Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Today Show and At-Home Dads: Missed Opportunity

For obvious and self-serving reasons, I am a fan of the Today Show. Their interest in at-home dads is evidently enduring, as the program broadcast their second segment on dads who stay home in less than a year:

Because of my deep relationship with Matt Lauer, I don't want to be too harsh with the fine folks at NBC, but this seems like a terrible missed opportunity. They took a smart and timely topic -- dads forced into the home role by the economy -- and rather than looking at what that will mean for gender roles writ large, they are content to make "doodie" jokes and basically run through the usual at-home dad script with the usual comments. Among my specific beefs:
  • Four "Mr. Mom" references in the first minute -- and a clip from the movie? C'mon: that was 30 years ago. Dads in pop culture have moved on. Can't broadcast news?
  • They got a great lead anecdote from a laid-off-dad-turned-SAHD. But in a city of, what, 7 million people, they couldn't have unearthed someone who hadn't told his story yet?
  • What in the world are they doing talking to the National Organization for Men as some sort of "expert." From what I can tell, the group is dedicated to the bizarre idea that most of the bad things that befall women in this economy (like the shameful pay gap) are self-inflicted. Anyone who calls at-home mothers "gold diggers" does not speak for me.
But bonus points to Lauer for suggesting that guys new to the role seek out others in the same position. Hopefully, the net impact will be positive, and the web of fatherhood will only grow larger and tighter.

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