Kiran Chetry's Charlie Gibson moment

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

FAIR's Peter Hart points out this statement by CNN anchor Kiran Chetry this morning: "You also talk about letting taxes expire for families that make over $250,000. Some would argue that in some parts of the country that is middle class."

As Hart noted, households that make more than $250,000 make up only 1.5 percent of the U.S.

In 2008, Newsweek's Daniel Gross explained that even in the wealthiest metropolitan areas, $250,000 is a lot of money:

As census data show, state median incomes vary from $65,933 in New Jersey to $35,971 in Mississippi. But even in wealthy states, $250,000 ain't bad-it's nearly four times the median income in wealthy states like Maryland and Connecticut. And even if you look at the wealthiest metropolitan areas-Washington, D.C. ($83,200); San Francisco ($73,851); Boston ($68,142); and New York ($61,554)-$250,000 a year dwarfs the median income.


[T]he number of places where $250,000 stretches you is small indeed-certain parts of Greenwich, Conn.; several neighborhoods in Manhattan; some of California's coast. Even in the most exclusive communities where the wealthy congregate, $250,000 is still pretty good coin. Consider this: CNNMoney recently ranked America's 25 wealthiest towns. In all of them, someone making $250,000 would have a difficult time buying his dream house. But in all of them, making $250,000 means you're doing better than most of your neighbors. Even in America's richest town, New Canaan, Conn., the median income is $231,138.

In other words, to make Chetry's statement that $250,000 is "middle class" in "some parts of the country" true, you have to define "some parts of the country" as specific neighborhoods -- not regions or states or even metropolitan areas. Neighborhoods.

Chetry's statement recalls Charlie Gibson's embarrassing performance during a 2008 Democratic primary debate, in which he suggested that a family with two public school teachers as makes $200,000 a year. Gibson's statement was so badly out of touch with reality, the audience actually laughed at him.

As I noted at the time:

You have to wonder how media stars like Blitzer and Gibson have lost touch with their viewers so badly that they think $200,000 incomes are typical.

Charlie Gibson reportedly makes $8 million a year and is paid less than his counterparts at CBS and NBC.

Might that have something to do with his lack of perspective? How could it not?

Charlie Gibson would see his taxes go up under the Democrats' plan. So would Wolf Blitzer. And, coincidentally, they suggest that their viewers' taxes would go up, too -- even though for the vast majority of viewers, that isn't true.

Posted In
Economy, Taxes
Charlie Gibson, Kiran Chetry
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.