Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Baby, the TV Anchor and the Senator

When I first saw a still image of MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski, co-host of the AM political chat show Morning Joe, interviewing Virginia Senator Jim Webb about the stimulus package while holding a baby on her lap (the executive producer's infant NOT hers), I thought:

"That's what I looked like when I interviewed people on the phone for articles from my home office when my kids were babies, only the interviewees couldn't see that I was holding a baby. And I made liberal use of the 'mute' button."

However it's extremely unusual -- outside of lifestyle shows, like The View -- to see a news/commentary anchorperson hold an infant on the air, especially while interviewing someone like a U.S. senator. Luckily, the baby never cried. Brzezinski and the other MSNBC panelists asked intelligent questions. The senator didn't appear bothered, distracted or off message. So as long as the baby didn't fuss, I didn't necessarily see the problem with the baby being there, even though it was an odd sight. (For the record, none of my babies would've EVER sat so quietly for as long as that baby did.)

Meanwhile a slew of commenters over on the Huffington Post are eviscerating Brzeznski for being unprofessional and for insulting the senator by having the baby on her lap, despite the fact that Morning Joe has always been a very loose and informal program. Just look at how its namesake, Joe Scarborough, is dressed; he isn't wearing a tie or a jacket and you can see he's wearing a white T beneath his shirt. The program often reminds me of being at a bar and having a couple of drinks with really smart friends and robustly talking politics at length, with a little bit of Red Sox baseball tossed in for good measure. Only Morning Joe takes place in the morning, around cups of coffee and in front of national television cameras.

See for yourself. What do you think of this interview? Weird? Unprofessional? Much ado about nothing?


AmyM said...

I think it is wonderful. Working moms sometimes need or want to bring their kids to work. As long as the kid wasn't screaming and the interviewer could stay focused, I say bring on the babies! It can only help men and women balance work and family life. My oldest never would have sat still but my son could happily sit in a sling while I teach my Kindergarten class all day...but I'm not allowed to have him here and I think that stinks!

Meredith O'Brien said...

I've actually had to bring my children with me when I've taught college courses. They were marvelously well behaved. But then again, they were older at the time(like ages 6-9).