Antivaccine nonsense Autism Entertainment/culture Medicine Television

The best snark at Oprah Winfrey…

…comes, from of all places, Gawker:

Oh, good, Oprah is going to give Jenny McCarthy a talk show, because she wants your kid to die of the measles.

McCarthy, a famous celebrity from the long-defunct Playboy magazine and much missed MTV channel, has been on a crusade to find an evildoer responsible for her son’s autism. She settled on vaccines, because why not. And now she spends a great deal of time on TV explaining that the mercury that has not been vaccines since 1999 is giving all the kids autism, but it can be cured with Chelation therapy, which has so far only killed one or two autistic kids, so good on you, Jenny.

So famous TV empress Oprah Winfrey signed Jenny to a multi-year multi-platform deal that will include a syndicated talk show. The show will be called “Finding Someone to Blame When Bad Things Happen.”

Yes, I could quibble that mercury-containing thimerosal was removed, aside from trace amounts, from childhood vaccines other than the flu vaccine by the end of 2001, not in 1999 (which was the year when the AAP and CDC recommended the removal of thimerosal, a decision that took a couple of years to come to full fruition), but I agree with the sentiment. It is all about blame and the need to blame something–anything–for autism. That’s what Jenny McCarthy is all about, and she’s used it to propel herself to the point of having a shot at Dr. Phil or Rachel Ray territory. Truly, she has ridden the autism and vaccine quackery horse back from New Age Indigo woo to fame and fortune.

And Oprah is about to catapult her to the next level.

Still, when celebrity gossip rags start ragging on you for supporting antivaccine lunacy, you know you have a problem. Oprah has a problem. Not that Oprah cares. She’s rich, and she’s Oprah. Why on earth should she care if more kids become ill from vaccine-preventable diseases and if some of them even die because she gave a platform to an anti-vaccine loon like Jenny McCarthy to spread her poison about vaccines and frighten parents with pseudoscience, misinformation, and lies? There’s money to be made! And if there’s one thing Oprah is very, very good at, it’s making money.

If the price is a few more dead kids, well what are a few more–or even many more–dead kids to her? She’s Oprah, after all.

ADDENDUM: Thanks to Skeptigirl for her concern about my possibly developing crippling finger injuries from all the blogging and facepalming. I’ve been at this for four years; I’m made of pretty stern stuff, although I will admit that the union of Jenny and Oprah did test my mettle.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

19 replies on “The best snark at Oprah Winfrey…”

For my money the best snark re: Oprah comes from What Would Tyler Durden Do? (mildly NSFW for old [censored] photo)

“…she really found her calling when her 2-year old son was diagnosed with not-autism then not-autism then not-autism then not-autism then not-autism then autism”. Heh.

(Yes, this is the trashy site I look at between patients. When you work with the homeless population you tend to get a LOT of no-shows.)

possibly developing crippling finger injuries from all the blogging and facepalming.

I thought that facepalming was the FDA approved treatment for finger injuries. Now I learn that it is just alternative medicine. I’ve been doing this for a while. I am so embarrassed. Perhaps I could submit a retrospective observational study to the FDA.

I suspect that rise to Empress of the Wooniverse is not a question of simple belief in ‘alternative’ therapies nor a gullibility to the claims of charlatans. It’s much more a case of a mutually beneficial symbiosis that allows the exploitation of the credulous.
As a quick example of the sort of things that are now deemed suitable for the Oprah show here’s a recent interview on an Irish talk show (fronted by puppets – a bit like Jenny McCarthys new show!) of a local ‘celebrity’ called Victoria Mry Clarke. She’s mainly known there as the fiance of Shane McGowan – the lead singer of The Pogues (Fairytale of New York).
In the interview she laughingly admits that she simply ‘made up’ a new age book she’s recently published about conversing with ‘Angels’.

In spite of this she was deemed a suitable interviewee for Oprah to talk about this nonsense and laughs as she says Americans fall for this sort of stuff!

@Cameron – I was going to say the same thing – I was almost proud to be a reader of WWTDD today, glad he got it so right.

Snort! I should NOT have been drinking my coffee when I opened this post!

Glad to hear all your digits are intact. I would hate to miss my daily snark dose.

I never thought I’d say ths but does anyone have Tom Cruise’s number?

Operah seems to like him and I’m sure he doesn’t believe Autism exists (or is caused by alien souls inside us.)

It’s not like she’d listen to a trained expert on the matter.

At some point in the past, Oprah had an epiphany and decided she didn’t want her show to follow the Jerry Springer road to ratings. She decided her show needed to focus on the positive and the inspirational. It paid off for her in a big way. Unfortunately a lot of what she sees as positive and inspirational is more damaging than anything that ever appeared on Jerry Springer. Jerry’s parade of trailer park scandals was always played for comic effect. The guests knew it, the audience knew it, and everyone played along. That isn’t the case with Oprah. She encourages the embrace of woo without reservation.

I keep hoping that Oprah is secretly planning to pull a James Frey on McCarthy and call her on her bullshit. I won’t get my hopes up though.

The comments on the Gawker piece give me hope for the future. The general public is apparently more intelligent than I usually give them credit for.

So 5 pounds of Bad Crack meets 5 pounds of Mad Whack.

They do make quite the pair… to Avoid.

I have a wife of 29 years who loves Oprah. I also have a 14 year old daughter. My wife was complaining about some of the shows on TV like Bad Girls Club and Americas Next Top Model. She says they are vapid, stupid and a waste of time and energy. I pointed out to my dear wife that Oprah co-founded and owns a big chunk of Oxygen and probably approves any show that airs.

Linking the goddess-like Oprah to smut did not go over too well. The truth hurts. Oprah has sooooo much power and wastes it. She is merely a purveyor of pablum and mush and is accelerating the demise of our culture. But hey, if you write a book, you couldn’t do better than to be on Oprah’s good side. Money talks. And Oprah has a lot of money. Good for her, but she is still an idiot.

BTW. PZ Myers posted the same topic and the discussion has been robust.

Yes this kind of story can make me crazy. We need to evaluate how power is used. Oprah has an enormous amount of it.While doing much good with her money, she has fallen so far so from rational thinking and scientific reasoning, that her views surely can do more harm than good. Perhaps rather than mystics and pseudoscience, she could use her power to promote real education and disease prevention.

I think we should make as much noise as we possibly can about Oprah. I hope we can change her status from someone whom everybody loves to a controversial figure. Heck, Jerry Lewis is controversial, why not Oprah?

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