Author, speaker, and now Democratic presidential hopeful Marianne Williamson has apparently realized she might have channelled a little too much Gwyneth Paltrow, and is walking back some seriously dumb comments she made about vaccines this week.
Her apology and clarifications (if they can be considered such?) came a little too late for Meghan McCain, who came after Williamson on Thursday’s episode of the View for the candidate’s recent comments that mandatory vaccines are “Orwellian,” comparing her message to that of Trump’s 2016 “drain the swamp” rhetoric.
“You’re talking a lot about children of America, the children, how much you care about children, you also just came out as the anti-vaxxer candidate,” McCain said, after comparing Williamson to Trump over her presidential aspirations despite her lack of political experience.
Specifically, McCain asked about comments Williamson made on Wednesday afternoon before an audience at a New Hampshire event. According to NBC News’ Julia Jester, Williamson said the vaccine debate was “no different than the abortion debate” to her, and that mandatory vaccinations are too “draconian and Orwellian.” Because a person’s choice to stay pregnant or have an abortion risks the pregnancies or abortions of other people, totally sound analogy there.
“The U.S. government doesn’t tell any citizen, in my book, what they have to do with their body or their child,” Williamson said.
Williamson’s camp has been on the defensive in the hours since her slip up. She told the Daily Beast that she was sorry to have made comments that “sounded as though I question the validity of life-saving vaccines,” characterizing her earlier comments as having “misspoke.” She did however double down on her “right to choose” hubbub, stating, “Public safety must be carefully balanced with the right of individuals to make their own decisions.”
Williamson posted a fuller explanation on Twitter this morning:
These walk backs, however, weren’t good enough for McCain. In response, Williamson expressed concern over the closeness between Big Pharma, the CDC, and the FDA, saying that “millions of Americans who are not anti-science and are not anti-vaccine have some deep concerns.”
“If I were president of the United States, when I’m president of the United States, there will be a commission of scientists talking about—learning so that the American people see what’s going on with these vaccines who are not paid by Big Pharma,” Williamson continued.
The View hosts tried pressing Williamson again, with McCain asking her if she had changed her mind on mandatory vaccinations overnight (she hadn’t), and Sunny Hostin asking if she supported mandatory vaccinations, point blank. Instead, Williamson said, “I do not trust the propaganda on either side.”
Joy Behar tried to gauge Williamson’s support of mandatory vaccines once more, asking for a yes or no. Alas, Williamson just repeated her previous statements.
In March, New Hampshire became one of at least a dozen states that have reported a diagnosis of the measles, the most severe of measles outbreaks being in Washington and New York. And as my colleague Rafi Schwartz pointed out, George Orwell (who Williamson referenced in her “Orwellian” vaccine mandate comment) died from complications related to tuberculosis, another disease prevented by inoculation (he actually wrote 1984 while dying from TB—impressive!). But don’t mind that!!!
So when it comes to vaccines, what does Williamson actually believe? I’m not sure, and it’s clear the View hosts don’t either, but I’ve reached out to her campaign to ask if she could explain, and will update when and if I hear back. In the meantime, it’s just nice to see everyone getting along.