As covered by Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy, Oprah’s woo-peddling is no longer going unanswered in the mass media circle. Newsweek has picked up on the prevalent backlash of the blogosphere against Oprah’s media empire and her latest, most egregious offense, giving Jenny McCarthy her own show, and printed an article roundly arguing all the charges us basement-dwelling bloggers have put forth. Whether prompted by bloggers or not, Newsweek is really putting their necks on the line here, good on them.
Of course, Harpo put out a statement that reads as follows:
For 23 years, my show has presented thousands of topics that reflect the human experience, including doctors’ medical advice and personal health stories that have prompted conversations between our audience members and their health care providers. I trust the viewers, and I know that they are smart and discerning enough to seek out medical opinions to determine what may be best for them.
Emphasis mine. If Oprah honestly thinks that telling people about The Secret, and how it’s possible to wish your way back to health, is going to prompt people to ask a doctor whether or not that is a viable alternative treatment to cancer, rather than taking it upon yourself to try to hope away the tumor… well, she was wrong. Per one of the comments in the Bad Astronomy “shame on you” article linked above, Newsweek said the following:
In March 2007, the month after the first two shows on The Secret, Oprah invited a woman named Kim Tinkham on the program. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and her doctors were urging surgery and chemotherapy. But Tinkham wrote Oprah to say that she had decided to forgo this treatment and instead use The Secret to cure herself. On the show, Oprah seemed genuinely alarmed that Tinkham had taken her endorsement of The Secret so seriously.
That should be evidence enough that peddling bullshit as medicine to your masses is objectively harmful to humanity. You may trust your viewers to seek out real medical opinions about these things you credulously get behind, but that trust is misplaced, because they’re obviously either not doing it or not listening to that real medical advice. And that’s what makes backing McCarthy so fucking dangerous. Oprah Winfrey, have you no shame? Do you not feel guilt for the children that have suffered from measles, mumps or rubella because their parents were convinced by this antivaccination nonsense? Do you not want to prevent future children from contracting these deadly diseases? Do you not wish to prevent them from gaining foothold then mutating to something the rest of us who ARE vaccinated, are no longer immune to?
It is terrifying and sad that the most powerful woman in the world knows not what danger she sows.