Friday, November 9, 2012

Letters to the Editors: Jenny McCarthy Edition

Over at Vaccinate Your Baby/Every Child by Two, the fine folks who run that page are encouraging parents to speak up against the Chicago Sun-Times decision to hire Jenny McCarthy as a columnist offering up parenting and family advice. Let's leave alone the comment such a hire makes on the state of journalism in this country and focus on the fact that McCarthy's anti-vaccine nonsense has been profoundly destructive in this country.

Amy Pisani over at Every Child By Two is asking parents who care about protecting children and vulnerable adults from infectious disease to write to Jim Kirk, the Editor-in-Chief of the Chicago Sun-Times to explain why McCarthy's history as an anti-vaccine activist and her new soapbox at the paper puts all of our children at risk. Below is my contribution, which I just sent. If you're interested in speaking up, email Jim Kirk at the Sun-Times. You can even crib from my letter if it reflects your feeling. Every Child by Two also has sample language on its site.

Dear Mr. Kirk,

It was with great dismay that I learned you hired actress and model Jenny McCarthy to write a daily blog on parenting and family advice. The rise of vaccine-preventable disease in this country can be laid squarely at her feet because of her vociferous and completely erroneous claims about the dangers of vaccines. Having received her degree from the "University of Google," she capitalized on her fame to spread anti-science nonsense and to scare the bejesus out of new and expecting parents.  
In an ideal world, you'd reconsider the decision to hire McCarthy for a column aimed at parents. But I'd also be very happy if she would write a column exonerating vaccines from having any connection with her son's autism diagnosis (which apparently has magically disappeared). I expect better from a paper as long-lived and well-respected at yours. Hire a celebrity model to dole out advice to parents if you wish, but at least choose one who has a basic grasp of science and a willingness to say she was wrong.

Ashley Shelby