Accuracy in Media

A recent issue of the AIM Report described how Ted Turner’s Cable News Network allowed Turner’s wife, Jane Fonda, to narrate a series of programs, hosted by Hillary Clinton, which portrayed feminists as the only women fulfilling their true potential in life. Mothers and homemakers were portrayed as know-nothing air-heads who were wasting their time raising children.

We now have obtained additional confirmation that this is a view shared by other feminists in the media. A top female editor at the New York Times has actually gone beyond this condescending view of motherhood by insisting that women with young children who choose to work outside the home cannot devote enough time to their jobs, especially if they’re journalists. Joyce Purnick, the metropolitan editor of the New York Times, said, “There is no way in an all-consuming profession like journalism that a woman with children can devote as much time and energy as a man can.”

In other words, kids are a distraction from being a good journalist. And who is a good journalist? Well, Joyce Purnick says she is. Her comments were made in a college commencement address and reported by the Washington Post. She said she had forfeited the chance to have kids and that was the key to her success. She said, “If I had left the Times to have children, and then come back to work a four-day week the way some women reporters on my staff now do, or if I had taken long vacations and leaves to be with my family, or left the office at 6 o’clock instead of 8 or 9—I wouldn’t be the metro editor.”

But she also said that mothers with children who work outside the home as journalists do not work as hard and should not advance as quickly. She called being a mother or a father a “detour” in life, and she asked if it would be fair for them to be as far along in their careers as those who have chosen not to have children. This would not be fair, she announced. The message was simple: if you decide to be a parent, be prepared to suffer in your career—at least at the New York Times. Another message was that if you’re a female journalist at the Times and get pregnant, you had better get an abortion. Otherwise, your career will suffer.

The remarks generated outrage at the Times, where, at a staff meeting, some female journalists with children questioned Purnick intensively. One asked, “Do you actually think that because we’re mothers we contribute less?” Her evasive response was, “You contribute differently.” She did not retract her comments, but indicated regret over that one line in her speech about women working only four days a week.

Purnick is married to her job, although she is also supposed to be married to former Times executive editor Max Frankel. She never had children and her “baby” is the New York Times. She thinks this makes her into a good journalist. In reality, she is a workaholic feminist who has lost touch with what it means to be a woman. She needs some time off.

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