Columnist Dismisses Our Political Coverage as 'Mommy Politics': What Do You Think?

Moms MatterOne of the reasons I love covering the presidential campaign for CafeMom is that I get to help bring issues that matter to moms to the forefront of the poltical conversation. As we all know, these topics all too often are left out of mainstream media coverage.

You can get a pundit's analysis of the candidates' policies or fact checking of their latest speeches on plenty of other news sites -- but I don't know of any other website than ours that gives you, the moms, election information you need to know and lets you watch interviews with the candidates' spouses and kids, see what makes them break down in tears, and learn how they handle sensitive issues when questioned by moms affected by them.

I knew as I prepared to interview presidential candidates Rick Perry and Rick Santorum for a CafeMom forum yesterday that in order to get the answers you wanted, I'd have to do things a little differently.

And already, I'm getting backlash over it -- not from moms -- but from the media.

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Here's what Ben Adler of The Nation had to say about our CafeMom Coffee Break with Rick Santorum yesterday:

Monday afternoon Santorum chatted with Frank Luntz and Lindsay Ferrier of the Web site Café Mom in front of a small crowd of mothers and children in a coffee shop in Myrtle Beach. This is the same forum at which Newt Gingrich got teary discussing his mother in Iowa. It makes sense: questions from the moderators play to the worst stereotypes about “mommy politics.” They are all about the personal and emotional aspects of campaigning.

Try as I might, I can't understand why "the personal and emotional aspects of campaigning" qualify as the "worst stereotypes about mommy politics." What exactly is so wrong about showing you those things, particularly when you're rarely getting to see this side of the candidates elsewhere?

Policy is important to moms, of course, but so are the candidates' personal histories and their relationships with their spouses and children. We want someone who's authentic, honest, and transparent, and insight into the candidates' personal lives often helps us decide whether or not they have those traits.

Take a look at Adler's examples of the egregious questions asked by co-moderator Frank Luntz and me:

“What was the hardest moment on the campaign trail?” asked Luntz. “You think mothers should stay at home?” asked Ferrier.

I don't know about you, but as a mom myself, those candidate questions sound pretty interesting.

And of course, those weren't the only issues we covered -- we also talked with Rick Santorum about military spending, defense against Iran, earmarks and campaign donations, governmental control over parents, abortion, contraception, gay marriage, government spending on special needs children, homeschooling and public education -- and that's just what I can recall off the top of my head. I read all of your questions for the candidates and we tried very hard to make sure that the most popular issues were touched on by Frank and me or by the moms asking questions in the audience, particularly those that are important to moms but don't get much play elsewhere.

It burns me to see our efforts to cover what's important to you belittled and ridiculed, simply because it doesn't matter to some guy at The Nation. It smacks of sexism to be honest. Why are issues that matter to women not serious or important enough for Ben Adler? Don't your votes count just as much as the votes of his readers?

Interestingly, the Washington Times had an entirely different take on our forums in its story today:

The softer questions are not inconsequential to elections, according to political analysts who say voters often look for candidates who they feel are like them or understand their issues.

Trying to capitalize on that feeling, CafeMom.com, a website catering to mothers, has held chats with Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Santorum and Texas Gov. Rick Perry during the campaign season.

I anticipated from the start that covering this campaign differently would probably rub some within the media the wrong way. Fortunately, I'm not covering the candidates for Ben Adler. I'm covering them for you.

What do you think of Ben Adler's disdain for "mommy politics"?


And if you'd like to see our forums for yourself, complete coverage is available here.

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