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Dear ABC: Putting Anti-Vaccine Conspiracist Jenny McCarthy on “The View” Will Kill Children

Anti-vaccine conspiracist and "View" co-host Jenny McCarthy isn't just quirky -- she spreads lies that hurt people.

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Numerous people,  including Time’s great TV critic James Poniewozik, have already written about the irresponsibility of the McCarthy hire. But infuriatingly the press’ false equivalency addiction has even infected coverage of whether or not vaccines cause autism, a debate featuring, on the one side, the entire medical establishment, and, on the other, one  totally discredited doctor and a bunch of random non-experts, some of whom are famous for reasons unrelated to medicine or scientific literacy.  Here’s USA Today reporting the news:

Not everybody shared Walters’ delight. McCarthy, who has embraced the controversial claim that vaccinations cause autism, has drawn the ire of pro-immunization advocacy groups.

“Controversial claim.” “Pro-immunization advocacy groups.” Another name for “pro-immunization advocacy groups” would be “the entire mainstream medical profession.” This is a perfect example of the sort of case the nonpartisan reporter should feel free to referee.

If you care about keeping misinformation — misinformation that could hurt or kill not just the children of people who intentionally don’t vaccinate  but other children as well — from being transmitted to people everywhere in the country every weekday,  you should probably write ABC a polite note expressing your dismay. You should also, and this may be more effective, contact your senator and member of Congress and urge them to publicly criticize this hire. Parents and pediatricians, especially, should be loudly complaining.

While this hire is a travesty, it is fitting, at least, that Barbara Walters is managing to  cram one last crime against journalism into her career before she retires.

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon. Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene
 
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