Sorry Oprah. Signing Jenny McCarthy? You’ve Lost This Fan


I’ve always admired Oprah.  To me she has been the perfect example of the American dream, while retaining her moral compass and behaving ethically.  Until recently, she managed to make her billions by keeping the best interests of her audiences at heart. She had my admiration and my respect.

But no more.

Keep in mind, that when I mention ethics and morals, I’m not suggesting she avoided controversy or wasn’t willing to stick her neck out politically.  Of course, Oprah has been at times controversial and political.

As she has every right to be!  It’s her show / magazine / network / production company / conglomerate! She hasn’t earned her following by being neutral or wishy-washy.  Even when I have disagreed with her opinions on some topics, I still believe she has had every right to voice them.

But until recently, when she has taken a stand, she has done so to improve her audience’s knowledge of a topic, or to help them understand why she believes the way she does.  Oprah has helped us understand point-of-view, whether or not it’s our own point-of-view.

And until recently, I have admired her ability to bring so many and varied points-of-view to her audiences, without her #1 focus being how she could make money from it.  Granted, she invites guests who will maximize the size of the audience, meaning, indirectly, increased income from sponsors, magazine and TV show advertisers, etc.

That’s fair.

What’s wrong is what she has done recently and that is, she has signed a contract with Jenny McCarthy. McCarthy is no longer a once-in-awhile guest.  Now she’s one of Oprah’s annointed ones.  It marks a shift for Oprah, a shift in the wrong direction.

And now, I am no longer a fan.  For the first time, I believe Oprah has traded her media soul to the money-making devil.  And that has tainted everything she will do from now on.

In case you don’t know who Jenny McCarthy is, she is a former playboy bunny – come – self-proclaimed expert in autism.  McCarthy has a son who she claims to have cured of his autism.  She has written books, marched on Washington, and been very vocal, presumably on behalf of families of children with autism.

For the record, I do not claim to know much about autism at all, and for all I know, maybe she HAS cured her son.

What I object to is not McCarthy’s work in autism — rather — her stance that since she believes her son’s autism was caused by vaccines, she now adamantly advises new parents to refuse to have their children vaccinated for childhood diseases.  Her son was born in 2002.

Here’s the problem with that:

First — there is no proof that vaccines cause autism. In fact, all the proof is to the contrary. The agent contained in vaccines that some argued may have caused autism was called thimerisol. Thimerisol has not been used in any vaccines since 1999.  Yet, the number of children diagnosed with autism is on the rise.  Clearly, something else is causing it.

The second problem — that vaccines have been developed strictly to destroy the diseases that destroy lives, but they can’t do their job if they aren’t being used.  Think of the millions who were injured or killed by polio before the polio vaccine.  Today, the only people getting polio are those who have not been vaccinated.  If children are not vaccinated they will risk polio and it’s their parents who, by choosing not to have their children vaccinated, will put their children at risk.  That’s true, too, for every other childhood disease.

Read Time Magazine’s interview with McCarthy. And McCarthy’s very classy quote,

“I do believe sadly it’s going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe. If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it’s their f___ing fault that the diseases are coming back. They’re making a product that’s s___.”

(Those are Time Magazine’s bleeps, not mine.)

As one friend put it:  Jenny McCarthy is systematically destroying children’s and families’ lives by taking such a dangerous stand.  How is that any different from Adolph Hitler?

Jenny McCarthy is not an MD. She has no medical credentials whatsoever.  Yet young parents are listening to her because they are desperate to find someone who can help them with their autistic children.  If they listen to what she has to say about helping their child recover from autism — great.  But to listen to McCarthy’s medical advice about vaccines?  That’s foolish.

Now — returning to Oprah. Oprah has had Jenny McCarthy on her show any number of times.  That’s a good way to showcase McCarthy’s point of view, especially when it’s contrasted with those who are experts, those who really do know something about autism and vaccines.

But to sign McCarthy on, as she has with Dr. Phil McGraw and Dr. Mehmet Oz?  They ARE doctors!  What message is that sending to those who can’t discriminate who does and who does not have good information? (And I wonder how Dr. Phil and Mehmet Oz feel about being in the same media camp as McCarthy?)

And won’t it be interesting when McCarthy spouts her medical opinions (opinions, NOT facts) on her show, a parent does not get her child vaccinated, that child and others are debilitated or die from McCarthy’s advice?  I wonder if Oprah will be sued along with McCarthy?  Afterall, it’s Oprah who has given her the platform.

Oprah — sorry — but you’ve stepped over a line of trust and respect.  You made that flip to the darkside, all in the interest of growing your franchise and making money.

You’ve lost this fan, and I suspect, many others.

Update 5/31/09: Apparently Newsweek agrees with me. Oprah has truly stepped over the line.

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6 thoughts on “Sorry Oprah. Signing Jenny McCarthy? You’ve Lost This Fan”

  1. I couldn’t agree more, Trisha. If celebrities are going to use their status to promote their personal agenda, they must take responsibility for the information they are giving out.
    As a physician, it is my duty to be informed and educated on the human body in health and disease. It is also my responsibility to base my advice and treatment decisions on scientific fact. Sure, there are many things we don’t know, and “facts” as they relate to medicine can change over time, but what Ms. McCarthy is preaching is VERY dangerous. One only has to read “The Great Influenza Epidemic” to recall what can happen with out vaccines.
    People BELIEVE celebrities, more so than their doctors sometimes. While Ms. McCarthy and Oprah are entitled to their opinions, they also need to take responsibility for the “advice” they give.
    I hope you have malpractice insurance, Ms. McCarthy.

  2. Very informative and disturbing article! It is sad to see those who we associate with generally balanced views moving to support those with personal beliefs that are unsupported by facts. On top of it, with the cult of personality associated with celebrities, these people will get far more air time to present their views and the results could be very damaging to modern disease prevention. Sadly, it will probably be hard for some child without inoculation or their parents to sue in the event that the child catches one of the many diseases from which vaccines now protect us.

  3. You are obviously ignorant on the current research of autism and vaccines. Children now receive 36 vaccinations as if they are all born with the same immune system!! Have you noticed through the years that as the number of vaccines increase, so does the number of autistic children. Why is it that so many children are suddenly lost to autism within 24 hours of being vaccinated? At no other time do we expect all children to be treated the exact same. Even the “milestones” children are expected to reach span 3-5 months. Yet, each child is “believed” to have the same immune system and receive the same vaccines.

  4. Jill and Melinda,

    This is not a question of reading McCarthy’s books or even the question of vaccines. This is a question of whether someone with NO TRAINING and NO BACKGROUND in healthcare should be given such a public platform to talk about the medical care children need.

    Would you ask your hairdresser to tell you how to cook for your family? Would you ask your auto mechanic how to decorate your house? Granted, they have both taken care of their own cooking or decorating, but that does not make them experts in telling others how to manage those tasks.

    If Jenny McCarthy wants to talk about her own experiences on her own nickel, that’s one thing. But following recommendations she makes for everyone else is just plain dangerous.

    And Oprah has lost sight of one of her main missions; that is, doing well by her viewers.

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Trisha Torrey
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