Have you written your letter to Oprah yet?

If you have been keeping up with Pal or Orac in my absence, you already know the bad news. Oprah has decided to up her woo quotient from promotion of the Secret and relatively harmless nonsense to actively promoting anti-vaccine conspiracy theories in the form of a Jenny McCarthy TV show. Gawker suggests a good title, “Finding Someone to Blame When Bad Things Happen”.

Jenny McCarthy is an insipid, dangerous idiot. And a Wacko. Oprah’s move isn’t just some harmless addition to the drivel that occupies our screens known as “daytime TV”. This is actively dangerous. This is, as Pal says, infectious disease promotion. I don’t want the proof that we’re right about vaccines (other than thousands of scientific papers and the last 100 years of human history) to be a bunch of dead kids or more kids born with birth defects due to a reemergence of congenital rubella. I don’t think Oprah is a bad person, she certainly doesn’t have malicious intent. I’m sure McCarthy even has good intentions behind her lies and misinformation. But that doesn’t mean such dangerous idiots should be tolerated, given airtime, and their own TV shows. If Oprah does not work to actively reverse this deal, and undo the harm that Jenny McCarthy does as an infectious disease advocate, the resulting illness and deaths will be her responsibility.

Young Australian Skeptics have written their letter to Oprah. Go here and write your own. Mine is below the fold.

To Oprah and the producers of the Oprah Winfrey Show:

I am writing in regards to the recent decision to offer Jenny McCarthy a multi-platform deal and why I believe this is a terrible error. Jenny McCarthy is a leading conspiracy theorist in the promotion of propaganda against vaccines, medicine and public health. Giving her a platform to spread misinformation is tantamount to infectious disease promotion. The result of your advancing her anti-vaccine campaign will be the deaths of children and adults, the return of vaccine-preventable disease, and unspeakable harm to the public health of this country and others around the world.

There is absolutely no validity to the claim vaccines cause autism. There is no validity to McCarthy’s claims that the current vaccine schedule is harmful. There is also no scientific basis for any of her health misinformation she has already started posting at her blog. Rather than informing the public and improving our lives you have opted to promote the spread of misinformation and lies about health. This is unethical, immoral and I believe will ultimately create a backlash against you and your show, especially if vaccine-preventable diseases again become endemic as they have in other countries where these denialist beliefs have taken hold.

I believe Oprah, and even Jenny McCarthy, have nothing but the best of intentions. However, their beliefs are unscientific and contradict everything we know about medicine and public health. Oprah has the ability as an excellent communicator to do great things for the public good. Rather than promoting infectious diseases, she should be voicing support for childhood vaccination, science-based medicine, and public health practices consistent with the recommendations of scientific experts.

Mark Hoofnagle, MD/PhD


11 responses to “Have you written your letter to Oprah yet?”

  1. Thank you for this link – I just sent one off myself. Allowing Jenny to spread her lies is the worst possible thing Oprah could have done, short of supporting Matthias Rath’s HIV campaign.

  2. Thanks for this. Your letter served as a nice jumping-off point as I drafted my own.

  3. Orac linked to this some time back, but I think Oprah Winfrey needs to sit down and read this:


    I was already in agreement with the science, but this is just powerful as all get out.

  4. girma m andarge

    how are you iam ok any way i will send to you my email

  5. kevin

    That’s a great letter, thank you for sending it. Can we copy/forward it with our own comments (obviously not plagiarize it, or send it as our own)? Do you think that would help or hurt?

    Shows thrive on funding. If McCarthy’s show ever hits air it would be a good idea to aggressively target any company that elects to advertise during it. Point out to them what they are supporting. Make a big enough stink and they won’t want the PR nightmare and will (hopefully) pull their support.

  6. thank you

  7. Luna_the_cat

    You appear to have a “foreign troll” infestation. Better spray.

  8. oldwoman

    Oprah has access to competent medical professionals who she uses on her shows. Oprah has almost certainly been advised that Jenny is full of dangerous woo. I’m not sure that fact based letters will change her mind about Jenny if her own medical staff has been unable to do so. Not that we shouldn’t try. Just saying.

  9. Lance


    You were probably in grade school so you probably don’t remember the silicone breast implant/lupus auto-immune system disease, woo of the 1980’s.

    Oprah hosted a show that featured scientists form the Mayo Clinic among other reputable scientific organizations that presented overwhelming evidence from multiple studies that demonstrated that silicone breast implants were not responsible for these alleged illnesses.

    Oprah had an audience full of hysterical women that were “certain” that their wide array of maladies were caused by their breast implants.

    Faced with a choice between multiple double blind studies by several independent scientific bodies and the over-wrought emotional “feelings” of a room full of Jenny McCarthy-esque women Oprah made her choice.

    She of course sided with the loopy ladies and dismissed the scientific evidence.

    Of course if you think about it she was acting quite logically and in her own interest. Loopy over-wrought women are her core audience after all.

    Good luck with the letter writing. I won’t be wasting any ink hoping that Oprah is suddenly going to side with science over emotion.

  10. Anonymous

    plagiarizing it…did not think so, Yes, Kevin…if its my letter that is the “good Letter”…your request is my Wish. I do very well appreciate the Link. “be Blessed” …S0, BLESS. Thank You!

  11. PamphyLi’a@Google.com

    I can’t believe “spring semester” Over; there with a lively Hope…I’ll not miss The “summer semester” ! Yes, you certainly can use my letter to aid, One; or many. I don’t write them often, I wish I would…bad lanuage ; smiles! Thanks for such a Link., I don’t look for nothing bad in no one., but if its there., it wont be hid for long, I’m not a judge but have a Judge. Why put people way down…with yourself? Because, if you put them UP beside your PIC “self” …could be a proven FACT/ reflexreflect, on passerbyes., with gratefulness…this makes us all want to better not bader. “catch that”. GOOD YEAR ROUND INN 2009.pg

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *