Like Couric, Meredith Vieira Recalls Growing Up With Feminist Mom

What is it about Good Housekeeping magazine that underlines the feminism of our TV news stars? Four years ago, Katie Couric talked about her mother volunteering for Planned Parenthood and buying stock in condom companies. In the November 2007 issue, NBC's Meredith Vieira fondly recalled growing up with a feminist mother who disliked the "male-dominated hierarchy" of the Catholic church and how she now has a "spirituality, not a religion." First, about her parents:

Vieira lights up talking about them. "I was raised Catholic, but my mom was a real feminist who didn't like the male-dominated hierarchy of the church," Vieira says proudly. "She was tough about it. She went to church and was a believer, but she didn't like the trappings."

Instead of growing up Catholic, it seems Vieira drew a stronger influence from her Quaker schooling:

Although Vieira acknowledges that the holidays are stressful ("I'm always trying to outdo myself"), you feel her sincerity when she talks about how she considers Thanksgiving special. "There's a purity to it," she says. "It's only about gathering." That word, "gathering," comes up again when she talks about the Quaker girls' school she attended from the age of 2. (She's still friends with the same gang, and they get together once a year.) "Philosophically, I loved that idea of gathering together in silence, and then standing up and expressing your thoughts."

Vieira and her family spend the holiday with Richard's side of the family one year, hers the next. "We don't say any special grace; we talk about what we're thankful for," she says. Richard is Jewish, "though he doesn't follow any religion per se." He and the kids light the menorah at Hanukkah, and say the Hebrew candle-lighting blessings together. "I believe in God," says Meredith, "but I have spirituality, not a religion."

In the November 2003 Good Housekeeping magazine, the profile of Couric revealed:

"She's equally admiring of her mother, who was a homemaker and Planned Parenthood volunteer when Couric was growing up. 'She's clever and smart and she's a great artist,' says her daughter. 'She's very savvy.' Though 'she'll be embarrassed to her me say this,' Couric goes on to relate that when AIDS first appeared in the press, her mother ‘bought a lot of stock in condom companies.'

There's certainly nothing wrong with admiring a strong mother and all she's done for you. Perhaps it's not surprising that women at the top of the national news media were spurred in part by that encouragement and upbringing. But it still underlines that when these women are moderating our national political discussion, their feminism should clearly raise questions about their ability to remain objective -- especially when covering or interviewing people who have a strong opinion about God, and not a vague "spirituality."

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