Lying By Omission: NBC's Never-In-Love Chip Mogul Was Married for Five Years
Earlier this week, I wrote about NBC’s giddy, pop-music-backed "No Man Required" segment on "choice moms," single women who choose to have babies without fathers. The primary subject of reporter Janet Shamlian’s piece was attractive businesswoman Stacy Madison: "Having spent years focused on her career, when she wasn't in love at 39, Stacy Madison went shopping at a Boston sperm bank and came home with twins." At story’s end, Madison rebutted Dan Quayle’s "Murphy Brown" speech this way: "I would have loved to have started a family the traditional way, met somebody, fallen in love, been younger. Unfortunately, it doesn't always happen that way."
Guess what? "Never in love" Stacy was married for five years and decided to be a mother after the divorce. Which means NBC lied by omission. Wouldn’t anyone see this story as presenting a never-married 39-year-old? Or when a woman says she wishes she had "met somebody" and "fallen in love," does NBC think it’s perfectly clear that you’ve been around the marriage merry-go-round? I regret not Googling the name right away, which quickly revealed NBC’s dishonesty. The first article came from a 2004 article in Jewish Woman magazine. I was stunned to read:
Seven years after co-founding Stacy's Pita Chip Company with her former husband and current business partner, Mark Andrus, the 39-year-old Madison presides over a multimillion-dollar natural-snack-food company that's equally dedicated to its products, employees and charitable contributions. A single mother of twin baby girls, she also has a newfound respect for women who juggle work and family. "I am proud of all of my choices," she says. "I learned to stop waiting for things to happen to me and, rather, became proactive."
After briefly living in Hawaii, Madison returned to New England with Andrus and opened a sandwich cart in downtown Boston. The couple's healthy sandwiches soon became a noontime hit; to keep the customers happy as they waited in line, Madison offered them free pita chips that she had baked from the previous day's leftover bread. "Customers told us we should be selling them," she recalls.
In 1998, Madison and Andrus gave up the food cart and devoted their business to baked pita chips. Though their marriage ended two years later, they continued to flourish as business partners. "The business was really our child," she says. "It runs so much better now."
Though once again single, Madison "wanted to have kids and was petrified that I'd miss my opportunity. One of my proudest moments in life was deciding I was not going to miss that opportunity."
After undergoing in utero fertilization through donor insemination, Madison gave birth last December  to twins, Samantha and Morgan. With the support of a nanny, her family—and a work environment that allows her daughters to visit—Madison strives to "be the best parent I can be while still running a successful business. Had I not been financially ready to bring children into the world, I would not have done it," she says. "I want to be a good role model."
No one in promotional articles like these really wonders if you're a good "role model" for children by giving them a test-tube father. But it's funny to note again the Clintonesque language NBC used in describing Madison: "when she wasn't in love at 39." This meant they weren't lying because they didn't say she wasn't in love at 32, only not at 39.
I also found it weird that Madison, part of a marriage that was also a wildly successful business partnership, would claim she wasn't financially ready until she was 39. What? It would seem more obvious that either parenthood wasn't something the husband wanted, or there was a feeling that they would never have time to grow the business and children at the same time. Madison's claim to waiting for the right financial time also appeared in a University of Massachusetts alumni publication:
Being a single parent, my corporate life is easier than my twin life. The decision to have children was very much a financial decision. Having worked with so many single mothers, I’m aware that starting a family is a huge financial responsibility. So I needed to be able to take care of myself and children in a manner that I wanted to. That’s why I waited so long, until I was in my late thirties and was financially able. It took me that long to be both emotionally and financially ready.
More detail about the five-year marriage arrived in a 2004 Boston Globe profile, which explained that Madison was married from ages 32 to 37, and arrived at her motherhood decision quickly after the divorce:
Their mom is the cofounder, co-owner, and brand name behind Stacy's Pita Chip Co. in Randolph, which has grown in eight years from a single sandwich cart in downtown Boston into an enterprise that she says will gross close to $30 million in national and international sales this year. The 39-year-old former social worker and her business partner, Mark Andrus -- he was also her husband from 1997 to 2002 -- have become so successful at turning out five flavors of natural (i.e., no artificial ingredients) pita chips and three flavors of natural soy chips that they must now keep their production line chugging round-the-clock, so as to satisfy customers ranging from gourmet specialty-shop mavens to food-club bulk buyers…
Madison -- her surname was originally Lowe, but she's legally taken her middle name -- has been something of a rolling stone...In 1995, bored by a stab at private practice in Rhode Island, she moved to Hawaii to be with Andrus, whom she'd met in California and who had a doctorate in clinical psychology. But food was lurking in the background: Madison helped start a restaurant/bar on Oahu, and later the couple fired up a business making dinners for other occupants of their condominium building until the local health department told them their kitchen wasn't exactly legal.
Along the way, Madison married, and unmarried, her business partner. "We spent all our time at work dealing with business-related problems," she confesses, "so by the time we got home, we were too tired to work out our marriage problems." She also says that working in close proximity to her former spouse is a whole lot easier than working next to her spouse: "A lot of our marriage was built around the joy of starting the business, and we still have that."
Andrus adds: "What we've discovered is that we're better friends and business partners than life partners."
Madison's brother, David Lowe, who is in charge of operations and expansion for Stacy's (and is another former psychologist), describes his older sister as someone who's not afraid to embark on an adventure. Case in point: Morgan and Samantha, who were conceived last year via artificial insemination from an anonymous donor. "I wanted kids," says Madison, "but I knew the dangers of a ticking clock."
And so, of course, life has changed for Stacy of Stacy's. She has moved from a South End apartment into a three-bedroom Cape in Canton, has traded in her 1990 Jeep Wrangler for a 2003 Land Rover, and has swapped her 65-hour workweeks for the 45-hour variety...
How odd it would be for NBC to showcase this woman as a rebuttal to Dan Quayle's statement about (fictional) feminist motherhood being "just another lifestyle choice." This story confirms Quayle's diagnosis, not rebuts it. And NBC was verging on fiction by not telling a fuller, more accurate story.