"The View's" newest hire Jenny McCarthy has already sparked controversy and she hasn't even started yet.
Criticism of her views on autism's link to vaccines was front page news on USA Today's website with advocacy group Autism Speaks blasting the former Playboy model. The group is concerned she'll use her new platform to promote misinformation.
Autism Society of Illinois Executive Director Mary Kay Betz says it's a hot button issue that has its share of support and opposition.
"If we can bring a little bit of awareness to it, whether it's good or bad at least it's being talked about, not everybody is going to agree with Jenny McCarthy, not everybody agrees with Autism Speaks," Betz says.
A recent USA Today Gallop poll from 2008 found one in four adults are familiar with McCarthy's controversial view and nearly half of those adults say her position prompted questions about vaccine safety.
The topic generated plenty of reaction -- even here at FOX 32 News.
"It's been shown to be utterly false," Political Editor Mike Flannery argues. "There really isn't any legitimate accepted scientific study and if you go to that Jenny McCarthy Body Count website you'll see what immunologists and biologists and the people who study this stuff say about it."
"There are more studies that show there is no link between autism and vaccinations," Reporter Amara Walker adds.
"I think it's reasonable to be cautious though," Producer Jim Selle comments. "With my kids, we had them vaccinated, that was never a question but we did space them out."
Rush University Medical Center's Dr. Tom Owley believes that, "without evidence that those vaccines cause disease, there's really no reason to not be vaccinated. I think that it's dangerous to have us not vaccinating our children."
Mary Kay Betz, a mother of two autistic children herself, says it's too early to tell what the Evergreen Park native will say once on a world stage.
"I don't know what she's going to talk about," Betz says. "She may not even bring autism up, we don't know what her platform is going to be."
McCarthy wears many hats, including president of Generation Rescue and mother of her son Evan who was diagnosed with autism in 2005. She also writes a daily column "Splash" for the Chicago Sun-Times.
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