How Fox News Dismisses The Gender Pay Gap

To celebrate Equal Pay Day, Media Matters looks back at how Fox News has denied, downplayed, and justified the gender pay gap. From blaming women’s emotions to calling women “less ambitious” and suggesting they should be “better negotiators,” Fox personalities have blamed women and ignored facts in reporting on pay inequality.

Studies Find Clear Evidence Of Gender Pay Gap Even After Controlling For Other Factors

American Association of University Women Study Shows The Gender Pay Gap Is RealAnd “Does Not Appear Likely To Go Away On Its Own. According to a recent report from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), “in 2014, women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 79 percent of what men were paid.” The AAUW found that “The gap has narrowed since the 1970s,” but that “progress has stalled in recent years, and the pay gap does not appear likely to go away on its own.” According to the report, while the wage gap does reflect personal choices to an extent, “not all of the gap can be ‘explained away’”:

Yet not all of the gap can be “explained away.” After accounting for college major, occupation, economic sector, hours worked, months unemployed since graduation, GPA, type of undergraduate institution, institution selectivity, age, geographical region, and marital status, Graduating to a Pay Gap found that a 7 percent difference in the earnings of male and female college graduates one year after graduation was still unexplained.

Similarly, Behind the Pay Gap found a 12 percent unexplained difference in earnings among full-time workers 10 years after college graduation. Other researchers have also found that the gender pay gap is not fully accounted for by women’s and men’s choices. [American Association of University Women, Spring 2016]

Institute For Women’s Policy Research: Over 50 Years After Wage Discrimination Was Made Illegal, “A Gender Earnings Gap Remains.” An April report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) found that “women’s median earnings are lower than men’s in nearly all occupations.” According to IWPR, not only are women’s median earnings lower than men’s “in almost all occupations for which a gender wage gap can be calculated,” but also that “Female-dominated occupations tend to have lower median earnings than male-dominated occupations”:

More than fifty years after the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made compensation discrimination illegal, a gender earnings gap remains. Our analysis shows that women’s median earnings are lower than men’s in 18 of the 20 most common occupations for women, all of the most common occupations for men, and, indeed, in almost all occupations for which a gender wage gap can be calculated. Female-dominated occupations tend to have lower median earnings than male-dominated occupations, which has a particularly pernicious impact on the women who work in the lowest paid female occupations, including ‘cashiers,’ ‘maids and household cleaners,’ ‘waiters and waitresses,’ and ‘personal care aides,’ where even full-time work may leave them below the federal poverty threshold. Such poverty-level wages are particularly common for Hispanic women. [Institute for Women’s Policy Research, April 2016]

Fox Has Continually Dismissed Concerns About The Gender Pay Gap

On The Kelly File, The Blaze's Dana Loesch Says The Gender Pay Gap Is “An Absolute Myth.” On the January 13 edition of Fox News’ The Kelly File, The Blaze host Dana Loesch claimed that pay inequality “is an absolute myth” and attributed the gap “to women’s choices”:

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN: But, no, the issue that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was pointing out was the issue of diversity, and that's defined by the policies you advocate, Megyn. And as long as the Republicans keep advocating policies against pay equity for women and keep advocating to deport undocumented workers --

DANA LOESCH: That’s a myth. That is a lie.

MEGYN KELLY (HOST): Go ahead, Dana

LOESCH: That is an absolute myth, the whole pay inequality thing. That goes down to women's choices. Don't sit here and say that you're empowering women by giving them the choice to go out and do whatever they want as a profession and then when they don't choose according to your patriarchal will, Robert, then penalize them for making less on the dollar. That’s crap.

ZIMMERMAN: Dana, no matter how you want to spin it, the Republican Party --

LOESCH: No, that's the truth. You sound like Bernie Sanders. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 1/13/16]

Hannity Guest Gavin McInnes: Women “Choose To” Earn Less Than Men Because “They're Less Ambitious.” On the May 14, edition of Fox News’ Hannity, guest Gavin McInnes argued that “women do earn less in America because they choose to.” McInnes added that women are “less ambitious,” which “is nature’s way of saying women should be at home with the kids”:

GAVIN MCINNES: Look, there's different ways to look at the data, but the big picture here is women do earn less in America because they choose to. They would rather go to their daughter's piano recital than stay all night at work, working on a, you know, proposal.


MCINNES: So they end up earning less. They're less ambitious. And I think this is sort of God's way, this is nature's way of saying women should be at home with the kids. They're happier there.


MCINNES: If we’re talking about 50 percent of the population, generally, out of this 250 million people -- or 150 million people, most women are happier at home. They are pretending that they like working, and they’re not making money because they don’t stay all night at the office, they don’t go the extra mile, they don’t work all weekend.

HOLDER: Why am I sitting here? I’m sitting here.

MCINNES: You’re making a mistake. You would be much happier at home with a husband and children. [Fox News, Hannity, 5/14/15]

Fox's Bill O'Reilly Dismisses The “Invalid Comparisons" Between Gender Pay Because Statistics Don't Include “The Emotional Difference Between Men And Women.” On the September 26, 2014, edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly dismissed the gender wage gap, saying, “To me that’s not a major issue. I do not believe there’s a war on women.” O’Reilly attributed the gap to “the emotional differences between men and women” because many women don’t work or work part-time. O’Reilly added that “an old-boy network makes it tougher for the ladies to gain establishment power,” which “does not seem to be fair, but life is not fair”:

BILL O’REILLY (HOST): So let’s look at the facts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average women make 81 percent of what men make in the private marketplace. However, American women are better educated than men. About 58 percent have college degrees as opposed to 43 percent for men. But what the stats cannot define is the emotional difference between men and women. Right now there are approximately 5 million stay-at-home moms raising their kids full-time. But millions of other American women work part-time, devoting most of their efforts to looking out for their kids. That’s a huge factor in the economic comparisons of men and women, enormous, but it is often underplayed. So the First Lady should well understand the invalid comparisons that are being made in the gender economic discussion. It is true that only 15 percent of women hold top executive positions in the Fortune 500 companies. And it is also true that an old-boy network makes it tougher for the ladies to gain establishment power. That does not seem to be fair, but life is not fair. I, your humble correspondent, have been scorned by the establishment during my career. Most corporate workers have. Especially if they think independently, if they’re not lackeys.

No government – hear me on this -- no government will be able to impose so-called fairness. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party will try to convince voters that the fix is in against American women. That theme will be front and center in the upcoming presidential campaign. But to me that’s not a major issue. I do not believe there is a war on women. I do not believe our capitalistic system is holding the ladies back. I believe some stupid men are. But that’s something individual companies have to deal with. Finally, we've all seen what has happened in the past six years, that President Obama has tried and tried and tried to impose social justice in America. The progressive vision of enforced equality leads to gross injustice and economic stagnation. Many companies now fear women. They are afraid of lawsuits, controversy, negative branding, and believe me, that’s a big reason some women are held back, children being the other big reason. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 9/26/14]

Fox’s John Stossel: Concerns About The Gender Pay Gap Are “Childishly Stupid.” On the March 12, 2015, edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Fox Business host John Stossel denied the existence of the gender pay gap and called concerns about the disparity “childishly stupid”:

ELISABETH HASSELBECK (HOST): You say instead of looking at fairness, look at justice.

JOHN STOSSEL: Right, justice means equal treatment under the law. And that's what we ought to be talking about. I mean this women-men pay inequality stuff is so childishly stupid. If it were true, then all the non-sexist companies would hire women and get rich because you women are underpaid. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/12/15]

Fox's Bolling Explains Gender Pay Gap: “Men Take More Risks.” On the February 23, 2015, edition of Fox News’ The Five, Fox Business’ Melissa Francis attributed the gender pay gap to women making “a more emotional decision about what they want to do in their life,” while host Eric Bolling explained the gap by saying men “take more risks in business”:

MELISSA FRANCIS (CO-HOST): So, the wage equality debate, like so many of these debates, drives me bananas because people get emotional, and they stand up, and they wring their hands, but they don’t want to bother to do the math because that’s too much trouble and oftentimes it doesn’t match your preconceived notions of what you want to talk about. When you look at the stats about wage inequality, it’s never talking apples to apples. You’re never looking at two employees, a man and a woman who have the same experience, they have the same degree, because it’s almost impossible. No two people are alike. One thing that does stick out in the most recent studies: women disproportionately obtain degrees that lead to lower-paying jobs. I was talking to a woman recently who was upset about the salary she was being offered as a teacher after she went all the way through school, got a graduate degree, to teach school. And I said, “What did they tell you when you were studying that the salary was going to be?” She didn’t look. You know, that wasn’t a factor when she was deciding what to do. For the wrong reasons, or maybe the right reasons, men look at salary first, I think, when they are deciding what they want to do. Women don’t consider that. A lot of times they make a more emotional decision about what they want to do in their life. I have sons. If I had daughters, I would tell them, “think about what this job is going to pay you and what it’s going to cost you to get the degree.”


ERIC BOLLING (CO-HOST): So your monologue correctly points out that women live, on average, almost five years longer than men, and there's a reason for that. Men take more risks. They take more risks in life, and, therefore, they die sooner -- smoking, drinking, whatever. But they also take more risks in business, right? They start businesses at a higher frequency than women, and that would account for some of it. So, there was a study. Melissa points out someone should do a study. Turns out, there is a study. The American Association of University Women -- they controlled for everything. They controlled for age, they controlled for what was your major, what was your occupation afterwards, and one year out, the wage gap -- there was still a gap -- but it was only seven percent. It wasn’t 22 or 23 cents on the dollar. It was seven cents on the dollar. So, it’s very close. It’s a lot closer than they would have you believe, and it’s shrinking, so things are getting better. [Fox News, The Five, 2/25/15]

Fox's Stacey Dash: The Equal Pay Act Of 1963 Means There Is No Gender Pay Gap. On the February 23, 2015, edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Fox contributor Stacey Dash denied the existence of the gender pay gap because “In 1963, Kennedy passed an equal pay law. It’s still in effect. I didn’t get the memo that I didn’t have any rights.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/23/15]

Fox's Dash Tells Women In Hollywood Experiencing Gender Pay Gap: “Be A Better Negotiator.” On the November 10 edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered, Stacey Dash said women in Hollywood should figure out their “value” before demanding equal pay, encouraging them to be “better negotiator[s]”:

STACEY DASH: There needs to be a demand for more aspirational leading female roles. This being said, there also needs to be an understanding of the difference between worth and value. You know, if you become valuable, if you know what your value is, then you're worth more. So that's what you have to figure out.

MELISSA FRANCIS: So you have to demand more, is basically what you're saying?

DASH: Be a better negotiator. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 11/10/15]

Fox Guest: “I Really Don't Think The Wage Gap Is Something That Jennifer Lawrence Can Be Blaming Here.” On the October 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, after actress Jennifer Lawrence wrote an essay highlighting the gender pay gap in Hollywood, Fox guest Ashley Pratte mocked celebrities who speak out against the gender pay gap and said she didn't “think the wage gap is something that Jennifer Lawrence can be blaming” for earning less than her male co-stars. Pratte later claimed pay discrepancies between men and women can be attributed to women's “personal choice[s]” about motherhood:

ASHLEY PRATTE: I would almost say oh the irony, another Hollywood actress coming out and saying something about her wage when you know they act like “champions” for the equal pay movement, which is what we saw at the Oscars, when Patricia Arquette got up there and then you saw Meryl Streep clapping uncontrollably. And this is just something that doesn't resonate with middle America and the women that are out there in the workforce. Studies actually show that young women, yes,while negotiating is difficult for women, for the most part, women are educated and when you look at young women coming out of college who are actually outperforming our male counterparts in a lot of large cities all across this country. So I really don't think the wage gap is something that Jennifer Lawrence can be blaming here and calling it discrimination. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/15/15]

Fox’s Hegseth Attributes Actors Speaking Out About The Gender Pay Gap To “Political Correctness.” On the October 19 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Pete Hegseth attributed comments by actors Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper calling out the gender pay gap in Hollywood to “political correctness.” Fox contributor Meghan McCain added that while she was “all for women getting equal pay ... I also think women have to fight for what we want”:

PETE HEGSETH (CO-HOST): Speaking of political correctness, actor Bradley Cooper is teaming up now with female actresses, saying that they're not being paid the equivalent what he's being paid specifically, and actress Jennifer Lawrence, who made $52 million last year. What's your take on pay inequality?

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): And he'll give some of his pay for her.

MEGHAN MCCAIN: I'm all for women getting equal pay for men obviously, but I also think women, we have to fight for what we want. You have to fight for what you think your value is and not all of us are going to have a Bradley Cooper here to bail us out and you know, come in and get paid as much as I'm going to get paid. So I think this is sort of like Hollywood fantasyland -- which is fantastic for Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. But for the average American woman who is just working a normal job you have to go in to your employers and fight for what you think your worth is, for better or for worse. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/19/15]

Fox's Francis Credits The Gender Wage Gap With Helping Women Keep Their Jobs. On the April 9, 2014, edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, Fox Business host Melissa Francis argued that women fared better than men during the recession because “she makes a little less, so she was able to keep her job”:

MELISSA FRANCIS: I would also point out that men lost jobs at two and a half times the rate as women in this last recession. I know plenty of families where the man is now out of work and the woman is the one who's working full time. Probably because she makes a little less, so she was able to keep her job. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 4/9/14]