It s been a rough month for Jenny McCarthy. Following her backpedaling op-ed in the April 12th Chicago Sun-Times she has taken considerable heat for stating that she has never been anti-vaccine, as well as suggesting an alternative vaccination schedule based on her feelings.
We at ACSH approached this from a different angle in a Dispatch item last week, where we asked why should anyone care in the least what a former model has to say about immunology.
But in an op-ed column the April 21st New York Times entitled Autism and the Agitator, author Frank Bruni is, well, rather frank. And that s putting it kindly. Bruni questions McCarthy s claims that she was never anti-vaccine, and she has a lot of explaining to do if she wants to get out of this.
It is pretty clear where Bruni is going from his opening two sentences: What do you call someone who sows misinformation, stokes fear, abets behavior that endangers people s health, extracts enormous visibility from doing so and then says the equivalent of Who? Me? I m not aware of any common noun for a bad actor of this sort. But there s a proper noun: Jenny McCarthy.
It does not get any better later:
In 2007, she was invited on Oprah and said that when she took Evan to the doctor for the combined measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, she had a very bad feeling about what she recklessly termed the autism shot. [And] If I had another child, I would not vaccinate.
In 2009 she was quoted in Time Magazine, saying If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the measles. I ve deleted the expletive she used before the second measles.
Bruni continues to systematically dismantle similar claims she made on CNN and in The Huffington Post.
ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom, who has written often about McCarthy s stance on vaccines, says, It s comforting (although rare) when people actually stand up and challenge some idiocy that made the headlines simply because it was said by a celebrity. It is especially important in this case, since McCarthy started opening her yap about this about ten years after Andrew Wakefield s fraudulent studies on the MMR vaccine started this movement. Fuel to a phony fire.
We suggest you read Bruni s entire op-ed. He pulls no punches.