Murphy Brown: We Need You Now More Than Ever

By Laura Gross

When I was in high school, I wanted to be Murphy Brown. I wanted to live in Washington, D.C. and be a journalist. I wanted to interview politicians. I wanted to cover State of the Union addresses and White House press conferences. I wanted to be a journalist, so I could hold people accountable for their actions and make a difference. I wanted to be like Murphy Brown, who was not afraid to speak out when there was an injustice, and not afraid to speak up when she was not being treated well – just because she was a woman.

It was historic when the show responded to actual news from The White House – taking on Dan Quayle when he said, “Primetime TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes today’s intelligent, highly paid professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice. I know it’s not fashionable to talk about moral values, but we need to do it.” I’m not sure if there is polling to support this – but, I truly do think the show had an influence on the 1992 election and played a part in getting Bill Clinton elected.

So, you can imagine my excitement when CBS recently announced that Murphy Brown would be returning this fall. Not only was I excited to hear one of my favorite shows would be making a comeback, but the timing could not be better. I know Murphy Brown is a fictional character, but we need someone like her now more than ever.

If Donald Trump is going to treat the presidency like a television show – then why not have a TV character like Murphy Brown hold him accountable? She can capitalize on the women’s marches and how more women are running for office than ever before. She will be able to talk about the #MeToo movement – and hopefully discuss the sexual harassment culture in newsrooms. She can bring important news stories to the forefront – like the people in Puerto Rico that still do not have clean water or electricity; children taken from their parents at the border; and the numerous mass shootings taking place in our country on a regular basis.

Show creator Diane English has stated she is “focusing the show, really through the prism of the press. The First Amendment and free press is under attack like I’ve never seen before.” Many good journalists are working hard to keep this administration accountable. In fact, more news organizations are seeing an increase in viewers, listeners, subscribers and readers, despite the “fake news” narrative from this White House. So I am hopeful that Murphy Brown will give journalists a good name again too.

Although I graduated from journalism school, I never became a journalist. I did become a public relations professional, communicating different stories to the media on behalf of many non-profits and advocacy organizations – so in a way I’m working with the Murphy Browns of the world every day. I have her to thank for setting me on this path, working for people, campaigns and organizations that are contributing to the greater good.  

I hope this new version of the Murphy Brown television show will inspire another young woman to have the confidence to uncover injustice in the world and hold politicians accountable – especially the commander in chief.