Mother’s Day Flashback: How the Media Use Moms to Push Liberal Agenda

May 13th, 2023 9:00 AM

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, a day that should be as non-political as one can imagine. Yet for years liberal reporters and celebrities have exploited moms and Mother’s Day in order to score rhetorical points and seek a rhetorical edge in pushing various causes.

From the “Million Mom March” to impose gun restriction, pushing for burdensome regulations that would supposedly help mothers, and hip-hip-hooraying for “Mother Earth,” the media have found a way to leverage the emotional pull of motherhood to champion various causes. At the same time, Republicans are trashed as terrible mothers, while Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama are heralded as super-moms. And ridiculous Hollywood celebrities have used the idea of mothers to make some of the wackiest pronouncements.

From the NewsBusters archives, quotes showing the shamelessness of the media when it comes to motherhood:


Democrats Make Wonderful Moms

■ “Today is Mother’s Day. Today we should celebrate Michelle Obama’s arms as the arms of a mother. ...Nothing could be more empowering than to see a woman with all of the attributes of Michelle Obama embrace her children the way she does.”
— Sally Quinn in a Mother’s Day column in the Washington Post, May 10, 2009.

■ “Without a doubt, I identify with her as a brown-skinned African American woman...Now we have Michelle and see her as a mother, a lawyer, a wife, and she’s doing it fabulously.”
Newsweek’s Allison Samuels describing her “girlfriend-to-girlfriend moment” with Michelle Obama to Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz, as quoted in a July 2, 2009 article.

■ “It was the culmination of a remarkable seven days in the Hillary Clinton story during which she has displayed a versatility unmatched by all but the average working mother.”
Washington Post reporter Martha Sherrill on the First Lady’s trip to Capitol Hill, February 5, 1993.


Republicans Are Terrible Mothers

■ “If Sarah Palin becomes Vice President, will she be shortchanging her kids or will she be shortchanging the country?”
— NBC reporter Amy Robach on Today, September 3, 2008.

■ MSNBC’s David Shuster: “[Alaska Governor Sarah] Palin holds herself out as essentially putting her family first. What’s your view?”
Washington Post’s Sally Quinn: “Well, clearly, she has not put her family first....These children have, it seems publicly, to have been exploited by her in a, I think, really unfortunate way....travels around with the children, using them as sort of photo-ops.”
— Exchange during MSNBC live coverage, July 9, 2009.

■ “In a lot of ways, the op-ed [Ann Romney wrote for USA Today, “Three Seasons of Motherhood”] was totally anodyne, right?  You know, yes, motherhood is beautiful. I find that phrase, ‘the crown of motherhood’ really kind of creepy....It’s kind of usually really authoritarian societies that give out, like, the Cross of Motherhood. You know, Stalin did it, Hitler did it.”
Newsweek/Daily Beast writer Michelle Goldberg on MSNBC’s Up with Chris Hayes on Mother’s Day, May 13, 2012.


Give Mom the Gift of Burdensome Regulation

■ Katie Couric: “This country is pretty far behind in providing really superior child care for working parents, right?”
Diane Debrovner, Parents magazine: “For a country that says that we believe in family values, there’s a lot that we can do....I mean, every mother in Europe is guaranteed 14 weeks paid maternity leave. Women in this country get 12 weeks of unpaid leave only if they work for a company that has more than 50 employees.”
— NBC’s Today, October 4, 2005.

■ “163 countries around the globe offer at least some subsidy to new mothers. In America, federal law entitles some working mothers to twelve weeks unpaid leave. The rest get nothing.”
— CBS’s Sheila MacVicar on the Dec. 9, 2006 Evening News.

■ “The U.S. doesn’t make it easy: A recent Harvard-McGill study of more than 170 countries found that only four of them do not require paid leave for new mothers: Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and the U.S.”
— ABC’s David Wright, June 21, 2007 Good Morning America.


Touting Moms Who Want to Ban Guns

■ “Who are we? We are the mothers of America. We are the people who ate protein during our pregnancies....Don’t dare tell us that we don’t have the right to keep those children safe. We are the people who put latches on the kitchen cabinets, baby gates on the stairs, car seats in the back of a minivan....Don’t dare tell us that we don’t have the right to keep our children safe. But that is exactly what we’ve been told every time common sense gun legislation has been defeated by the Congress of the United States.”
Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen speaking from the podium at the march shown by C-SPAN on Mother’s Day, May 14, 2000.

■ “With Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday, we wanted to salute the hard work, integrity and love moms show us every day, so this morning we invited three women who have made their own special contribution to motherhood and, as I said earlier, to all of mankind, in fact. Donna Dees-Thomases founded the Million Mom March...It really was such a grassroots movement of stroller moms, right? Tell me how it came about.”
— Katie Couric’s introduction and question to anti-gun activist Donna Dees-Thomases, NBC’s Today, May 11, 2001.


But, Mom — One Kid Is Enough!

■ “China has a one-child policy. Is that a good idea for all countries?”
Good Morning America co-host Lisa McRee to Bill McKibben, author of Maybe One: A Personal and Environmental Argument for Single-Child Families, May 20, 1998.

■ “Top 10 reasons to have only one child: 1. It’s eco-friendly. You’re replacing two trash-accumulating, water-wasting, gas-burning individuals with one, which means your impact on the environment is drastically reduced. You get to be a mother without destroying Mother Earth.”
— From the January 13, 2015 article by “secular-parenting blogger” Wendy Thomas Russell posted on the PBS NewsHour Web site.


Happy Mother’s Day to “Mother Earth”

■ “Our best efforts will be for naught if we fail on another front: if we fail to love our mother, Mother Earth. It will do us little good to achieve peace on earth if earth becomes a dead planet....Sackcloth and kelp soup are not required, but the Buddhist reminder of the need to live lightly on the earth is a helpful guide to the daily habits and needs of us all.”
— Former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw, delivering the commencement address at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, June 12, 2005.

■ “My nominee was a woman — a victim of abuse. A strong, resilient woman who is a constant topic of discussion these days: Mother Earth.”
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams in a November 8, 2007 post to his “Daily Nightly” blog, revealing his pick for Time’s annual “Person of the Year.”


Happy Mother’s Day from Insane Celebrities

■ “Don’t fear the terrorists. They’re mothers and fathers.”
— Co-host Rosie O’Donnell on ABC’s The View, November 9, 2006.

■ “Let’s face it: If the mothers ruled the world, there would be no G—damned wars in the first place.”
— Actress Sally Field at the Emmy awards, September 16, 2007.

■ “Today I gratefully give my mother the gift of having been dead for 25 years and not having to see what a tub of fuckery our country’s become.”
— May 14, 2017 tweet by Avengers director Joss Whedon.


For more examples from our flashback series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.