Hocus Pocus actress Bette Midler sparked outrage on Friday, May 13 after commenting on the nationwide baby formula shortage in the U.S. The 76-year-old responded to a tweet by MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle which led to severe backlash on social media. Netizens are now calling out the comedian for her “insensitive” and “tone-deaf comments.”
On Thursday, May 12 MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle tweeted about the scarcity of baby formula claiming that it reveals an “amazing secret oligopoly.” She claimed that three percent of American corporations dominate the majority of the market, and the tight laws encouraged by lobbying resulted in a lack of sale of baby formula. She added, “Name another industry/sector/product like this.”
As the journalist commented on the ongoing crisis, Bette Midler gave her two cents on the matter as well. She said:
“TRY BREASTFEEEDING! It's free and available on demand.”
Internet slams Bette Midler for her tweet
Unsurprisingly, the stage and screen star’s tweet did not go over well with the public. Many stated that some mothers do not produce enough milk to feed their new-borns. They also mentioned that some children experience latching challenges or that their parents may have adopted children, making breastfeeding difficult. Some also shared that baby formula is beneficial for balancing employment requirements for those mothers who find it cumbersome to feed their infants while working.
Several Twitter users slammed Bette Midler. A few tweets read:
Bette Midler responds to criticism
The Ruthless People actor received blowback within minutes after posting her inflammatory tweet. About 20 minutes after sharing the questionable tweet, the actress, who is a mother herself, clarified that she did not wish to shame those who were unable to breastfeed for whatever reason. Her tweet reads:
According to experts, breastfeeding will not fix the formula crisis. Dr. Rebekah Diamon told NBC News that most new-borns may be able to nourish themselves with their mother’s milk however, others require formula to boost their nutrition. Furthermore, nursing moms' hectic lifestyles and health concerns can result in a lack of time to pump milk throughout the workday. Allergies may also make it difficult for new parents to produce enough milk for their new-borns.
The nationwide scarcity of baby formula has reached 43% with areas including Tennessee, Delaware, and Texas reporting "out of stock" situations. The baby formula shortage came into being in February after America’s biggest formula producers announced that their facility was contaminated. It also resulted in the death of two babies after they had consumed their products.
The factory shutdown has led to a shortage of baby formula and supply chain issues, which were already present owing to the covid pandemic.
Baby formulas produced in Europe cannot be imported as well as they are not FDA approved.