Didn’t that woman blog about Al Roker’s nipples?

When the producer for NBC called me and asked if I’d be interested in flying to New York to be on a live segment of the Today show to talk about the business of mommy-blogging — okay, wait a minute, I think I should address this right here, right now, this label MOMMY BLOG. Do I consider my website a mommy blog? Not really, no. When I sit down to update my website I don’t think to myself, “What will I say today on my mommy blog?” The first thing I think is, how can I give my father a heart attack? And then I back up a second and go, nah, I’d miss him too much, I will just have to write this story about Jon’s Brazilian wax in my personal diary. Dad, are you paying attention? It’s because of you that the world does not get to hear about Jon’s genitals. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY.

But I also don’t get offended when people call this website a mommy blog. Not at all. Because even though some people use that label to belittle the fact that there are women out there writing about their experiences as mothers, how dare they? Who do they think they are? NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR KID, YOU MOMMY BLOGGER! Yeah, that. Turns out lots of people want to hear about your kid. Oh, and did you hear? All this writing about motherhood is bringing people together and changing lives. So you go ahead and wrinkle your nose and dismiss those mommy blogs. And I’m going to sit over here at my laptop and be totally flattered that someone thinks I’m worthy to be among their ranks. Hell yes, I’m a mommy blogger.

So I was prepped for an interview about mommy blogs, the lot of us, how this thing we started to document the tiny and intimate moments of our lives has transformed into our jobs. Our jobs that pay us money. And I was totally under the impression that it was going to be a more in-depth interview than the usual, so, tell us about your blob, is it? Your blop? Your blonk? Little anecdote here, the driver they sent to JFK to pick me up turned out to be Chelsea Clinton’s personal driver when she’s in New York, which does not have anything to do with the point I’m trying to make here other than that he said she is always shouting from the backseat, “GO FASTER! GO FASTER!” And I don’t know why but just knowing that about Chelsea makes me want to invite her over to play Scrabble while chugging Kentucky bourbon. It just makes me love her even more to know that she gets impatient at stop lights, and that maybe she has once or twice waved her middle finger at a stranger, not because it would make any difference or cause traffic to go any faster, but because IT FELT SO GOOD.

Anyway, the driver asked me why I was in New York and what I did for a living. My friend, Maggie, is going to be so proud of me for this because I told him, “I’m a writer.” And I thought it was going to sound natural coming out of my mouth but in fact it did not whatsoever. I could have said, “I teach English to genius pandas,” and the look on my face would have been the same. He asked me what kind of writing, and that’s when I looked around to see if anyone was within earshot, and duh. It’s New York. At any given moment there is someone having intercourse with a goat within earshot. So I whispered A BLOGGGGG. And I am not even kidding, his whole face shriveled inward as if he had just been sprayed with mace, and he said, “Does that hurt?”

Yes, it hurts. But I’m taking antibiotics.

So I got a call from the producer about 20 seconds before boarding the plane to New York telling me that they had bumped the segment to the fourth hour of the show, and that I’d now be interviewed by Hoda and Kathie Lee. I knew right then that the interview that was supposed to happen was not going to happen, but I still had hope. I knew that a taped segment featuring other bloggers (Kristen Chase, Mir Kamin, and Jill Asher) was going to run before me, and I thought I’d still be able to get in a word or two about why I think companies are so interested in marketing to this group of people, why they are sending us thousands of PR emails saying DEAR BLOGGER, PLEASE WRITE ABOUT MY PRODUCT ON YOUR WEBSITE. Except how many times have we been sent an email addressed to the wrong person? I’ve been called Heather Anderson, Sarah Armstrong, Hannah, Halley, and one time someone even called me Jim. Note to PR people: maybe pretend that you are paying attention.

I’d been to Rockefeller Center before but never inside the Today Show studios, and I don’t know how to say this without someone deliberately misinterpreting it, so I’ll just go ahead and blurt it out: it was kind of sad. The green room was tiny, and the make-up room looked like it had been haphazardly set up in someone’s garage. Not that I was expecting the walls to be lined with gold, but you look at the set and see how sharp and clean it is, and then you go backstage and, oh my god, has my daughter been playing in here? Because there was stuff and paper and little bits of things everywhere. Like, I had a thought that if I took off my shoes and walked around for a little bit back there that I’d stumble over a Barbie corvette and maybe cut myself on that missing Polly Pocket shoe.

And that is less a judgment than it is an observation, because the experience I had with the make-up people was more than professional. They handled me with great care and made me feel like a million bucks and didn’t mind Jon as he furiously circled the room with our camera:

Just as I was about to walk back to the green room I asked Jon if he thought my make-up looked okay, and in front of about 10 people on the Today show staff he said, “Okay? OKAY? I’d lick you right now if we were alone. COME ON!” Someone started laughing, so Jon continued: “What? WHAT? Doesn’t my wife look good? I’m allowed to say that about this woman because I saw a baby come out of her body!” And thus commenced a chorus of disgusted EWWWWWWing. And I was all, okay Jon, you can stop. And he was all, “Not just ANY baby! MY BABY! OUT OF HER BODY!” This is obviously proof that one side effect of Prozac is acting like you’re drunk when in fact you are not.

15 minutes later I’m sitting on a couch opposite Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. And we’re making small talk in the four minutes leading up to my segment. They’re asking me all sorts of questions about my website and where I’m from, and then I think but I can’t be sure that Kathie Lee Gifford winks at me. Just out of nowhere. WINK WINK. And I’m so caught off guard that my face changes its expression involuntarily, and she says something like, yeah, that was a wink, it’s something we do on television. I go, okay, so you weren’t trying to hit on me, just clearing things up. And she says, no, she wasn’t hitting on me, but honey (she called me honey), I am totally her type.

I am Kathie Lee Gifford’s type. You know what? I am not even going to start decontructing that, and instead I’m going to let you consider what that says about my husband.

And then she said something to me that made the rest of my day one giant confusing puzzle that I have still not been able to put back together. I don’t remember her exact words, but she asked me if I get a lot of criticism for writing about my family on the Internet, and when I said yes she said she could totally relate. Because people were all over her back in the day when she talked about her kids on television. She told me she could empathize. For those of you who have not seen the segment I’m going to post it here, and afterward you’re going to think to yourself, “HUHHH?”

I don’t know what happened to frighten Kathie Lee in the span of four minutes, but my guess is that she had either been instructed to bring up that controversial aspect of mommy-blogging, or maybe she herself thought that she needed to layer the interview with that perspective. Either way, it did not make her a friend of this community from what I’ve read on other websites and forums.

And here’s my take: this is obviously a case of an interviewer not being adequately familiar with the topic at hand (also, probably not a good idea to have someone afraid of computers interviewing someone about their job using computers). And I’m not about to jump into the crowd and start calling Kathie Lee names, she does not deserve that from me. I’m not so much angry at her as I am disappointed that this topic was not given the service it deserves. Blaming Kathie Lee for that would be misguided, and in fact, I don’t think there’s really any one entity responsible for how this played out other than the beast that is broadcast television. The segment got bumped, things were shuffled around, and maybe because of some miscommunication here and there it wasn’t the piece it was supposed to be. Instead of looking at this as a setback I’m thinking that this is a great opportunity for someone out there willing to take a look into the heart of this community. Start the interview with the fact that you are uncomfortable with what we do, and then let us answer you. Unless you are afraid of us, and if that’s the case, well, here, let me rub your head, you poor little bunny.

  • Lorrian

    Hi Heather,

    I too was disappointed in the way the segment seemed to trivialize the effects that you and others in the blogging community have on others.

    Thank you for finally sharing your reaction to the interview. You were beyond gracious and articulate during the interview and your attitude about the possibilities is inspiring.

    BTW, the dress was FABULOUS on you!

  • http://silentgoddess.etsy.com Laney Clark

    I called Kathy Lee names for you. Her “GOTCHA” comment pissed me off. I actually screamed “ARE YOU KIDDING ME??” when she blurted that out at you. Yuck.

    She is a waste of space and air time on the Today show. I am not quite sure what they were thinking by bringing her on board. I turn to the Price is Right at 10 o’clock when she comes on every morning. I much prefer Drew over her screechy, uncomfortable presence.

    You held your own. I wish you could have had a better chance to respond to her.
    At least you had a chance to enjoy New York a bit.

    No matter what anyone says during any interview, I will be a reader for life.

    Hug Jon. He is lucky to be your husband. And you are lucky to be his wife. A match made in… well, you know.

  • Anonymous

    Okay, so I admit I didn’t read all the way through the comments, and somebody could have mentioned this already. But am I one of the few who is thinking that Kathy Lee’s comments — and the timing of them — were a tad strategic on her/the network’s part? Like you said, Heather, obviously there was a preestablished slant to the interview. Obviously they wanted some controversy. TV just plain doesn’t work if there’s no controversy, and Kathy Lee (et al) knows that. Obviously, she knew she was going to say something. But did she have to say it WHEN she said it??

    Kathy Lee HAD to know that the segment was wrapping up. She HAD to know that you would have had no time to respond adequately. She’s been doing this since dinosaurs walked the Earth, so there’s absolutely no excuse for her choosing that particular moment in the segment to say THAT.

    Crikes. No wonder people like Kathy Lee are finding that no one is paying attention to them anymore. At least on the oh-so-scary Internet people have time to defend senseless jabs poked at their character. And you, Heather. Well, you handled it with WAY more dignity than I ever would have.

  • Jennifer

    I like your hair better when you do it. Gotta get my husband some of that prozac stuff…..

  • http://stopscreamingimdriving.com Carrie

    I thought you were marvelous.

    And this post sums everything that has been circulating up very well. Niiiiiiice.

  • http://www.twodogsrunningsouth.blogspot.com/ Emily

    Um….isn’t she the one that whored out her kids on LIVE TV!?!?!

    Who is she to talk?

    You handled it well. I would have smacked her. Not only for the interview process, but because she’s Kathie Lee. That’s reason enough.

    Emily
    http://www.twodogsrunningsouth.blogspot.com/

  • http://perniciousponderer.blogspot.com/ Jacqui

    I was really disappointed when I read you were going to be on with Hoda and Kathie Lee. I mean, that’s like being bumped to having your next door neighbor’s aunt interviewing you. I bet the reason they didn’t tell you until you were practically on the plane is because when they DO tell people they’ll be interviewed by Hoda and Kathie Lee, they get the “Oh…um… in that case, I have to wash my hair” response.

    I mean, please, that hour of the Today Show sucks so bad that Anne Curry ditched it. How bad does a show have to be for Anne Curry to decide that it’s just not worth her time to talk?

  • http://www.notsoblonde.com mary

    Ugh. The video with sound is worse than I thought. ha… Kathie lee makes me laugh; that she could piss off her exact demographic so soon after coming back to TV.

    You sound like you’re taking it amazingly well, at the end of the day you just have to laugh.

    It seems that you had a great time on the trip with your hubby, his Prozac tourette’s and all. :) Great job, Heather.

  • Joolieblue

    Bitter woman, that Kathie Lee. I would put her in the interviewing category with Rosie O’Donnell. They make it about them rather than the interview subject.
    You did quite well in spite of the roadblocks she put up. Nice work, Heather. And the dress…it was perfect!

  • http://www.mylakent.com myla

    a. you looked fabulous
    b. I just wish they would have let YOU talk more

    much love and congratulations on yet another milestone in your career.

  • http://www.sharrock.net Daisy Sharrock

    I never thought I’d be interested listening to Kathie Lee, and after seeing this interview I’ve confirmed that opinion.

    Not that I’m judging her, I just revile her.

  • http://invitepresence.com Carol

    Sorry NBC apparently isn’t hip enough to have conducted the interview your blog and mommy blogging deserves.

    This is my first time commenting on your site but it’s been my favorite blog for several months now….

  • CATTITUDE

    I’ve never thought of your blog as a “mommy” blog; I think of it as an entertaining true to life diary that I enjoy, encompassing many aspects of life, not just motherhood.
    Kathie Lee was showing her ignorance, too bad you didn’t get more of a chance to respond.

  • Maryanne

    BALLS! I missed nightline!

    I believe it’s safe to say I scrunched up my face for the entire time Kathie Lee was talking. She attacked you (in my opinion) and was obnoxious. Maybe that’s my opinion leftover from the Regis and Kathie Lee’s kids show.

    However, you appeared gracious, cool, and calm. Better than I would’ve handled it!

    And may I say, I lurrrrve when you update with long posts. Dooce is my favorite blonk.

  • Judi

    Quite honestly I had/have no idea of what a Mommy Blog might be. I dropped into your world a couple of weeks ago on the reccomendation of a friend. She said that you are witty and have a refreshing point of view. I enjoy your writing, your wit and your photography. You share life observations with and give voice to a number of us everyday schmoes, Mommies or not, that are looking for a literate life perspective.

  • http://www.modmomfurniture.com Kiersten

    Heather,

    I just recently found your blog and I’m hooked. Thanks for being so hilariously honest.

    Kiersten

  • Canuck father of four

    Those two women interviewing you. They are scary. Quite apart from the fact that they just don’t get what you are doing, they are scary looking. If I met either one of them in a dark alley, I’d run.

    Personally, I don’t think your daughter will resent you. I think she’s going to be thrilled about how you were so proud to publicly proclaim how much you love her. I have a girl just a few months older than your Leta (my 4th child), and we enjoy her so much I couldn’t even begin to explain it.

    Keep on girl. Don’t let any assholes get you down. We may not always speak up, but we outnumber the assholes.

  • http://frigginegg.blogspot.com meghan

    Wow. Its really sad that Ms. Gifford can’t be a little more open-minded about something she’s not familiar with. But what’s worse is how she treated Heather, like she was mocking her or something. I think we can at least agree that it was totally rude. Yuck.

  • http://librainfrance.blogspot.com/ A Seattleite in Paris

    Heather – you did a great job, but Kathy Lee was “odd”…

  • PinkyLee14

    KLG has always annoyed me.

    Just focus on the fact that you looked hot and sounded very intelligent and the pictures of Leta that were shown were beautiful.

    I liked that you called out KLG at the end about living in NY. :o )

  • http://www.secret-agent-josephine.com SAJ

    Ha ha! Poor little bunnies indeed! It was terrible! But you were so well spoken. I don’t think I’ll ever get to meet you in person but if I ever get stuck in an elevator with you, I will probably just mumble something about how I really admired your tact in this post and in the interview. Long live Dooce. You are my hero.

  • Whitney

    I got written up for my blog content at work a few years ago, so when I saw your segment on Nightline I was totally intrigued (and I, too, went on to a much better job afterwards). I’m happy to have a new blog to add to my daily rotation!

    I think that Old Media is TERRIFIED of New Media. The fact is, your content is so much more relevant to so many more people, and so much more real and impactful. Old Media’s opinions are just kind of laughable. You have a Voice, outside of what they can mold or shape, and Old Media is just, well, Old.

  • http://myspace.com/snt1225 ~Noel~

    Is it possible to cut yourself by stepping on a Polly Pocket shoe?

  • http://aarynbelfer.com aaryn b.

    I admit to being one of the name-callers, but I’ve also had a long-standing loathing of KLG, so my blogging outburst was not based solely on this interview.

    I have to respectfully disagree with you, though, about not attributing any fault to KLG. Sure, there is the mainstream media monster at work here but she is a cog. For too long, we’ve let our newscasters and “journalists” and media personalities slide in their responsibility to the public. Not that KLG has any responsibility to the public, per se. She’s an entertainer; she certainly isn’t a journalist.

    However, I have a hard time believing that a little bit of honesty would cause her to lose her new job. KLG could have chosen to be genuine and instead of tsk-tsking mommy bloggers via you, she could have said exactly what you spoke of in the minutes before your interview went live. She could have mentioned that she empathized with you, conducted a better interview and perhaps gained some empathy for herself in the process. Instead, she bowed to whatever forces were at play, acted as the bobbing head reading the teleprompter, and highlighted once again, her own hypocrisies.

    You, on the other hand, were darling, well-spoken, thoughtful and composed under pressure. Maybe she was afraid you were gunning for her job…

  • http://hopesmommy.blogspot.com Melissa

    You truly are a class act! I’m pretty sure you could have ripped KLG a new tail and the fact that you didn’t impresses me. I suppose I’m biased though, I love your blop…

  • Jen

    The Nightline interview was much better, but I was really disappointed at how ABC News characterized the topic on their website. Namley, the line they use as the link to the story is: “Mommy Blogger: Motherhood is Awful.”

    Yes, I know it’s their way of creating controversy to draw people in, but those kinds of lables do a disservice not only to Heather, but also to the legions women who find motherhood hard sometimes. Heather’s message is NOT that motherhood is awful; she simply acknowledges that that there are indeed tough aspects to raising a child. Why this insistance on extremes? Either motherhood is THE BEST THING EVER with no downsides, or it’s awful; you’re either forced to suffer in silence with the rough stuff because, god forbid, you admit that SOMETIMES motherhood sucks, or you’re portrayed as a bad mother who resents her children if you acknowledge the difficulties. To force women into one camp or the other is stifeling, dishonest, and unfair. I don’t have kids yet, but even I can see that we still have a long way to go on this one.

    Diatribe over.

  • Bekky

    this is my first week viewing your blog. but i think i’m already addicted .. only by how honest and truthful you are.. i love it.
    kathie lee should not have interviewed you. it’s 2008.. who doesn’t use a computer?! craziness!

  • http://www.gorkyrises.com gorky

    Well, if you won’t say it, we’ll say it for you:

    Kathie Lee is – and has been – a vacuous old hag. Why let her talk about anything that may have occured in the last 20 years? She still lives in the 70s.

  • Lisa

    Fame has made you even stronger, Heather Armstrong. You have set a fine example for all of us that flew off of the handle and went into name-calling mode. It appears it should be Kathie Lee that is mad for the show putting her in that position of not being ready for the interview. When millions are watching…it pays to be professional and cool. You never know….they might ask you back!

  • Heather

    You really do rock! I love your Blog!

  • http://www.basicallyunemployable.blogspot.com Barb

    It always amazes me how frightened newspaper and television people are of blogging.

    There are so many put-downs, based in ignorance. My favourite is when a newspaper columnist dismissed all bloggers because we don’t have editors, with no understanding that, among the many other roles they fill, our readers and commentors act as our editors, challenging us to get better and better.

    You did a great job in very trying circumstances.

    And the dress looked fab!

  • Thatgirlkelly

    Did she slip you a 100 dollar bill?

  • http://www.chezkirby.ca/ Michelle

    In a very small way, I’ve been there. And it’s disappointing, because you had something really great to share, and they just didn’t get it. And probably still don’t, but WE do.

    You handled it all really well, and you looked fabulous!

    I still think if Hillary can’t be the first one, you should try. Natural leaders are hard to come by, especially one that can look good, and handle the pressure and the spotlight as well as you have!

  • http://mollysevertson.com Molly

    A great response to Kathie Lee’s ridiculous-ness. I’ve been waiting for days to see what you’d say, and you did not disappoint. I loved every word. Thank you for representing mommy bloggers so well.

  • shaunacon

    First comment on your ever so popular blog. I am honored…

    Good to hear your perspective on the whole thing.

  • Laura

    You handled the interview swimmingly, despite the fact that your interviewer was ill prepared. Once upon a time when I was interviewed by Chritie Brinkley about food, she too was completely out of the loop (does she eat?, afterall it’s more commom than blogging). My friends consider it the greatest comedy skit I’ve ever done. Not to fret, it’s still network TV.

  • http://www.kritterkrit.blogspot.com/ Kritter Krit

    I think the shot of the back of Kathy Lee’s hair and dress sums it up quite nicely.

    You were fabulous, despite having to hang out with Tweedledum. Congrats, Mommy Blogger!

    P.S Got to “poor bunny” and launched pink lemonade all over my key board. …But totally worth it.

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5762692 Looking Glass Jewels

    Ya know, I’ve always thought Kathie Lee was off her rocker… the wacky way she handled your interview is not unlike weird things I’ve seen her do before. She has a talent for shifting focus to ALL KATHE LEE, ALL THE TIME, rather than her interviewee. I bet she was a GREAT cheerleader in highschool.

    MOVING RIGHT ALONG, I thought you were wonderful – well spoken, natural, and TOTALLY HOT. Them’s some sexy legs, woman. Raur.

  • Leslie

    That was my favorite post to date. You are the best!

  • http://plainjanemom.com Erika Jurney

    I love how level-headed and smart you are on this issue. Thank you. Thank you so much.

  • http://www.littletortoise.wordpress.com bombaygirl

    You did wonderfully in that interview. I wish you had had more time, but you did great within your alloted time. And Kathy was just Kathy, you know? Who really takes her seriously anyway? I didn’t think it was too bad.

  • RH

    Despite its glitches, what a great experience for you! Congrats on all the attention – it is very much deserved!

  • http://kdlc.blogspot.com Kim

    KLG’s interviewing skills are just as ugly as that dress she was wearing… egads! Thankfully you were there, with your lovely style and well-spoken words to try and salvage their pitiful attempt to capture the essence of the “mommy blogging” movement. I’m sorry you didn’t get to speak more, but you handled yourself beautifully.

  • http://wvgurl.blogspot.com Aimee

    I’ve been a reader for several years now and was really looking forward to this interview. I was so disappointed by how the Today show staff handled it, beginning with the finger quotation marks Hoda made at the beginning of the segment.

    I’m glad that you and the other moms featured in the pre-taped segment are getting the attention you deserve. I hope that this is the first of many conversations and media interviews about mommy blogs.

    For the record, the Nightline segment completely rocked. I was so glad to see you, Jon and Leta during your day to day lives…. THAT was what I was hoping to see on Today.

    Anyway, thank you for your honesty and putting it all out there, the good, the bad, the sometimes ugly, but ALWAYS honest. I wish I had the freedom to do that on my own measly blog, but I don’t want to fight with the in-laws on a regular basis over my thoughts and writing. :-) So, yeah, for now, I’m spineless, but YOU are my hero and I want so badly to be as open as you are some day.

  • mrstill

    all hail the goddess of blogging. you were awesome and KLG can suck it.

  • http://www.myfunnyfunnyfamily.com Carrie

    I was shocked by the interview. Really, they gave you such short shrift, and the way Kathy Lee acted like she was in a debate with you and didn’t let you make your point.

    You looked great, though. Congratulations for bearing up under ridiculous treatment.

  • Rachel

    Hey that wasn’t the dress you showed us in Daily Style… I like both of them. BTW, Is there a baby bump under there?

  • http://athornyway.blogspot.com Craig

    I just watched the Nightline segment – it was great, congratulations. What was that you were singing about “Utah”?

  • Erica

    I thought you did a great job. Beside the fact that they were rushing you and cutting you off.

  • scouterpie

    OMG, i love how she doesn’t know much about “computers.” you handled yourself very well, sounded intelligent and looked all that. is this really a mommy blog? i just think of it as a funny and poignant life blog and yours has a cute kid in it.