She’s also the single most visible celebrity spokesperson for the discredited, literally dangerous belief that childhood vaccines can cause autism. On her side is her anecdotal claim that vaccination gave her son autism, and a debunked study from 1998. On the other is, pretty much, the entire pediatric community. …

ABC might argue that hiring McCarthy does not mean endorsing her vaccine beliefs. Maybe not–in a way, it may be more dangerous, muddying a vital question of public health by framing it as a “controversy” that you can hash out in a roundtable before interviewing Bruce Willis about Red 2.

Maybe ABC sees McCarthy as a lateral swap for Hasselbeck–another outspoken, blonde woman around the same age. But medical science is not a matter of “views” and “opinion.” It’s not like believing that capital gains taxes should be lowered or gay marriage permitted. Things cause disease or they don’t.

Even if The View never airs McCarthy’s beliefs about vaccines–or, conversely, if every other panelist argues against them every day–by giving her implicit credibility the show has already suggested that her scaremongering is up for debate. She says one thing, Whoopi says something else–hey, you decide! People are talking! We must be doing something right!