Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is pushing back on criticism over his decision to take paternity leave with newborn twins. Buttigieg’s harshest critic has been Fox News host Tucker Carlson, but elected officials have also blasted the former mayor for taking time off at a time when there is increased concern over the ongoing supply chain crisis.
“What is really strange is that, you know, this is from a side of the aisle that used to claim the mantle of being pro-family. What we have right now is an administration that’s actually pro-family,” Buttigieg said in an interview. “And I’m blessed to be able to experience that as an employee, being able to have the flexibility to take care of our newborn children, which is, by the way, work. It’s a joyful work. It’s wonderful work, but it’s—it’s definitely work.”
Buttigieg spoke publicly about his paternity leave after Carlson attacked him. “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. Buttigieg dismissed the criticism saying that it seems Carlson “just doesn’t understand the concept of bottle feeding, let alone the concept of paternity leave.”
Many were quick to blast Carlson for his words, but he was hardly the only one who attacked Buttigieg for his paternity leave. Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn criticized Buttigieg on Friday night, tweeting that he “should do his job.” Earlier, she had sent another tweet accusing the White House of “hiding” that Buttigieg “was on paid leave” while the country is “in the middle of a transportation crisis.” Blackburn also told Breitbart that Buttigieg “needs to either get back to work or leave the department of Transportation.” Sen. Tom Cotton from Arkansas said that Buttigieg was “so bad” at his job that “Americans didn’t even realize he spent the last two months absent on paternity leave.”
The White House has expressed support for Buttigieg, with press secretary Jen Psaki tweeting that the former mayor is a role model “on the importance of paid leave for new parents.” Many of Buttigieg’s supporters didn’t just criticize Fox News but also Politico after the publication described the secretary as being “MIA” during his leave.