Fox News downplayed the connection between income inequality and poverty in an attempt to dismiss government efforts to reduce the growing problem.
On the January 14 edition of Fox News' Special Report, correspondent Doug McKelway dismissed concern over the nation's rising income inequality as a simple issue of “class resentment.” He attributed the problem of inequality to capitalism's system of rewards and punishments, because “some people are better, smarter, harder-working, or luckier than others,” later adding, “numerous studies show the greatest predictor of poverty is not income inequality.”
Contrary to McKelway's claims, economists conclude that income inequality is indeed a major driving force behind poverty in the United States.
In fact, on The New York Times' Economix blog, economist Jared Bernstein, former economic adviser to Vice President Biden, wrote that “inequality is the most important” determinant of poverty in the past several decades. Bernstein cited an Economic Policy Institute analysis, showing the effect of different factors on the poverty rate:
And according to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities study (where Bernstein is a senior fellow), growing income inequality, among other factors, kept the poverty rate from declining more than it has.
This blatant dismissal of the relationship between income inequality and poverty is standard for Fox News. The channel has continually refused to see income inequality as a problem, and has built a reputation for demonizing the poor, claiming that efforts to reduce inequality will damage economic growth.