New Dad Jesse Watters Realizes Paid Paternity Leave’s A Good Thing, Also It’s 2021 Outside

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Fox News host Jesse Watters isn't exactly new to fatherhood. He has two daughters already, but now he has a son, Jesse Jr., who was born April 1 (no jokes). Watters took some time off to spend with his wife and their newborn, and when he called into his show, “The Five," on Monday, he praised paternity leave in the most conservative way possible.

WATTERS: Now I am pro-paternity. I used to mock people for taking paternity, I used to think it was a big ruse, but now, ya know, I wish I could take six weeks.

Prior to the birth of his son, Watters apparently assumed that when fathers took paid paternity leave, it was all a big scam. “Ruse" even implies a trick of some kind. Did he think the fathers he mocked didn't actually have kids? But Watters is a selfish person devoid of empathy ... you know, a Republican, so now he's fully on board with paternity leave. I doubt he's getting up in the middle of the night for feedings, but he's probably at least holding the baby so his wife can shower every once in a while, maybe eat occasionally.


Republicans are concrete thinkers with concrete hearts. They can only really focus on what's physically around them. They have trouble supporting policies or even groups of people until they're personally affected. Their son or daughter comes out and suddenly they realize queer people exist. Their father or mother has Alzheimer's and maybe stem-cell research isn't so bad. They have a Black friend and, you know, maybe the police shouldn't shoot that specific Black person.

You'll notice that Republicans usually tell us how they're directly related to women when offering even the mildest support for women's rights. When the former White House squatter's pussy grabbing remarks went public in 2016, Mitch McConnell said, "As the father of three daughters, I strongly believe that Trump needs to apologize directly to women and girls everywhere" and Ben Carson noted, "We should always honor and respect the dignity of our mothers, sisters and daughters." But other women exist in the world beyond those unfortunate enough to share DNA with McConnell and Carson.

Most recently, when asked about House Rep. Matt Gaetz's grossness, Rep. Liz Cheney said, "As the mother of daughters, the charges certainly are sickening," but I presume she was opposed to sex trafficking before she had children of her own.

In fairness, it's only human to feel more strongly about issues that directly involve us. Michael J. Fox's own struggle with Parkinson's has made him an outspoken advocate for disease research, but it's not like he was pro-Parkinson's before his diagnosis. He also didn't mock anyone's symptoms like the late, unlamented scumbag Rush Limbaugh. However, there are several cases of Republicans who actively opposed the Affordable Care Act discovering how much they loved it once they developed a pre-existing condition that needed protecting. They admitted the dreaded “Obamacare" saved their lives, but they were blind to all the lives that would've been lost if they'd had their way.

Watters is personally enjoying a benefit that Democrats have promoted over the years and Republicans mostly opposed every step of the way. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 prevented companies from discriminating against women (openly) because of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, but it didn't provide time off to care for the child. This meant women usually had to leave the workforce after having a child. In 1985, Colorado House Rep. Patricia Schroeder introduced the Parental and Disability Leave Act, which mandated eighteen weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for new parents, as well as twenty-six weeks of leave to care for a sick child or the employee's own temporary disability. The bill became known as the Family and Medical Leave Act and was finally passed in 1990. President George H.W. Bush vetoed it. He supported family leave, mind you, but only if businesses could provide it voluntarily, which they obviously wouldn't do. Bush vetoed the bill again in 1992, claiming it would hurt the economy. He suggested we give corporations a tax credit instead. President Bill Clinton would sign the FMLA into law just a few weeks after he took office in 1993.

Democrats such as New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand have advocated for a national family leave plan. New York, California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington state, and Washington DC now have laws in place requiring employers to provide paid leave to employees. Fox News isn't based in Florida so Watters's leave was paid. He's got state media money so they likely have a nanny, but he should still change a diaper or two and bring hot meals to his wife. Meanwhile, Democrats will continue fighting Republicans in our ongoing efforts to make life less nasty, brutish, and short for all Americans, including racist assholes like Watters.

[The Hill]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."

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