Don't put Jenny McCarthy on "The View"

The "warrior mother" is dangerous for television

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published July 11, 2013 2:54PM (EDT)

Jenny McCarthy                 (Reuters/Fred Prouser)
Jenny McCarthy (Reuters/Fred Prouser)

Now that Elisabeth Hasselbeck has officially departed "The View" for the conservative echo chamber of Fox News, where she can spout crazy whatever she wants without having to defend herself to Whoopi Goldberg – it makes a certain kind of sense that the leading candidate to join the show is another pretty, divisive blonde. But if ever there were a reason to write off "The View" entirely, the mere thought of Jenny McCarthy smiling out at America every morning ought to close the deal.

When reports first surfaced early this week that McCarthy was in "serious talks" to fill a host's seat, the choice certainly seemed to make perfect sense. Like Hasselbeck, McCarthy is an attractive presence with a solid history as part of a television team cast ("Singled Out": NEVER FORGET.) She is also, like Hasselbeck, pretty friggin' nuts.

In recent years, McCarthy has been best known for her staunch stance against childhood immunization, her firm belief that it was vaccination that caused her son Evan's autism, and what she has described as her son's "recovery" from the condition. No matter that the work of Andrew Wakefield, the man who first claimed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, was later exposed as "an elaborate fraud," or that McCarthy insists she's not anti-vaccination --  as the head of Generation Rescue, McCarthy still perpetuates the idea of "environmental triggers" and a correlation between autism and vaccination, as well as controversial, unproven advice on "recovery" "treatments." Yes, by all means, let us give a woman like that an hour a day on network television to perpetuate junk science, and dissuade parents who may be staying at home with their babies from vaccinating their children. Because, hey, what could go wrong with that? It's not like we'd have outbreaks of childhood diseases or anything.

Sure, a controversial blonde is a ratings grabber, which is problematic in and of itself. Wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have to have a reputation as a ridiculous crackpot to get a shot on "The View"? But take a deeper look. In addition to her potentially dangerous medical views, McCarthy has also evolved from the funny, self-effacing good-time girl she once was into a stone bore. Her Twitter feed is jammed with sponsored links -- in case you're wondering, she likes hair removal, Carl's Jr., and insoles. Her blog posts are likewise cringe-worthy – a woman asking for sex advice receives the humblebrag reply, "I’m a bit worried about giving you advice on this one, only because I’m a Scorpio." There's not much about her that doesn't reek of self-involvement, as well as an inability and unwillingness to engage in any kind of dialogue. Not great attributes in a host. Instead, McCarthy sees herself as a "spiritual warrior" and a "mother warrior," a woman full of self-righteousness, alarming self-certainty and a truly uncharismatic penchant for tweeting about footwear. It's enough to make you miss Hasselbeck – at least she could go all emotional loose cannon now and then and make for some interesting television. McCarthy, in contrast, is the worst kind of bore – the kind who earnestly believes she's interesting and important, and who is fully convinced she's right.

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Autism Elisabeth Hasselbeck Jenny Mccarthy The View Vaccination