After much public outcry, Jenny McCarthy finally made her debut on The View today when the show began Season 17. Since July 15, when the actress and best-selling author was officially named co-host (along with Barbara Walters, Sherri Shepherd, and Whoopi Goldberg), many individuals and publications have issued protests. Why object to the likeable McCarthy? For years now, McCarthy has been claiming that her son developed autism due to vaccinations received as a baby.
“Jenny McCarthy, who will join “The View” in September, will be the show’s first co-host whose dangerous views on childhood vaccination may—if only indirectly—have contributed to the sickness and death of people throughout the Western world, “ wrote Michael Specter in The New Yorker.
In an interview with Time in 2009, McCarthy stated that she was not antivaccine but simply someone demanding safer vaccines. “Children are given so many shots from the moment they're born,” she told Time. “They get multiple injections all at once, and if they fall behind, doctors put them on a catch-up schedule.”
Nevertheless, many accuse her of being misinformed and, worse, spreading misleading data. "Children have died due to this misinformation, and those who perpetuate lies for personal gain ought to be held responsible," Amy Pisani, the executive director of an international vaccination group, wrote in a letter to host Barbara Walters. "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."
What is the truth? According to Specter, “scores of studies, involving tens of thousands of children in several countries” have identified no association “between autism and vaccines of any kind, no matter when they are administered or how many a child receives.” Yet, an article published 15 years ago in the medical journal The Lancet (and that was since retracted) unfortunately sparked belief in this connection between vaccines and autism. But it's an understandable fear, according to Specter, because many parents first notice developmental problems around the same time their children receive several vaccinations — about 18 months old.
What’s most odd about the choice of McCarthy as co-host is that it seems impossible not to view her appearance on the show as stirring controversy. According to the Huffington Post, the show conducted audience research earlier this year that showed viewers disliked the frequent (and heated) political debates. According to several sources who spoke with The Hollywood Reporter, Joy Behar and Elizabeth Hasselbeck were deemed too 'polarizing' for their political views. Oddly, hasn't everyone been saying pretty much the same things about McCarthy?
“She has connected with our audience and offers a fresh point of view. Jenny will be a great addition to the show as we usher in an exciting new chapter for The View,” said Barbara Walters in a statement.