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:
- January 3, 2012: Rush Limbaugh Characterized Income Inequality As A “Myth.” Rush Limbaugh claimed on his radio program that there are “so many myths” about income inequality, including that “the income gap getting wider - it isn't.”
- February 8, 2012: Fox News Host Eric Bolling Denied That Income Inequality Exists In The U.S. During a discussion of income inequality on The Five, co-host Bob Beckel stated “there has been a bigger number - a larger number of people who believe that there's income inequality in this country,” to which Bolling responded, “Well, whatever. There is - not in this country, Bob.”
- April 26, 2012: Wall Street Journal Op-Ed Claimed That “Women Earn Less Because They Work Fewer Hours.” A Wall Street Journal op-ed claimed that gender wage inequality is “to a considerable degree a gender-hours gap,” despite research that still found pay inequality between men and women working full-time.
- April 30, 2012: Fox News Host Dana Perino Suggested The Paycheck Fairness Act Could “Actually Hurt Women.” On Fox & Friends, Dana Perino called the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation aimed at addressing the wage inequality between men and women, a “distraction” and claimed “there is an argument that it could actually hurt women.”
- May 14, 2012: Fox News Host Bill O'Reilly Said “Income Inequality Is Bull.” During a discussion of income inequality on The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly claimed that “income inequality is bull. Nobody gives you anything, you earn it.”
- May 25, 2012: Regular Fox News Guest Kate Obenshain Attacked The Paycheck Fairness Act As “A Real Joke.” Fox's Eric Bolling and conservative commentator Kate Obenshain attacked the Paycheck Fairness Act during Your World with Neil Cavuto, with Obenshain calling the legislation “a real joke.”
- September 26, 2012: Fox Chief National Correspondent Claimed That Women Earning Less Than Men Is Not A “National Problem.” Discussing President Obama's “Equal Pay for Equal Work” campaign on Happening Now, Fox News chief national correspondent Jim Angle denied that wage inequality existed, calling the wage gap “not true,” claiming that women work less hours than men and that it's the “result of personal choices.” Angle even went so far as to say that though “there may be some discrimination somewhere, it is not the national problem President Obama says he's fixing.”
- October 17, 2012: Fox News Reporter Called Gender Wage Inequality “A Myth That Has Endured For Years.” On Happening Now, Fox News reporter Doug McKelway used a gender wage gap question from the second presidential debate to claim that women earning 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn is “a myth that has endured for years.”
- March 16, 2013: Kansas City Star Columnist E. Thomas McClanahan Dismissed The Gender Wage Gap As “Grossly Misleading.” In his column for the Kansas City Star, McClanahan called Equal Pay Day an exaggeration of workplace discrimination and dismissed the percentage of what women earn compared to their male counterparts as “grossly misleading.”