Jenny McCarthy, antivaccine lunacy, and “The View”

Like Steve, I’m off to The Amazing Meeting today. I don’t know how much I’ll be posting, but, as Han Solo so famously said, “Hey, it’s me.” I’m sure I won’t be able to resist. In any case, I’ll be taking part in the Science-Based Medicine workshop tomorrow, and, for the first time ever, I’ll be giving a talk on the main stage on Saturday, as half of a tag team with Bob Blaskiewicz slicing and dicing our favorite cancer doctor Stanislaw Burzynski. That will be followed by a panel on—what else?—science-based medicine and how to take on the cranks, quacks, and dubious in medicine.

In any case, even though I was busy packing last night and doing other sundry things, there was something that happened that no doubt you expect me to comment on; so I will, albeit briefly. That’s the report that our old “friend” Jenny McCarthy is being seriously considered to The View as Joy Behar’s replacement. I have a day job; so I don’t watch the show. Even when I have a day off or am on vacation I don’t watch the show. However, it is very popular, and it would provide a platform for Jenny McCarthy to promote, well, Jenny McCarthy. How much she would bring up her antivaccine nonsense (and all you have to do is to type her name in the search box of this blog to find copious examples of just how scientifically ignorant she is and just what sorts of dangerous medical misinformation she promotes) is debatable. Somehow I’d guess it would be very little or none. However, her reputation, which she has made, precedes her, and putting her on such a popular show would send a terrible message. Although she’s furled her antivaccine freak flag a bit in recent years, she is still the keynote speaker every year at the antivaccine quackfest known as Autism One.

Phil Plait already gave the contact information for ABC if you want to point out why hiring Jenny McCarthy would be a bad idea. Damn this having a day job thing; I didn’t get to it until late last night, and by that time every blogger and his grandmother had already spread it hither, thither, and yon over social media. Oh, well.

One thing I can give you that Pil can’t is the take of the antivaccine cranksophere. The “media editor” of the antivaccine crank blog “Age of Autism” actually brought up what might-might, I repeat—have been one of her rare good points this morning:

This seemed like a setup. I really think the purpose was to discredit Jenny. Note the mention of her stand on vaccines.

What can I say? A blind squirrel can sometimes find a nut, and a stopped watch is right twice a day. Of course, Jenny made her name over the last six or seven years by being rabidly antivaccine; so it’s only natural and expected that a news story about her would mention it. The story might be legit. On the other hand, I note that it’s an “insider” giving the report. No sources are named. It could be anyone from an ally of McCarthy’s trying to talk her up for the role and garner publicity, or it could be an ally of one of her rivals for the position trying to quash her chances. Who knows? Just to be safe, it’s still probably not a bad idea to write to ABC.

In the meantime, if you’re going to be at TAM too, sound off! We should touch bases. Just not right before I’m going to give my talks. I get a bit nervous sometimes…