Late night TV host Bill Maher invited a controversial doctor, Jay N. Gordon, onto “Real Time with Bill Maher” Friday.
Gordon isbest known forsigning hundreds of personal belief exemptions to school vaccine requirements,advocating for“balanced, moderate” vaccinations, andfor callingmeasles a “benign childhood illness,” leading to his prominence in the anti-vaxxer community.
On the subject of whether vaccines can cause autism in children, a conspiracy theory that hasnever stood upto testing, Maher sided with Gordon, saying “there’s all these parents” who had a “normal child” before getting vaccinated.
Maher also said “it seems to be more realistic to me” that vaccines cause autism rarely, but that it scares people to know “I could be that millionth one.”
With anti-vaxxer sentimenton the rise, measles outbreaks havebeen ongoingin 2019 in the US, and the highly contagious disease is poised to make its comeback.
On the latest episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher,” the famously politically incorrect late-night TV host fielded comments from a doctor beloved by anti-vaxxers, only to agree with him that vaccines can cause activism.
Maher was joined on his show Friday night by Dr. Jay N. Gordon, a pediatrician based in Santa Monica, California, whose patients choose to abstain from vaccinations more than half the time. Gordontold CBS Newsthat he has signed hundreds of personal belief exemptions to school vaccine requirements, and said measles was a “benign childhood illness” that parents don’t need to be concerned about.
On hisown website, Gordon describes his approach to vaccines as “balanced” and “moderate,” but his attitude toward them has contributed to the growing sentiment against vaccines – that in itself is leading toa resurrectionof preventable illnesses, including measles.
On Maher’s show, the hostsided withGordon, endorsing a conspiracy theory that vaccines can cause autism. Multiple studies have tested whether a link between autism and vaccines exits, including a study this March ofover 650,000children that found no correlation between the two.
“The autism issue, they certainly have studied it a million times […] but there’s all these parents who say ‘I had a normal child, got the vaccine,'” Maher said.
“It seems to be more realistic to me if we’re just gonna be realistic about it,” Maher said.” It probably happens so rarely but no one wants, you can’t say it happens one in a million times, because then somebody will think ‘Well, I could be that millionth one.’ And you see, you scare people. So you can’t say what might be the more realistic opinion.”
Maher hasbeen criticizedbefore for his refusal to challenge his controversial guests. In this case, promoting conspiracy theories about measles can have serious real-life consequences. The World Health Organization says anti-vaxxers pose aglobal threatto public health, and the US is poised to see even moreoutbreaks of measlesafter hundreds of new cases were reported this year.
Some celebrities have touted anti-vaxxer sentiment,most infamouslyJenny McCarthy, but others have taken opposite stances andspoken out in favorof vaccinating children. Jon Stewart, a former late-night host,said in 2015that anti-vaxxers “practice a mindful stupidity” and that there’s a “needlessly sick America.”