Jessica Alba received an overwhelmingly positive reception on "Morning Joe" today while lobbying for legislation that would give the EPA broad-sweeping powers to regulate chemicals in consumer products.
Despite her cheerful demeanor, the Hollywood starlet made a spate of damning claims against the chemical industry that she failed to substantiate, while the MSNBC panel nodded in approval.
"I realized that there are toxic chemicals in American products that are completely unregulated that are in and around our children," accused Alba, even though the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 empowers the EPA with such statutory authority.
After Alba fretted that "our children are the experiments" of chemical companies, co-host Willie Geist, rather than pressing the actress-activist for evidence, merely agreed and compared America's regulatory regime to that of communist China.
This would have been the appropriate time for Joe Scarborough to point out to his viewers that not everyone is on board with the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, which Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced and Alba endorsed.
Such dissenters include the American Chemistry Council, an industry trade association that supports efforts to modernize the TSCA, but maintains this particular measure "could put American innovation and jobs at risk."
Criticism from the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association also went unreported by the "Morning Joe" journalists. The trade group warned that the Lautenberg bill "would give EPA unprecedented authority over the American economy."
"If enacted in its current form," cautioned NPRA President Charles Drevna. "Senator Lautenberg’s bill threatens to further damage America’s already fragile manufacturing base."
Alba reassured the docile panel that she "did a lot of research" and wasn't just "some actress coming out saying this," but she couldn't cite a single study to support her cause.
That didn't matter to MSNBC contributor Mike Barnicle, who hyperbolized, "You might as well be putting gasoline on the mattress."
Wrapping up the segment, neither Geist nor Scarborough could contain their adulation for what would be a historic expansion of the EPA's regulatory authority.
"Well, we're glad you're doing this work," praised Geist. "Jessica Alba out fighting to get this pushed through."
"Fighting the good fight!" gushed Scarborough.
A transcript of the segment can be found below:
May 25, 2011
8:46 a.m. EDT
WILLIE GEIST: Jessica, so tell us what you're doing up on Capitol Hill that has a lot to do with kids.
JESSICA ALBA, actress: Well, basically, when I was pregnant with my first child, I realized that there are toxic chemicals in American products that are completely unregulated that are in and around our children. And my child, in particular, that's what I was most concerned about. So, you know, I was looking for, you know, from the best mattress to what kind of spray do I use for the counter tops because she's going to be around that and shampoos and all the things that are in and around my child. And I realized that in this country, companies can put toxic chemicals in these products, in our everyday products, and put them on store shelves, and they're never tested. So basically our children are the experiments on whether they can get sick. And there are a lot of diseases, cancer, learning disorders, physical disabilities that are linked to these toxins, directly linked to these toxins that are in these products. And so I'm here basically to reform this bill that Frank Lautenberg put forth. It's the Safe Chemicals Act. Just to try and raise the bar so these companies are more responsible about what type of chemicals they put in our products.
GEIST: Yeah, I think a lot of people think of China. We had all those problems with the products coming over from China that were a problem, but a lot of the stuff is happening right here. How's it going out there? What's the future of the Lautenberg bill?
ALBA: I mean, really, it's about reforming a bill, a toxic chemical bill, that was put into place in 1976. It basically hasn't been revised since then. There are, like, 84,000 toxins, toxic chemicals, in our everyday products from surface spray to literally tearless baby shampoo have petroleum-based products chemicals in them. And it affects the health of our children. I mean, there's no – it's really not a surprise that so many diseases and disorders are on the rise, especially for children. And I do believe that a lot of it is environmentally caused. And I'm not just some actress coming out saying this. I did a lot of research. and there's a lot of science and medical experts that can back that up.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You know, Mike Barnicle, if you look at the explosion of autism over the past 20 or 30 years, a lot of people believe that may be connected with products that our children are coming into contact with, environmental contact – because the numbers have exploded since the late 1980s, Mike.
MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC contributor: Not only that, Joe, and to that point, Jessica, what, if anything, happened that made you aware of this, the fact that, you know, a baby might throw up and you're cleaning up the mattress or the floor and you're spraying stuff on there. You might as well be putting gasoline on the mattress.
ALBA: I mean, basically, the mattresses are made of petroleum-based products. There are a lot of links for SIDS, to that, which is crazy. Our babies are basically breathing in toxic fumes, and they're suffocating and that's just, it's just not acceptable. It's completely unacceptable. And so I'm here to raise awareness. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was just more sensitive. And I wanted to create the healthiest and safest environment for her. And when I read up on all this stuff, it was just crazy. And in Europe, actually, they don't even sell half of our products because their standards are much higher.
GEIST: Well, we're glad you're doing this work. We all have kids. Good for you. It's called the Safe Chemicals Act. Jessica Alba out fighting to get this pushed through. Thanks so much for being with us.
SCARBOROUGH: Fighting the good fight!
--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.