Jenny McCarthy suddenly popped up again in the autism news. Why? Some celebrity website posted an article “Changing Her View? Jenny McCarthy Abandons Controversial Position On Vaccines And Says Her Son May Not Have …”. Note that the link for that story goes to a “404” (page not found). I.e. the story seems to have been pulled.
The full title seems to have been “Changing Her View? Jenny McCarthy Abandons Controversial Position On Vaccines And Says Her Son May Not Have Autism After All“.
Note, there are two points in that story. The first–that she’s abandoned her controversial position on vaccines. She seems to have dodged that question. The second–that she says her son may not have have autism after all. She made what seems to be a conflicting response to that.
Apparently the original story cited the idea that McCarthy’s son actually had Landau-Kleffner syndrome, not autism. As I recall, that idea was first put forth by Dr. Daniel Ruben in Neurology Today in a letter “Fanning the Vaccine‐Autism Link“. He wrote:
In “After Vaccine-Autism Case Settlement, MDs Urged to Continue Recommending Vaccines” (June 5), Dawn Fallik correctly cites Jenny McCarthy as a celebrity fanning the flames of the vaccine-autism link. McCarthy also makes parents think that autism can be cured with unproven treatments — as she claims is the case with her son — documented in her much publicized book, Louder than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism (Dutton 2007).
Unfortunately, what the public does not realize as well as perhaps McCarthy is that her son was most likely misdiagnosed with autism in the first place. His disorder began with seizures and, subsequently, with the seizures treated, he improved. This would be more consistent with Landau-Kleffner syndrome, which often is misdiagnosed as autism.
Daniel B. Rubin, MD, PhD
I can’t recall Jenny McCarthy accepting the idea of Landau-Kleffner, or even commenting on it. So the original story in Radar Online was incorrect and it’s good they corrected their mistake. They posted an new article, “Jenny McCarthy: ‘My Son Does Have Autism’“. He does have autism? Present tense?
Stories circulating online, claiming that I said my son Evan may not have autism after all, are blatantly inaccurate and completely ridiculous. Evan was diagnosed with autism by the Autism Evaluation Clinic at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Hospital and was confirmed by the State of California (through their Regional Center). The implication that I have changed my position, that my child was not initially diagnosed with autism (and instead may suffer from Landau-Kleffner Syndrome), is both irresponsible and inaccurate. These stories cite a “new” Time Magazine interview with me, which was actually published in 2010, that never contained any such statements by me. Continued misrepresentations, such as these, only serve to open wounds of the many families who are courageously dealing with this disorder. Please know that I am taking every legal measure necessary to set this straight.
Here’s a hint: don’t use “autism families” as a shield. What world do you live in where a story about you, correct or incorrect, “opens the wounds” of people like me?
Let’s pause a moment to acknowledge Jenny McCarthy accusing other people of being “irresponsible and inaccurate”. A statement dripping with irony coming from Jenny McCarthy.
Let’s also notice, we are back to present tense, Evan has autism. If statements that “Evan may not have autism after all” are incorrect, then he has autism now. Present tense.
Why make a big deal out of the tense? Because she’s made statements that her son is no longer autistic. For example, on Larry King Live in 2009:
KING: What is still evident about his autism? In other words, if I spent a day with Evan, what about him would be different about him than any kids.
MCCARTHY: Absolutely nothing. Seizures, that would probably …
CARREY: This is the risk. When he gets a fever we have to worry because there are seizures connected autism, to this disorder.
MCCARTHY: He had a vaccine injury which led to seizures. So we still can’t necessarily say that those are healed, but the autism is [gone].
The transcript had “gob” in place of what I believe was “gone”.
In 2009 autism was past tense. Now it’s present tense. And recall another interview where she says he doesn’t have autism any more.
And let’s address the whole issue of Landau-Kleffner syndrome. The statement by Dr. Ruben was that her child was misdiagnosed, not that he “was not initially diagnosed with autism” as Ms. McCarthy wrote. I don’t know what Radar Online wrote as the story is gone, but it looks like Jenny McCarthy is fighting a bit of a straw man there.
I’ll also note that Jenny McCarthy seems to be taking a page from Andrew Wakefield and the founder of her organization (Generation Rescue) and threatening legal action. It makes news. Why do I figure a phone call, a tweet or some other communication was all that was needed?
But, let’s get back to that original article: Jenny McCarthy Abandons Controversial Position On Vaccines And Says Her Son May Not Have Autism.
Tell me, where in the above statement did she address the vaccine question? Looks to me likes she completely dodged that. Perhaps there’s a statement somewhere else?
So, as far as I can see, she rushed to answer only one part of the original story. The less controversial part.
But that’s Jenny McCarthy.
While she’s storming about, threatening legal action, I wish she would rush to correct the record on other statements she’s made. For example, she hasn’t been exactly clear on how much gap there was between her kid being vaccinated and the onset of his seizure disorder. Her book, as I recall, describes her son experiencing his first seizures at about age 2.5. Which, if he was vaccinated per the schedule, would be about 1 year after his MMR.
But here’s how she told the story:
MCCARTHY: My son died in front of me due to a vaccine injury. And there are many — every week I get a picture of a dead child.
KING: You lost a son?
MCCARTHY: Evan died in front of me for two minutes, cardiac arrest. Every week, I get a picture sent to me of a child that died following a vaccination.
Another time on CNN: “People are also dying from vaccinations. My son died in front of me for two minutes.”
I recall back when McCarthy was popular in autism circles many online discussions recounting how Evan McCarthy died immediately following vaccination. Why hasn’t Jenny McCarthy taken the time to correct that impression?
Back to today, why didn’t she take the opportunity to address her “controversial” ideas on vaccines? I put “controversial” in quotes because they aren’t controversial. They are just incorrect. And irresponsible. I won’t add her other adjective, “ridiculous”, as her statements have caused too much harm to be called “ridiculous”.
Here’s another exchange from a Larry King Live show:
KING: Isn’t the problem here, Jenny, that people sometimes listen with one ear are going to panic. And not vaccine at all?
MCCARTHY: Probably. But guess what? It’s not my fault. The reason why they’re not vaccinating is because the vaccines are not safe. Make a better product and then parents will vaccinate.
Note how she again follows an example of Andrew Wakefield: “it’s not my fault”.
I do believe sadly it’s going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe. If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it’s their f___ing fault that the diseases are coming back. They’re making a product that’s s___. If you give us a safe vaccine, we’ll use it. It shouldn’t be polio versus autism.
She’s not anti-vaccine, she just thinks they are not safe and a “…product that’s s___.”
And it’s not her fault. Never is.
Let’s go back to Larry King Live:
KING: Probably due to you, jenny, and programs like this, the percentage of children getting vaccinations is dropping.
Do you think that’s good?
MCCARTHY: I think it’s only good because it’s the only thing that’s going to shake up the CDC to do something about it. And, you know, it’s a damn shame that we invited them here on this program on World Autism Day to come sit with us so I can ask them questions on behalf of the autism community. And they denied their appearance again, which, of course, they’re going to give their statement.
OK, it’s not her fault that parents aren’t vaccinating their kids, but it is because of her that they aren’t. Pretty fine distinction, one which I don’t agree with.
And, since those statements, we’ve seen rises in vaccine preventable diseases. All not her fault, don’t ya know. It’s “good” and “due to [her]” but not her fault.
Here’s another statement on Larry King. Granted, not by her but by her ex partner Jim Carrey:
KING: Anderson Cooper, “AC 360,” 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. Jenny McCarthy’s mate — call him that — Jim Carey, called in. He says, and I’ll like you gentlemen to comment, vaccines are more of a profit engine than a means of prevention. And that’s why there are so many vaccines. Is that true? Jay Gordon.
Yes, vaccines are not a means of protection. I.e. they don’t work.
Vaccines are “s___” and “not a means of protection”.
Jump in any time Jenny and correct some of your statements. Twitter is at your fingertips.
Jenny McCarthy made a lot of irresponsible statements about autism over the years. And about vaccines. But she just dodged the opportunity to clarify her current position. She rode the controversy she made into the news and talkshows. And now that it’s a liability she avoids the controversy.
By Matt Carey