Respectful Insolence

Ugh.

Double ugh.

Sitting in my e-mail in box this morning were lots of your e-mails warning me about a bit of news that shows definitively that Oprah Winfrey is beyond redemption, at least when it comes to any sort of medicine or science (not nice, given that I hadn’t even had my morning coffee yet).

The reason? Jenny McCarthy has inked a deal with Winfrey’s Harpo Studios to develop a syndicated talk show and other media projects, including a blog, which has already started dishing out the stupid, albeit (thus far) not about vaccines and autism. Apparently sensing that her advocacy of the New Age woo known as The Secret was not enough, Oprah appears to have decided that anti-vaccine quackery sells, and she doesn’t care whom it kills as long as she can make some money at it. Given that Oprah is now giving a major platform to Jenny McCarthy to spread her quackery, I now say that, along with Jenny McCarthy, Oprah should get some of the blame when the inevitable outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases increase beyond where they already are, thanks to McCarthy’s “efforts.” After all, she is now supporting the pro-disease movement.

Remind me again: Why does anyone respect or admire Oprah?

Comments

  1. #1 Mu
    May 4, 2009

    This might not last long, remember how she backpedaled when sued over her “meat is bad” campaign? And that was only about lower sales, this might have potentially dead kids in the law suit.

  2. #2 Aaron Golas
    May 4, 2009

    Oprah already deserved blame for showcasing Jenny so uncritically on her show. This just seals the deal.

  3. #3 peter
    May 4, 2009

    she’s rich.

  4. #4 Jenny T
    May 4, 2009

    I disagree with her a lot, but considering how well she has done for herself under very adverse circumstances, I think Oprah has earned a little bit of respect at least.

    That doesn’t make her a doctor though, and having earned respect for her personal accomplishments doesn’t make her immune to extreme disrespect for her opinions if/when they are stupid. She has most definitely earned that too. She has really gone off the deep end it seems.

  5. #5 Michael E.
    May 4, 2009

    Not that there’s a shortage of outlets for woo, but one way people could counteract JMcC’s rantings on her show would be to collect a group of rational folks to pack the audience and keep asking questions of her and her guests.

    Of course, to get in the door, you’d have to pretend you were sympathetic (but some of Randi’s supporters had effective methods for getting into faith healing revivals), and it’s highly likely that your questions would be edited out of the final tape, but at least you’d be within earshot of the rest of the folks in the audience.

    At a minium, you could gather ’round the entrance to the studio with signs along the lines of “Jenny McCarthy kills babies!” and a readiness to thoughtfully engage those who approach you to ask about it.

    In fact, you don’t need to go to the studio. I’m envisioning just wandering around town with such signs, after calling all your local papers, radio and TV stations.

    Hmm…I’ve got some things to finish up, but I’ll add that to my list.

  6. #6 Ericb
    May 4, 2009

    The fact that she published a magazine with a picture of hereself on the cover every month indicates that we’re not dealing with your average celebrity here. I can’t even imagine the size of Oprah’s ego at this point.

  7. #7 adina
    May 4, 2009

    I suggest we encourage Jenny to take up many more wacky personal health resolutions. It seems to sap up time that could otherwise be dedicated to anti-vaccine idiocy. Sample diversion:
    “So, I just jumped in the car and ran to Whole Foods to find some more alternatives to sugar. This all stemmed from not having any jelly on my gluten-free toast this morning, and then for lunch I couldn’t use any ketchup on my turkey meatballs because, guess what, there’s sugar in ketchup too!”

  8. #8 Kat
    May 4, 2009

    Can we add Larry King to that list too? Jenny has made a career of hopping from one show to the next. I won’t watch either show anymore.

  9. #9 Anthro
    May 4, 2009

    Kill your television! I have never seen Oprah (although I am well aware of who she is), Larry King, Dr. Phil, American Idol, or Jenny McCarthy (don’t even know who she is except for the autism thing). I get enough woo in my everyday life without having it blasted into my living room, thank you very much. Religion, woo, New Age–all the same rot. People seem to be so pathetically needy of something or someone else (preferably something “mysterious”) to give them the “answers”. I get Penn and Teller’s “Bullshit” from Netflix for a tonic.

  10. #10 mk
    May 4, 2009

    Seed Media Group, Discover, Scientific American. Media blitz.

  11. #11 Laura
    May 4, 2009

    it’s really a shame because Donahue used to challenge the stay at home mothers that comprised his viewership. Oprah took that mantle and crapped all over it, bringing anti-intellectualism to the masses. Oprah insults me.

  12. #12 Miss Fifi
    May 4, 2009

    It is an effrontery to people everywhere that have sense and that work hard in medical research. I would take Oprah on in a heartbeat, but I am not schooled enough in medicine to bring the wrath on her and her ilk that she needs.
    Who the hell is actually scared of her? She constantly degrades and interrupts guests when she has them on for “serious topics”, because she wants to remind us all she has been there too. I say Piss off.

  13. #13 Nostrum
    May 4, 2009

    Check under your seat. You get measles! And you get measles! Everyone here gets some measles!

  14. #14 Kimberly
    May 4, 2009

    The fact that she published a magazine with a picture of herself on the cover every month indicates that we’re not dealing with your average celebrity here. I can’t even imagine the size of Oprah’s ego at this point.

    This says it all. It’s clear that there’s not a single person in her life with any balancing influence on her, who has the ability to contradict her or argue with her. It’s her way or the highway, and I’m sure her highly-paid assistants, minions, and yes-women are quite happy with that. As Roy Blount said, you can be so rich that no one will tell you when you’re being silly.

    Her love of woo, however, suggests that she’s vulnerable to snake-oil salesmen. Why? Because she’s got issues that not even millions of dollars can fix? Because she thinks she’s smart enough not to get suckered? Because all she cares about is having her name and face attached to the latest “craze”, no matter how stupid it is? Who knows.

  15. #15 garth
    May 4, 2009

    kind of related: http://children.webmd.com/vaccines/news/20090504/easy-way-to-ease-infant-immunization-pain?src=RSS_PUBLIC

    anything weird about this? I’d like some more expert feedback. it seems to be about pain reduction.

  16. #16 Lyn
    May 4, 2009

    Unhappy with Oprah? Tell me about it. That windbag has set critical thinking back hundreds of years. Oprah and her media use the “common sense” approach to appeal to the masses. Never mind that Oprah is most often wrong or just plain stupid. Oprah confuses her own opinions with reason and truth. She has gained such an audience and following that whatever she endorses is likely to catch on.

    I’m waiting on Oprah to join a Heaven’s Gate-type cult and do the world a favor and take out herself and as many of her Oprahmaniacs as possible.

  17. #17 Chris
    May 4, 2009

    Next thing you know we’ll be watching Cesar Millan advocating acupuncture for dogs on the Today show…….. oh wait… that was this morning.

  18. #18 Jon H
    May 4, 2009

    Nostrum wins the internet.

  19. #19 tim gueguen
    May 4, 2009

    Larry King has long been a problem given his regular visits from psychic silly Sylvia Brown.

  20. #20 Sid Offit
    May 4, 2009

    @ Orac
    Oprah appears to have decided that anti-vaccine quackery sells, and she doesn’t care whom it kills…

    …along with Jenny McCarthy, Oprah should get some of the blame when the inevitable outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases increase beyond where they already are, thanks to McCarthy’s “efforts.” After all, she is now supporting the pro-disease movement.

    I know what you mean. Due to all these darn swine flu and measles deaths, I can’t even walk outside without tripping over a dead body. Infectious diseases, they’re sooooo scary.

  21. #21 Joseph C.
    May 4, 2009

    Infectious diseases, they’re sooooo scary.

    Actually, they are. If you’re not clear on this point, you’re probably a little dumb.

  22. #22 Daniel J. Andrews
    May 4, 2009

    Sid, perhaps you’d like to visit Africa for a bit to see what these diseases can do. Joseph is probably right…you are a little dumb, or willfully ignorant beyond excuse.

  23. #23 Trey
    May 4, 2009

    I just looked at her blog. She calls high fructose corn syrup the devil, but recommends that her readers who are avoiding sugar put agave nectar in their coffee. Agave nectar has more fructose than high fructose corn syrup. I’m sure Jenny would change her recommendation if someone told her this right? Haha…sigh…

  24. #24 cooler
    May 4, 2009

    Trey, it’s because its been reported recently by scientists that high frutcose corn syrup has mercury in it, don’t fabricate straw men. Learn some critical thinking skills before you run your mouth.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/26/AR2009012601831.html

  25. #25 Aquaria
    May 4, 2009

    Oh, great, it’s cooler the brain dead.

    99% of the time, you can take what this moron says, think or do the opposite, and it will be right.

    It’s really the only use he has in life–turning people to the light by revealing his relentless dimness ad nauseum.

  26. #26 Cooler
    May 4, 2009

    Did you even read the article in the Washington Post you dumb scientifically illiterate 90 year old diaper wearing garbage collector?

  27. #27 Ben Gorman
    May 4, 2009

    Why does anyone respect or admire Oprah?

    Because she’s charming and interesting, unlike you, Doc Gorsky, a 40 something year old hack/quack who plays on the internet.

  28. #28 Trey
    May 5, 2009

    Cooler, Jenny was originally against high fructose corn syrup (before the studies you refer too were conducted) because she says that it is linked to ADD and ADHD. Just because she may have a new reason to dislike HFCS (mercury) does not make my argument a straw man.

    My point that it is ridiculous for her to then go on and recommend the replacement of table sugar (which is 50% fructose and 50% glucose) with agave nectar (which can be as high as 92% fructose and 8% glucose, more fructose than HFCS) still stands.

  29. #29 BTDT
    May 5, 2009

    Well, I’m sad, I do like to watch a little Oprah in the afternoons to help relieve the tedium of folding laundry. But in the past couple years it’s become harder and harder to watch. And now, my disillusionment is complete, I just can’t watch it anymore. I am hoping, although probably in vain, that there are other stay at home Moms like myself who feel the same way, and will stop watching too.

    Maybe I’ll start watching Tyra, she did do a show that talked about Gardasil and started the hens in the mothering dot com coop to clucking.

  30. #30 Courtney the Brave
    May 5, 2009

    At the risk of sounding loony… I believe the original issue with HFCS was that fructose is not metabolized like glucose is and it cannot be used by anything but the liver. So if you ingest too much fructose, usually via HFCS (which is in almost everything kids like to ingest), then there is the risk of getting a fatty liver and cirrhosis. There are also theories that excess fructose can lead to insulin resistance and obesity, this is all just speculation based on biochemistry.

    Back on topic… the popularity of Oprah is a sad indicator of how far down our society’s critical thinking skill have fallen. Thank you Orac for covering this stuff with a truthful slant.

  31. #31 catgirl
    May 5, 2009

    I wonder how much of this is a backlash due to the discovery of Wakefield’s fraud and the recent study showing a strong genetic component to autism.

  32. #32 bparton
    May 5, 2009

    Oprah lost what little respect I had for her several months back when she hosted Suzanne Somers, who was of course promoting her latest breast cancer woo book. Now thousands of women believe “bioidentical hormones” (and they don’t mean Estriol)are the answer to ER+ breast cancer and to staying young forever. Ms. Somers is even advocating taking growth hormone these days to stay young.

    I don’t understand what on earth Oprah could possibly be thinking.

  33. #33 genedoctor
    May 5, 2009

    I think Catgirl may be on to something – backlash against peer reviewed studies that show autism has a strong genetic component. I have a friend with 2 autistic children that blames vaccines, so now his 3rd child (with his second wife) is not being immunized. I worry about this alarming trend, and am glad that schools require kids to be immunized in order to attend.

  34. #34 catgirl
    May 5, 2009

    genedoctor,
    I have always wondered what happens when parents don’t vaccinate and a child gets autism anyway. We never hear from these people. If your friend’s third child is with a different wife, the baby is less likely to have autsim. But if s/he does, I wonder if it will affect your friend’s opinion.

  35. #35 abfh
    May 5, 2009

    Well, if there is a silver lining to this crapstorm, maybe Jenny will move on to different kinds of woo and quit targeting autistic kids. I don’t think she cares what she peddles, as long as it makes money. She probably plans to start her own line of supplements and health foods, or something like that.

  36. #36 Scott
    May 5, 2009

    I have always wondered what happens when parents don’t vaccinate and a child gets autism anyway. We never hear from these people.

    Often they claim that the vaccination made other kids so toxic that it infected the unvaccinated child, thereby making them autistic.

  37. #37 Mu
    May 5, 2009

    Autism is infectious now? Burn them at the stake, the only way to protect us from the impending doom!

  38. #38 Mu
    May 5, 2009

    On the science side, CNN has an interesting article on an actual physical difference in autistic kids compared to the control
    http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/05/04/autism.brain.amygdala/index.html

  39. #39 bigjohn756
    May 5, 2009

    I must confess that I watched an entire Oprium show sometime ago. My only defense is that the whole show was devoted to Faith Hill, who in my opinion, is kinda pretty and sings nicely.

  40. #40 Autodidactyl
    May 5, 2009

    It remains mystifying to me how Dr. Oz (who is also getting his own show) seems to have thrown whatever sense he had out the window as well when he recently backed some of McCarthy’s claims. Seems like he too is under the influence of the mighty Oprah machine. It is sad that saving lives at a top medical center wasn’t enough for him.

  41. #41 tyga
    May 5, 2009

    I was born in 1969. I had the measles, mumps, chickenpox and a few other things I have no name for. I’m healthy with no adverse side effects, and natural selection is perfectly happy with this situation too I reckon.

    Sure Oprah is an idiot, no argument there, but avoiding unnecessary vaccination is one step we can take to restore a natural balance and keep billions of dollars out of the hands of Big pharmaceuticals.

  42. #42 Patrick
    May 5, 2009

    Gee, I never knew that the Indigo’s even had – the devil – as Krylons nemesis.

    Is Jenny going to get/start her own Church too? Now that she apparently is de-converting back to whatever her previous Da Ebil Debil made it propagandas?

  43. #43 Militant Agnostic
    May 5, 2009

    @39 – and somebodys aunt smoked 2 packs a day and lived to be 90 – so what. Your sample size of one is worthless.

    Also, diseases would be far more protitable than vaccines.

  44. #44 flounder
    May 5, 2009

    I was born in 1969. I had the measles, mumps, chickenpox and a few other things I have no name for. I’m healthy with no adverse side effects,…

    Good for you. Bad for the hundreds of thousands of children worldwide who die every year from those diseases because they aren’t vaccinated.

  45. #45 R Harkin
    May 5, 2009

    because Oprah helps peepholes

  46. #46 tyga
    May 5, 2009

    “Good for you. Bad for the hundreds of thousands of children worldwide who die every year from those diseases because they aren’t vaccinated.”

    Well that was my point really, wasn’t it, that those deaths probably shouldn’t be prevented. Harsh I know, but hey, mother nature is a biartch.

  47. #47 Scott
    May 5, 2009

    @tyga:

    So you’re seriously advocating NOT preventing widespread death and disability? That’s so incredibly morally reprehensible I don’t even know where to begin except with a Godwin…

  48. #48 Mu
    May 5, 2009

    “Was uns nicht umbringt, macht uns stärker”
    And Nietsche isn’t Godwin-enabled.

  49. #49 cm
    May 5, 2009

    Orac, consider somehow using the term “Oprahcratic Oath” in your blogging from now on.

  50. #50 flim flam
    May 5, 2009

    yeah tyga, it’s only brown babies dying so who cares right?.
    those african babies are much less important than nice white babies with crunchy moms. How about a pregnant women getting infected with rubella by one of your antivax disease spreading mates, a disabled or dead baby just natural too?. Good luck with your magical thinking, that should keep the viruses away & if you or your kids get sick, hope you won’t be going to the unnatural hospital for unnatural treatment.
    It’s only natural..jeez, you anitvax loons are all heart aren’t you?. How natural is the internet by the way?. or is your connection all organic?. Why do i have an image of futuramas bender when he became all wood& declared war on technology?. bite my splintery wooden ass!

  51. #51 snerd
    May 5, 2009

    I was born in 1969. I had the measles, mumps, chickenpox and a few other things I have no name for. I’m healthy with no adverse side effects, and natural selection is perfectly happy with this situation too I reckon.

    I was born in 1968, and have damaged eyesight etc due to rubella. I also was made gravely ill by measles.

    Look, I have anecdotes too! Except – mine is part of a large body of evidence that the vaccination schedule works, and yours is mother-nature-fetishist woo.

  52. #52 Adrienne
    May 6, 2009

    Sure, everyone wants to keep money from BigPharma, but what about BigNaturalHealth (BigWoo)? Orac had a better name for it, but I can’t recall it right now.

    The “natural” people like Dr. Andrew Weil and owners of health food stores and what have you push unnecessary supplements like crazy…vitamins, spirulina, bee pollen, enzyme tablets, homeopathic stuff, you name it. You think there’s not big money in that sort of stuff too? Gimme a break already.

    And vaccines aren’t big moneymakers compared to the cost of treating diseases. Especially someone needs to be hospitalized due to measles or pertussis or other infectious disease, “BigAllopathicMedicine” (in terms of the doctors, nurses, and hospital care) and BigPharma (for the antibiotics and other meds used in treatment) make way, way more money than they do from simple vaccines.

  53. #53 Adrienne
    May 6, 2009

    tyga wrote:
    Well that was my point really, wasn’t it, that those deaths probably shouldn’t be prevented. Harsh I know, but hey, mother nature is a biartch.

    So you think all kids with diabetes just ought to be left to die painfully from their illness, for example? What about those with genetic diseases…same deal? Cleanse the gene pool?

    Well, I hope that when you develop heart disease or other age-related infirmities as you get older, I do hope you’ll do the right thing and just die rather than seek medical treatment to prolong your life or ease your discomfort. After all, that’s how mother nature culls the herd, right?

  54. #54 grenouille
    May 6, 2009

    Arthur Allen has a great piece on Slate about Jenny and her axis of evil. It took mere hours for Jay Gordon to infest the comment section with his drivel.

    Someone tell me again how in hell he can put the FAAP in his signature? Can’t he be censured in some way? Voted off the island?

  55. #55 Chris
    May 7, 2009

    I practice pediatric critical care and just saw my first case of H. influenzae epiglottis (completely preventable by a vaccine) that I’ve seen in a decade. The good news, I suppose, is that the child was not autistic. He did, however, nearly die and spent a week on a ventilator. I figured we had a teaching moment here with his parents and tried to get the child started on all the other vaccinations he’d missed. No dice.

    And we see life-threatening whooping cough nearly every winter, mostly infants who have been infected by unvaccinated older kids. I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I still don’t understand it. Why would we want to return to a time when children dying was just the way things were?

  56. #56 Ciara
    May 7, 2009

    She completely lost my respect after her utterly mindless promotion of Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret”. It’s funny to me someone who values and encourages education, shoots down critical thinking with this latest novel move.

    Sad.

  57. #57 Mu
    May 7, 2009

    Chris, did you report the parents for child abuse? You can get in trouble for leaving your kid in the car while 10 yards away from it, this should be more severe. Who knows, you might get lucky and find a pro-vaccine local DA.

  58. #58 Trev Byron
    September 9, 2009

    doesnt seem like the truth is easily accepted.her has a bad sense of discretion and seem far from centered and balanced, not asking pertanent questions or digesting the facts correctly.she seems to be off-side and also seem to be blaming or interrogating the.how’s it possible that someone so offside could be in her place?