Fox News cropped and distorted President Obama's remarks on rising income inequality to falsely claim the president supports equal incomes for all Americans.
On The February 15 edition of Fox News' Cashin' In, Fox host Eric Bolling played a clip of President Obama's December 4, 2013, speech on rising income inequality and contrasted it with recent comments made by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Bolling used the contrast to claim that Obama's solution to the problem of inequality was to make all incomes equal, whereas Christie supported equality of opportunity. Later in the segment, Bolling used his distorted depiction of Obama's stance to ask "isn't that what Communism is all about?":
Bolling's characterization of President Obama's comments is wildly distorted. Nowhere in the speech that Fox aired does Obama advocate equal incomes. In fact, in a portion of the speech that Fox did not air, Obama explained that "we don't promise equal outcomes" but have "strived to deliver equal opportunity." The transcript of Obama's speech is below with the small portion Fox chose to air in bold:
They may not follow the constant back-and-forth in Washington or all the policy details, but they experience, in a very personal way, the relentless decades long trend that I want to spend some time talking about today, and that is a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardized middle-class America's basic bargain that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead. I believe this is the defining challenge of our time: making sure our economy works for every working American. That's why I ran for president. It was the center of last year's campaign. It drives everything I do in this office.
Now, the premise that we're all created equal is the opening line in the American story. And while we don't promise equal outcomes, we've strived to deliver equal opportunity -- the idea that success doesn't depend on being born into wealth or privilege, it depends on effort and merit. And with every chapter we've added to that story, we've worked hard to put those words into practice.
That speech is not an outlier. Obama has regularly promoted equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes. In his 2014 State of the Union speech, Obama reiterated this notion:
The point is, there are millions of Americans outside Washington who are tired of stale political arguments, and are moving this country forward. They believe, and I believe, that here in America, our success should depend not on accident of birth, but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams. That's what drew our forebears here. It's how the daughter of a factory worker is CEO of America's largest automaker; how the son of a barkeeper is Speaker of the House; how the son of a single mom can be President of the greatest nation on Earth.
Opportunity is who we are. And the defining project of our generation is to restore that promise.
And at a January 30, 2014, speech at the GE Energy Waukesha Gas Engines Facility, Obama explained that the proposals he advanced in the State of the Union were based on the principle of "giving opportunity to everybody" and building "ladders of opportunity into the middle class":
Because the truth is -- and you know this in your own lives, and you see it in your neighborhoods among your friends and family -- even though the economy has been growing for four years, even though corporate profits have been doing very well, stock prices have soared, most folks' wages haven't gone up in over a decade. The middle class has been taking it on the chin even before the financial crisis -- too many Americans working harder than ever just to get by, let alone get ahead. And then, there are too many Americans who still are out of work here in Wisconsin and around the country. So we've got to reverse those trends if we're going to be serious about giving opportunity to everybody.
And that's why, on Tuesday, I laid out some new steps that we can take right now to speed up economic growth and strengthen the middle class, and build ladders of opportunity into the middle class.