ABC hires a dangerous nut

The news-and-entertainment division the the Disney conglomerate, ABC, has a day time show, named The View, aimed at a “key” demographic, women 18-49, which I assume includes a large number of viewers with infants and small children. The program is produced by ABC and by a company owned by faux-journalist Barbara Walters.

The mechanics of the show is to have four women (some of which in the key demographic group, although Barbara Walters is conspicuously outside it), sit around chatting about new-and-entertainment. It supposedly has a less harsh, more key-demographic friendly vibe. It’s like This Week with cheap perfume. Executive producer Walters last week said that there would not soon be a new co-host for the show (one of the regulars announcing her departure), but, squeals another ABC fuzzy warm news-and-entertainment chattiest, Good Morning America, “things have changed!” The executive producer evidently did not get the memo from higher ups.

Yes, indeed. Beginning in September Jenny McCarthy, known by many as a former model who now “acts” in low brow comedies, will be a co-host.

Now far be it from me to care one way or the other what kind of garbage ABC peddles. I never was tempted to write about how its prized political “journalist” Jonathan Karl was taken for a ride by his right wing “source” over the Benghazi emails, and then made demonstrably false statements over the air, which in turn were repeated by right wing media as gospel because a “real” journalist spouted them. No, it seems to me that we have gone so far into the fantasy land of entertainment masquerading as informed public discourse that anyone who obtains his opinions from television is beyond persuasion. And this process, which, I suppose, has become our new national discourse, is so prevalent that one instance, or many, or even all of ABC News and its odious roundtables of fakers and long-faces does not deserve comment.

So why remark on this inconsequential know-nothing sitting in on chats on a fluff show? Doesn’t a news-and-entertainment show have the right to hire someone who paid her dues by posing naked for Playboy? After all, wasn’t that a daring artistic statement that she could peddle flesh and remain Catholic at the same time? And hasn’t she proven her intellectual bona fides by starring in Dirty Love?

Well the reason is simple. Jenny McCarthy represents a new low, even for ABC. Ms. McCarthy’s life was tragically upset when she learned that her child was autistic. That of course should be something that causes us to feel nothing but empathy and warm regards. But since science could not give her immediate relief, she embraced the worst of the anti-science hoaxes by seeking out quack “cures” which she thereafter peddled by becoming a leading spokesperson for the conspiratorial movement that proclaims that vaccinations cause autism. She raised funds, became the face for the movement and even wrote a book or two (!) to promote this anti-science agenda. And of course she became a defender of the chief fraud of this middle class anti-intellectual conspiracist movement, the unlicensed physician and disgraced practitioner, Andrew Wakefield.

I will not again outline how baseless the movements claims are or how vile Wakefield is.  Nor will I set forth how dangerous it is that children not receive routine inoculations, both to themselves and to other children them come into contact with. Much like public discourse in general, on this issue there are few that haven’t already made up their minds irrevocably.

I will only wonder if Disney’s news-and-entertainment is comfortable putting its sanction behind a chief agent of danger to infants and children by allowing her to speak directly to the key demographic, their mothers. Of if anyone at this company whose chief customers are children thought whether it was a good idea to enhance her prestige by becoming a “legitimate” talking head (much like Jonathan Karl’s “prestige” legitimized a false right wing talking point), which she can bank and spend on her chief outside activity. I wonder where ABC will draw the line. Perhaps George Zimmermann will join a roundtable to chat about current issues in race relations or Aaron Hernandez become the chief crime correspondent for ESPN, Disneys sports-and-entertainment arm? All we can do is squeal along with Good Morning Americn, “Things have changed!’

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  1. ‘ It’s like This Week with cheap perfume’. Gold dust. I thought this might be an easy target for anti feminists to gloat, but I am glad it isn’t. She may have been deluded by fear and anxiety by the Wakefield disaster, but certainly the channel moguls should have known better than to use her.The misconstruing of scientific endeavour is actually one of the most dangerous positions that modern journalism takes. True science is where the hope for the planet and the species lies; we endanger it at our peril. Nevertheless, there is no legislative power in a democracy that can remove ignorance. Education is the only possible rebuttal.Perhaps ABC could host Ben Goldacre in an attempt to dispel some of the misplaced ;myth?

    • One of the problems (there are many, I don’t advise it if you are given a choice) of getting older is that you fall into the temptation of thinking that days of yore were better. Every time the thought occurs to me, I try to temper it (or at least not openly express it). But I can’t do it with American televised news, which has fallen far from its days of Edward R. Murrow and later Walter Cronkite (among many others).

      I realize “The View” is not news, and probably the hosts would be shocked to be considered in the same way as news, but they invite policy-makers as guests and purport to have literate discussions with them. And Barbara Walters, for reasons that I never understood, is considered by many to be a journalist. The program is a production of ABC (together with Walters) and I’m sure Walters expects to be taken seriously.

      It is one thing to have reasonably intelligent satirists attempting to have meaningful discussion (however far they fall short of that goal), but it is quite another thing to give the keys to an anti-intellectual who promotes false beliefs, dangerous to babies and infants, to the very mothers of those children. It is as though our institutions have long ago given up shame as something to be considered when they are projecting their future income statements.

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