Will Jenny McCarthy Bring her Anti-Vaccine Talk to 'The View'?
As we found out Monday on The View, the rumors were true: Jenny McCarthy will indeed replace Joy Behar on the daytime television talk show. And while my Bustle colleague Carrie Murphy doesn't think that McCarthy's addition to the show will be a dangerous one in terms of her views on anti-vaccination, I have to disagree. The pro-vaccine group Every Child By Two executive director Amy Pisani says that "Jenny McCarthy's unfounded claims about the dangers of vaccines has been one of the greatest impediments to efforts to vaccinate children in recent decades." In fact, Every Child By Two petitioned Barbara Walters not to allow McCarthy to replace Behar, but to no avail.
The power of celebrity to influence the public can be dangerous: In a 2008 USA Today/Gallup Poll, a whopping one in four adults said they were aware of McCarthy's views on vaccines, and 40 percent of those adults said her claims made them more likely to question vaccine safety. Of course, this spurned a resounding yikes from public health groups.
Do I think that McCarthy's presence means that The View and ABC are now anti-vaccine? No, not necessarily. But I do think that ABC's lack of response to the controversy that surrounds McCarthy is particularly glib and aloof. Walters said of McCarthy's arrival that "Jenny brings us intelligence as well as warmth and humor. She can be serious and outrageous." But the outrageous side of McCarthy is way outrageous, and to provide a platform for such a staid anti-vaccine voice is imminently dangerous. David M. Perry, writer at The Atlantic and parent of a son with Down syndrome, notes that in an atmosphere of fear-mongering, McCarthy's presence will only continue to influence parents of children with disabilities and steer them away from vaccinations.
Whether McCarthy will use The View to propagate her views on the dangers of vaccines (of which there is no scientific evidence) remains to be seen. ABC made no comment in their official press release if McCarthy would speak to the issue on the show, but given her history of spreading her views on the likes of The Oprah Winfrey Show and Larry King Live, I have a sneaking suspicion it will definitely come up.