Marianne Williamson Tries to Walk Back Vaccination and Depression Claims on MSNBC: ‘I Was Speaking Glibly’


MSNBC’s Ari Melber confronted self-help guru and 2020 Democratic candidate Marianne Williamson about her past comments that clinical depression is a “scam” and that mass vaccinations have coincided with an outbreak of chronic illness. She clumsily tried to walk them back, claiming, “I was speaking glibly.”

Williamson, who is enjoying something of a breakout media moment after the second Democratic debate, has mostly flown under the radar of the press’ fact-checking scrutiny until now. After playing two clips of her previous night’s debate performance, Melber then showed a video of her mocking the diagnosis of clinical depression. Williamson quickly disavowed her previous comments.

“That clip that you just showed was a podcast I did with Russell Brand,” Williamson said. “Maybe I was trying to impress Russell Brand. I was speaking glibly. I was not a candidate yet. When I said that of itself is such a scam, that was wrong of me to say. I’m sorry that I said it. There is such a thing as serious serious depression for which I’m sure that psychotherapeutic drugs are helpful and life saving. I believe that about bipolar and schizophrenia.”

Next, Melber brought up Williamson’s past statements where she cast doubts about vaccinations and suggested they coincided with a rise in widespread illness within the country. He read a past quote of her where she called vaccination mandates “draconian” and “Orwellian” and said: “The U.S. Government doesn’t tell a citizen in my book what they have to do with their body or chair child.”

Williamson, however, disputed that Melber’s takeaway from her language.

“It’s an overstatement to say that I cast skepticism on vaccinations,” Williamson countered. “On the issue of vaccinations I’m pro-vaccination. I’m pro-medicine and pro-science. On all of these issues what I’m bringing up that is very legitimate and should not be derided or marginalized in a free-throw society is questions about the role of predatory Big Pharma.”

Right after declaring that she was not skeptical about the public health value of vaccinations, however, Williamson expressed skepticism about the public health value of vaccinations.

“In 1986, there was this vaccine protection law. There was and there have been $4 billion in vaccine compensation payments that have been made. There was much less chronic, something like 12% chronic illness among our children previous to that law and there’s 54% now. I don’t see why in a free society you know, what is going on here?” Williamson claimed without defining what she meant by “chronic illness.” She then asked a question that is similarly used by climate change denialists to undermine the overwhelming scientific consensus on that issue: “Why are we so okay with the complete shutdown of any conversation about this topic?”

Pointing out that he was, in fact, taking about it, Melber pushed Williamson to clarify her stance on public vaccinations. “Your view of federal or state government vaccination requirements is they are valid or you may oppose?”

“There are — there are with any medical intervention, there are benefits and risks. The government always has to come down on the side of the public good,” she replied. “Absolutely. I was vaccinated. My daughter was vaccinated. Of course, I am. I just want to know when it comes to review of our drugs and all issues related to drugs, just as we have to learn what is happening in the opioid crisis, I want independent regulation conducted by the government not paid for Big Pharma.”

Watch the video above, via MSNBC.

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