The Equal Pay Act was signed into law on June 10, 1963, by President Kennedy to prohibit wage discrimination based on sex. Fifty years later, as the issue of gender income inequality continues to affect America, conservative media figures have consistently tried to downplay and minimize these concerns.
From the June 1 edition of SiriusXM's Media Matters Radio:
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From the June 1 edition of MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry:
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From the May 31 edition of MSNBC's Martin Bashir:
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With Erick Erickson coming under increasing scrutiny from his Fox News colleagues for his remarks that female breadwinners conflict with "biology" and "the natural world" and are "tearing [society] apart" - culminating in his complete immolation by Megyn Kelly on America Live - it's worth pointing out that Fox must have been well-aware of Erickson's long history of sexist comments when they hired him.
They didn't care.
Keep in mind, Erickson's rhetoric was no secret. Just a few months before he left CNN for Fox News, Erickson was widely criticized after he tweeted of the first night of the Democratic National Convention, "First night of the Vagina Monologues in Charlotte going as expected." He subsequently apologized, then was mysteriously absent from CNN's airwaves for the next two weeks, at the height of the presidential campaign on which he was purportedly hired to comment. Meanwhile, tens of thousands signed on to a petition from the women's advocacy group UltraViolet calling for his dismissal from CNN.
Erickson's "Vagina Monologues" comment was preceded by his description of the National Organization for Women as the "NAG Gang" who were "angry in their unibrows," which was preceded by him asking, "what is with Barack Obama caving to the women" in his administration, which was preceded by his description of feminists as humorless women "too ugly to get a date," which was preceded by Erickson's description - highlighted in his New York Times profile -- of Michelle Obama as "a Marxist harpy".
The RedState editor's implosion, live on Fox News, was inevitable. It was only a matter of when Ericksonfinally showed his true colors to the Fox audience.
That's simply who Erickson is -- a man who makes offensive comments about women. That's who Fox hired, and apparently what they were looking for.
Sexist comments made on Fox News following the report that a record number of women earn more than their spouses hides the realities of the research, which reveals continued class and gender inequality for women.
Pew Research's May 29 study, which found that mothers are the primary or sole breadwinner in a record 40 percent of all American households with children, sparked backlash at Fox News, with several Fox contributors claiming the research revealed the breakdown of American society. Fox News contributor Erick Erickson claimed the rise in female breadwinners was contrary to the natural order and was "tearing us apart," and later doubled-down on his remarks on his blog and radio show, claiming that women who believe "they can have it all" are the "crux of the problem."
The sexism in Erickson's comments has been denounced, even by his own female coworkers at Fox News. The inflammatory rhetoric, however, also serves to hide the facts behind the research: that income inequality and class division are still deeply-rooted problems in America, revealing once again the need for equal pay and a strong social safety net.
What the study highlighted, and what Erickson and his fellow Fox News commentators ignored, is the persistent class divide among mothers. According to the data, married mothers who earned more than their husbands were "disproportionally white and college educated." The single mothers, on the other hand, were "more likely to be black or Hispanic, and less likely to have a college degree." They also made significantly less: single mothers in the study had a median income of $23,000, about a quarter of the median income of couples with a female primary earner. If those single mothers were never married, their median income dropped to $17,400, hovering near the poverty threshold.
Furthermore, though more women may be "breadwinners," women still earn significantly less than men. The report showed that 75 percent of husbands still make more than their wives. In fact, women's wages decreased in 2012, causing the gender-wage gap to widen with women earning only 80.9 percent of what men earned, or about $163 dollars less per week. If men are earning less in their households, as Slate's Amanda Marcotte noted, this means "less money overall for the average American home":
What's really hurting Americans isn't female equality, but growing income inequality between the rich and everyone else. Pitting men against women is simply a distraction from the real economic issues facing us all.
Economist Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women's Policy Research, estimates that if the gender-wage gap were closed, it would grow the U.S. economy by at least three to four percentage points. And as Senator Elizabeth Warren highlighted earlier this year, a recent study showed that flat minimum wage growth over the past 40 years has coincided with increased inequality across a number of indicators. Had the minimum wage grown at the same rate as productivity, workers would currently be making about $22 an hour. Whether men or women are winning the bread seems less important when overall income inequality in the U.S. is getting worse. As The Huffington Post reported, the poor are getting poorer while the rich "just keep getting richer," largely thanks to low tax rates for higher earners and cuts to the social safety net.
Closing the gender-wage gap and providing access for mothers to basic necessities like childcare and family planning services, particularly the lower-income single mothers highlighted in the Pew research, would help the economy. The Center for American Progress found that low-income families can spend an average of 52.7 percent of their income on childcare expenses, and in spite of their rising status as "breadwinners," women still spend "more than twice as much time as men providing primary care to children." Studies show that providing these mothers with affordable access to universal preschool and paid family and medical leave would increase employment and help the economy. And research from the Guttmacher Institute shows that providing women with access to affordable contraception increases workforce participation, economic stability, and children's well-being.
But Fox doesn't want to talk about the benefits to women and families that come from access to equal pay, family planning, or childcare, which is why they turn to demonizing these programs and fearmongering about the dissolution of society instead. The sexist reactions serve to remove reason and fact from the real issue at hand: that women are still unequal, both in the home and the workforce, and fearmongering will only allow that inequality to remain.
America Live anchor Megyn Kelly tore into Fox News colleagues Erick Erickson and Lou Dobbs over sexist comments they made about a study finding an increase in women as higher earners in families.
In a widely criticized segment that aired May 29 on Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight, Dobbs hosted an all-male panel to discuss a Pew study showing that a record number of women are becoming their families' primary breadwinner. During that conversation, Erickson said that "when you look at biology" the "male typically is the dominant role." In a follow-up post on his RedState.com website, Erickson claimed that children do best "in households where they have a mom at home nurturing them while dad is out bringing home the bacon."
On the May 31 edition of America Live, Kelly hosted Dobbs and Erickson to discuss their comments. After Kelly asked Erickson "what makes you dominant and me submissive and who made you scientist-in-chief," Erickson said "it doesn't have anything to do with submissiveness per se, and it was poorly constructed how I said it."
Erickson's description of his comments is highly misleading, as Kelly pointed out by telling him "that's not exactly what you have been saying over the last couple of days." Both his Fox Business appearance and his blog on RedState stressed the "dominant role" that men play, with Erickson insisting he was supported by "biology" and "the natural world." Erickson even went so far as to accuse "feminist and emo lefties" of having "their panties in a wad over my statements."
From the May 30 edition of MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes:
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Erick Erickson is receiving much attention this week for his remarks that female breadwinners conflict with "biology" and "the natural world" and are "tearing [society] apart." But Erickson's comments are nothing out of the ordinary for the Fox contributor - he has a long history of making sexist, homophobic, and otherwise inflammatory statements.
Fox contributor Erick Erickson drew outrage from conservatives and liberals alike over a series of sexist comments, in which he lamented an increase in the number of female breadwinners in the United States and argued that males should be dominant in human societies because "the male typically is the dominant role" in "the natural world."
From the May 30 edition of WSB's The Erick Erickson Show:
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Fox host Lou Dobbs and several Fox contributors -- all men -- lamented news that a record number of women are now the economic breadwinners of their families. The Fox figures worried about the dissolution of American society and nature.
Pew Research released a study on May 29 which found mothers are the primary or sole breadwinner in a record 40 percent of all American households with minor children. Pew's report considered both single mothers and married mothers who earned a higher income than their husbands.
On his Fox business program, Dobbs described the Pew study as "showing that women have become the breadwinners in this country, and a lot of other concerning and troubling statistics." He went on to call the report suggestive of "society dissolv[ing] around us."
Fox contributor Juan Williams agreed, calling record female breadwinners indicative of "something going terribly wrong in American society":
What we're seeing with four out of 10 families, now the woman is the primary breadwinner. You're seeing the disintegration of marriage, you're seeing men who were hard hit by the economic recession in ways that women weren't. But you're seeing, I think, systemically, larger than the political stories that we follow every day, something going terribly wrong in American society, and it's hurting our children, and it's going to have impact for generations to come.
Erick Erickson, one of Fox's newest contributors, was troubled by female breadwinners and claimed that people who defend them are "anti-science." Erickson told viewers:
When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and female in society, and the other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it's not antithesis, or it's not competing, it's a complimentary role. We as people in a smart society have lost the ability to have complimentary relationships in nuclear families, and it's tearing us apart.
At least six Fox News contributors have reportedly signed on to an open letter opposing the comprehensive immigration reform legislation currently being debated in the Senate. Fox News, which has admitted it is the "voice of opposition" on certain issues, has long ignored and even fostered such unethical behavior from its personalities.
According to Yahoo! News, conservative radio hosts, along with tea party and other conservative groups, have signed a letter opposing the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, a proposal from a bipartisan group of senators to reform immigration law. Among the "National Conservative Leaders" who have reportedly signed the letter are six current Fox News contributors:
However, their affiliation with Fox News was not mentioned in the letter.
Radio hosts Mark Levin and Lars Larson, who also signed the letter, are regular Fox News guests as well. Daily Beast editor and CNN contributor David Frum also signed the letter.
The letter expresses "serious concerns" with the bill and urges Senators to vote against it:
We oppose this bill and urge you to vote against it when it comes to the Senate floor. No matter how well intentioned, the Schumer-Rubio bill suffers from fundamental design flaws that make it unsalvageable. Many of us support various parts of the legislation, but the overall package is so unsatisfactory that the Senate would do better to start over from scratch.
Reforming our immigration system is an important priority. But S.744 is such a defective measure that it would do more harm than good. We urge you to vote against it and against any cloture vote to bring up the bill. Only then can a constructive, measured debate take place on how to improve America's immigration policy.
The letter also repeats some common myths about immigration, including the debunked notion that granting undocumented immigrants legal status "[h]urts American job-seekers, especially those with less education." The letter also compares the Senate immigration bill to the health care law, calling it "bloated and unwieldy."
Fox News has been criticized for unethical behavior in the past and for operating like a political organization. In fact, Crowley crossed the ethical line during the 2012 presidential election when she spoke at an anti-Obama rally sponsored by the Koch-funded conservative advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity.
Fox News has long styled itself as an anti-immigrant network even as it purports to reach out to Latino viewers. Rush Limbaugh, for example, stated in January that it's "up to me and Fox News" to defeat immigration reform. As Yahoo! News noted however, Limbaugh was "notably absent" from the list of signatories.
As of this writing, there is no indication that the IRS's inappropriate targeting of conservative political groups has any connection whatsoever to the White House. And some conservative talking heads are even acknowledging as much. But they're not letting that stop them from naming Barack Obama as the culpable party, arguing that the president is responsible due to his preternatural ability to bend the average bureaucrat to his maleficent will from afar.
It all started with RedState founder Erick Erickson, who wrote on May 15 that "Barack Obama never specifically asked that tea party groups and conservatives be targeted." But...
But by both his language and the "always campaigning" attitude of his White House, he certainly sent clear signals to Democrats with the power and ability to fight conservatives to engage as they could. Given his rhetoric against his political opponents, it is no wonder sympathetic Democrats in the Internal Revenue Service harassed and stymied conservative groups and, though little mentioned, pro-Israel Jewish groups and evangelical groups.
"President Obama did not have to tell the IRS specifically to harass conservative, evangelical, and Jewish groups who might oppose him," Erickson observed. "His rhetoric on the campaign trail and in the permanent campaign of the White House operations made clear what he wanted."