because she was “promoting erroneous ideas about health and disease.”

“Jenny brings us intelligence as well as warmth and humor,” [Barbara] Walters said in a statement. “She can be serious and outrageous. She has connected with our audience and offers a fresh point of view. Jenny will be a great addition to the show as we usher in an exciting new chapter for The View.”

“I’m beyond thrilled … I look forward to helping make hot topics a little bit hotter, and showing my mom that my interrupting skills have finally paid off,” McCarthy added in a statement.

… And teaching mothers that they can be as careless and reckless as she is.

When the possibility of her co-hosting the show was seriously floated around last week, pro-science writers were already voicing their concerns.

Phil Plait wrote a letter to ABC:

Dear ABC —

I’ve heard that Jenny McCarthy is being considered to co-host of “The View”. I strongly urge you NOT to hire her.

Ms. McCarthy is a vocal activist for highly dangerous health ideas, including the mistaken belief that vaccines cause autism. While the world suffers outbreaks of measles and pertussis, Ms. McCarthy continues to advocate against vaccines. Having her host a respected show like The View would damage its reputation. For more info: goo.gl/hXJos.

Thank you,

Phil Plait

Pat Garofalo of U.S. News & World Report warned ABC against giving her a larger platform:

By giving a purveyor of faux science such a prominent platform, ABC could be contributing to serious health problems and the spread of some of the globe’s nastiest diseases, the suppression of which has been a public health success story for the ages.

McCarthy has even said that some horrendous diseases should be allowed to reemerge in order to boost the creation of “safe” vaccines: “I do believe sadly it’s going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe… If you give us a safe vaccine, we’ll use it. It shouldn’t be polio versus autism.” That’s not a message that should be given pride of place for the millions of people watching “The View,” any more than we need climate change deniers on the Senate floor.

It was downright stupid when co-host Sherri Shepherd questioned whether the world was flat. At least everyone else on the panel made it clear that they thought Shepherd was crazy.

With McCarthy on the panel of a show that many mothers watch, ABC is already saying they endorse McCarthy’s deranged views on vaccinations. Until they say otherwise and drop her from the show, ABC is telling us they care more about ratings than the health of their viewers.

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.

  • TheG

    I disagree with stopping the esteemed stripper from appearing on the show. I see it as a daily amount of rope that ABC is providing for her to hang herself with. Yes, it might be damaging to the vaccine and science movements in the short term, but the disgrace when that monkey accidentally lets slip a Shakespearian work of crazy will be a monumental win.

    • http://porlob.tumblr.com porlob

      I disagree almost entirely with your comment, right down to the needless denigration of her a “stripper.” Decades-old nude photos (or even brand new ones) have exactly zero bearing on this issue, which is as it should be. She is still taken seriously as a commenter on child health issues, as it should not be.

      Rather than panning out the way you describe, I think it’s more likely that she’ll come on the show constantly touting what a great mom she is, as is her schtick. That will influence countless people into valuing and respecting her stances. Then, when she is inevitably forced to depart the show after making some egregiously dangerous health claim, all of those supporters — who now have misinformed views on things like vaccines, and are less likely to vaccinate their children — will cry foul and accuse the network of being part of the Big Pharma conspiracy.

      And while this departure will be celebrated by the likes of us, it will have a net negative effect on vaccination rates and health education. She should not be given a respectable platform from which to spout this stuff just so we can laugh at her on the way down.

      • TheG

        I bring up her past because it has a direct influence on why she is so widely known today. Her celebrity status was obtained because of her looks rather than any substantive accomplishment. From Playboy to Remote Control to her “acting” career, she has been elevated for anything but intelligence, skill, or talent. It certainly wasn’t just a few “[d]ecades-old nude photos”.

        On your larger point, I hope you are wrong. I was trying to find some optimism here, but I fear the pessimistic approach you take will ultimately be the wiser course.

  • Physicalist

    I think our goal now should be to make sure that Whoopi Goldberg is well educated about medical science and vaccines. I’m under the impression that she’s usually the voice of reason on that show (not that I’m an authority), and hopefully she can mitigate the damage that McCarthy will do.

    • http://www.pbcliberal.com/ PBCliberal

      That’s an excellent idea. What people need is a lot more knowledge about vaccines and a lot less personal attack whenever the subject is brought up.
      It is a complicated issue and the debate is almost always waged by each side calling the other dangerous.

      That doesn’t help anyone make a wise decision. What should scare people far more than one voice on the view, is that the largest pocket of resistance to vaccination is among the better educated and better informed.

      Obviously just trying to shut the heretics up isn’t working. In fact, it may be having exactly the opposite effect.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    While it is important to have differing of opinion, you can’t claim the desire for diversity of voice as an excuse for a lack of quality control. Ms. McCarthy shouldn’t be on the show just because her view point might be different than Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg, but she should be excluded because her view point differs from reality.

  • rustygh

    woefully misguided to dangerously ignorant is putting it mildly. The dangerous info she spreads about vaccines is deadly, and she should be considered a mass murderer.

    This is my opinion …

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    It’s one thing to have diversity of opinion. It’s another to have idiots spew nonsense as if they have something valuable to say. Certainly ABC could find people more intelligent than Sherri Shepherd and Elizabeth Hasselback. In fact, I think they could just grap women off the street at random and find people more intelligent. not that Barbara Walters is all that interesting (seriously, how the hell did she get this reputation as an interviewer? Almost every question she asks is cringe-worthy!) I realize that the media’s idea of discussion is to put on people with ridiculous opinions and let them scream at each other for an hour, but surely there’s a market for hearing from people who actually know what they are talking about (even if they do yell once in awhile). *sigh* Giving someone who promotes DANGEROUS junk science 5 hours a week of network time to spew that nonsense is not only outrageous, it’s morally irresponsible. Shame on ABC, not that they know from shame at any of the networks, but this may be a new low.

    • Spuddie

      “how the hell did she get this reputation as an interviewer?”

      Because nobody is EVER nervous in front of Barbara Walters. She is the Babe Ruth of Softball.

    • rustygh

      I truly hope things move in the direction you point to. Not only that, as a man, I really enjoy hearing educated smart thinking women. Ones that actually understand the idea of using all the information to come to a hypothesis.

      • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

        I highly recommend the podcast “Godless Bitches”. The women are smart, well-informed and have interesting points of view.

        • Maggie Winnike

          Godless Bitches is an amazing podcast.

          • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

            I’m sure it’s good for women to listen to this but as a man I would say it’s essential that we shut up and listen to women once in awhile. I know men get all butthurt at the suggestion that they need to do that but we do (an the butthurt ones need to shut up and listen even more than the rest of us).

    • enuma

      I think this is the best take down of “diversity of opinion” as it exists in popular media.

      “There’s this notion that everyone’s opinion is equally valid. My arse! Bloke who’s a professor of dentistry of 40 years does not have a debate with some idiot who removes his teeth with string and a door.”

      http://youtu.be/ZI-Uu94vINg

    • tamruss

      http://www.vaccinationcouncil.org/
      Maybe such opinions here are examples of what you accuse Jenny to be. Maybe there should be some investigation before siding with big Pharma, This link should help those wanting to explore WHY she feels the way she does (not to mention she is a mother of an Autistic child and qualified to have her opinions) or at least a start. There are those of us that have grown adult children that have never been poisoned and interestingly went through childhood without all the “terrors” threatened by choosing to NOT be sheeple.

      • Shadist

        Spitting a kid out does not make one a doctor nor does it impart some mystical wisdom that, as you put it, “big pharma” *insert scary music here* is trying to hide.

      • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

        1) McCarthy’s child, it turns out, does NOT have autism. 2) The “doctor” who wrote the study (with too small a sample size to produce conclusive results) refused to support his own research under oath. Sorry, but there is no link between vaccines and autism. I have sympathy for people whose children are autistic. I fully support research into the real causes and what we might do to help them. But junk science is not the answer.

        Update: Against my better judgment I went to the website to which you provided the link. It claims there’s no evidence that vaccines work? Where are all the people with polio since the vaccine? Measles? Diphtheria? Those diseases are rare to non-existent now. Vaccines don’t work? That’s nonsense.

      • Matt

        Wow.

        Just wow.

        The worst part is “my kid didnt get a vaccine, and didnt get a disease, therefore, the vaccines are worthless.”

        Thats not how it works Tamruss, read up on herd immunity, and know that you are an irresponsible person, and we are lucky that there aren’t more people like you.

      • Mario Strada

        I never get the flu or a cold. I never got vaccinated for it either. My wife and daughter catch anything that comes around. You know what? It means nothing.
        it’s an anecdote and as such inconsequential.

        There has been a mountain of research to discredit antivaxxers.

        Heck, everyone in my generation was vaccinated, yet the incidence of autism was minimal. I am 50 yo and in my generation autism was something we spoke about rarely and we only saw on tv.

        The same for food allergies. No one I ever knew was allergic to anything. Yet, we were all vaccinated.
        Then suddenly, a couple of generations past everybody got autism. I almost felt inadequate because my daughter had no autism nor any food allergies.

        Bollocks.

      • RobMcCune

        Glad your child never got any of the multitude of diseases that normal children are vaccinated against. Parents whose infants were hospitalized with pertussis weren’t so fortunate. Then again when your kids were growing up they were protected by the herd immunity of other people.

      • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

        Being a mother of an autistic child does not make her a qualified expert on autism. Just like having teeth does not qualify me as a dentist.

      • Nathan Browett

        wow, you’re an idiot… be thankful that not everyone is as stupid as you are, and they choose to vaccinate their children and in turn help protect yours…. Don’t be so fucking stupid, not only has the “Doctor” who linked autism to vaccines been proven wrong time and time again, he’s also been disbanded from the medical community, fuck people are stupid.

    • Dr. Phil

      There are lots of people who promote junk science for hours a week. Calling Dr. Oz? He used to be a reputable physician, but has sold out, promoting unproven things like raspberry ketones based on poor science. Not to say that everything he talks about is garbage, but the problem is someone who only lies 10% of the time is still a liar. Are we supposed to leave it to the viewers to decide which shows are credible and which are being sponsored under the table by sellers of “green coffee beans”?

      • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

        Agreed. there’s a lot of it now. And in a media culture in which they “present both sides” and “let the viewer decide” we’re likely to get more of this nonsense. If what you claim is true, then prove it. Otherwise STFU.

  • constructivist

    McCarthy is nothing more than a fart in a bottle.

    • Mario Strada

      Didn’t Jim Croce made a song for her?

  • A3Kr0n

    What is “ABC”, or “The View”?

    • Mario Strada

      The first 3 letters of the alphabet and what I see out of my window.

    • jobCrater

      Remember that thing called a tv?

  • Zugswang

    Since “The View” is largely made to advertise to, and reinforce the preformed opinions of, housewives of middle America, I’m sure she’ll fit right in.

  • anthrosciguy

    Claiming the world is flat is extremely stupid, but it’s also unlikely to kill people. Jenny McCarthy, OTOH, has done a lot to kill people, many or most of them children. It’s outrageous that “entertainment value” overrides that.

    • WillBell

      I’m trying to think of how Flat Earth Theory could lead to death now…

      • anthrosciguy

        I suppose if you wound up on the underside of it and it fell on you…

  • BobaFuct

    I believe it has also come to light that her son isn’t even autistic…can’t really blame vaccines for your kid’s autism if he doesn’t actually have autism, but she manages to keep doing it anyway.

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

      Yeah, she claims he was “cured”.

  • Corby Ziesman

    This is scary. I worry now about how she might be able to influence viewers. I just hope the other co-hosts do their homework ahead of time and call her on that crap when she eventually brings it up.

  • http://an-expatriate-in-cambridge.blogspot.com The Expatriate

    Last time I checked, The View is not a medical show. Just because she holds idiotic views on vaccination doesn’t mean she should be cut off from speaking.

    • Mario Strada

      This is not an issue of someone having different political or religious ideas. She is militantly holding to a point of view that is potentially deadly not just for those that listen to her, but actually more so for those that don’t.

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

      Her “idiotic views” place other people in danger, therefore she should be prevented from spouting off.

    • Mr. Pantaloons

      Her idiotic views are going to appear on a show tailored specifically for a demographic of people who are directly responsible for the care of small children, but are not exactly renowned for their scientific literacy. That should scare the shit out of any decent human being much more than any potential issue with “freedom of speech.” Because this has much less to do with freedom of speech than it does with preventing nearly-direct incitement to mass murder.

      • http://an-expatriate-in-cambridge.blogspot.com The Expatriate

        If someone is stupid enough to take medical advice from a day time talk show, and not an especially good one at that, perhaps it is better that their genes are weeded from the gene pool.

        • Mr. Pantaloons

          Except education (and the lack thereof) and religious beliefs are NOT a function of genotype and thus are not affected by the principles of natural selection – the mere fact that Breatharianism is STILL around is proof of this. And the idea that children should be forced to foot the cost of this process is utterly unconscionable – to say nothing of all the people who are endangered simply by being in the way. You realize vaccination is also supposed to protect infants and other secondhand targets too, right? Or does your preadolescent social Darwinism consider them acceptable losses as well? Take your sociopathic ignorance somewhere else.

  • SeekerLancer

    Well this is certainly going to be an interesting mess. Let her talk I say and let everyone else tell her why she’s wrong.

  • LesterBallard

    Why watch the shit regardless of who is on it? If I had to choose I’d rather watch Honey Boo Boo.

  • Itsrealfunnythat

    Ah Jenny McCarthy… The intellectual from MTV’s Singled Out…

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    I do believe sadly it’s going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe…

    So Jenny, are you willing to be the person to very publicly catch, suffer, and die from those diseases so medical research will be spurred to develop new vaccines? How about people you love and care about? It’s easy to talk abstractly and hypothetically about somebody else, someone unknown to you suffering and dying for your idiotic agenda.

    Funny how we never see Joe Klein volunteering to get horrible diseases in order to stimulate medical research.

  • Baby_Raptor

    And here I thought they were trying to clean that mess up.

  • Guest

    So the point of this is she’s an idiot, and the main proof presented is her beliefs about vaccines (which I disagree with). Nonetheless, Mr. Bill Maher, who also shares similar views regarding vaccinations, is often lifted up as quite the fellow on this and other atheist blogs. So, what does that tell us? That the issues is not the ‘idiot maker’ some suggest? Or that we simply feel the need to be intolerant and judgmental toward those who don’t agree with us, finding whatever issue at the moment we can use to buttress the case? Or we are arbitrary and just make up standards as we go (in the most post-modern fashion)? I don’t know. It must mean something.

    • Mario Strada

      Bill is just as wrong on the topic of vaccination. However, he redeems himself with the fact that he is funny and many of his other stances are indeed based in reality. Plus, he mentions it very rarely and never to an unsophisticated audience. (Go HBO subscribers)

      Jenny McCarthy is really a one pony show. I didn’t see her do comedy or dispense good advice elsewhere. this is her claim to fame. Hopefully, one day Bill will change his mind but I doubt Jenny will.

    • Nathan Browett

      if I tell you 2+2=4 and you disagree, I’m going to be intolerant and judgemental about your lack of intelligence, and I would be justified in doing so……

  • Kenneth Polit

    Her argument that vaccines gave her son autism(which he doesn’t even have) was that she saw his eyes glaze over(he was a baby being stuck with a needle, trying not to cry), and “I’m a mom, and a mother knows.” We all know you are a woman, Jenny. You used to show us your lady parts for rent money.

    • Gordon Duffy

      there’s enough wrong with Jenny’s position that you shouldn’t need ad hominem or slut shaming to respond to her.

  • juda jolie

    I wonder if mccarthy has ever taken a freshman level micro class…. she is highly uneducated. Then again, she is not known for her intelligence and yet people idolize her. Einstein once said, the universe is infinite and so is human stupidity.