May 25, 2009 -- In the season premiere of "Jon and Kate Plus 8," Kate Gosselin looks to be the picture of motherhood, juggling her large family with ease in front of the cameras.
But behind the scenes, the media has been louder than her kids ever have. She has been blasted with controversy after controversy on the cover of magazines -- like the Us Weekly magazine that featured her with the headline "Mom to Monster" -- leading many experts to question whether the media has been fair not just to Gosselin, but to assertive women and mothers in general.
"I actually thinks it's atrocious that Kate is being portrayed as a monster," former Us Weekly editor Bonnie Fuller told "GMA." "Like all strong women, she's a target and we've seen it before. We saw it in the election campaign. We saw it with Hillary Clinton. We saw it with Sarah Palin. Strong, aggressive women who know what they want and don't mind being in the public eye are very much in for a public drubbing."
Kate Gosselin has been accused of everything from firing 40 nannies in three months to having an affair. Most recently, the couple has battled reports that Kate had Jon sign a contract stipulating that he's allowed to date as long as he shows up for filming.
"The tabloids are going crazy again," Kate said on "Larry King Live." "You can't believe everything you read."
Battle Behind the Birthday Party
In the Season 5 premiere airing tonight, she maintains that her children are her life.
"My kids are the reason I've always done everything," Kate said in a clip.
In the premiere episode, the Gosselins celebrate the sextuplets' fifth birthday with some cake, a bouncy moonwalk and a lot of laughter.
"We have eight healthy, wonderful kids and I like to do them up big because you never get their fifth birthday back again," Kate said in a clip. "It's not just a day, it's huge. It's huge."
But for the show the couple did their on-screen testimonials separately, something that in the past they've almost always done together.
Earlier this month People magazine's Kate Coyne told "GMA" said Kate admitted the couple is in trouble.
"For starters, she's adamant that she has in no way been unfaithful, that the allegations that she's had an affair are horrifying to her. And she's also very honest about the fact that she and her husband have hit a serious rough patch, and they've been struggling for a while," Coyne said.
To Fuller, it's no wonder the couple, and especially Kate, has gone through rough times.
"Here is a woman who for years has been known as a mom of sextuplets plus twins," Fuller said. "I mean, it's really difficult and we've just learned her husband has allegedly had an affair. What woman wouldn't freak out about this? And yet people are blaming her for somehow driving him into the arms of another woman. That's a very odd reaction."
Lowering Expectations With Dads, Blaming Moms
One explanation for that reaction, according to psychologist Michael J. Bradley, is that people may naturally expect more from mothers.
"We just assume that the mother should have a higher set of values and be better able to handle these things," Bradley said. "We often just say with the dads, particularly younger dads, boys will be boys and we lower the bar so very often in these situations we will vilify the female. So when things fall apart, we typically get angrier at the women than we do at the men."
As for rumors that the couple's marriage is a sham to keep the show going, TLC said in a statement the show has "always been about a real family dealing with real life situations."
"The world isn't about ratings and TV," Jon said in a clip from the show's season premiere. "It's about happiness and love and companionship and intimacy, you know, family and God. I think we all get caught up in everything. Too much of anything is bad. Kate and I are obviously going through a lot of stuff, discussing what's best for our kids. What we said in the beginning, it's a crazy life but it's our life. That's so true."