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Pete Buttigieg fires back at Tucker Carlson for saying he was ‘trying to figure out how to breastfeed’

‘I guess he just doesn’t understand the concept of bottle feeding’

Celine Wadhera
Saturday 16 October 2021 18:05 BST
Pete Buttigieg fires back at Fox News host for saying he was ‘trying to figure out how to breastfeed’
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US transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg has fired back at Fox News host Tucker Carlson for saying that he was “trying to figure out how to breastfeed” while on paternity leave.

“I guess he just doesn’t understand the concept of bottle feeding, let alone the concept of paternity leave,” Mr Buttigieg told MSNBC’s Deadline White House on Friday evening.

“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.

“What we have right now is an administration that’s actually pro-family. And I’m blessed to be able to experience that as an employee, being able to have the flexibility to take care of our new born children, which is, by the way, work.”

Mr Buttigieg noted that society was beginning to do a better job recognising parenting and caregiving as work, “which is of course why the president has proposed paid family leave for all Americans,” he said.

He added that he did not believe that Carlson’s comments were representative of all Americans on the right side of the political spectrum.

“This is largely a consensus issue … moms and dads ought to be able to support their children including with paid family leave,” he said.

On Thursday, after Politico broke the news that the transportation secretary had been on paternity leave since mid-August after adopting twins with his husband, Chasten, Carlson mocked him for his absence.

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,” he added.

Disregarding Carlson’s attack, the White House stood by the Transport Secretary, with press secretary Jen Psaki tweeting: “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”.

But Carlson was not swayed by either Mr Buttigieg or the White House, and doubled down on his mockery of the cabinet secretary on Friday evening.

“Last night on this show we made a brief, offhand joke about the Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, and this morning we discovered our error,” he said.

“It turns out that Buttigieg is not a dwarfish fraud whose utter mediocrity indicts the class that produced him. No, not at all.

“Going forward, we are under very strict orders from the Biden administration to take Pete Buttigieg very, very seriously. And of course, we will. Our mistake.”

Meanwhile, the country has been facing supply chain issues – ranging from labour shortages to the bottlenecks in shipping and transportation – which have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and led to surging prices and shortages in consumer goods.

Earlier this week, Mr Buttigieg was at the White House, working alongside the president and business leaders to develop a solution to some of the issues at hand.

At this meeting, President Joe Biden announced a new plan that is intended to ease supply chain delays at ports. One element of the plan is to keep major ports, including the Port of Los Angeles which accounts for nearly 50 per cent of all shipping containers in the US, open 24/7, which will significantly increase ports’ capacities for daily unloading operations.

“If federal support is needed, I will direct all appropriate action,” Mr Biden said. “And if the private sector doesn’t step up, we’re going to call them out and ask them to act.”

The transportation secretary has been tasked with coordinating among these private sector companies to help alleviate backlogs at American ports.

While Mr Buttigieg said that he recognised that the president’s plan was not enough to solve all of the supply chain issues that are currently facing the US, he said that it was an important first step.

“On its own its not enough to solve the problems that we face … but it’s an important step and just one example of the proactive work that we are doing to make sure that we ease those bottlenecks and make it easier for goods to move around the country,” he told MSNBC on Friday.

When asked about how the supply chain issues would affect the holiday season, Mr Buttigieg said that some issues would persist in the coming weeks and months but insisted that the steps that the government was taking and the work that was being done with private companies would make a difference.

“Let’s also remember that our supply chains are private sector, and rightly so, the government does not own or operate retail stores or freight trucks or freight rail lines which is part of why this has been such a challenge to work on. But what we’ve done is brought together the people who do this work.

“We had a convening earlier this week securing commitments from the leaders of Walmart, of Target, of the Home Depot, as well as FedEx and UPS on steps that they can take to get goods moving more efficiently, and I do think those commitments, them stepping up, is going to make a big difference.”

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