“(Jenny) McCarthy’s views on vaccinations and autism aren’t just stupid, they are actually dangerous.” So says The Daily Beast in a hard-hitting analysis of the speculation that McCarthy, a former Playboy model, is set to replace Elisabeth Hasselbeck on ABC’s “The View.”
After wading through some gratuitous attacks on Hasselbeck for her conservative views, Tricia Romano then focuses squarely on McCarthy and her activism with regard to the scientifically dubious connections between autism and diet and vaccinations.
Since 2007, McCarthy has been a vocal opponent of the chemicals in vaccinations, credulously citing research (she’s neither a doctor nor a medical professional) and experiences with her autistic son as evidence. (It has also been reported that he may not even have autism, but Landau-Kleffner syndrome.)
She has promoted the idea that people are getting an outrageous number of vaccinations today compared with the 1970s or ’80s. According to the book, Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure, the amount has only doubled, from seven to 14, to include vaccinations for the flu, hepatitis, and chickenpox among others, in addition to the measles, mumps, polio, tetanus, and others that are standard.
McCarthy doesn’t let science and facts get in her way. She has written three books about the subject–Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism, Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds, and Healing and Preventing Autism, which have all been New York Times bestsellers. She is the president of an autism organization, which is also averse to vaccination, called Generation Rescue.
When promoting one of her books, she told Oprah how she learned about autism: “The University of Google is where I got my degree from.”
McCarthy’s opinions on autism and suspected “causes” and “cures” have raised eyebrows in the past, including a legendary appearance on The Larry King Show in 2008. “Give my son the measles! I’ll take that over autism any day,” she yelled at a pediatrician after calling America’s vaccination program “bulls**t.”
Many believe her stances on autism lead parents to have false hope for a “cure” rather than focusing parents on the path of accepting their child’s autism as a part of their unique personality, worthy of respect. They also say McCarthy’s pseudo-science distracts parents from seeking actual help in how to better communicate and interact with their autistic children. As Big Hollywood’s Dana Commandatore points out:
Once again, we’ve learned that celebrities do not have the answers. Sure, they look good on camera and can deliver a line better than average folks, but they are missing out on something important in the case of autism. Parents don’t need pseudo science and anecdotes. They need real life experiences and tried and tested information.
Others criticize the anti-vaccine rhetoric as being responsible for thousands of preventable illnesses and deaths. But, as the Daily Beast points out, McCarthy seems unfazed by the increase in diseases as a result of her efforts:
To promote her book, she essentially suggested to Time magazine that it might be good for polio to reemerge so that people could ask for better, safer vaccines, passing the buck to the medical community, not the anti-vaccine community for the rise in previously suppressed diseases.
She told Time: “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 the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it’s their f___ing fault that the diseases are coming back. They’re making a product that’s s___. If you give us a safe vaccine, we’ll use it. It shouldn’t be polio versus autism.”