Breitbart.com and National Review Online (NRO) are using today's Equal Pay Day holiday to misinform about gender wage inequality. Right-wing media have routinely downplayed and obscured legitimate concerns about wage inequality.
Equal Pay Day was created by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men's and women's wages. According to a White House proclamation released on Equal Pay Day in 2012, "National Equal Pay Day represents the date in the current year through which women must work to match what men earned in the previous year, reminding us that we must keep striving for an America where everyone gets an equal day's pay for an equal day's work."
Breitbart.com and NRO both posted a video today that claims the gender wage gap is a myth, positing that the gap fails to account for women's choices, which are primarily responsible for any discrepancies in salary. The video comes from the conservative Independent Women's Forum, a group The New York Times described as "a right-wing public policy group that provides pseudofeminist support for extreme positions that are in fact dangerous to women."
Although the wage gap has decreased since the 1963 passage of the Equal Pay Act, women's earnings remain far below that of men. A report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found that "in 2011, women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 77 percent of what men were paid, a gap of 23 percent." According to the National Women's Law Center, the wage gap for minority women is even worse: African-American and Hispanic women make 64 and 55 cents for every dollar their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts earn. The claim that personal choice is responsible for the gender wage gap has also been debunked, mostly recently in the AAUW's 2013 Gender Pay Gap Report.
Breitbart.com and NRO's misleading claims about gender wage inequality follow a long trend of right-wing media's misinformation on equal pay. Here are just a few examples since 2012:
Fox News pushed long-debunked myths about health care reform in order to promote Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) reported plans to repeal the law as part of his upcoming budget.
Conservative media have denigrated solar energy by denying its sustainability, ignoring its successes, and arguing the U.S. should simply cede the solar market to China. Yet this booming industry has made great strides, and with the right policies can become a major source of our power.
Fox News chief national correspondent Jim Angle provided a misleading fact check of Mitt Romney's ad claiming that Chrysler is sending a Jeep production line to China. Angle cherry picked a line from Chrysler's CEO to portray Romney's ad as accurate. In fact, Chrysler has made it clear that Romney's claims are false.
In response to Romney's Jeep-to-China television ad, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne sent an email to shareholders on October 30 explaining that Romney's claim is "inaccurate" and "Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China." Marchionne added that Chrysler is planning to "return Jeep production to China, the world's largest auto market, in order to satisfy local market demand," and explained that Chrysler intends to add Jeep jobs in the United States.
But during his "fact check" of Romney's ad on America Live on Friday, Angle claimed that "the head of Fiat-Chrysler confirmed exactly what the Romney ad said," because the company stated it "had intended to return Jeep production to China, the world's largest auto market in order to satisfy local market demand."
Marchionne's statement was not the only one issued rebutting Romney's claims. In a statement on October 25, Chrysler wrote on its website that "Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China." The Romney campaign went ahead with its television ad in Ohio on October 27 despite this statement. Then, on October 30, Romney doubled down on the Jeep attack on Tuesday with a radio ad in Toledo, Ohio, the site of a Jeep plant. That same day, Marchionne sent his email to Chrysler shareholders.
In addition to Chrysler, there has been strong criticism from GM, fact checkers, and local media in Ohio of Romney's false claims that Jeep is sending U.S. jobs to China. On Tuesday, GM spokesman Greg Martin stated: "No amount of campaign politics at its cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back to this country." PolitiFact rated Romney's claim "pants on fire" false, and The Washington Post's resident fact checker, Glenn Kessler, gave the ad "four Pinocchios."
Fox previously attempted to hide the backlash to Romney's ad.
Fox's Jim Angle trumpeted a study from the Tax Policy Center to claim that President Obama was wrong when he said that Mitt Romney's tax reform proposal raises taxes on middle-income households. In fact, in two different assessments of Romney's proposals, TPC has maintained that his plan would result in higher taxes for middle class Americans.
On Happening Now, Angle asserted that while an earlier study from the center corroborated Obama's assertion, TPC "later issued a clarification" that "concluded that there is no reason why a reform proposal, quote, 'would have to raise taxes on middle-class households.' "
But the authors of that second TPC study -- which explored what would happen if Romney outlined two additional deductions and loopholes to close -- affirmed their earlier conclusion that Romney's tax proposals would necessitate raising taxes on middle-income households:
A recent TPC paper examined tradeoffs among revenues, progressivity and tax rates in tax reform. It concluded that, under certain assumptions, any revenue-neutral plan along the lines Governor Romney has outlined would reduce taxes for high-income households, thus requiring higher taxes on other, even if the plan's financing is as progressive as possible, given the available tax expenditures.
This paper addresses questions about that study and discusses new estimates that incorporate the taxation of municipal bond interest and the taxation of inside buildup in life insurance vehicles. These additions do not change the basic results.
TPC went on to add: "Adding these two provisions to Governor Romney's list of tax preferences potentially on the chopping block would thus not reverse the basic conclusion of our paper: simultaneously pursuing the five goals noted above would make the tax system less progressive, even if the tax expenditures used to finance the proposals are reduced in the most progressive way possible."
In its original study, TPC had similarly stated that "a revenue-neutral individual income tax change that incorporates the features Governor Romney has proposed ... would provide large tax cuts to high-income households, and increase the tax burdens on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers."
But there is one crucial point Angle appears to have missed in his rush to indict Obama using TPC's supposed final verdict on Romney's tax goals.
Angle claimed that TPC said Romney's proposals wouldn't necessitate raising taxes on middle-class households and that, in fact, "there is no reason why a reform proposal, quote, 'would have to raise taxes on middle-class households.' "
Fox News dismissed the fact that women are paid less than men as "not a national problem." In fact, studies consistently show that an earnings discrepancy between men and women persists, even when accounting for a variety of factors.
Fox chief national correspondent Jim Angle claimed on the September 26 edition of Happening Now that U.S. Census data cited in a campaign ad for President Obama do not show that women receive unequal pay for equal work.
Angle's assertion rested on a statement from U.S. Census Bureau spokesman David Johnson who recently stated: "We don't have a way of measuring equal pay for equal work. We try to compare the earnings of full time, year-round work between men and women."
Angle trumpeted the statement to mean that it's "not true" the assertion that women earn on average 77 cents for every dollar men earn. Angle also explained away the discrepancy by saying women often work less hours than men and that it's "the result of personal choices."
He added: "Now there may be some discrimination somewhere but it is not the national problem President Obama says he's fixing. In fact, analysts say young female college graduates now often make more than men."
In a September 2011 study, the Census Bureau found that in 2010, "the female to-male earnings ratio was 0.77, not statistically different from the 2009 ratio," and added:
In 2010, the median earnings for men was $47,715 and for women $36,931. In 2010, the female-to-male earnings ratio of full-time, year-round workers was 0.77, not statistically different from the 2009 ratio.
This finding is highlighted in an Obama campaign ad that Angle held up as an example of an ad that Obama would agree is "a little over the top."
But while the Census' conclusion was based on a comparison of all fully employed men's and women's salaries, the findings certainly don't negate the fact that wage equality is a significant national problem.
From the July 24 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
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Fox News' reporting on a July Ernst & Young report critical of President Obama's tax policies repeatedly referred to the organization as "non-partisan," even though the study was sponsored by industry groups opposed to Obama's policies - a fact that was not mentioned during Fox's reporting.
The Ernst & Young report, which was highlighted by Republican House Speaker John Boehner, claimed several policies that would result in higher marginal taxes paid by high-income earners would harm the economy. During his Special Report segment on the study, Fox's chief national correspondent Jim Angle touted Ernst & Young as an "independent research organization" and "a non-partisan group."
Later during the program, host Bret Baier followed suit, describing the organization that prepared the report as an "independent research organization" that is "non-partisan."
But what Angle and Baier never told their viewers is that the report was "[p]repared on behalf" of partisan, conservative-leaning industry organizations that have opposed Obama administration policies, including the Independent Community Bankers of America, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the United States Chamber of Commerce.
A look at the history of the study's sponsors shows just how partisan they are.
Fox News' chief national correspondent Jim Angle attacked President Obama's call for a fairer tax code, claiming that the wealthiest Americans shoulder most of the federal tax burden, while the rest pay very little. However, the rich pay a larger portion of federal taxes because their income has ballooned in recent years, increasing the total amount they pay. Additionally virtually all Americans pay some kind of tax.
After hosting claims that the EPA acted "lawless[ly]" by regulating greenhouse gas emissions, Fox News' flagship "straight news" program Special Report has ignored an important court ruling that undermines Fox's narrative.
In strikingly one-sided reports, Fox News assailed an anticipated regulation protecting streams from mountaintop coal mining waste. Among other misleading claims, Fox accused the Obama administration of punishing a contractor who said the rule would kill jobs, when in fact, extensive evidence indicates the contract was halted simply because the firm did shoddy work.
Today, Fox News chief national correspondent Jim Angle attempted to set the record straight on wage inequality between men and women. As we have previously noted, gender wage inequality is a real issue. Even controlling for a number of different factors, like personal characteristics, occupation, and hours worked, studies have revealed a persistent wage gap between men and women.
Even the Bush administration study found that a gap existed between men's and women's pay after controlling for a variety of factors.
These studies didn't make it into the segment, however. Instead, Angle's segment consisted of snippets of interviews from people stating that there is no wage inequality and Angle's own suggestion that the reason for the difference in pay between men and women "is pretty simple. Women take time off to have children and to care for them."
From the May 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Both mainstream and conservative media outlets have responded to the recent spike in gasoline prices by circulating talking points rooted in politics rather than facts. As a whole, these claims reflect the misconception, perpetuated by the news media, that changes in U.S. energy policy are a major driver of oil and gasoline prices.
During a speech yesterday to the Associated Press, President Obama described Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget proposal as a "Trojan Horse" that is using the disguise of a deficit reduction plan, but is actually "an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country." Obama laid out the possible implications of the cuts in the Ryan budget "if the cuts were to be spread out evenly." Soon after, Ryan responded to the speech on his Facebook page suggesting that "the assumption that our budget makes these kinds of indiscriminate cuts is false."
And Fox News has Ryan's back.
On America Live, Fox News chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle, ostensibly part of Fox's "straight news" division, accused President Obama of using "sleight of hand" when describing the potential cuts under the Ryan budget. He went on to say Obama was "assuming across the boards cuts, but the cuts he mentioned are not part of the Ryan budget." Fox's analysis of Obama's speech is almost identical to Paul Ryan's response.
However, as Fox News contributor Sally Kohn pointed out later in the same show, Obama was filling in the blanks in Ryan's budget, which proposes large cuts in certain areas of federal spending but does not specify which programs should be cut.