Today, Fox News contributor Sandy Rios appeared on America Live to criticize Michelle Obama for promoting breastfeeding. Rios suggested that Obama's initiative might hurt businesses. This would be run-of-the-mill Fox fare (attack the Obamas no matter what they do, however innocuous) except for one thing. Rios specifically said that her problem was that government regulations may be motivated by an interest in promoting breast feeding "in the black community" when "74 percent of American women already breastfeed. We're talking about a problem that is specifically in the black community."
RIOS: There's nothing wrong with promoting breastfeeding. I'm all in favor of that. But you have to remember that 75 percent of American women already breastfeed. We're talking about a problem that is specifically in the black community. And so for you to change federal law and IRS regulations and start forcing businesses to make accommodations for nursing women at their own expense to promote it in the black community is the problem that I have with it.
The health care reform law requires businesses to accommodate nursing mothers and the IRS recently announced that it would give tax breaks for breastfeeding supplies. Rios evidently has a problem with this.
It is true that Michelle Obama has stressed the relatively low rates of breastfeeding among black women. But would "forcing businesses to make accommodations for nursing women" be less of a problem for Rios if the breastfeeding rates were equally low among white women as black women? Her criticism is puzzling given that the new regulations make life easier for both women who start breastfeeding as a result of the regulations as well as those that already do breastfeed.
Rios later added:
RIOS: If Michelle Obama really wants to help women in the black community, I'm all in favor of that, to encourage them to nurse their babies. But to change federal law to force employers as part of this initiative to provide a place for mothers to nurse and time off to nurse or to pump is not right. Talk about fairness, are you going to make business owners accommodate nursing mothers at their expense? Say equal pay for equal work does not apply here.
RIOS: I am concerned however with her trying to dictate and impose her ideas on women of all stripes, which I believe she is doing in this case. I think breastfeeding is wonderful. And to the point of whether someone should have a room, yes I think if a boss doesn't accommodate if you want to pump, you can find a different boss. But to dictate to employers that they have to find a different space and give you the time off to do that I think is unreasonable.
KELLY: They had to do it because the bosses weren't doing it. I mean look at here at Fox News, you work in a newsroom. You know, you're sitting in a little cubby. So if you're a nursing mom, what are you going to do, whip out your breast pump at your little cubby with like dozens of people around you watching. No, believe me. They don't want to see it.
RIOS: Megyn, is Fox bad to you? We need to talk to Roger Ailes. He should provide something to you. You're a special case.