Sometimes, the mainstream press gets it (mostly) right, and Jake Tapper actually got it right in a report on CNN yesterday about Jenny McCarthy’s having been hired by ABC as a regular on The View. Although I don’t like how Jake Tapper describes Generation Rescue as an “autism organization” (it is clearly an antivaccine group), and he perhaps didn’t rebut Jenny’s ludicrous claim that she is “not antivaccine” but rather “pro-safe vaccine” (seriously, he showed McCarthy’s 2008 antivaccine protest in Washington and didn’t even pick the most inflammatory signs as a counterpoint to McCarthy’s disingenuous denials), he got it far more right than wrong. Yes, I can quibble about his not strongly enough rebutting McCarthy’s deluded self-view as somehow not being “antivaccine,” but this is probably about as good as it gets in a mainstream press report: Minimal false balance and a clear message that McCarthy is a dangerous crank more than just someone who holds “controversial” views.

Here’s the report. It’s 3 minutes long and well worth watching:


  1. #1 Old Rockin' Dave
    My own private Idaho
    July 17, 2013

    What really makes me sad is all the poor animals that are routinely vaccinated without any say in the matter. I bet the rise in autistic dogs, horses, and cattle is dramatic and alarming (I deliberately leave out cats because there’s no way to tell if a cat is autistic).

  2. #2 Lawrence
    July 17, 2013

    @ORD – I usually substitute “psychotic” when talking about cats….especially my own.

  3. #3 Denice Walter
    July 17, 2013

    Mr Tapper is right at the top of Jake’s list, second only to Mnookin.

  4. #4 SkepticalSlug
    The temple of Syrinx
    July 17, 2013

    We can’t tell if our Australian Shepherd is autistic, but after she got her vaccinations, her english language skills failed to develop. My vet totally denies that the vaccinations caused this but I know she’s lying.

  5. #5 Todd W.
    July 17, 2013

    @Denice Walter

    Mr Tapper is right at the top of Jake’s list, second only to Mnookin.

    This week.

  6. #6 sirhcton
    July 17, 2013

    NPR ( also has some similar(?) coverage, quoting Seth Mnookin et al.

  7. #8 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    July 17, 2013

    @Lawrence – psychotic or sociopathic are the two default conditions of cats and, thus, hardly worth mentioning.

  8. #9 lilady
    July 17, 2013

    Time Magazine online has a scathing article about Jenny’s place on The View:

  9. #10 Chris Hickie
    July 17, 2013

    From :

    A guy has a talking dog. He brings it to a talent scout. “This dog can speak English,” he claims to the unimpressed agent. “Okay, Sport,” the guys says to the dog, “what’s on the top of a house?” “Roof!” the dog replies.

    “Oh, come on…” the talent agent responds. “All dogs go ‘roof’.”

    “No, wait,” the guy says. He asks the dog “what does sandpaper feel like?” “Rough!” the dog answers.

    The talent agent gives a condescending blank stare. He is losing his patience.

    “No, hang on,” the guy says. “This one will amaze you.”

    He turns and asks the dog: “Who, in your opinion, was the greatest baseball player of all time?” “Ruth!” goes the dog. And the talent scout, having seen enough, boots them out of his office onto the street.

    And the dog turns to the guy and says “Maybe I shoulda said DiMaggio?”

  10. #11 Kelsey
    Paradise, San Juan Island
    July 17, 2013

    It’s a little off topic but not entirely, since we are talking about the mainstream press and their godawful excuse for science reporting: what do you all think of this little gem? My friend takes this crap and swears by it. It’s like a media trope drinking game.

  11. #12 Khani
    July 18, 2013

    Your best bet, mediawise, is probably local media, and folks who are scientists need to actually contact them with what they’re working on, or the media is not going to know.

    And scientists very rarely do this, whereas quacks do it all the time. I do agree there’s a lot of bad science reporting out there, but scientists need to be willing to publicize their work and contact reporters as well.

    Develop a positive relationship with your local media. It’s not that hard; just pick someone’s stuff that you think sounds good and call him or her on the phone, or email them.

    There’s a lot of bad science reporting out there, but there are also a lot of good reporters who want to do a good job with scientific stories.

    I know this because I am one of them; science is actually one of my favorite topics to write about because it is very challenging, and done right it may not be sensational and sexy but it is always tremendously interesting.

  12. #13 meg
    July 18, 2013

    @4 SkepticalSlug

    Yeah, but you know us Aussies don’t actually speak English, right?

  13. #14 herr doktor bimler
    July 18, 2013

    “This dog can speak English,” he claims to the unimpressed agent.

    One of the cats at Maison d’Etre — part-Maine Coon, I suspect — can say a few important words like “Moooorrre!” and “Nowww!” We frequently have conversations like “Did the Frau Doktorin remember to feed you?” “Nooo!”

  14. #15 Sebastian Jackson
    July 18, 2013

    Remember how Glenn Beck was eventually let go by Fox News when an online campaign persuaded his commercial sponsors to drop him? Is there some way we would organize a similar boycott until Jenny McCarthy leaves “The View”?

  15. #16 elburto
    July 18, 2013

    @SkepticalSlug – my lab started what can only be described as “stimming” after vaccinations she received at 18 months.. She started running round in circles and chasing her tail. She remained non-verbal, but for the words “No” and “Mam”, until her death at 15

  16. #17 Shay
    July 18, 2013

    Speaking as a non-professional who uses the Internet (which of course makes me more of an expert than anyone who like, studies that stuff, y’know), cats are neither psychotic nor sociopathic.

    They’re narcissists.

  17. #18 John Santos
    July 18, 2013

    My mom’s cat used to speak English. She would say “Feed me” when she was hungry. (Actually, it was more like “Feeeeeeeeeeeeeed meeeeeeeee”.)

  18. #19 herr doktor bimler
    July 18, 2013

    Mrs Spat, being of the Maine-Coonish persuasion, is fond of sitting out in the rain. Eventually the moisture seeps though her many layers of fur coat, and she realises that this isn’t such a good idea after all, at which point she comes inside shouting for ‘Towellll Nowww!”

  19. #20 lilady
    July 18, 2013

    Nah…my mother’s cat, an albino, totally deaf, and with one blue eye and one brown eye, was psychotic. “Crazy Cat” was an attack cat who would taking flying leaps from across the room to attack everyone, including my mom

    My husband always had a treat for Crazy Cat…some scrap of meat that he would toss into my mother’s utility closet to lock the cat away during out visits.

  20. #21 Ausduck
    July 18, 2013

    Actually, I think vaccination has the positive effect of neutralising some of my cats’ overtly psychotic behaviour for a while.
    It’s either that or they’re plotting revenge for the indignity of a vet visit.

  21. #22 Shay
    July 18, 2013

    Reserve Cat likes to go to the vet. She gives him gushy food.

    (Of course, Reserve Cat thinks he’s a dog, so I’m not sure he’s a valid example. Primary Cat *knows* she’s a cat, and conducts herself accordingly).

  22. #23 Narad
    July 19, 2013

    my lab started what can only be described as “stimming” after vaccinations she received at 18 months.

    Cat the Younger is effectively nonverbal postvaccination. He can only croak out an “acch” once in a while.

  23. #24 kitty
    July 22, 2013

    ABC cancelled All My Children and One Life to Live for this?

  24. #25 Christine (the public servant Christine)
    July 23, 2013

    lilady I wonder what it is about albino psycho kitties? My last cat was an albino (oddly not deaf) and his name was “Blitzkrieg.” It was not a comment on his colour.

  25. #26 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    July 23, 2013

    Speaking of cats, my family used to own a grey tabby with black stripes. Her paw pads were black, so we think she was part wildcat. We called her “Mischief”. It was less a name than a descriptor.

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