Jesse Watters Was Against Paternity Leave Before He Was For It But Then Pete Buttigieg Took It And Now ...

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Last week, Tucker Carlson was grossly homophobic about Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and this spiraled into other rightwing creeps (and enablers in the media) criticizing Buttigieg for taking paternity leave to care for his newborn twins. Apparently only pansies spend time with their children. This is the new, highly consistent position from people who've spent decades blaming everything wrong in the world on absent Black fathers.

Fox News host Jesse Watters kept this stupid topic alive Monday when he seemingly felt the need to gesture to the world that he didn't take a bunch of paternity leave, like some kind of loser:

WATTERS: When I took my paternity leave, I was only gone for a couple days, and someone took my place here at the table. What do I, just -- they call it "The Four" the entire paternity? That's not how it works.

No, that's in fact not how a functioning brain works. Watters apparently left his wife to fend for herself (presumably with the help of nannies) because Fox News viewers couldn't cope with just four dinguses hosting "The Five" for a while.



The right has been trying to suggest that if Buttigieg hadn't been on paternity leave, we wouldn't be having all these supply chain problems. If he's a halfway decent manager, he had a system in place to handle his temporary absence. It wasn't as reckless as "Star Trek" landing parties that sent the Enterprise's entire senior staff plus disposable red shirt Yeoman Johnson on a mission.

Earlier in the segment, “The Five" co-host Dana Perino graciously acknowledged that Buttigieg is entitled to paternity leave, and said she “looked it up" and learned there's a deputy transportation secretary, Polly Trottenberg, who filled in for him. Where was she during all of this? (Reportedly doing her job)

Greg Gutfield, who Fox News considers a comedian, suggested Buttigieg should lose his job because he's obviously superfluous, since no one noticed he was gone until Republicans started whining about it. This is the exact mentality that has far too many workers afraid to take vacations because they fear being replaced.

Anyway, last year, before Buttigieg made paternity leave a gay thing, Watters was a sudden convert to paid leave after the birth of his son.

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, but I don't know. I apparently have people nipping at my heels.

There was a sick desperation in Watters's laughter as he “joked" about feeling replaceable. To be fair, though, it's probably not that hard for Fox News to find some clueless entitled asshole to fill his spot on “The Five." I dare say it'd be super easy, barely an inconvenience. But Pete Buttigieg is a highly capable and talented member of President Joe Biden's Cabinet. He can spend more than a long weekend with his children without worrying about losing his job. Hell, even someone as mediocre as Watters should still take their full leave.

Predictably, Matt Walsh at The Daily Wire made it clear that the whole discussion over Buttigieg's paternity is rooted in gross anti-gay bigotry. On his podcast Monday, the noted early childhood development expert dropped this bullshit:


WALSH: As far as caring for the newborn himself, most of that is going to be done by the mother. She, in most cases, will be feeding the child. The child also needs and wants his mother's presence, his mother's touch, her voice.

The father should be interacting with the baby also, obviously, but the infant is far more focused on his mother at that age. And needs his mother more. There is no mother in the Buttigieg household, but that doesn't change the point here.

Yeah, there's no mother in the Buttigieg household because Pete and Chasten are GAY, GAY, GAY.

WALSH: Babies need their mothers, which is why two men shouldn't be allowed to adopt babies in the first place. And the outrage mob can now start a secondary campaign over that comment.

There it is. Look, it's not an “outrage mob," sir, but a significant number of people who more civilized and capable of human feeling than Matt Walsh.

WALSH: But I'll say it again. Two men should not be allowed to adopt babies because babies need mothers. They also need fathers, which is why two women shouldn't be allowed either

Fuck you. The end.

[Media Matters]

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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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