The Chicago Sun-Times ran a Monday piece on Jenny McCarthy and her upcoming conference “for parents to learn about new support and treatment methods for their children with autism” — methods that were questioned by the Chicago Tribune last year.
McCarthy, who is behind the Generation Rescue and Autism One organizations, not only gets a puff piece from the Sun-Times, but receives the paper’s endorsement, too: “The Sun-Times proudly supports Generation Rescue & Autism One,” says the last line of the Q-and-A.
“This is closer to a press release than it is to journalism,” writes Seth Mnookin, author of “The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy.” Autism One’s annual conference “is not, as the Sun-Times claims, a place for ‘parents to learn about new support and treatment methods for their children with autism’; it’s more akin to Woodstock for vaccine deniers.”
I invited Sun-Times editors to respond to Mnookin and explain why they added the “proudly supports” line to the Q and A.
Meanwhile, I just sent this email to Sun-Times Media editor-in-chief Jim Kirk:
Not one of the top three editors at the Sun-Times want to respond to my email about your odd Jenny McCarthy piece — written by your public relations vice president?
Back when you were the Chicago Tribune media columnist, you would have needled the Sun-Times for doing this; now you’re the guy who’s ultimately responsible for it.
Come on, Jim, you can do better than this.
UPDATE: Jim Kirk’s response:
Jim, the wording used to describe the Sun-Times’ involvement was incorrect. It should have read that the Sun-Times is a media sponsor of the event, nothing more. The article should not have stated or suggested that the newspaper supports — or doesn’t support — a particular cause.
In addition, a plan has been in the works to transition the Cause & Event column from a community affairs freelancer to an editor.