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.
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