So only fe­male elites can bal­ance fam­ily, ca­reer?

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Michelle Malkin

Let’s talk Mommy Wars, dou­ble stan­dards and the me­dia elite. On Sept. 5, Howard Gut­man, a mem­ber of the Obama cam­paign’s Na­tional Fi­nance Com­mit­tee, at­tacked Sarah Palin’s abil­ity to be a good par­ent and have a high­pow­ered pub­lic life at the same time. In a fin­ger-wag­ging ap­pear­ance on the Laura In­gra­ham ra­dio show, Barack Obama’s op­er­a­tive scolded the Repub­li­can mother of five chil­dren for not putting her pro­fes­sional ca­reer on hold.

“Your re­spon­si­bil­ity is to put your fam­ily first,” Mr. Gut­man lec­tured as he sin­gled out Mrs. Palin’s Down Syn­drome baby and preg­nant teenage daugh­ter. “The proper at­tack is not that a woman shouldn’t run for vice pres­i­dent with five kids, it’s that a par­ent, when they have a fam­ily in need [. . .]” should get out of the pub­lic sphere and stay home.

The Gut­man stan­dard has now been prof­fered by count­less Obama hacks and wa­ter-car­ry­ing com­men­ta­tors. Damn­ingly, it’s high-pow­ered work­ing moth­ers in the jour­nal­ism busi­ness who are help­ing to broad­cast the an­tiPalin slams or do­ing noth­ing to de­fend her.

How would Katie Couric like the Gut­man stan­dard ap­plied to her? Her hus­band died at 42 when her daugh­ters were 6 and 2 years old. With two young chil­dren dev­as­tated by the loss of a fa­ther, she opted not to quit jour­nal­ism. She an­chored NBC’s “To­day Show” through his ill­ness and death, con­tin­ued work­ing an in­ten­sive, time-con­sum­ing sched­ule as one of Amer­ica’s most vis­i­ble broad­cast jour­nal­ists while a sin­gle mother with two fa­ther­less chil­dren at home, and then jumped to CBS News, where she main­tains a rig­or­ous on­air sched­ule, travel plans and an off-air so­cial cal­en­dar. Where are the fin­ger-wag­gers?

How about CNN’s Soldedad O’Brien? She’s been work­ing over­time cov­er­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign sea­son, an­chor­ing daily cov­er­age and night­time con­ven­tions, and pro­duc­ing doc­u­men­taries that re­quire large chunks of time away from home. Dis­ney’s Fam­ily Par­ent­ing web­site lauds her as “a mod­ern mom bal­anc­ing a thriv­ing ca­reer as one of Amer­ica’s top news an­chors along with her four chil­dren” — two daugh­ters now ages 7 and 6 and twin boys who are 4. Where are the Palin-bash­ers to lam­baste Ms. O’Brien’s pro­fes­sional pur­suits?

Also at CNN, Camp­bell Brown flew to Las Ve­gas last year to moderate a po­lit­i­cal de­bate while 8 and a half months preg­nant. Fox News host and left-wing blog­ger Alan Colmes, last seen ques­tion­ing Mrs. Palin’s com­mit­ment to pre­na­tal care be­cause she worked and trav­eled late in her preg­nancy, had no com­ment. When Ms. Brown ini­tially left the “To­day Show” in 2007, she said she was step­ping down to de­vote more time to fam­ily and baby. She im­me­di­ately turned around and jumped ship to CNN, where she has an­chored wall-to-wall CNN Elec­tion Cen­ter cov­er­age and will launch a new nightly show in Novem­ber.

At NBC, fa­mous bal­ancer of work and moth­er­hood Mered­ith Viera re­placed Ms. Couric on the “To­day Show.” She has three chil­dren at home and a hus­band who has bat­tled mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis and two bouts of colon can­cer. By the Gut­man stan­dard, Ms. Viera should have left the busi­ness years ago to tend to her fam­ily in need.

As a work­ing woman in the me­dia for 16 years and a work­ing mother in the me­dia for the last eight, I know the com­mit­ment and en­ergy it took for th­ese women to get to the top. I’ve filed col­umns from hospi­tal beds, writ­ten books while nurs­ing, brought my tod­dlers to TV stu­dios, and told bed­time sto­ries on the cell phone while board­ing planes. I’ve worked hard to strike the “bal­ance” we all seek. I’ve made good choices and bad choices, and have no re­grets about the op­por­tu­ni­ties I’ve taken or the op­por­tu­ni­ties I’ve re­jected. I couldn’t have done it without a sup­port­ive hus­band will­ing to forego his own ca­reer goals — the kind of spouse the me­dia has ig­nored in Todd Palin and the kind of spouse I’m sure the Sis­ter­hood of the Pro­tected Fe­male Jour­nal­ists all have.

I don’t chal­lenge the com­mit­ment th­ese fel­low work­ing moth­ers in the me­dia have to their home lives. What I chal­lenge is their si­lence and com­plic­ity as the Palin-bash­ers im­pose a “Fam­ily First” dou­ble stan­dard on con­ser­va­tives. The soror­ity is closed to the Right. Michelle Malkin is a na­tion­ally syndicated colum­nist.

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