The decision by "The View" to hire Jenny McCarthy as a co-host has raised angry cries of alarm from many different corners, due to McCarthy's controversial views on vaccination and its link to autism.
McCarthy has waged a long campaign against vaccination and in favor of the theory that vaccines can lead to autism in children. (She has sometimes done this in blogs for The Huffington Post.) The theory has been widely discredited, and its critics say that it endangers children by leaving them vulnerable to disease.
The New Yorker's science reporter Michael Specter condemned ABC for bringing McCarthy on board and giving her a potential platform for her views:
Jenny McCarthy, who will join "The View" in September, will be the show's first co-host whose dangerous views on childhood vaccination may--if only indirectly--have contributed to the sickness and death of people throughout the Western world.
...Executives at ABC should be ashamed of themselves for offering McCarthy a regular platform on which she can peddle denialism and fear to the parents of young children who may have legitimate questions about vaccine safety. Presumably, those executives have decided that the revenues Jenny McCarthy might generate are worth more than the truth. That's their right. But it's a strike against reason and progress and hope. That is a cost that the network won't be able to afford for long, and neither will the rest of us.
One dissenting opinion came from Guardian reporter Tom McCarthy (no relation). He wrote that, while McCarthy's stance was troubling, her co-hosts were used to shooting down what he called her "quackery":
The View comes in for a lot of flak among people who don’t watch it for being lightweight or cloying. But it can be much more than that ... there’s a good chance [McCarthy will] find herself alone on one side of an argument that she loses, badly.
The scene could make for a headline or a YouTube clip that would be the best debunking yet of McCarthy’s bosh. And that could help set viewers straight.
It's not clear whether autism or vaccines will come up that frequently on the show, but a spokeswoman for "The View" told the New York Times that no topic is off limits.
"All the hosts speak openly on a variety of topics and as has been stated repeatedly, Hot Topics are not scripted," the spokeswoman said.