Earlier this week Barbara Walters and ABC announced that Jenny McCarthy, onetime Playboy model and host of an MTV dating show, will be joining ABC’s The View as a co-host this fall, and the backlash was instantaneous. Writers and critics were aghast that Walters would hand over a powerful platform to a celebrity who in recent years has become well known for espousing the scientifically discredited notion that childhood vaccines cause autism. James Poniewozik of Time wrote that the decision “to legitimize McCarthy’s dangerous anti-science” is “irresponsible and shameful.” Writing for the New Yorker, Michael Specter noted that McCarthy will be the show’s first co-host “whose dangerous views on childhood vaccination may—if only indirectly—have contributed to the sickness and death of people throughout the Western world.”
Why did Walters, who is currently winding down a remarkable career in the news business, risk tarnishing her legacy with the inevitable public outcry over McCarthy? In short: Better sex.