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The Witch Hunt of Jenny McCarthy for Talking About Vaccines

August 06, 2013

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Story at-a-glance

  • Jenny McCarthy was recently called a “blonde idiot” and “a threat to the survival of mankind” in mainstream media article for speaking out about her son’s vaccine reaction, as ABC TV executives back Barbara Walters' hire of McCarthy for daytime talk show "The View"
  • Medical literature spanning a century documents the fact that vaccines can cause: brain inflammation, chronic nervous system dysfunction, seizures, arthritis, vaccine strain viral infection, shock and “unusual shock-like state,” and death
  • Recently published medical literature points out there is insufficient evidence to determine whether the current recommended schedule of 49 doses of 14 vaccines between day of birth and age six is or is not associated with the development of serious health problems in children, including learning disabilities, asthma, epilepsy and autism
  • One out of every six American children is learning disabled, 1 in 9 has asthma, 1 in 50 develops autism
  • There has never been a large, well-designed study comparing the health outcomes of highly vaccinated children and those remaining unvaccinated or using fewer vaccines

By Barbara Loe Fisher

Now that it looks like ABC-TV executives are backing Barbara Walters’ hire of celebrity Jenny McCarthy to join the popular daytime talk show "The View",1 the blood that spilled on the ground of the Fourth Estate during 10 hot days in July is beginning to dry.

It was fascinating to watch the well-orchestrated response by online mainstream media, which took on the frenzy of an old fashioned witch hunt to burn a heretic at the stake.

Reviewing 29 articles published in major print and broadcast media outlets between July 9 and July 18, 20132 with 19 of them written by males, it became obvious that some of them are really upset about “blonde” girls expressing politically incorrect opinions about vaccine side effects, a topic that has become the biggest taboo talk in America.

Several media outlets used her gender to take the first punch with headlines such as “Putting Jenny McCarthy on the View: Good Sex Over Bad Science”3 and “ 'View' Host Jenny McCarthy’s Vaccine-Autism Claims: Beauty vs. Science.”4

'The Pretty Idiot' is a Threat to the Survival of Mankind?

Some tried to bash McCarthy’s brain by focusing on her body. Cat calls like “buxom physique," “blonde bombshell,” “sex symbol,” “object of teenage boys' fantasies,” "bleached blonde hair,” “pulchritudinous,” “ the pretty idiot,” “Playboy Playmate of the Year”, and so on were effortlessly tossed into the story.5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Once the boys' club firmly established that she is really only good for one thing, they moved on to alleging that if she is allowed to open her mouth and talk on “The View,” she will in fact and without question threaten the very survival of the human race. One of them took bizarre name-calling to new heights by hurling the epithet “homicidal maniac” at her.10

I am not sure how presumably well-educated men expected people to swallow the vacuous argument that the woman is both a dumb blonde and a threat to mankind, but for some inexplicable reason that is exactly what they tried to do.

And, further embarrassing themselves, they desperately tried to persuade all the rest of us to be as emotionally invested in her hire on “The View” as they are and immediately write to the bosses at ABC to express our shock and horror.11, 12

A Call to Muzzle Vaccine Talking Moms

It could have been amusing summer entertainment watching guys fall all over themselves to one up each other with hysterical hyperbole, but it quickly became obvious that it was about much more than slapping around a celebrity Mom because she has talked publicly about her son’s vaccine reaction and how she helped him get better.13

Way more.

And, although males outnumbered females in suggesting that mothers should not be allowed to talk about vaccines in public unless the script is pre-approved by a politically correct M.D. or Ph.D., a few of the female writers going after McCarthy and ABC were just as adamant about the urgent need to muzzle vaccine talking Moms challenging the status quo.14, 15, 16

Four of the 29 headlines featured the word “dangerous.”17, 18, 19 One apocalyptic headline screamed “Dear ABC: Putting Jenny McCarthy on ‘The View’ Will Kill Children”20 while an article written by a female pediatrician used the same threatening approach: “ABC’s Hiring of Jenny McCarthy: A Decision That Could Cost Lives.”21

The collective howl of indignation escalated when Barbara Walters' and ABC did not flinch. Using poison pens and heavyweight media platforms, the writers ridiculed the intelligence, values and beliefs of mothers like McCarthy taking matters into their own hands when a healthy child suddenly develops brain and immune system dysfunction after vaccination, a condition doctors can’t explain and often label “autism” but dismiss as “just a coincidence” or bad parental “genes” without looking any further.22, 23, 24

Century of Medical Literature: Yes, Vaccines CAN Do THAT

Never mind that there is more than a century of medical literature documenting the fact that vaccines can cause:

  • Brain inflammation
  • Chronic nervous system dysfunction
  • Seizures
  • Arthritis
  • Vaccine strain viral infection
  • Shock and “unusual shock-like state”
  • Protracted inconsolable crying
  • Death

The indisputable fact that vaccines can do that has been acknowledged by the Institute of Medicine in a series of peer-reviewed reports published between 1991 and 2013.25, 26, 27, 28The last one pointed out that there is not enough scientific evidence to determine if the current recommended schedule of 49 doses of 14 vaccines between day of birth and age six29 is or is not associated with the development of a whole host of health problems in children - everything from autoimmunity, allergies, asthma, epilepsy, ADHD and learning disabilities to – yes – autism.30, 31, 32

The indisputable fact that vaccines can hurt people and that doctors still don’t know which individuals are more biologically susceptible to suffering vaccine damage33 was codified into law by Congress in the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.34 That law has awarded more than $2.7 billion dollars to Americans harmed by vaccines in exchange for shielding drug companies and doctors from vaccine injury lawsuits in civil court.35, 36

With vaccine failures among highly vaccinated children playing a big role in outbreaks of B. pertussis whooping cough,37, 38 the hype about Jenny McCarthy joining “The View” could be just a red herring. But it is going to take a lot of red herrings to distract millions of parents from talking about why 1 child in 6 in America is learning disabled,39 1 in 9 suffers with asthma,40 1 in 50 develops autism41 or why there has never been a large, well-designed study comparing the health outcomes of highly vaccinated children and those remaining unvaccinated or using fewer vaccines.42

Media: Non-Medical Degrees, PR, Politics, Marketing & Other Expertise

Most of the writers who wrote stories about a vaccine talking celebrity Mom joining “The View,” including those calling for censorship and the gutting of journalistic standards that ensure fair balance - when it comes to writing stories about vaccination43 - are journalists by profession. 28 of the 29 articles were written by individuals without medical degrees, although one is a pharmacologist, one is an astronomer and one has a PhD in biological sciences.

The majority have degrees in Journalism, English, History or Political Science with some also listing expertise in public relations and communications, marketing and fund raising, political media campaign management, TV and entertainment.44

Even though these writers do not have medical degrees, the U.S. Constitution guarantees them the liberty to express their views about Jenny McCarthy, Barbara Walters, ABC and vaccines, just as the media outlets publishing their opinions are protected by the First Amendment. That legal right to engage in critical thinking and to hold personal beliefs and to exercise free speech, belongs to every American - not just to those articulating talking points made or approved by citizens with M.D. or Ph.D. written after their names.

Public Talking About Vaccine Safety Since 1982

Parents, doctors, legislators and journalists started talking publicly about vaccine safety issues in America in 1982,45 16 years before a paper about MMR vaccine and autism was published in The Lancet. Mothers were talking about what happens to their children’s health after vaccination long before the Library of Medicine was posted online and the world wide web became the biggest talk show on the planet.

Vaccine talk will continue in the kitchens and on the smart phones and tablets of critical thinking women, who are using the brains and mother’s instincts they were born with to make informed health care choices for their children. Vaccine talk will continue because, today, many more mothers either have a child or know a child who was healthy, got vaccinated and was never healthy again.

Evangelistic doctors should stop trying so hard to shut down vaccine talking and just do the credible science that will answer the question on everybody’s mind: what exactly is causing the 1 child in 50 $126 billion dollar a year46 public health disaster doctors call autism, but still can’t agree on how to define it or how often it happens. One thing doctors say they know for sure is that vaccines don’t have anything to do with autism because the Earth is not flat, there is nothing more to be learned about vaccine side effects and autism cannot be cured, so parents should just forget about it.

That empty rhetoric is not flying these days with thinking Moms and Dads digging deeper and learning that good health is about more than using lots of vaccines to prevent infections. Become educated about diseases and vaccines. It’s your health. Your family. Your choice.

Protect Your Right to Informed Consent and Defend Vaccine Exemptions

With all the uncertainty surrounding the safety and efficacy of vaccines, it's critical to protect your right to informed consent to vaccination and fight to protect and expand vaccine exemptions in state public health laws. The best way to do this is to get personally involved with your state legislators and the leaders in your community.


Mass vaccination policies are made at the federal level but vaccine laws are made at the state level. It is at the state level where your action to protect your vaccine choice rights can have the greatest impact. It is critical for EVERYONE to get involved now in standing up for the legal right to make vaccine choices in America because those choices are being threatened by lobbyists representing drug companies, medical trade associations and public health officials, who are trying to persuade legislators to strip all vaccine exemptions from public health laws.

Signing up for NVIC's free Advocacy Portal at gives you immediate, easy access to your own state legislators on your Smart Phone or computer so you can make your voice heard. You will be kept up-to-date on the latest state bills threatening your vaccine choices and get practical, useful information to help you become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your own community. Also, when national vaccine issues come up, you will have the up-to-date information and call to action items you need at your fingertips.

So please, as your first step, sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal.

Share Your Story with the Media and People You Know

If you or a family member has suffered a serious vaccine reaction, injury or death, please talk about it. If we don't share information and experiences with each other, everybody feels alone and afraid to speak up. Write a letter to the editor if you have a different perspective on a vaccine story that appears in your local newspaper. Make a call in to a radio talk show that is only presenting one side of the vaccine story.

I must be frank with you; you have to be brave because you might be strongly criticized for daring to talk about the "other side" of the vaccine story. Be prepared for it and have the courage to not back down. Only by sharing our perspective and what we know to be true about vaccination will the public conversation about vaccination open up so people are not afraid to talk about it.

We cannot allow the drug companies and medical trade associations funded by drug companies or public health officials promoting forced use of a growing list of vaccines to dominate the conversation about vaccination. The vaccine injured cannot be swept under the carpet and treated like nothing more than "statistically acceptable collateral damage" of national one-size-fits-all mandatory vaccination policies that put way too many people at risk for injury and death. We shouldn't be treating people like guinea pigs instead of human beings.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

I encourage you to visit the following web pages on the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) website at

  • NVIC Memorial for Vaccine Victims: View descriptions and photos of children and adults, who have suffered vaccine reactions, injuries and deaths. If you or your child experiences an adverse vaccine event, please consider posting and sharing your story here.
  • If You Vaccinate, Ask 8 Questions: Learn how to recognize vaccine reaction symptoms and prevent vaccine injuries.
  • Vaccine Freedom Wall: View or post descriptions of harassment and sanctions by doctors, employers, school and health officials for making independent vaccine choices.

Connect with Your Doctor or Find a New One That Will Listen and Care

If your pediatrician or doctor refuses to provide medical care to you or your child unless you agree to get vaccines you don't want, I strongly encourage you to have the courage to find another doctor. Harassment, intimidation, and refusal of medical care is becoming the modus operandi of the medical establishment in an effort to stop the change in attitude of many parents about vaccinations after they become truly educated about health and vaccination.

However, there is hope.

At least 15 percent of young doctors recently polled admit that they're starting to adopt a more individualized approach to vaccinations in direct response to the vaccine safety concerns of parents. It is good news that there is a growing number of smart young doctors, who prefer to work as partners with parents in making personalized vaccine decisions for children, including delaying vaccinations or giving children fewer vaccines on the same day or continuing to provide medical care for those families, who decline use of one or more vaccines.

So take the time to locate a doctor, who treats you with compassion and respect and is willing to work with you to do what is right for your child.

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Sources and References

  • 1 ABC. Jenny McCarthy Joins ‘The View’ As Co-Host Announcement. July 15, 2013
  • 2 NVIC-Selected Mainstream Media Coverage of ABC TV’s Hiring of Jenny McCarthy for “The View” from July 9, 2013 to July 18, 2013. July 24, 2013
  • 3 Felix Gillette. Putting Jenny McCarthy on ‘The View’ – Good Sex Over Bad Science. Businessweek July 18, 2013. Felix Gillette BIO
  • 4 Tim Molloy. ‘View’ Host Jenny McCarthy’s Vaccine-Autism Claims: Beauty Versus Science. Reuters July 16, 2013. Tim Molloy BIO
  • 5 Seth Mnookin. A Jenny McCarthy Reader Pt. 1: The Birth of a Star and an Embrace of ‘Crystal Children.’ July 15, 2013. Seth Mnookin BIO
  • 6 Michael Specter. Jenny McCarthy’s Dangerous Views. New Yorker July 16, 2013. Michael Specter BIO
  • 7 Alex Parene. Dear ABC: Putting Jenny McCarthy on ‘The View’ Will Kill Children. July 16, 2013. Alex Pareene BIO
  • 8 James Poniewozik. Viruses Don’t Care About Your View: Why ABC Shouldn’t Have Hired Jenny McCarthy. Time Magazine July 15, 2013. James Poniewozik BIO
  • 9 David Kroll. Jenny McCarthy Is A Dangerous Example of Medical Celebrity. Forbes July 16, 2013. David Kroll BIO
  • 10 Meredith Blake. Jenny McCarthy’s Hiring As ‘View’ Co-Host Is Matter of Contention. Los Angeles Times July 16, 2013. Meredith Blake BIO
  • 11 Phil Plait. The View of Jenny McCarthy. Slate July 9, 2013. Phil Plait BIO
  • 12 See ref 7
  • 13 Jenny McCarthy. Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism. Dutton: The Penguin Group 2007
  • 14 Mary Elizabeth Williams. Don’t Put Jenny McCarthy on ‘The View.’ July 11, 2013. Mary Elizabeth Williams BIO
  • 15 Alexandra Petri. Jenny McCarthy on ‘The View’ – Not the Medically Correct View, Just the View. Washington Post July 15, 2013. Alexandra Petri BIO
  • 16 Margaret Sullivan. Just the Facts, No False Balance Wanted Here. New York Times July 17, 2013. Margaret Sullivan BIO
  • 17 Paul Thornton. Jenny McCarthy – Dangerous At Any Volume. Los Angeles Times July 16, 2013. Paul Thornton BIO
  • 18 Brendan Nyhan. When ‘He Said,’ ‘She Said’ is Dangerous. Columbia Journalism Review July 16, 2013. Brendan Nyhan BIO
  • 19 See References #6 and #9
  • 20 See ref 7
  • 21 Claire McCarthy, M.D. ABC’s Hiring of Jenny McCarthy: A Decision That Could Cost Lives. Boston Globe July 16, 2013. Claire McCarthy BIO
  • 22 David M. Perry. Destabilizing the Jenny McCarthy Public Health Industrial Complex. Atlantic Monthly July 11, 2013. And David M. Perry. Jenny McCarthy
  • 23 Harold Maass. Jenny McCarthy, The View and Anti-Vaccination Quackery. The Week July 16, 2013. Harold Maass BIO
  • 24 See References #5, #6, #8, #9, and #14
  • 25 Institute of Medicine Vaccine Safety Committee. Adverse Effects of Pertussis and Rubella Vaccines. Washington, DC. The National Academies Press. 1991
  • 26 Institute of Medicine Vaccine Safety Committee. Adverse Events Association with Childhood Vaccines: Evidence Bearing on Causality. Neurologic Disorder
  • 27 Institute of Medicine. DPT Vaccine and Chronic Nervous System Dysfunction: A New Analysis. Washington, D.C. The National Academies Press 1994
  • 28 Institute of Medicine Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines. Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality. Washington, DC
  • 29 Centers for Disease Control. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Recommended Immunization Schedule for Persons Aged 0 Through 18 Years
  • 30 Businesswire. National Vaccine Information Center Supports Three of Five Recommendations of New IOM Report on US Childhood Immunization Schedule
  • 31 The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety: Stakeholder Concerns, Scientific Evidence and Future Studies
  • 32 Ibid. Review of Scientific Findings. Chapter 5: Pages 69 - 88
  • 33 Ibid. Evaluating Biological Mechanisms of Adverse Events. Chapter 3: Page 82
  • 34 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986
  • 35 Health Resources Services Administration. National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Statistics Report. June 26, 2013
  • 36 National Vaccine Information Center Cites ‘Betrayal’ of Consumers by U.S. Supreme Court Giving Total Liability Shield to Big Pharma
  • 37 Kane J. Whooping cough Outbreak: Top 10 Things You Should Know - #6 Vaccine Refusals and Disease Importations Are Not to Blame for Outbreaks
  • 38 Liz Szabo. US Whooping cough may be becoming resistant to vaccines. USA Today Feb. 18, 2013
  • 39 Boyle CA, Boulet S et al. Trends in the Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities in US Children 1997 – 2008
  • 40 CDC. Asthma in the U.S.: Growing Every Year
  • 41 Changes in Prevalence of Parent-reported Autism Spectrum Disorder in School-aged U.S. Children: 2007 to 2011-2013
  • 42 The Safety of the Childhood Vaccine Schedule: A Public Perspective
  • 43 See References #7, #16, #18
  • 44 See Reference #2
  • 45 Coulter HL, Fisher BL. DPT: A Shot in the Dark. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1985 (Warner 1986, Avery 1991, Penguin - current)
  • 46 Jonathan Berr. How Autism Can Cost Families Millions. MSN Money Mar. 25, 2013
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