Barbara Walters Defends Hiring Jenny McCarthy for The View

News pioneer responds to critics who slammed her decision to put the anti-vaccine activist on her longtime show

By Josh Grossberg Nov 04, 2013 3:25 PMTags
Barbara Walters, Jenny McCarthyABC

Barbara Walters disagrees with those who felt it was wrong of her to tap Jenny McCarthy for The View in light of the latter's discredited views on vaccines.

"I think the criticism about her was unfair, and it was criticism that had to do with her personal views," the legendary journalist told Howard Kurtz on his new Fox News show, Media Buzz, adding that the comic actress brings "light and fun" to the daytime gabfest.

She noted that McCarthy's anti-vaccine stance "is not a subject that we have discussed on The View."

McCarthy has taken quite a bit of heat for her controversial claim that childhood vaccines may have caused her son's autism. The notion has since been shot down thanks to a lack of medical evidence and prompted attacks against the funny lady for spreading misinformation that could pose a public health threat if parents refrained from having their children vaccinated out of fear.

So when the 84-year-old Walters hired McCarthy as a panelist on The View to replace Elisabeth Hasselbeck, a number of media pundits, doctors and science writers raised vehement objections, noting her perch on the influential morning show could give her anti-vaccine conspiracy theory credibility in the eyes of parents.

And it wasn't long before a rumor surfaced that ABC was looking to give Jenny the boot after ratings in her first few weeks fell short of those for her predecessor.

That report was subsequently shot down by a rep from The View and Walters further nixed the chatter by giving McCarthy and her fellow cohosts a big vote of confidence.

"I'm very proud of the people [on the program]," Barbara added. "I didn't create them. Did I help to launch them? Yeah, and that makes me feel good. I have always been a big booster of other women. I've always worked with other women. If I have any legacy, that's it."