arbara Walters's confirmation on Monday that she had selected Jenny McCarthy, an advocate of the discredited theory that childhood vaccines cause autism, to replace Elisabeth Hasselbeck on The View has touched off a raging controversy. Jenny McCarthy's unfounded claims about the dangers of vaccines has been one of the greatest impediments to efforts to vaccinate children in recent decades, said Amy Pisani of Every Child by Two, a group co-founded by former First Lady Rosalynn Carter aimed at ensuring that all children are vaccinated by the age of two. (Of some two dozen major scientific studies, not one has found any connection between vaccinations and autism.) The conservative Commentary magazine cited studies indicating that last year alone whooping cough cases rose to 41,000, the largest number in more than 50 years, all of them preventable by vaccination. The power of celebrity is unfortunate but real, and in McCarthy's case, the power of celebrity to do harm outweighs any positive attributes she may have otherwise brought to the show's lineup, Commentary concluded. Time magazine media critic James Poniewozik wrote: For a show even remotely about news -- and a career newswoman like Walters -- to legitimize McCarthy's dangerous anti-science ... is irresponsible and shameful. Reporting on the hiring, the Los Angeles Times observed, While it remains to be seen whether McCarthy will use The View as a bully pulpit for her opinions [on vaccinations], the new job will bring her greater visibility and influence, even if she never so much as utters the word 'thimerosal' on the air. (Thimerosal is a preservative used in many drug products, including vaccines, which McCarthy maintains is the cause of autism.)