"baby mama" (and the OED) back in the Times

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Jun 15 19:49:58 UTC 2008

Resuming our thread from a few weeks ago on the literal meaning and
implicatures associated with "baby mama" and "baby daddy", here's a
new item of relevance, which also links up with our more recent
discussions of chyrons and fist bumps.  I still maintain that
Michelle Obama is indeed technically Barack's baby mama, pace the
OED, just as I'm proud to say (on this Father's Day) that my wife is
mine, but that doesn't mean I endorse Fox's chyron.



Fox Forced to Address Michelle Obama Headline

By Jim Rutenberg

For the third time in less than three weeks, Fox News Channel has had
to acknowledge using poor judgment through inappropriate references
to Senator Barack Obama.

The network has released a statement saying it should not have
referred to Mr. Obama's wife, Michelle, as "Obama's Baby Mama,'' as
it did on Wednesday in an on-screen headline commonly called a

"A producer on the program exercised poor judgment in using this chyron
during the segment," Bill Shine, a Fox News senior vice president,
said in a statement.

The chyron appeared during a discussion between the conservative
columnist Michelle Malkin and the Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly about
political attacks against Mrs. Obama. It read in full, "Outraged
Liberals: Stop picking on Obama's baby mama!" It was first publicized
on Wednesday by Alex Koppelman of Salon.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the term as one "chiefly in
African-American usage" that refers to, "The mother of a man's child,
who is not his wife nor (in most cases) his current or exclusive

Earlier this week, the Fox News anchor E.D. Hill had apologized for
raising the possibility that the Obamas affectionate fist bump during
the senator's victory rally in St. Paul on June 3 was "a terrorist
fist jab.'' Two weeks prior, the Fox News analyst Liz Trotta said she
regretted making a joke about a possible assassination of Mr. Obama.

Her mea culpa followed that of former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas
a week earlier after he made a similar crack at a gathering of the
National Rifle Association.

In other news, Fox News Channel announced today that it was hiring
Mr. Huckabee as a contributor.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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