Jenny McCarthy officially kicked off her new co-hosting gig today on "The View," replacing Elisabeth Hasselbeck and ushering in the 17th season of the hit daytime talk show.
The actress and activist, who says her sole mission on the program is to "inspire, entertain and engage in conversations that matter to the viewers," nonetheless brings with her tremendous controversy over her stance on vaccines. Since her son Evan was diagnosed with autism in 2005, McCarthy has been a leading member of the largely discredited anti-vaccine movement, ardently convinced his condition could have been avoided.
"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," she told TIME in 2009 after the release of her fifth book, "Healing and Preventing Autism." "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___. If you give us a safe vaccine, we'll use it. It shouldn't be polio versus autism."
McCarthy's beliefs have long been met with derision from the medical community, so it's no surprise that many were extremely concerned earlier this summer when she was announced as the new replacement for Hasselbeck.
"Jenny McCarthy's unfounded claims about the dangers of vaccines has been one of the greatest impediments to efforts to vaccinate children in recent decades," says Amy Pisani, the executive director of Every Child by Two, an international vaccination group co-founded by former first lady Rosalynn Carter.
"Children have died due to this misinformation, and those who perpetuate lies for personal gain ought to be held responsible," Pisani wrote in a letter to host Barbara Walters.
In an article for the New Yorker, Michael Specter goes a step further and says that ABC has made a big mistake by allowing McCarthy a pulpit for her "dangerous views."
"Executives at ABC should be ashamed of themselves for offering McCarthy a regular platform on which she can peddle denialism and fear to the parents of young children who may have legitimate questions about vaccine safety," he writes. "Presumably, those executives have decided that the revenues Jenny McCarthy might generate are worth more than the truth. That’s their right. But it’s a strike against reason and progress and hope. That is a cost that the network won’t be able to afford for long, and neither will the rest of us."
In response to critics, McCarthy said: “I have no personal agenda other than to spiritually grow from the life experiences that come with this job.”
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