Fox Accuses Obama Of Pay Discrimination To Defend Romney's Evasion Of The Issue

Fox's Greg Gutfeld defended Mitt Romney's debate remarks about pay equity by suggesting that President Obama discriminates against women in the White House by paying them less than men. In fact, an analysis of White House pay showed that the gender pay gap in the White House is smaller than in the overall economy.

Moreover, as The American Prospect's Paul Waldman has noted, what that analysis indicated is that “men, on average, are occupying higher-paying jobs in the White House ... not that women are being paid less for doing the same job -- the kind of discrimination the Ledbetter act was designed to combat.”

During the October 16 presidential debate, Romney addressed a question about how to fix workplace inequality by explaining how he “took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.” Romney added: “I went to a number of women's groups and said, can you help us find folks? And I brought us whole binders full of -- of women.”

On Fox, Gutfeld defended Romney by contrasting Obama's treatment of women working in the White House with Romney's record of hiring women for cabinet positions as Massachusetts governor, claiming that what Romney “was saying is that he has a great record of hiring women. He hires lots of women.”

By contrast, Gutfeld continued, the White House “pays their women roughly what, 17, 18 percent less than the men who work in the White House. The difference is about $10,000.”

But as the Atlantic pointed out, the question wasn't centered on hiring practices; it dealt specifically with how “to rectify the inequalities in the workplace ... regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn” -- a fact Gutfeld ignored in his false comparison.

The gender pay gap, a long-term economic problem, is actually smaller at the White House than in the overall economy. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, in the second quarter of 2012, women earned about 80 percent of men's earnings in the overall economy. In the White House, the ratio is 85 percent, according to the analysis.

Moreover, Obama championed and signed into law the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which provides women more legal room to file pay discrimination claims against employers. By contrast, Romney reportedly did not support the law and would not have signed it as president, said a top adviser.

This post has been updated for clarity.