Darla Shine, the wife of Trump’s White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Bill Shine, is cheering the resurgence of measles on Twitter. “The entire Baby Boom population alive today had the #Measles as kids,” Darla tweeted. “Bring back our #ChildhoodDiseases they keep you healthy & fight cancer.” It was the first in what became a 24-hour tweet storm in which the conservative author posted well worn and largely debunked anti-vax arguments while daring the “Left” to “Bring it on” with a slew of hashtags including #Libel #Liars and #FakeNews. And while Shine has claimed that she has no influence over her husband’s job or the administration her proximity to power should concern parents who want to protect their children from vaccine-preventable illnesses.
Despite branding herself to the contrary, Shine is not simply a happy housewife. Yes, she authored a book called Happy Housewives and runs a blog called the Happy Housewives Club, but she got her start as a TV news reporter and producer. Ostensibly she’s trained as a journalist and a professional communicator. Which is to say, she knows what she’s doing as she sends out dangerous and ridiculous tweets. And she has no excuse for not understanding that communication has consequences.
But Shine is wildly irresponsible. Even a cursory Google search would have shown Shine that prior to the MMR vaccine, between 450 and 500 children, on average, died of the measles every year. On top of that, an additional 4,000 suffered measles-related encephalitis every year. So exactly who did the measles “keep healthy”? The lucky ones, maybe.
That kind of information isn’t partisan. Neither is ignoring it. Plenty of people on either side of the aisle have pandered to the anti-vax community for votes, generally under the banner of personal freedom. It might surprise Shine to learn, for instance, that even Barack Obama was soft on vaccinations. In April of 2008, he told a rally that he was suspicious of vaccines and claimed the science on the link between vaccines and autism was “inconclusive.” It wasn’t.
So it’s not necessarily a partisan worry to have a prominent anti-vaxxer sharing a bed with the man who helps craft the White House’ message. It’s a parental worry. Politics makes strange bedfellows, but bedfellows also make strange politics. Speak of which: What’s keeping the White House from putting out a strong message on vaccinating children during an ongoing health emergency in the Pacific Northwest?
Does Darla Shine want to hurt kids? Surely not. But she’s apparently unwilling to baby-proof her tweets and, yes, that’s everyone’s business. If the White House Chief of Staff, the person who is (ostensibly) the closest to President Trump is engaged in anti-vaccine rhetoric at home, that’s as relevant — if not more relevant — than any of the White House’s moral- and zipper-related issues.