So many of the issues and fears that were a big deal before 2020 feel so very quaint these days. Remember how we thought anti-vaxxers were causing measles outbreaks all over the place? Well, measles outbreaks are still awful and a danger, but that’s nothing compared to the threat those same anti-vaccine attitudes pose when we finally have a vaccine for COVID-19. This debate is going to be infuriating — as we are reminded by a new lawsuit reportedly filed by an anti-vaxx mom suing Tamron Hall for a segment on her show in 2019.
On Thursday, TMZ reportedly obtained court documents showing that Long Island mother Jeanine DiAngelo is suing Hall, the Tamron Hall Show‘s production company, and ABC parent company Disney for $16 million on behalf of her son, Andrew. DiAngelo wants them to pay for her son’s embarrassment and emotional distress after the then 16-year-old and his mother appeared on the show to discuss their anti-vaccine stance.
“In docs, DiAngelo claims Tamron said she would NOT let her son anywhere near DiAngelo’s son much less hug him because he’s not vaccinated,” TMZ reported. “DiAngelo says Tamron violated NY law by discriminating against her and their religious beliefs.”
In the segment, which no longer appears on the show’s YouTube channel, DiAngelo and her son talk about how she had to pull him and his sister out of high school when New York state ended religious exemptions for mandatory vaccinations for school. She and other parents had been featured in a Wall Street Journal article about how they were forced to homeschool their children due to this new regulation (see what we mean about quaint?). The segment also featured a pediatrician who explained the public health reasons for vaccination and a woman who had been raised by anti-vaxxer parents but changed her mind as an adult.
With Andrew on the stage, DiAngelo and Hall had an exchange debating whether measles is deadly (it can be) and whether an unvaccinated child can pose a risk to others (they can, if they’ve been exposed to the disease).
Hall then paused their debate and walked up to Andrew’s side to say, “I can’t look at him like this and have this debate around him when I know my son is around the corner, and I wouldn’t want him to hug him,” she said, referring to her 5-month-old baby who was too young to have had a measles vaccine of his own. “Because I don’t want my son, based on science, to be exposed to an unvaccinated child. … This is not to judge him. And you know what? I’m going to get [Andrew] to leave, because I don’t want to have this conversation in front of him.”
Later on the show, with Andrew off-stage, Hall said that DiAngelo had told her during commercial break that she was offended by her removing Andrew from the show.
“I felt like we were talking over him,” Hall said. “He’s already been labeled. I don’t want to be a part of putting a scarlet letter on him.”
So, in trying to save him from humiliation, Hall seems to have made DiAngelo even angrier. And though Hall often spoke compassionately about how doctors could try to explain the science of vaccination better to suspicious parents, DiAngelo was not appeased. In a blog post, she later wrote that she felt she’d been misled by producers when she agreed to go on the show.
“I saw this as an opportunity to be heard,” she wrote. “I saw this as a way of speaking out for thousands of parents affected by the repeal of the religious exemption and appalled by this government overreach that took our rights away.”
Well, as was stated on the show, DiAngelo absolutely has the right not to vaccinate her children — but everyone else has a right to be safe from preventable diseases, too. She also has the right not to appear on a talk show, because doing so has consequences. We fail to see how him not getting to speak on air constitutes “discrimination.” Spreading misinformation about vaccines on TV is not an inalienable right.
SheKnows has reached out for comment from reps for the Tamron Hall Show, who have yet to respond. How about we let Hall’s other guest, Dr. Alanna Levine, have the last word instead:
“The decision to vaccinate, the parental decision is a unique decision, because it doesn’t just affect your own child; it does affect people around you.”
The same goes for mask-wearing, so here’s where to shop for adorable kids face masks.