"Winfreyâ€™s role in this controversy dates back to 2007, when she brought Jenny McCarthy, the Playboy model and actress, onto her show to talk about autism. McCarthyâ€™s young son, Evan, had suffered a series of seizures at two-and-a-half years old and was later diagnosed with autism. McCarthy was adamant that the MMR vaccination Evan received as a baby caused his autism. On the show, McCarthy told Oprah she had been instinctually uncomfortable with allowing the doctor to give her son the vaccine. â€śI said to the doctor, I have a very bad feeling about this shot,â€ť McCarthy recounted. â€śThis is the autism shot, isnâ€™t it?â€ť
On the show, McCarthyâ€™s claims went virtually unchallenged. Winfrey praised McCarthy as a â€śmother warriorâ€ť and plugged her book Louder Than Words: A Motherâ€™s Journey in Healing Autism, which inaccurately suggests childhood vaccinations contribute to autism. Winfrey did read a brief statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said there was no scientific evidence of a connection and that scientists were continuing to study the causes of autism. â€śIt is important to remember, vaccines protect and save lives. Vaccines protect infants, children and adults from the unnecessary harm and premature death caused by vaccine-preventable diseases,â€ť the CDC statement concluded. But McCarthy had the final word. â€śMy science is named Evan, and heâ€™s at home,â€ť she said. â€śThatâ€™s my science.â€ť"
I recall some pundit the other day calling Oprah Winfrey "America's preeminent snake oil salesman." Personally, I think it's Gwyneth "Goop" Paltrow, but Winfrey (and the guy in the White House, to tell the truth) are pretty high up on that list. ;-)