When the Chicago-Sun Times said it was hiring Jenny McCarthy -- Playboy playmate, actress, model, ex-girlfriend of Jim Carrey, and notorious proponent of a vaccine-autism link -- to write a lifestyle blog, it rekindled the ferocious debate over vaccines and autism. (Admittedly, it doesn't take much to stoke that debate.)
When I posted on the hiring on Oct. 22, the Sun-Times emailed me to say that her blog and column would not be merely about parenting, but that they would also deal with "lifestyle issues," including "family, dating, relationships, fitness and yes, parenting as a single mom."
The paper did not address the vaccine issue in that email. But now it has.
In an email today, a spokeswoman for the Sun-Times said:
"Jenny McCarthy has signed on to share her special brand of humor with fans through her Splash column and daily blog. As our readers know, Jenny's contributions are lifestyle focused and light-hearted. The vision for the column is not medical advice, therefore medical topics, like vaccination, are not within the scope of the column and will not be addressed."
Readers might still wonder whether McCarthy is the kind of person who should be giving others advice of any sort. But if we take the paper at its word -- and I do -- we can at least set aside the vaccine issue. That's progress, of a sort.
This post originally appeared at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker.