Pete Buttigieg on Friday brushed off Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s comments mocking the transportation secretary for taking paternity leave to care for his twin newborns.
“Look, in his case, I guess he just doesn’t understand the concept of bottle feeding, let alone the concept of paternity leave. But what’s really strange is that, you know, this is from a side of the aisle that used to claim the mantle of being pro-family,” Buttigieg said on MSNBC.
He added that caring for young children is “joyful” and “wonderful work.”
“But it’s definitely work,” Buttigieg said.
Though the administration didn’t announce that Buttigieg was taking paternity leave, POLITICO’s West Wing Playbook reported on Thursday that the secretary had been on paid leave since mid-August to spend time with his husband, Chasten, and their twin babies, Penelope and Joseph.
“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 Thursday.
His comments drew immediate criticism on social media, with many accusing the Fox News host of homophobia. MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace pressed Buttigieg on Carlson’s comments on Friday, telling Buttigieg that the attack felt “misogynistic” and “homophobic.”
“Look, this attack is coming from a guy who has yet to explain his apparent approval for the assassination of Harvey Milk, so obviously we know that there’s some dark places where some of these attitudes come from,” he said.
“But I also note that that doesn’t speak for the country. I don’t think that even speaks for most people on the other side of the aisle from the party that I belong to. This is largely a consensus issue, not just a support for families like mine to have a right to marry and right to be treated equally but also that families in general, moms and dads, ought to be able to support their children, including with paid family leave.”
Buttigieg said that during his time off, he was available to handle urgent matters. While on leave, he said he continued to be involved with work related to the ongoing supply chain crisis.
Buttigieg, a Cabinet member who frequently appears on TV to promote the Biden administration’s agenda, appeared on Bret Baier’s show on Fox News after his MSNBC hit.
Carlson’s comments weren’t mentioned in the later interview, though Baier congratulated the new father.