Newark Star-Ledger Column Discusses Fathers & Families’ Campaign Against Lifetime’s ‘Deadbeat Dads’

In Is it Wrong to Slam Deadbeat Dads on TV? (Newark Star-Ledger, 6/4/09), author Joel Schwartzberg discusses anti-father stereotypes on TV and Fathers & Families’ campaign against Lifetime TV’s Deadbeat Dads.

Schwartzberg writes:

Lifetime TV announced their intention to air Deadbeat Dads, a reality show in which National Child Support founder Jim Durham travels about, lassoing fathers who refuse to pay child support. Originally called “Bad Dads,” the idea was floated — then apparently sunk — at FOX…

Of course, one can say hunting deadbeat dads on Lifetime is no different than going after dog beaters on Animal Planet, blowing up gophers on the Golf Channel, or inviting Richard Simmons on The 700 Club. The audience wants blood. And deadbeat dads are an easy target, MUCH easier than single moms ever were (see: D. Quayle vs. M. Brown, 1992).

The problem is — says Fathers & Families, a dad-vocacy group — [most] divorced dads pay child support regularly, so such a program paints an unrealistic and demeaning stereotype of divorced fathers.

A lauded editorial in The Washington Times calls Deadbeat Dads a cheap shot that ignores “the damage the show can cause children, wives and other family members.”

It also cites a study finding that 77 percent of noncustodial fathers are not able to spend court-ordered time with their children as a result of “visitation interference” by the custodial parent. Comparing apples to Apple Jacks, the piece concludes, “In short, lousy moms outnumber deadbeat dads 3-1.”

I’m all against stupid television shows that put otherwise decent human beings and their families in a despicable and embarrassing light…

Read the full column here.

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