CNN’s New Day original co-host Kate Bolduan finally went on maternity leave in September after a long-on air pregnancy, and was replaced by stand-in Alisyn Camerota, long a feature on the Fox News Channel. Camerota’s teaming with Chris Cuomo and Michaela Pereira saw New Day finally move ahead in the ratings over MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and now Bolduan, still home being a full-time mommy, is out, and Camerata has her job. Bolduan, when she returns, will have another, less prestigious assignment.
Is this fair?
Kate was Pippified.
For those who are not conversant in baseball lore, Wally Pipp was the regular first baseman for the New York Yankees who, on a fateful day in 1925, asked to be removed from a game because he was suffering double vision after a beaning. Young rookie Lou Gehrig took his place, and began a record 2,130 consecutive games played over the next 14 seasons. Pipp, who had led the American League in home runs twice, never played another game for New York. Nobody thinks that wasn’t fair (even Pipp), because it was obvious that Lou was one of the best hitters anyone had ever seen. Baseball, like broadcast news, is unsentimental and ruthless when it comes to talent.
True, it was obvious that the mix of the solid, professional, sharp but reserved Bolduan and the flamboyant, opinionated, charismatic brother of New York’s governor wasn’t working. Chris Cuomo completely overshadowed her, and while Camerata, who is more aggressive, relaxed and uninhibited, is more comfortable trying to occasionally take the spotlight from CNN’s 800 pound gorilla. The problem is that CNN appears to have been plotting Bolduan’s removal before she left, and planned on using her absence for maternity to introduce her replacement, give Camerata a trial, and if it worked, ease Bolduan out in absentia. This was also how NBC dumped Deborah Norville from “The Today Show,” waiting for her absence via maternity to establish her replacement, in that case, Katie Couric.
What good is the benefit of maternity leave if it doesn’t include a guarantee that a women’s job won’t be taken from her while she is gone? Some have argued that CNN should have let Bolduan return and then replace her. How is that any better, when the decision to take away her job was made while she wasn’t working? Using maternity leave for Pippification should be illegal. It’s simple: either have the guts to tell Kate she’ll be returning to a different job before she leaves to have her baby, or be committed by law to keeping her in her old job for at least 6 months after she returns, giving her a fair shot to show that she can improve and succeed.
Anything less makes a travesty of a supposed employment benefit, is inherently sexist, and wrong.
Someone at CNN might also inform Mr. Cuomo that “New Day” is a team effort, and not “Chris and his Ladies.” It’s men like him that prompt suggestion like this.