NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News Channel anchor Megyn Kelly said Friday that she's offended by a male colleague's suggestion that children of working mothers don't fare as well as children with stay-at-home moms.
A Pew Research Center study released this week showing that women are now the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of households with children ignited a sharp debate on Fox with two of the network's most prominent women taking on male colleagues. It culminated in an electric on-air exchange Friday among Kelly, Fox contributor Erick Erickson and anchor Lou Dobbs.
The debate also included with the unusual — for Fox — use of President Barack Obama as a symbol of success.
"What makes you dominant and me submissive and who died and made you scientist-in-chief?" Kelly said to Erickson.
Dobbs had convened a panel with three other men who bemoaned the study's findings Wednesday on the Fox Business Network. Juan Williams said the study showed that "something's gone terribly wrong in American society and it's hurting our children." Pollster Doug Schoen suggested that the social order is being undermined.
Erickson said that in nature, the male is typically dominant. He later wrote that children in a two-parent traditional household will more often than not be more successful than children of single or gay parents.
"We should not kid ourselves or scream so loudly in politically correct outrage to drown the truth," Erickson wrote on his redstate.com blog. "Kids most likely will do best in households where they have a mom at home nurturing them while dad is out bringing home the bacon."
Fox prime-time host Greta Van Susteren blogged in response: "Have these men lost their minds?" She wrote that the next thing they'll have "is a segment to discuss eliminating women's right to vote."
Erickson told Kelly on Friday that it isn't healthy for society when the roles of men and women in the family are interchangeable.
Kelly said plenty of data suggest that children in homes with homosexual parents or working mothers are as healthy and able to thrive in society as children with stay-at-home moms. Kelly, a mother of two, dismissed Erickson's contention that he wasn't judging others.
"I don't like what you wrote one bit," she said. "I think you are judging people. You sound like somebody who is judging but wants to come out and say 'I'm not, I'm not, I'm not but let me judge, judge, judge. And, by the way, it's science and facts, facts, facts.' But this is a list of studies saying your science is wrong and your facts are wrong."
Erickson criticized "politically motivated" studies.
Dobbs, for his part, was interrupted by Kelly when he decried damage done to society by the breakup of marriages and the rise of single-person households.
"Why are you attributing that to women in the workforce?" Kelly said.
Dobbs said, "Let me just finish what I'm saying, if I may, oh dominant one."
"Excuse me?" Kelly replied, her eyebrows rising.
Kelly told the men that 50 and 60 years ago there was a wide belief in society that the children of interracial marriages were inferior.
"They said it was science, and it was fact," she said. "If you were the child of a black father and a white mother or vice versa, you were inferior and you were not set up for success. Tell that to Barack Obama."