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Jenny McCarthy: a tale of two tales

Posted Oct 28 2008 12:56pm

I love public libraries. Always have. Sometimes I go a long time without stepping in one, but once I do, I love them all over. I love leaving with a huge stack of children’s books and reading them over and over (and over and over) to my kids.

I went to the library last nigh. Dropped off some overdue books and picked up “Mother Warriors”, Jenny McCarthy’s latest.

No, I didn’t read it all in one sitting. But, I did read some sections that have interested me. If you recall, I blogged recently about Jenny McCarthy’s interview where she talked about her interactions with Barbara Walters on “The View”.

At the time, my focus was on the fact that Jenny McCarthy waited over a year to talk about her story of the behind-the-scenes events of her interactions with Ms. Walters. Silly me, I didn’t realize that not only was she saving that story to create buzz for her book, but that the story was a part of the book. But, let’s see what I wrote then:

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.

You can imagine that when I saw chapters on Barbara Walters in the new book, I had to read them.

In “Mother Warriors”, Jenny McCarthy tells about how before she went on the The View, “a girl” who worked for the show came to Jenny’s dressing room and told her that Barbara Walters got a call from someone at ABC who said that the treatment that Ms. McCarthy was talking about was B.S.. Jenny got called in to talk to Ms. Walters before the show, and, according to Ms. McCarthy, the exchange was somewhat heated and Ms. Walters told Jenny how to answer a question that would come up in the interview. (“The answer is YES, most doctors do not agree with anything you are saying”).

So, Jenny McCarthy went on anyway and, as the title of the book says, “Against All Odds”, told her story and stood her ground.

The chapter finishes with:

Barbara tried her best to ruffle my feathers during the rest of the interview but I stayed focused, stayed within my heart chakra, and just stuck to my story.

The show was over and as I left The View that morning, all I could think was, “I could really use a big hug from Oprah right now.”

Damned good drama.

Anyone else remember “Two Minute Mysteries”? I loved those books as a kid. Every story was told with one little detail that allowed the inspector to see that someone wasn’t telling a consistent story. Did you catch this one? Take a look at what I wrote in my previous blog…this time with some emphasis:

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.

Yep, in the interview Ms. McCarthy recently gave, the heated exchange came after the interview on The View, but in the book, it came before the interview.

I’d love to show that video—-but as noted, it was pulled.

So, it’s Sullivan’s word alone. My “anecdote”. Or, is it?

When the video came out, Jenny McCarthy’s organization plugged it on their blog, the Age of Autism. Let’s take a look at what they had to say, with a little emphasis added by me:

Jenny McCarthy on Access Hollywood

Access Hollywood talks to Jenny McCarthy about her heated dressing down by Barbara Walters after she was on The View during her promotion for Louder Than Words. Jenny explains that she didn’t understand where Barbara’s anger and refusal to believe Evan was in recovery, was coming from, until she learned that Ms. Walters had a sister with special needs.

...

There’s no embed code, but you can click to the Access Hollywood on the OMG! site HERE.
http://omg.yahoo.com/videos/barbara-walters-jenny-mccarthy-feud-resolved/5446

Anyone want to venture a guess as to why the video interview in that last link was pulled from the OMG site?

This is not a minor, “look, there’s a mistake in Jenny’s book” issue. At least one of Jenny McCarthy’s stories about the events of that day are wrong. And, in the end, I think I need Barbara Walters and people like her. What I don’t need are autism “advocates” who tell inconsistent stories that could serve to alienate the press from the “autism community”.

But, this also serves as an example of anecdotes and memory. The events on The View were, by Jenny McCarthy’s account, rather traumatic. She tells in her story about how her mother always wanted Jenny to someday be on one of Barbara Walter’s specials, and how that dream was shattered. Jenny McCarthy wrote about her side of the events in her book. And, yet, when she was interviewed, she told a different story.

Why do I think this is important? Take a look at another quote from the book. This is what Ms. McCarthy relates as her thoughts after Oprah Winfrey read the statement from the CDC (that there is no science to support the connection between vaccines and autism) during the “Louder than Words” book tour:

“Who needs science when I’m witnessing it every day in my own home? I watched it happen.”

There is an excellent discussion going on at AutismStreet about anecdotal evidence. Prometheus made some good comments, one of which I quote here:

In science, anecdotes are a form of data, albeit of the lowest quality. A series of consistent anecdotes can be used to construct a hypothesis, which can then be tested by experimental means.

The anecdotes from Ms. McCarthy give a good example of why anecdotes are the “lowest quality” form of data. Her stories just do not jive.

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