CBS News producer/blogger Greg Kandra opened the e-mailbag today to relay to "Couric & Co." readers some negative reaction to the network's coverage of Rev. Jerry Falwell's death. In particular, Kandra quoted from a female Liberty University graduate and vascular surgeon who took issue with historian/guest pundit Douglas Brinkley's assessment of Falwell's views on women.
In an appearance on the May 15 "Evening News," Brinkley dismissed Falwell as a reactionary who (emphasis mine) was "opposed to some of the progressive liberal high watermarks of the 1960s, and certainly he wanted--his returning to family values was returning to women being in the kitchen, in many ways."
That unfair assessment is shared by CBS ombudsblogger Brian Montopoli, who in a May 16 "PublicEye" post agreed that Brinkley's statement was "a pretty fair characterization."
[A quick aside, Montopoli has previously described himself as a "secular humanist" in the online networking forum, Facebook.com]
I was disappointed by the final comments of Douglas Brinkley regarding Jerry Falwell’s legacy. His statement that “his returning to family values was returning to women’s being in the kitchen…” is ridiculously far off the mark. I am a graduate of Liberty University, and one of a small number of female vascular surgeons in this country. As a matter of fact, Jerry’s only daughter Jeanne is also a surgeon, and he talked about that often. He was very proud of her accomplishments. That is hardly the mark of a man that believes women should be isolated to home. He did feel that both men and women should be dedicated to their families.
Liberty provided me an education that allowed me to breach a very “male” society in the medical profession. As a “first female nightly news anchor”, I think you can appreciate how difficult it is to overcome such barriers and stereotypes. Jerry Falwell was simply a man that wanted Christians to not fade into the woodwork, but to be an integral part of society, and to be bold about their beliefs. There is nothing worse than someone who cowers from his beliefs. I did not always agree with everything Falwell said, but I certainly respected him for his unwavering faith and staunch convictions of his beliefs. He was more honorable than many people will ever hope to be.