Predictable PBS, NPR Use Rep. Pat Schroeder’s Death to Dig at ‘Teflon President’ Reagan

March 16th, 2023 11:35 AM

The press never misses a chance for a dig at conservative president Ronald Reagan, as shown by public television’s fulsome tributes to “trailblazing” former Colorado Rep. Pat Schroeder, dead at 82. Schroeder served 12 terms in the House as a prominent liberal feminist. PBS and NPR also celebrated her "sharp wit," or at least her political cracks at the expense of then-President Reagan.

Host Geoff Bennett noted Schroeder’s death on Tuesday’s edition of the PBS NewsHour.

And a passing of note: A trailblazing former congresswoman, Pat Schroeder, died overnight. The Colorado Democrat had suffered a stroke in Celebration, Florida, her home in recent years. Starting in 1973, Schroeder served 12 terms and made a name with her sharp wit. She branded Ronald Reagan the -- quote -- "Teflon president" and often recalled the sexism she faced while serving in Congress.

Former Rep. Pat Schroeder [archive clip]: When the 47th reporter asked me how I could be a mother and a congresswoman, I said: "Because I have a brain and a uterus, and they both work." And let me tell you, I was in trouble for a very, very long time.

Bennett: Schroeder was frozen out of key committee assignments, but she still managed to push through the landmark Family Leave Act in 1993….

Democrats loved the phrase "Teflon President" because Democrats and journalists couldn't put a dent in Reagan's broad popularity and two landslide victories. (If Schroeder was "frozen out" of committee assignments, that would have been the fault of Democrats.)

National Public Radio also got in on the act, with host Sacha Pfeiffer gushing on Tuesday’s Morning Edition:

And she was known for her passion and her wit. If you've heard the term “Teflon president” to describe the late President Ronald Reagan, it began with Schroeder.

If that’s the best example of Schroeder’s wit…NPR even dug up old audio about Schroeder’s Reagan crack, after praising her fight for the (failed) Equal Rights Amendment:

SCHROEDER [archive clip]: ….And then one morning, I was doing eggs on a Teflon pan. And I suddenly thought, that's it. This guy has a Teflon coat just like this doggone pan!

LEILA FADEL, co-host: Reviled in some political circles and revered as a feminist icon in others, she left office in 1997.

Later on Tuesday, NPR’s All Things Considered offered a soundbite of Clarence Thomas accuser Anita Hill to stir up fond memories of ‘90s-era feminism for its elite listeners.

ANITA HILL: There are many voices who are outspoken and important today because she was outspoken.

CAITLYN KIM, reporter: That's Anita Hill. She benefited from Schroeder's willingness to stand up and be heard. In 1991, Hill accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Schroeder was one of seven congresswomen to march to the Senate and demand that Thomas' confirmation be delayed so that Hill could be heard.