A great deal of Fox News' on-air resources are devoted to insulating the wealthy from the ignominy of criticism. Watch a few hours of Fox and you'll see reports on how the rich -- or "so-called rich," per the hilarious network parlance -- are an incorruptible force for good who suffer mightily under the onerous burden of the lowest tax rates since Reagan.
The real villains in Fox News' economic calculus are the poor. In the Murdoch network's view, the economically disadvantaged lack shame and "the richness of spirit." They're "ruining the economy" with their "entitlement mindset" and "laziness," and have no reason to complain given that they own microwaves. This morning the networked teased John Stossel's appearance on The O'Reilly Factor tonight, during which the mustachioed glibertarian prop comic will explain how the American poor are "living the good life."
But more than anything else, Fox News complains that the poor just don't pay enough in taxes. "Forty-six percent of Americans pay no taxes at all," is a common, inaccurate refrain from Fox hosts. According to chief poor-bashing correspondent Stuart Varney, the impoverished can take advantage of the earned income tax credit just like drug dealers.
While Fox focuses on the poor, more and more of America's wealthiest are sloughing off what tax burden they have. A new report from the IRS found that in 2009, over 20,000 U.S. households earning over $200,000 annually paid no income taxes in the U.S., and over 10,000 households "showed no worldwide income tax liability." Those 20,000 households represent 0.53 percent of all top earners, an increase from 0.51 percent in 2008, and "more than double the percentages of any other year in the study's history." That speaks to a dysfunctional tax system. Forget all the talk about "fair share" -- these people are paying nothing in income taxes.
This doesn't mesh with the Fox News motif of the mooching poor who duck out on taxes so they can buy hi-falutin' kitchen appliances, so we shouldn't expect too much coverage of the IRS's findings. One could easily envision Fox's talking heads praising top-earners for ducking out of their tax liability. After all, the harshest criticism Neil Cavuto could marshal against Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, who renounced his citizenship to avoid taxation, was that he seemed "a little selfish."