During MSNBC's live news coverage on Tuesday afternoon, anchor Chris Jansing demonstrated her apparent ignorance of the statistical maxim "correlation does not imply causation." Interviewing the authors of Red Families v. Blue Families, the daytime anchor gleefully reported the finding that states that voted Republican in the 2008 presidential election have higher rates of divorce, teen pregnancy, and unwed parenthood than states that voted for Barack Obama.
"You've heard the term a lot - 'family values' - but are they actually breaking up families?" the daytime anchor inquired enthusiastically. "According to one book, the so-called liberal blue states actually have more stable family units than culturally conservative red states."
Presenting the findings as a nonpartisan analysis of statistical data, Jansing omitted the fact that the authors, June Carbone and Naomi Cahn, are contributors to New Deal 2.0 , a blog of the left-wing Roosevelt Institute designed to "discuss how the Great Recession has exposed the fault lines of traditional family values."
Writing for New Deal 2.0 on March 1, Carbone and Cahn lectured :
Today, as we discuss in our book, Red Families v. Blue Families, the part of the country identified with what we call "the Blue Family Paradigm" has embraced a new family strategy geared to the needs of the post-industrial economy. This paradigm emphasizes the importance of women's as well as men's workforce participation, egalitarian gender roles, and the delay of family formation until both parents are emotionally and financially ready.
Carbone and Cahn are
not disinterested academics, as Jansing led viewers to believe. Rather,
they are liberal activists nostalgic for the sexual revolution of the
1960's and the radical ideology it promulgated.
Jansing also managed to overlook the resume of Jonathan Rauch, an openly gay liberal columnist at the National Journal. After reciting a glowing passage from Rauch's review of the book, Jansing asked: "Is that pretty much a good summary of it, June?"
"It's a superb summary," replied Carbone.
A transcript of the relevant portions of the segment can be found below:
3:44 P.M. EDT:
CHRIS JANSING: You've heard the term a lot - "family values" - but are they actually breaking up families? According to one book, the so-called liberal blue states actually have more stable family units than culturally conservative red states. Take a look at this map, it's how states voted in the 2008 presidential election. Statistics reveal higher rates of divorce, teen pregnancy, single parenthood in the red states that voted Republican while blue states like Massachusetts, the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, has the lowest divorce rate in the country. How can we explain this and what does it mean for the next election cycle? I'm joined by the authors of Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture, June Carbone, law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Naomi Cahn, also a professor of law at The George Washington University. Thanks to both of you for joining us. June, I was a little surprised by these results, were you?
JUNE CARBONE, co-author of Red Families vs Blue Families: Well, yes and no. We first started looking at this after the 2004 election and we realized after we saw the high divorce rates, it reflected age of marriage. 1960, if you got married young, the husband could get a job, there was a support structure in place. Today, getting married at 19, 20, even 23, high risk proposition. And it's age we started looking at first.
JANSING: So, Naomi, is this a situation where in states where they're better educated, in states where couples delay marriage more, that that's why this is happening? What did you find out? What was the root cause?
NAOMI CAHN, co-author of Red Families vs Blue Families: What we discovered was there are two different family systems in the United States. In the blue system, which is more likely to take place in the liberal states that voted blue in the 2004 and 2008 elections, there is exactly as you said. Marriage happens at a later age once both spouses have reached financial and emotional maturity and who you have sex with is a private matter, and there is a toleration of and an understanding that you might have sex before you get married that abstinence is not necessarily as realistic an option as the red states hope. So we discovered that's one pattern, the blue family pattern. And then we discovered the red family pattern which preaches abstinence until marriage. It preaches early marriage and it also preaches more traditional roles for men and women.
JANSING: Let me read to you what Jonathan Rauch wrote about your findings in the National Journal: "Moral traditionalism fails to prevent premarital sex and early childbirth. Births precipitate more early marriages and unwed parenthood. That, in turn, increases family breakdown while reducing education and earnings." Is that pretty much a good summary of it, June?
CARBONE: It's a superb summary and it's getting worse.
JANSING: It's getting worse?
CARBONE: It's getting worse.
-Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here .