What did the magician say to the fisherman? "Pick a cod, any cod." So goes the story for Ms. Jenny McCarthy. She's got Magic To Do (Pippin). She's got "miracle plays to play"!
Seth Moonkin reports in The Panic Virus about Jenny's soiree into the world of indigo moms with crystal children who oftentimes have supernatural traits. She believed herself to be and led a website called IndigoMoms.com that is now defunct. In the spring of 2006, McCarthy and her son were walking in downtown Los Angeles when a woman approached them. Moonkin tells the story: “You’re an Indigo,” the stranger said. “And your son is a Crystal.” McCarthy barely had time to shout, “Yes!” before the woman left as quickly as she’d come." It's a good read and perhaps most telling about Ms. McCarthy's mother warrior motivation to help her kid, while promoting her brand.
I hope and promise this is the last you hear from me on this sensitive and difficult issue; however, it is important to set the record straight. The recent misinformation announcing Ms. McCarthy's denial of her son's autism, caught me by surprise. I responded with: Did her views on autism put Jenny McCarthy on Oprah's S list. Nevertheless it is fair to punctuate Jenny's insistence that her son still has the autism diagnosis.
I wrote Jenny McCarthy massages the notion of hope for autism in 2010, following her Time magazine interview with Karl Taro Greenfield. Excerpts from this article bear repeating, in the light of new allegations that Ms. McCarthy now denies her son's diagnosis of autism:
Karl Taro Greenfield says it all in the final paragraph of his 4 page Time interview with Jenny McCarthy:"It is impossible to overlook the larger and direct dangers inherent in her position on vaccines. Yet it is equally difficult to ignore the emotional core of what she is saying: Listen to parents. If doctors won't, then McCarthy will. While I was reporting this story, I talked to my parents about what I was working on. They have been living with autism for the past 40 years. My father listened and then told me to ask McCarthy about a specific alternative therapy he had heard about and was interested in trying on my 42-year-old brother Noah. I thought about this as I was driving out to the San Fernando Valley to see McCarthy and realized she was right: parents will never stop hoping."
I believe that playing with the notion of hope is dangerous business. It is no secret that Jenny McCarthy has massaged the insatiable cry that parents of autism share. Unanswered questions are fodder for snake oil, a marriage of vulnerability and a dangling carrot. Sadly, the obvious love that McCarthy has for her child has given her a pulpit that may be a double edged sword.
Coupled with the buoyancy of a jump-started career via autism, Jenny McCarthy was on her way. She shared with Greenfield "I knew I was going to be the voice of the families when this happened," she says. "Because I had the platform. In my head, something said, 'You can get booked on talk shows.' If there was a purpose from God, he just picked someone who can get booked on talk shows. I just fell into this truth ... The only reason I'm getting this much attention is because I represent hundreds of thousands of mothers who have the same story." During appearances on Oprah, 20/20, Good Morning America, Larry King Live and other television shows, she decried what she claimed was a vast, profitable conspiracy to vaccinate children, which she said was responsible for the great upsurge in autism diagnoses. Often appearing with her boyfriend Carrey (who lives with Jenny and Evan), she glibly and with irate dismissal of the scientific evidence accused pediatricians and doctors of poisoning children and then withholding the treatments that could save them.
A google search will profile the many faces of Jenny McCarthy's stance on vaccines. She had a more biased approach a few years ago, now with the advent of media and Oprah, she has tamed her stance, by "greening our vaccines". However, McCarthy tells Greenfield in this interview that "she does not believe all vaccines are bad — though she swears she will never allow Evan to receive another — nor is she saying you shouldn't vaccinate your child." Greenfield notices that "Her position is more slippery but just as heretical to prevailing medical wisdom: do everything necessary to cure your child, no matter what the doctors tell you."
The most compelling issue in the case of Hollywood vs. Medicine is all about public perception. Does the public idolize celebrities to such an extreme that their voices change lives? Perhaps. Personal stories, however anecdotal, can be conscious raising and direct change. Nevertheless, taking on science can muddy the waters. There are no controlled test cases....and no Ms. McCarthy's thousands of mothers are not enough to establish data.
Greenfield interviews one mom, Kim Stagliano (Age of Autism) who refers to Jenny McCarthy as "brave" for sharing her story. My personal response is to hail all of the thousands of tenacious mothers and fathers who wake up every morning to autism, and live each day fighting the fight with bravery....and there is no talk show in their future.
Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut recently commented that the state of disarray in the autism community is counterproductive . Rival groups will effect no change.There must be a common denominator that will propel the research and awareness for autism. Greenfield quotes: "Alison Singer of the Autism Science Foundation bemoans the potential loss of research into causes and treatments for autism because of continued preoccupation with the vaccine issue. "I felt that 22 vaccine studies were enough," she says. "Given that we don't have unlimited resources, it made sense to say we looked at vaccines and found no causal relationship."
It's time to move on, for the sake of our children.
Maybe, as Ms. McCarthy enjoys mainstream employment, she will drop the "shock" value of her random words. Maybe not, but in fairness, for this writer, her son is off limits.