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Chicago Sun-Times Hires Jenny McCarthy as Columnist. Science Weeps.

Chicago Sun-Times Hires Jenny McCarthy as Columnist. Science Weeps.

Picture of Barbara Feder Ostrov

If it's attention Chicago Sun-Times execs wanted by hiring Jenny McCarthy as a columnist and blogger, they certainly got it. Perhaps not the kind they wanted.

As Robert Feder (no relation) wrote in Time Out Chicago today:

That sound you’re hearing is Mike Royko, Sydney J. Harris and Herman Kogan spinning in their graves. Late Thursday, the Sun-Times announced the hiring of actress, author and former Playboy Playmate Jenny McCarthy as its newest columnist. Ask Jenny will appear Sundays in the newspaper’s Splash section, and her blog will run Monday through Friday at, starting next week. The column will answer reader questions about “love, sex, parenting, friendship, fitness and more,” while the blog will focus on “the daily joys, juggle and struggles of being a single mother” to McCarthy’s 10-year-old son Evan.

McCarthy may be famous for a lot of reasons – Playboy playmate, actress, ex-girlfriend of Jim Carrey – but she is roundly criticized by health experts and many journalists for her views on autism. As a celebrity parent of an autistic son, McCarthy is a leading and sadly influential voice in the discredited movement to blame vaccines for autism. Public health experts fervently wish that she would just shut up.

Predictably, the online reaction to her hiring was swift and brutal:

Jenny McCarthy Signs Deal to Endanger Children via Chicago Newspaper - via @patheos

— Melody Hensley (@MelodyHensley) October 19, 2012

Journalist Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus, which examines the viral growth of the myth that vaccines cause autism and other developmental disorders, has previously blasted the Sun-Times for giving McCarthy a forum for her anti-vaccine, anti-science views. Here is an excerpt of the Panic Virus that deals with McCarthy.

Now the Sun Times has given McCarthy an even bigger platform, and that's a travesty.

Related Content:

Seth Mnookin on Chicago Sun-Times-Jenny McCarthy "propaganda piece"

Why Politicians (and Some Journalists) Should Be Banned from Talking about Vaccines

Covering Vaccines

Wakefield's Wake: Treat advocacy groups with a healthy dose of skepticism

Wakefield’s Wake: Trust parents of autistic kids, but verify stories with health records

Photo credit: Steven DePolo via Flickr


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The hiring of Jenny McCarthy by the Sun-Times continues that rag's deterioration into a birdcage liner. This move continues the anti-intellectual landslide that is now occurring in the country. For years, the right-wingers (and many libs) who cannot handle facts, numbers, equations, etc. have done all they can to eliminate accountability. How? By removing objective facts and replacing them with subjective "truths". Forget wildlife population monitoring - replace it with malleable ecosystem-based assumptions. Epidemiological evidence? Replace it with assertions and opinions. Expert knowledge? Replace it with slick-talking punditry. Evidence that vaccines work based upon double-blind testing? Replace it with anecdotal stories where correlation is causation, period.
The biggest reason that well-meaning people take the word of a C-list actress over the thousands of pages of peer-reviewed scientific studies is that it's easier. And since no one sees thousands of crippled people on the streets from polio anymore, or individuals with facial deformities from mumps, or permanent scarring from measels (because of vaccines), they think vaccines are not needed anymore. It's kind of like having one's blood pressure controlled by medicine and once it's down to normal levels, stopping the treatment. Dumb and Dumber is right.

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Absolutely disgusting. This woman should go in hiding for all the death she has indirectly caused. I can't believe they'd make this decision.

In Chicago years ago, there was HUGE backlash when NBC hired Jerry Springer as an editorial speaker on the 10PM news. So bad that Carol Maureen left the station and Springer was let go.

This is far worse and I truly hope that the backlash is just as notable.

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Have you all read the conclusive evidence that the "Vaccine court" finally allowed to be open to the public? Yet, no indication that vaccines are even remotely bad for you? For which, was fought long and hard to even allow the freedom of information to be made. Have you all read up on Hanna Polling? Do you know how difficult it is to get a case against the vaccine courts even started? Yes, there is a special court dedicated just for vaccine cases under the protection of federal law. What about the fact that some European studies have concluded a strange similarity of Dr. Wakefield’s studies? Oddly, they were countries with universal health care. It is interesting that a nation that has only has two people from two parties could ever feel like they have access to freedom and truth of information. Sorry to break it to you folks, but corporations own your leaders and are campaigning for them as you read this and corporations have owned your gold rush of a medical empire. Personally speaking, I had a child that would eat well, give strong eye contact, and laughed and played with other children. Literally, weeks after giving the MMR vaccines he was a shell of a boy I once knew. Good luck with your op-ed piece "Reporting on Health", hope the strongest, number one advertiser in America (pharmaceutical companies) gives you a great incentive bonus on your huge inside story. It's so shocking that we still have these articles disclaiming the vaccine company’s responsibility and yet no big root of the problem is really found, just theories. Like the so called studies reporting that only older man sperm causes it, or drugs or women smoking, older women, environmental factors. I was a twenty year old man both of us non-smokers and we never did drugs! None have them have been proven and yet no scientist of doctor has been scrutinized or ostracized like Dr. Wakefield, why? I work at a hospital and know a neurologist that has gone to the vaccine court and said there is a definite correlation with “strong” evidence to suggest it. It’s all a smoke screen, keep believing the flow with it, over paid media that keeps selling this telemarketer stuff like a huge snuggie buyout sale and you will wonder why your kid has these terrible symptoms and now needs constant care for the rest of their life. Those of us with Autistic kids who have seen what happens after the vaccines, these articles are a slap in the face and stink like rotting fish in the garbage. Good luck with the opinion based reporting "Reporting on Health" and start reporting on actual health and news. We the public will come to and make our own conclusions and opinions on the subject.

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Sun-Times seems to be pandering. Very upsetting.
Note, Tony, the name is Carol Marin.

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It's sad that anyone who dares question the efficacy and safety of immunizations is labeled a kook. One thing to remember - since the vaccine makers cannot be sued in court (they have to be sued in "vaccine court," established in the 1980s to protect them) and are shielded from accountability, they have no motive to produce a safe and effective product.

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How incredibly out of touch you are. You owe an apology to every vaccine injured child out there, and there are now hundreds of thousands. There's plenty of parents that are well aware of the damage that can be caused by vaccines, who've never even heard of Jenny McCarthy. Do some research and inform yourself!

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Its superb as your other posts : D, regards for posting . "So, rather than appear foolish afterward, I renounce seeming clever now." by William of Baskerville.

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“Racism in medicine is a national emergency.” That’s how journalist Nicholas St. Fleur characterized the crisis facing American health care this spring, as his team at STAT embarked on “Color Code,” an eight-episode series exploring medical mistrust in communities of color across the country. In this webinar, we’ll take inspiration from their work to discuss strategies and examples for telling stories about inequities, disparities and racism in health care systems. Sign-up here!

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