Fox News offers its own employees six weeks of paid paternity leave.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson criticized Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for taking paternity leave during the ongoing global shipping crisis.
Carlson also made a homophobic comment about Buttigieg's ability to care for his two newborn children.
"Pete Buttigieg has been on leave from his job since August after adopting a child — paternity leave they call it, trying to figure out how to breastfeed, no word on how that went," Carlson said on his show Thursday night.
As Carlson spoke, the Fox News chyron flipped to read, "Spineless Pete runs off as crisis takes hold."
Buttigieg is the first openly gay Cabinet member in U.S. history. He has been on paternity leave since mid-August to spend time with his family, a Department of Transportation spokesperson told Politico.
In September, he and his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, announced the birth of their son and daughter.
"Chasten and I are beyond thankful for all the kind wishes since first sharing the news that we're becoming parents," Buttigieg tweeted. "We are delighted to welcome Penelope Rose and Joseph August Buttigieg to our family."
Fox News, for its part, offers its employees six weeks of paid paternity leave. Other male on-air hosts have taken advantage of the network's policy.
Todd Pirro, co-host of "Fox & Friends First," took six weeks of paternity leave in 2021. He even wrote about the experience for Fox News' website.
"I cannot thank Fox enough for providing all fathers who work here with such a generous paternity leave," Pirro wrote in April. "This experience has changed me in a profound way and in ways I won't fully comprehend until my daughter is older."
Jesse Watters, co-host of Fox's "The Five," also took paternity leave this past spring, and even went on the air to say that he is now "pro-paternity."
"I used to mock people for taking paternity, I used to think it was a big ruse, but now, you know, I wish I could take six weeks," Watters said on April 12.
Carlson has frequently used his show to launch bigoted attacks on minority groups, including Black people, immigrants, and LGBTQ people.
"Tucker Carlson Tonight" is the most-watched prime-time cable news show in America, with an average viewership in the second quarter of 2020 of 4.33 million people.
Republican members of Congress have echoed Carlson's criticism of Buttigieg.
In a tweet on Friday, Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) referred to Buttigieg's absence as "maternity leave."
"Transportation Secretary Buttigieg is on leave during a huge supply chain crisis," Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) tweeted on Friday. "This entire administration is missing in action — including Biden!"
White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded on Twitter to the GOP's attacks on Buttigieg.
"Proud to work in an Administration that is fighting to make paid leave a reality for everyone, and with people like @SecretaryPete who are role models on the importance of paid leave for new parents," Psaki wrote.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.