ABC Decides to Kill a Couple of Kids for Ratings

Are they going to feed them into a wood chipper?  Unleash a pack of rabid dogs on them?  Force them to watch endless hours of Extreme Weight Loss, The Bachelorette, and Celebrity Wife Swap until they can’t take it anymore and commit suicide?

Nah, they are just going to make Jenny McCarthy a co-host on The View.  You see, Elisabeth Hasselbeck decided to leave The View for a spot on Fox and Friends, Fox New’s insanity filled morning news show, which apparently opened up the “hot blond with crazy opinions” spot on ABC’s morning talk show.  Now while Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s crazy opinions were your garden variety right wing conservatism that you can find all over the TV dial, Jenny McCarthy’s crazy opinions are a bit more dangerous.  Jenny believes that vaccines cause autism, and has been an outspoken champion for the anti-vax movement.  She has appeared on Oprah to spout her insanity, appeared at anti-vaccine rallies, wrote for anti-vaccine websites, supported disgraced “researcher” Andrew Wakefield even after the truth of his “study” linking the MMR vaccine to autism was exposed; Jenny McCarthy is the celebrity of the anti-vaccine movement, and she has dedicated a large amount of effort to promoting a link between vaccines and autism and questioning the safety of vaccines in general.

And Jenny is free to have these views.  If she wants to believe that vaccines caused her son to grow an invisible third arm out of the top of his head, that is her right.  And that belief would have about the same scientific backing as her belief that vaccines are harmful and cause autism.  This is not an open scientific question.   There is no debate in the medical community.  On one side you have Jenny McCarthy, discredited “researchers” like Andrew Wakefield, and a few people either out of their area of expertise, or with very questionable conflicts of interest.  On the other side, you have the rest of the medical community and all published research.

And yet, Jenny has these views.  And now she will have a national television audience, and she will use her platform on The View to express these views, because she has used every other possible platform to express them in the past.  And even if the rest of the co-hosts argue with her and say that vaccines are safe and do not cause autism, it will still have the appearance of an open debate, not the closed scientific question that it actually is.

And some people watching will listen to her.  And they will not vaccinate their children because of what she says.  Why would they listen to her?  *shrug*  They will.  As ThinkProgress writes:

It’s easy to dismiss the idea that McCarthy’s work on autism and vaccines has an impact–celebrity activism often gets accorded outsized importance or treated with utter contempt, when it’s a much more complicated phenomenon. But a University of Michigan survey of parents found that 24 percent of them were willing to place some trust in figures like McCarthy on the question of the link between vaccines and autism, which is a much higher level of credibility than the average person’s going to be able to elicit from the general public.

And even if it is only a small number of people who listen to her and make that choice because of her, well….

And even a small number of parents who decide not to vaccinate on the word of someone like McCarthy, or Andrew Wakefield, the doctor who wrote the initial paper linking autism and vaccines, and has since been banned from practicing medicine in the UK, can have significant public health impacts. California saw a spike in whooping cough in 2010 that resulted in a number of deaths. Wakefield’s work contributed to a rise in measles cases in the United Kingdom. And fears of vaccines in general have lead to suspicion of the HPV vaccine, which is a critical way to help girls reduce their risk of certain kinds of cancers.

Some children will get measles, and whooping cough, and other vaccine preventable diseases because their parents decided not to vaccinate them due to baseless fears sowed by Jenny McCarthy.  And those children will give those disease to children who are either too young to be vaccinated, or who can not be vaccinated due to compromised immune systems or allergies.

And some of those children will die from those diseases.

And some of those children who die will die because ABC decided to give Jenny McCarthy a national platform for her anti-vaccine lunacy.

Which leads to the title of this post.

Way to go, ABC.

I’ll close with this from the ThinkProgress article:

But while it’s possible to debate many sides of many issues, one of the benefits of medicine is that there’s actual evidence that some ideas and right and others are wrong. McCarthy’s are wrong, and continuing to defend them with that other standby of people who like to advance conspiracy theories without evidence, that she’s just raising questions, doesn’t make her decision to stick to her discredited ideas any more admirable. And it doesn’t give The View cover, either. This is not a vital debate in American society in which McCarthy’s position has been historically underrepresented, or a polarity along which it’s important to have multiple perspectives in order to make for a lively conversation. It’s a hoax, on par with McCarthy’s original belief, before her son’s autism diagnosis, that her son was an “indigo child,” a New Age theory that tries to comfort parents of children with autism and learning disabilities by convincing them that their children actually represent a new stage in human evolution.

Maybe Jenny McCarthy has a range of other opinions that ABC, which airs The View, thinks will be valuable to its audience. But the company is a news organization in addition to an entertainment company. And ABC should consider the damage McCarthy’s done to the public interest against whatever else she might have to offer.



Why, Chicago Sun-Times? Why?

The Chicago Sun-Times has hired the queen of the “mommy instinct,” the graduate of “Google U,” the fear-mongering, evidence be damned, “vaccines do to cause autism because I say they do” face of the anti-vaccine movement, Jenny “Too Crazy for Jim Carrey” McCarthy as a columnist and blogger.  That sound you just heard was the entire scientific community slamming their heads against their desks.  From

McCarthy may be famous for a lot of reasons – Playboy playmate, actress, ex-girlfriend of Jim Carrey – but she is roundly criticized by health experts and many journalists for her views on autism. As a celebrity parent of an autistic son, McCarthy is a leading and sadly influential voice in the discredited movement to blame vaccines for autism. Public health experts fervently wish that she would just shut up.

Predictably, the online reaction to her hiring was swift and brutal:

Jenny McCarthy Signs Deal to Endanger Children via Chicago Newspaper – via @patheos

— Melody Hensley (@MelodyHensley) October 19, 2012

Journalist Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus, which examines the viral growth of the myth that vaccines cause autism and other developmental disorders, has previously blasted the Sun-Times for giving McCarthy a forum for her anti-vaccine, anti-science views. Here is an excerpt of the Panic Virus that deals with McCarthy.

Now the Sun Times has given McCarthy an even bigger platform, and that’s a travesty.

Much more after the jump……

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I’ve Overdosed on Politics, Anti-Vax to the Rescue!

Even the most addicted political junkies need to take a break every now and then.  Let’s take a gander out west to California, where comedian Rob Schneider is apparently running to replace Jenny McCarthy as the anti-vaxxers celebrity lunaticspokesperson.  (If it was actually an election, I could just see his campaign slogans: “Vote ¡Rob!: Less Attractive, More Stupid, Just as Irrelevant!) Now Rob has his knickers all twisted over California Bill AB 2109, which has now been passed and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.  What is Bill AB 2109?  Let’s go to the super computer Orac for the answer:

it’s a bill that was proposed as a means of addressing the increasing problem of non-medical exemptions to school vaccine mandates because religious and philosophical exemptions are too easy to obtain. Boiled down to its essence, AB 2109 would require parents to see a pediatrician or health care practitioner for a discussion of the benefits and risks of vaccines and, more importantly, the risks of not vaccinating. You’d think that the antivaccine movement wouldn’t have a problem with a bill that in essence requires informed consent before an exemption from the school vaccine mandate would be granted. After all, they’re always harping on informed consent, claiming that parents aren’t given adequate informed consent because they aren’t told that vaccines can cause autism and all the other complications antivaccinationists fervently believe they can. That’s because what antivaccinationists really want is what I like to call “misinformed consent.” AB 2109 in essence turns the tables on the antivaccine movement by using its own tactic against it. You want “informed consent,” more states seem to be saying, well, then we’ll give you informed consent. To get a philosophical exemption from vaccination, you’ll need to speak to a doctor and have him or her sign an attestation that you’ve been counseled. You can’t just sign a form yourself anymore. That’s what Washington did, and that’s what AB 2109 does.

So if you want to be a leech on society and benefit from herd immunity without vaccinating your child, you can still get your philosophical or religious exemption, you just have to have a doctor explain the risks to you.  (I’d support a stronger AB 2109 that allowed the doctor to smack some sense into you as well as explaining the risks, but I doubt it would get out of committee.)  (And yes, liberals who read my blog for the politics and haven’t paid attention to my few science posts, I did just call people who take philosophical or religious exemptions from vaccinating their children “leeches.”  If that caused you to clutch your pearls, you may just want to leave now, because it will get worse before it gets better.)

Anti-vaxxers have been all up in arms over this bill.  (Ohnos!  The evil government wants me to talk to a doctor before I make an incredibly stupid medical decision!  The tyranny!)  None more so than that font of medical knowledge, Rob “When’s Adam Sandler Going to Shoot a New Movie?” Schneider.  Deuce Bigalow the guy from the Hot Chick Adam Sandler’s flunky  ¡Rob! has spoken at an Anti-AB 2109 rallywent full Godwin comparing the sponsors of the bill to Nazis, and even made the idiotic case that vaccine mandates are against the Nuremberg Code.  ¡Rob!, you are making Jenny so proud.  Next thing you know, you’ll be posting over at Age of Autism, sending Andrew Wakefield money, and taking off your clothes for Playboy attacking Dr. Paul Offit.

Well, I’m not sure about the last two, but he sure is posting at Age of Autism.  And as Orac points out, it is a classic:  (Bolding is mine, as always)

This is Rob Schneider. Aung San Suu Kyi is the female Nobel Prize Winner from Burma. Recently, she gave some advice for Americans. She said, “America, protect your freedom!” Now Ms. Kyi know a thing or two about freedom. In Burma she had been under house arrest for almost 21 years. She is also the recipient of the highest civilian honor our country has, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

So when Ms. Kyi says America protect your freedom, she is not saying it lightly. From the Patriot Act, where our Gov’t no longer needs a court order to spy on own citizens, to the assassination of Americans abroad without due process, Freedom is under attack.

But by far the most insidious of all Government intrusions is the one happening right now in America by Big Pharma in their collusion with our representatives in Government. Government coercion to force parents to make their children take any invasive medical procedures (vaccination of their children) is something out of an Orwellian nightmare or Nazi Germany. Just remove the word vaccine and replace it with an other medical procedure and you will begin to see how regressive and criminal this is.

Well, as long as we’re being rational about this…..

Vaccines, unlike any other drug, is a one size fits all nightmare. The Vaccine makers insist ALL VACCINES MUST BE TAKEN BY EVERY ONE IN THE SCHEDULE THAT WE DECIDE! Name one other drug that is given such impunity. Every person is different and their precious immune systems don’t react the same way. 49 doses of 14 different Vaccines before the age of 6 is mandated by Doctor convenience and Big Pharma profits not patient wellness or sound scientific reasoning.

Sigh.  Orac, tear this trash down:

If you don’t think that antivaccinationists view themselves and their children as precious little snowflakes, just take a gander at Schneider’s reference so every person being different and “their precious immune systems don’t react the same way.” They might not react exactly the same way, but they react similarly enough that the type of “individualization” that antivaccinationists demand is not necessary. There are medical contraindications to vaccination, and those are followed. They are contraindications based on science, not the fevered fears of antivaccinationists who use “individualization” as an excuse not to vaccinate.Mr. Schneider seems to have a penchant for comparing his band of pseudoscience-loving antivaccinationists to freedom fighters. It’s a penchant he shares with all too many, who think themselves to be some sort of brave rebel alliance fighting against a galactic pharma empire led by an unholy alliance of pharma and government. This leads him, of course, to go straight to Godwin, once again comparing vaccine mandates to Nazi Germany.

Because requiring safe and effective vaccines before children can enter school and requiring parents to be given as close to true informed consent as possible about the risks and the benefits of vaccination as well as, even more importantly, the risks of not vaccinating is exactly like the sorts of medical atrocities the Nazis committed.

Checking out Schneider’s activity over the last few months, I can’t help but wonder if he’s auditioning for the job of Jenny McCarthy’s replacement. After all, McCarthy has been mighty quiet lately. Sure, she showed up at the antivaccine quackfest Autism One, as she does every year, but it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen her in the media promoting the idea that vaccines cause autism. Perhaps she realizes that such nonsense is bad for her career. Schneider doesn’t appear to have much of a career anymore; so he can let his antivaccine freak flag fly high.

Something tells me the anti-vaxxers would rather have Jenny.  Sure, Jenny McCarthy is an idiot of biblical proportions, but some find her attractive and her “mommy instincts” and promotion by pseudoscience queen Oprah made her a semi-effective face of the anti-vax movement.  Mr. Schneider, on the other hand, is…well….¡Rob!.