Reporters Repeatedly Press Undeclared Candidate On Her Ability to Govern While Raising Kids


Remember when Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan was nominated to be Mitt Romney’s running mate, and the media hounded him with questions about how he could handle campaigning and still take care of his young children? Remember when they asked him how it was he managed to spend at least an hour a day in the gym, attend to all his Congressional duties, run for the Vice Presidency and still be home for his children’s soccer games? Remember when they wouldn’t stop debating whether it was possible to raise three young children and still be in national office?

You don’t?

Don’t worry. It never happened. Not to Paul Ryan at least.

These questions, however, were posed just yesterday to another politician, someone who isn’t even yet a candidate for the office on which she was being quizzed.

Interviewed yesterday at the Democratic National Convention by reporters from the Chicago Sun Times, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan was asked whether or not she might run for governor to replace the current governor, Pat Quinn. She demurred, noting that she was attending the DNC for one reason and one reason only… to support the top of the Democratic ticket.

But, noted the Sun Times, “Pressed again on the question, she said, “You can ask me that after this election.””

The story then went on…

Madigan and her husband, Pat Byrnes, have two young children, ages 7 and 4. She was asked whether she could serve as governor and still raise her kids the way she wants to.

“Wow. Does anybody ever ask that question?” she said. “I’m very lucky to have the support of my family. My husband helps take care of our kids. But, I think more people should ask that of men running for office as well.”

And then, the reporters pressed further… as they themselves state:

Pressed further on whether she could simultaneously hold both jobs — governor and mom — she said, “I can be the attorney general and do that. There are plenty of women who juggle.”

The reporters then felt compelled to remind her that being a governor is a tough job.

Reminded that being governor is a lot more demanding than attorney general, she said, “All of these jobs are very demanding. And people who, unfortunately, have to work three jobs and don’t necessarily have health-care coverage — they’re even in a worse situation. So nobody needs to give any pity on what elected officials have to endure.”

I am so glad that the media, as consumed as it has been with false equivalencies, taking as gospel the “position of the day” of mulitiple-choice candidates, and unable to distinguish truth or fact from spin, now has a new focus: Reminding candidates–but you know, only female candidates–of their household duties. Perhaps they have been enlisted by the uterine police, to make sure that not unlike waiting periods for abortion, women be grilled in public about their ability to parent before running for public office.

As Cecile Richards noted in her speech yesterday in Charlotte, we are ALL living in a rerun of Mad Men.

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Follow Jodi Jacobson on twitter: @jljacobson

  • leftcoaster

    Before you indict “the media,” Jodi, please understand and acknowledge that the Sun-Times is a singular publication and a right-leaning one at that. I’m sick of broad-brushing media outlets as if they were monolithic.

  • jodi-jacobson

    To be honest, other than progressive media outlets, these kinds of questions, the false equivalencies and all the rest are, in my opinion, epidemic in corporate media, and even now in what I used to consider progressive media, such as NPR. We may have to agree to disagree there.

  • caebell

    Actually, the Sun-Times’ editorial agenda tends to be left-leaning. The Chicago Tribune’s editorial agenda tends to be right-leaning.  I think both would argue that their editorial positions don’t impact their reporting, and when it comes to state political reporting, I mostly think that is true, with exceptions. In any case, I tend to believe incidents like this are more representative of simple, ingrained sexism on the part of reporters than indicative of a newspaper’s ideological bent. Regardless it needs to be called out as it is here, because its incredibly disturbing and impacts the public’s view of female candidates.