Action Alert: Protest Phoenix Dad-Bashing News Report

In one of the most biased news reports I’ve ever seen, Phoenix KSAZ FOX 10 beat up on so-called “deadbeat dads” in its recent piece Deputies Round Up Deadbeat Dads. In it, Rochelle Black, the mother of a 3-year-old girl, blasts her husband as a deadbeat, holding the picture of their daughter up to the man’s face. When her ex-husband, in handcuffs, begins to respond “you won’t let me see her,” FOX abruptly cuts away from him. Later, she claims poverty and he accuses her of lying before he is again cut off.
I have no idea if Jeffery Black is really the louse that his ex-wife claims he is–I do know that FOX 10 wouldn”t allow us to hear what he had to say for himself. If this father is going to be humiliated on a major TV station, he should at least be able to speak and give his side. There was no hint of balance in the piece–not one word to contradict the noxious “deadbeat dad” stereotype being pushed. We’re asking Fathers & Families supporters to email Andrew Hasbun, the segment’s reporter, and Linda Williams, the news anchor, by clicking here. Also, call the station at 602-257-1234 and voice your disapproval. Again, to email the relevant parties, click here. Hasbun, Williams, or the station may defend themselves by pointing to their recent piece Deadbeat Moms & Child Support Payments. Don’t buy it–just as we don’t want to see noncustodial fathers publicly humiliated, neither do we want the same done to noncustodial mothers. There certainly are fathers and mothers who don’t come through for their children, but research clearly shows that most so-called “deadbeats” don’t pay because they are unable to do so. The recession has made this even more dramatically true. Again, to email the relevant parties, click here. In the FOX 10 report, Rochelle Black says, “This is the 4th time he has been arrested. The only time he pays child support is to get out of jail.” If he’s been arrested four times just in the short life of a 3-year-old girl, it certainly makes one wonder if there’s something else going on. As for him paying the purge factor to get out of jail, often arrested fathers do pay to get out of jail, not by selling their mythical new Porsches, but by borrowing money from their children’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. The raids on which Hasbun and FOX 10 rode along were part of Joe (aka “America’s Toughest Sheriff”) Arpaio’s 15th annual “Cell Block for Christmas campaign.” This in the middle of a recession. As we’ve explained before, it can be very difficult for noncustodial parents to get their child support obligations lowered when they lose their jobs or their incomes drop–to learn more, see the Holstein/Sacks column Layoffs, courts put some dads in jail (Atlanta Journal Constitution, 6/21/09). Arpaio lists the detailed profiles of 60 “deadbeats” on his Maricopa County Sheriffs website, but curiously the detail “occupation,” which is generally listed in such profiles, is missing. Were it listed, we would quickly learn what we’ve seen in countless other states and counties–most “deadbeats” are low-income or unemployed blue collar workers whose ability to pay is limited. To learn more about why the war on so-called “deadbeat dads” is wrong, see the home page of our successful Campaign Against Lifetime TV’s New Reality Show Deadbeat Dads.

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