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November 20, 2006

The Mother of All Tough Choices - Page 3

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MC: In May 2006, Charlie Gibson, who had reportedly lobbied hard for the job, was named sole anchor. When the news got out that he'd been given the job instead of you, you became a poster child for women shunted aside because of pregnancy. NOW joined with the Feminist Majority Foundation and the National Council of Women's Organizations to protest your departure. In a letter sent to ABC, they called your move to 20/20 a "clear demotion" and "a dispiriting return to the days of discrimination against women that we thought were behind us." NOW president Kim Gandy told the Washington Post, "It seems unlikely to me, having survived and thrived through her first pregnancy, that she would logically give up the top job in TV a few months out, anticipating she couldn't handle it. It just doesn't strike me as a logical explanation. I don't think there are too many men who would be happy to be removed from the anchor chair."
EV: I salute 100 percent these organizations. But I will tell you, nobody from any one of them ever spoke to me. No one ever asked, point blank, "What happened to you? Did you get pushed out because you're pregnant, and are you upset about it?"

MC: If they had called, what would you have said?
EV: [pause] I would have said, "Listen, this is a tremendously difficult decision for me to make, but this is what's best for my family. I'm rolling the dice, I'm gambling, I think it's a good bet that I'm gonna have another shot at a job like this. Charlie likes to say he's the victim of circumstance. In many cases, we all are. There's a whole panoply of things that happened in the last year-and-a-half that I could never have anticipated — and that teaches you that life isn't something you manage. It happens, and you deal with it.

MC: Still, it couldn't have been too great to open up the article about you in New York magazine and see yourself described as "collateral damage."
EV: You know what? I don't think this is a business for pansies. You don't get into this business if you can't take the heat. It's brutally competitive. The fact that someone else may have desperately wanted this job and fought hard to get it doesn't erase the fact that I knew, for me, I was struggling with the demands of the job, and the demands of motherhood with young children.

MC: So in your 20/20 special, when you examine the issue of whether women — even women with fame, prestige, and plenty of money — can have it all, your answer would be...
EV: No!

MC: What do you think of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric?
EV: I think they're bold and trying a lot of new things. And now that I'm not there...listen, I love seeing a woman sitting in that seat. A woman, and not another white male.

MC: So what would you say to working women facing a choice like this?
EV: Every working mother faces my dilemma. I can't think of a single one of them who has ever said, "It's easy." It's not. But I would bet that every single one would tell you it's worth it. It's really important to let every woman find her way. And it would be great to support their decisions, whether it's to take two years off or to take six weeks off. Working mothers have a hard enough time as it is, wearing a zillion hats and juggling all these balls, and meeting a lot of people's expectations. What we don't need to do is pile on more pressure, and insist that she do it the way we would do it. Let her figure out the best way for her. [baby squirms and looks like he has to burp] My husband has been sleeping in the den at night because of this.

MC: It is awful being a baby. It is just very, very tough.
EV: [tenderly burping him] That must be why they don't remember it. Otherwise, they'd all be in therapy at 4.

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