Chattermailbox: Baby Einstein replies.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Jan. 31 2007 8:23 PM

Baby Einstein Replies

An e-mail from Julia Aigner-Clark, and a reply.

(Continued from Page 1)

A footnote cites a 1946 decision, Jacob Seigel Co. v. F.T.C., which "held that a product's name can play a role in implying a claim."

There is no evidence that parking a child under the age of two in front of a video—any video—will make him smarter, and there's some evidence that it may do him harm, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against it. By all accounts, what Baby Einstein videos are really good for is distracting the baby while Mom or Dad sneaks off to take a shower. I'm a parent myself, and I well remember those moments when a baby could feel like the commandant of a particularly inhumane prisoner-of-war camp. (No, you may not go to the toilet! I don't care how long you've been waiting!) But you didn't market these videos under the brand name Baby Hypnotize or Baby Chloroform. You marketed them under the name Baby Einstein. That's deceptive.

Advertisement

What's more, your disassociation from marketing practices undertaken by Walt Disney Co. after you sold Baby Einstein strikes me as disingenuous. You may no longer own the company, but President Bush said in his speech that "with [your] help Baby Einstein has grown into a $200 million business." That suggests that you maintained a role in the company after you sold it. Your picture appears beside the words, "Our Founder," on a Baby Einstein Web page. And that's you in a QuickTime video on that same Web page touting the videos. "We use art to teach color to children in really fun, silly ways," you say. Not "We used to teach color in really fun, silly ways, before those unscrupulous hacks at Disney took over." And in what sense can a video really "teach" an infant anything? What evidence do you have that anything is being learned, other than an early attachment to the TV screen?

4.) You may have been raised a Democrat, but you are now being used by Republicans. Don't mistake the president's mentioning you in his speech as anything other than condescension—a condescension of which Democrats are equally capable. If President Bush cared at all about the issue of child development, then someone on his staff would have taken the five minutes necessary to discover that prominent medical professionals consider the business you founded to be a scam. (For that matter, if President Bush cared at all about the issue of early child development, then he wouldn't have let Head Start funding lie flat during the past five years. But that's another story.) The White House's choosing to spotlight your accomplishment was surely meant to demonstrate its commitment to children, to families, and to all those other womanly good feelings it fears that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., taps  into with female voters. But in failing to perform even rudimentary research on what it is Baby Einstein actually does, the White House ended up demonstrating the precise opposite. The fact that this screw-up attracted less attention in the press than the president's absent-mindedly referring to the "Democrat" rather than the "Democratic" party further shows that President Bush's indifference to these "women's" issues is widely shared in newsrooms.

Cheers,

Timothy Noah

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

An Iranian Woman Was Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist. Can Activists Save Her?

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The U.S. Has a New Problem in Syria: The Moderate Rebels Feel Like We’ve Betrayed Them

We Need to Talk: A Terrible Name for a Good Sports Show by and About Women

Trending News Channel
Oct. 1 2014 1:25 PM Japanese Cheerleader Robots Balance and Roll Around on Balls
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
The Eye
Oct. 1 2014 1:04 PM An Architectural Crusade Against the Tyranny of Straight Lines
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 2:08 PM We Need to Talk: Terrible Name, Good Show
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Oct. 1 2014 1:53 PM Slate Superfest East How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 3:02 PM The Best Show of the Summer Is Getting a Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 3:01 PM Netizen Report: Hong Kong Protests Trigger Surveillance and Social Media Censorship
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 2:36 PM Climate Science Is Settled Enough The Wall Street Journal’s fresh face of climate inaction.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.