I try to stay away from mind reading. It is all too prevalent on the internet: “I know why so and so did such and such.” That said, who didn’t find the timing odd of Jenny McCarthy’s Amanda Peet attack and that really strange interview where Ms. McCarthy “forgives” Barbara Walters?
For those who have been lucky enough to miss this mess, here are brief timelines.
Amanda Peet gave an interview to Cookie Magazine for their August issue. It went online about July 10th. In that interview, she commented that people who don’t vaccinate are parasites. A week later (about July 17), Ms. Peet came out with an apology. I thought it was very well written, and have since been pleased to confirm that yes, indeed, Ms. Peet wrote it herself.
Fast-forward to September 30. That’s when Jenny McCarthy decided that it was time to make a public statement about the apology. That’s what, 7 weeks later? Of course, it’s also a week after Jenny’s book debuted.
Story line two: Let’s go all the way back to September, 2007. Jenny McCarthy is on “The View” for her first autism-book tour. Barbara Walters committed a terrible “sin”: she actually treated it like an interview and questioned Jenny McCarthy. I’d like to show you the video, but the video is now pulled from YouTube and the link to the video from the more recent story (which included the bit from “The View” also doesn’t seem to work anymore.)
Some short time after taping “The View” Ms. McCarthy was at a TACA picnic where she is said to have made some rather rude suggestions towards Ms. Walters.
Fast-forward to the present. On September 29th, Ms. McCarthy “forgave” Barbara Walters.
No, really. After Ms. McCarthy got a bit cross on the show and then took it out on Barbara Walters at the TACA picnic, she “forgives” Barbara Walters.
Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?
In that same interview, according to Ms. McCarthy (and only according to her, since Ms. Walters seems above responding to this), there was a bit of a heated exchange backstage with Ms. Walters after taping “The View”. Ms. McCarthy gives no indication of whether she (Ms. McCarthy) lost her cool at all.
But now, you see Ms. McCarthy understands what was going on with Barbara Walters. Remember that intro about “reading people’s minds”? Well, missing from the timeline above is the fact that Barbara Walters came out with, Audtion, a Memoir. In Audition, Ms. Walters discusses her life growing up with a special needs sister. Soooo, back to the mind-reading: Jenny McCarthy says that Barbara Walters was angry that she (Jenny) cured her son, while Barbara Walters had to go through tough times with her sister.
Of course, did this “forgiveness” come out say, in May, when Audtion came out? No. Jenny McCarthy waited 4 months and “forgave” Ms. Walters…during the book tour for Warrior Mothers. (and after it was pretty clear that she wasn’t going to be a guest on “The View” this time).
Anyone want to guess how long before Jenny McCarthy apologizes to Ms. Walters for the rude statements?
Somehow I don’t think it’s going to happen. If I put on my mind-reading hat, I would say that these recent publicity events were, well, just that: publicity. Staged for the time when it benefited Ms. McCarthy.
I’m not shocked by the idea that a celebrity would work the press. Would anyone?
Let’s take another look at the timeline, shall we? Let’s take a look at how Jenny McCarthy’s book tours have created a buzz. As a measure, let’s use Google Trends. Google Trends gives you a rough idea of search engine traffic for specific terms. In this case, I chose “Jenny McCarthy” as the search term.
Let’s look back when Ms. McCarthy was doing the “Louder than Words” book tour, shall we? (click to enlarge)
It’s pretty impressive. For about 2 weeks, the search traffic was much higher than the average, reaching a peak of about 14 times the normal traffic for Jenny McCarthy.
Let’s expand this so we can see from 2007 to the present, shall we? (click to enlarge)
First, note that these data are week-by-week, not the day-by-day of the first figure. This smooths things out some, so the 14x peek we saw before is only about 7x in this graph. Still impressive. So, how about the traffic for “Mother Warriors”? I don’t see it either. Let’s zoom back in, but on the last 30 days. (click to enlarge)
(here’s the original graph from Google if you want to see it).
Warrior Mothers came out on the 23rd. See that little blip? This is a day-by-day trend, so we can compare to the first graph that showed a 14x spike in search traffic and a two-week increase. Instead, looks like it went up to about 1.7 and came back down fast.
But, wait, there’s another peak in early October? It goes to 4.
Remember those media events described above: the attack on Amanda Peet and the “forgiving” of Barbara Walters? Those happened on the 29th and 30th of September. After attacking Amanda Peet in the press, the Jenny McCarthy “buzz” went up.
Again, the timing is just too coincidental to suggest anything by a calculated decision by Ms. McCarthy.
Even though the buzz was low for Mother Warriors, this doesn’t mean that “Mother Warriors” is a flop. Supposedly it made “best seller” status.
As a rule of thumb, it takes about 100,000 copies of a book sold to get to be a “Best Seller”. As a second rule of thumb, that means about $350,000 for the author.
For “Louder than Words” Jenny McCarthy stated (if I recall correctly) that a portion of the proceeds would go to the UCLA autism program, if I recall correctly. I haven’t heard such a statement, or any statement about “Mother Warriors”.
Of course, she and Jim Carrey have been (and will almost certainly continue to be) proud supporters of Generation Rescue. They paid for a full page ad in USA Today–which I seem to recall being about $200,000. The thing is, I don’t consider that benefiting the autism community–or the community at large.
Jenny McCarthy’s potential for book profits are obvious. By improving her “brand” she also stands to gain from sales of her educational DVD’s and her soon to roll-out “Too Good by Jenny” products. That’s enough to set off conflict-of-interest alarm bells for many in the vaccines-cause-autism community. OK, that sets a pretty low bar, but you get the idea.
This sort of observation begs for comparison. As long as Jenny McCarthy is attacking Amanda Peet, let’s take a look at how much Amanda Peet makes from being a spokesperson for Every Child By Two and their Vaccinate Your Baby campaign.
Yes, that would be zero. As in nothing. As in she’s doing it because she thinks it’s the right thing to do. I somehow doubt the Generation Rescue crowd will believe that (or the fact that Amanda Peet wrote her own apology). They don’t seem to believe that anyone would act except out of financial self interest…well, except Ms. McCarthy. They also don’t want to admit that Paul Offit has no more conflict of interest, or acknowledge that he isn’t going to profit from Autism’s False Prophets. Seriously, I’ve seen them challenge whether he will actually donate the money.
A statement above sticks with me as I finish this post: Setting the Bar Low. When it comes to standards of behavior, yes, I think Ms. McCarthy has set the bar low. The question in my mind is this: Is she taking on the standards set by her organization or does she fit the organization because they have similar standards?