Friday, December 22, 2006

Nightline: A Decade Behind the Time

There was a time when I might have celebrated last night's Nightline on at-home dads -- a profile of a happy. high-achieving guy who just decided it would be better for everyone if he were at home.

But now I'm more jaded. The piece was by-the-numbers, except that the producer seemed convinced that at-home dads were some kind of novel creation, inhabiting the fringe of society. That was strike one. Strike two was the title of the piece: "Alpha Women and Beta Men." Calling at-home dads "beta men" is just insulting and inaccurate, a point made by the on-camera interviewees. So what did Nightline do? It repeated the phase 14 times.

How hard-headed was Nightline? Check out this back and forth between the Jami Floyd, the mom in the story, and Kirt Fleninger, the dad in the piece:

Jami: You don't care at all that some men judge you?
Kurt: No.
Jami: You really don't care?
Kurt: I really don't care.
Jami: At all?
Kurt: I just don't care about that.

Look -- Kurt doesn't care. It's a non-issue with him. It's a non-issue with me. It's a non-issue with 99 percent of the at-home dads I know. Why take valuable airtime to hammer that point over and over?

That is just the start of the criticisms. The piece made it sound like marriages with an at-home dad were somehow risky. ("Psychologists say it takes an exceptional couple to make this kind of partnership work.") It made it sound like everyone assumes that woman can't be primary-breadwinners. "(It may surprise you, but 25% of working wives earn more than their husbands.") And, of course, they use the silly Census numbers.

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