MSNBC on-screen text falsely suggested Republicans wanted to pass Fair Pay Act

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

On MSNBC Live, as host Alex Witt reported on a press conference held by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, on-screen text read: "GOP leaders criticize Dems for delaying vote on Fair Pay Act," falsely suggesting that Republicans wanted to pass the measure. At no point in the coverage of McConnell's press conference did Witt or MSNBC in its on-screen text explain that the Republicans planned to filibuster the bill.

On the April 23 edition of MSNBC Live, while preparing to cut away to a press conference held by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), host Alex Witt said, "Want to take you live to Capitol Hill, where you see Senator Mitch McConnell. They're holding a news conference, upset at the fact that there has been a delay on a big Senate vote to accommodate, they say, [Sens.] Clinton and Obama's campaign schedules." While McConnell spoke, on-screen text read: "GOP leaders criticize Dems for delaying vote on Fair Pay Act," falsely suggesting that Republicans wanted to pass the measure. At no point in the coverage of McConnell's press conference did Witt or MSNBC in its on-screen text explain that the Republicans planned to filibuster the bill. Indeed, the planned vote to which Witt referred is a vote for cloture on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007 -- that is, a vote to overcome a filibuster.

By contrast, an April 23 Boston Globe article reported that "Senate Republicans plan to block the bill with a filibuster unless [Sen. Edward M.] Kennedy [D-MA] can assemble 60 votes to get it through a sharply-divided Senate." And an April 23 New York Times article reported: "Senate Republicans said on Tuesday that they were confident they would be able to block legislation intended to reverse a Supreme Court ruling last year that established tight time restrictions on lawsuits over pay discrimination."

According to the Globe, the Fair Pay Act, "which passed in the House of Representatives in July 2007, seeks to restore the clear intent of Congress that workers must have a reasonable opportunity to file a pay discrimination claim after they become victims of discriminatory compensation."

From the noon ET hour of the April 23 edition of MSNBC Live:

WITT: Want to take you live to Capitol Hill, where you see Senator Mitch McConnell. They're holding a news conference, upset at the fact that there has been a delay on a big Senate vote to accommodate, they say, Clinton and Obama's campaign schedules. Let's take a quick listen.

McCONNELL [video clip]: -- and it strikes me as particularly ridiculous. This isn't the first time we've had this experience. Last June, when the -- there was a big labor meeting here in Washington. All the schedule was pushed aside. We went to the so-called card check, the issue of getting rid of the secret ballot in labor union elections, and did it at a time that could get the Democratic candidates for president back here.

A month later, last July, we had a Code Pink/MoveOn rally, and once again, the presidential candidates were invited back. We had an all-night show-and-tell here on Iraq.

And now, you know, we're staging this for another special interest vote. This time for the plaintiff's lawyers with the Ledbetter vote, so, here we are.

WITT: Sounds like running for president and being senator at the same time can be a sticky situation. We'll keep our eye on that vote, expected to take place later today around 5 p.m. on that equal pay -- I think it's the Fair Pay act. So, we'll watch for that, and bring you the very latest.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Gender, Economy, Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Alex Witt
Show/Publication
MSNBC Live
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.