Much has been written so far today about Jenny McCarthy joining The View as host, replacing Elisabeth Hasselbeck (who will apparently be joining Fox News in a not entirely surprising turn of events). Excellent pieces by Seth Mnookin, Wendy Sue Swanson, Claire McCarthy, (no relation?) and Phil Plait have said far more, and in a more eloquent manner, than I could hope to. Suffice it to say, I lend my voice to the chorus of educated, pro-science docs and science writers who recognize this for the public relations—nay, public health—fiasco that it is. Giving a bigger and louder mouthpiece to a woman who does not need one, and who uses it to say anti-vaccine, pseudoscientific drivel, is frankly dangerous.
People listened to Jenny McCarthy over the years and look where it got us: a measles outbreak in Brooklyn, a pertussis epidemic in California. And on. And on. Jenny McCarthy has indirectly contributed to disease and to death and my fear is she will continue to do so when she begins her new job on The View. Maybe she will prove me wrong. Maybe the years of writers like Seth Mnookin and Paul Offit and the disgrace of Andrew Wakefield have all served to cow her. Uh huh. And I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you…
Given that she is being hired by ABC precisely to drum up viewers and spice up the ratings, I have to think they know exactly what she wants to say and are all too happy with her saying it. The ensuing controversy and uproar (look, it’s already started and she hasn’t even said anything yet!) are what the network wants to have happen because they generate what advertisers want: tweets, Facebook likes, web page hits, viewers, eyeballs, mindshare. Viewers over vaccines. Ratings over remedies. I think I finally figured out what ABC may end up standing for: “Adding to the Body Count”.
(I realize I am probably adding a tiny amount (how many people do you think read this blog?) of fuel to the fire by writing about this—adding to the attention Jenny McCarthy and The View are getting and may continue to get. I can only hope that when ABC sees the sheer quantity of bad press and social media mentions they are getting by this decision that they will reconsider it. Or at the very least, that we all can help educate people and discourage them from watching The View in coming seasons.)