Breitbart.com and National Review Online (NRO) are using today's Equal Pay Day holiday to misinform about gender wage inequality. Right-wing media have routinely downplayed and obscured legitimate concerns about wage inequality.
Equal Pay Day was created by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men's and women's wages. According to a White House proclamation released on Equal Pay Day in 2012, "National Equal Pay Day represents the date in the current year through which women must work to match what men earned in the previous year, reminding us that we must keep striving for an America where everyone gets an equal day's pay for an equal day's work."
Breitbart.com and NRO both posted a video today that claims the gender wage gap is a myth, positing that the gap fails to account for women's choices, which are primarily responsible for any discrepancies in salary. The video comes from the conservative Independent Women's Forum, a group The New York Times described as "a right-wing public policy group that provides pseudofeminist support for extreme positions that are in fact dangerous to women."
Although the wage gap has decreased since the 1963 passage of the Equal Pay Act, women's earnings remain far below that of men. A report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found that "in 2011, women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 77 percent of what men were paid, a gap of 23 percent." According to the National Women's Law Center, the wage gap for minority women is even worse: African-American and Hispanic women make 64 and 55 cents for every dollar their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts earn. The claim that personal choice is responsible for the gender wage gap has also been debunked, mostly recently in the AAUW's 2013 Gender Pay Gap Report.
Breitbart.com and NRO's misleading claims about gender wage inequality follow a long trend of right-wing media's misinformation on equal pay. Here are just a few examples since 2012:
Fox News' The Five claimed that the U.S. has the lowest gun-related murder rate in the world and that public opinion is turning against President Obama on gun control, ignoring that the U.S. has a higher gun homicide rate than other developed nations, and that a vast majority of Americans favor expanded background checks on gun purchases.
From the April 2 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Conservative media are again using a European financial crisis to stoke fears about the U.S. economy.
According to many right-wing media figures, the Cypriot government's plan to tax private bank accounts to avert a fiscal disaster provides a dire warning for the U.S. Many have speculated or outright claimed that the same could happen here unless the so-called "debt crisis" is averted
Of course, fears of heavy taxation on private bank accounts occurring in the U.S. are largely unfounded, with many experts noting the comparison between the two countries is ill-conceived. But the facts rarely matter for right-wing media when it comes to exploiting a European crisis.
Fox News spent an entire week hyping a supposed "War on Easter," pointing to the decision made by a few school boards to hold "Spring egg hunt[s]" instead of Easter egg hunts. In seven days, Fox devoted 10 segments to what host Bill O'Reilly called the continued "war on Judeo-Christian tradition."
On March 21, O'Reilly lambasted President Obama and the White House for empowering "secular progressives" to pressure school districts around the country to eliminate terms like "Easter bunny" and "Easter egg." O'Reilly complained that "the war on Judeo-Christian tradition continues in some public school districts," citing districts in five states that he said "are having Spring egg events. Moderated by a Spring bunny":
O'REILLY: I know it's stupid. You know it's stupid. But it's happening, and there is a reason why it's happening. Secular progressives are running wild with President Obama in the White House. They feel unchained, liberated and they are trying to diminish any form of religion. The goal is to marginalize religious opposition to secular programs.
In the past week, several Fox shows followed O'Reilly's lead, airing segments that criticized the "P.C. police" and focused on "assaults" that have put Christianity "on the run in this country":
From the March 19 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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From the March 12 edition of Fox News' The Five:
ERIC BOLLING: Check this story out. A town in Georgia has proposed a new law requiring every head of a household to possess a firearm. The town is Nelson, Georgia, population 1,000. They have only one police officer, and that guy works one eight-hour shift. So I'm on board with this.
GREG GUTFELD: Mandatory gun ownership? The next thing you know we have mandatory health care. Weird. And why is this so radical? At least the town is doing this legally, unlike Detroit and Chicago, where you have mandatory gun ownership -- it's called gang membership. Look, if an outlaw is going through the country and looking for a town to hit, he's going to drive right past this one and he'll find a gun-free zone. It's just like we talked about the theater shooter. He found a place where there were no guns.
BOLLING: Dana, 90 percent of the town agrees with this. By the way, it isn't a law yet, it has to go through the city council. It's proposed right now. I believe there will be a vote April 1st. Ninety percent of the town agrees with it and the one police officer agrees with it, too.
DANA PERINO: Yeah, so I'm for local control and for Washington to mind its own business. The local control that was tried here in New York City yesterday was about soda drinking. I think that this one -- if this town feels that this is what they need to do to protect themselves, I'm for it. Plus, if it's mandatory, people will be trained, they'll have the background checks. and all the laws will be covered.
BOLLING: And Bob, If you don't like it, if you object, if you have a conscientious objection to it, you don't have to have the gun. It sounds like a good idea.
BOB BECKEL: It sounds to me like one of the worst ideas I've heard. I mean, the idea that you're going to mandatory -- it's mandatory if you don't object and you don't have a religious problem with it or you're not -- whatever. That you have to buy a gun when you may not like guns --
BOLLING: Well, you can object --
GUTFELD: Replace that with health care, Bob.
BECKEL: Let's not talk health care. The idea -- why don't we next make it mandatory for over the have a bazooka on their roof. I mean --
GUTFELD: Or health care.
BECKEL: You know who's behind this? This is an NRA-sponsored deal. They've done this before. Georgia seems to be --
BOLLING: This has nothing to do with NRA.
GUTFELD: Replace NRA with AARP, and you have health care.
ANDREA TANTAROS: As much as I love they're doing this and I understand that the next town over has the same law on the books -- so I love the law in theory. I actually don't like being mandated to do anything. And so, that's like someone saying, OK, we mandate you to exercise your First Amendment all the time, and to exercise it you must say, 'I love Obama.'" And what if you live in a town with 90 percent of the people -- or maybe New York -- believe that way? So I try to put the shoe on other foot.
PERINO: That was all those Philadelphia counties -- Pennsylvania counties.
BOLLING: A hundred percent, right? A hundred and one percent, actually.
BECKEL: Why don't you just make it nationwide? Why doesn't everybody make it mandatory --
BOLLING: It'd be a safer country.
BOLLING: By the way, If you're a criminal, Bob -- honestly you're driving down the road, looking to rob, stick up a house -- are you going to go to the town where you know every house, every door you knock on or break into has a gun behind it? You're going to go to the next town where --
BECKEL: I don't think, first of all, they're going to stop and read The New York Times and figure out who's got a town like that.
GUTFELD: You know, the police exist primarily to respond to crime, not to prevent it. It's up to you to prevent it.
Following news that the economy had contracted slightly at the end of 2012, Fox News figures claimed both that government spending had not decreased, and that it had decreased because of President Obama's desire to cut military spending. Both are false -- the contraction in GDP came from a dramatic decrease in government spending, largely due to normal cycles in defense spending and the end of two wars.
Fox's The Five covered a report by the Bureau of Economic Analysis which found that the economy contracted by 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. Co-hosts Dana Perino and Eric Bolling attempted to blame Obama for the decline in defense spending that contributed to the decrease in GDP, claiming that "the defense cut was actually the White House's idea in the first place" and was "part of sequestration, which started in the White House." Co-host Andrea Tantaros later claimed "Spending actually didn't go down in the fourth quarter. It actually increased in the fourth quarter":
But all three are wrong. Despite Tantaros' claim that government spending increased in the fourth quarter of 2012, the BEA report clearly indicates that it decreased dramatically, a factor that strongly contributed to the contraction in the economy:
Fox News hosts echoed Rush Limbaugh's accusation that President Obama will use children as "human shields" at a White House event on stronger gun laws. However, President Bush also had children in attendance during bill signings and announcements.
Limbaugh and Fox News attacked Obama over the announcement that the president will propose measures to reduce gun violence on Wednesday at the White House. The administration invited children to the event who had written Obama about their safety concerns following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
On the Tuesday edition of The Five, the co-hosts aired Limbaugh's "human shields" accusation, then voiced their own disgust. Co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle said the children were being used as "political pawns," while Eric Bolling said the event was in "bad taste" and "offensive."
But as co-hosts Dana Perino and Bob Beckel noted, this is not in any way an unprecedented event. In fact, Perino's former boss, President George W. Bush, had children attend the signing of the No Child Left Behind law in 2002:
In addition, Bush invited the families of so-called "snowflake" babies to the White House when he vetoed federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.
Echoing their analysis from 2011, conservative media outlets have advised Republicans against raising the debt ceiling. The commitment to this narrative shows that the economic realities of the past debt ceiling debacle are being completely ignored by the right-wing media.
Fox News has repeatedly hidden the danger of keeping guns in homes behind a handful of anecdotes about home owners who frightened off criminals with their own firearms. Research actually shows that guns kept in homes are far more likely to kill or injure those living there than deter crime.
On Monday's edition of America Live, host Megyn Kelly juxtaposed reports that the White House may push for laws to prevent gun violence with a story about a homeowner near Atlanta who successfully repelled a burglar with her gun. Kelly said that the home invasion "could have ended tragically for a family, but for the fact that the mother had a .38 revolver and knew how to use it."
As correspondent Mike Emanuel gave a report on the White House's interest in gun-violence legislation, text aired on-screen that read: "Mom's Shooting of Intruder Puts New Twist On Gun Control Debate."
On the December 5 edition of The Five, the co-hosts recited two stories of homeowners who had repelled invading criminals with firearms in the first five minutes of the show. Co-host Andrea Tantaros concluded that "burglars are less apt to break in if they think they might have their brains blown out."
Yet Fox's emphasis on these reports hides the fact that such successful self-defense stories are extremely rare. In a 2011 report summarizing scientific literature about the health risks and benefits of having a gun in the home, David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, found that one study in Atlanta determined victims of break-ins used firearms in self-defense 1.5 percent of the time. Hemenway cited a second study that found guns were used in self-defense by victims of sexual assault in fewer than 0.1 percent of incidents. He concluded that "genuine self-defense gun use is rare" and that "the evidence does not indicate that having a gun reduces the risk of being a victim of a crime or that having a gun reduces the risk of injury during the commission of a crime."
While discussing the recent murder of Kasandra Perkins at the hands of her boyfriend, NFL player Jovan Belcher, Fox News host Dana Perino claimed women who are "victims of violence" need to "make better decisions." Perino's comment is just the latest in a long line of Fox figures placing blame on female victims of crime or alleged crimes.
From the December 5 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Fox invented a contradiction between two of President Obama's previous statements and his current push to let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire. In reality, Obama's prior comments are perfectly consistent with his current position.
Fox's Steve Doocy pointed to a statement Obama made in 2009 when the country was still in a recession to create a contradiction between Obama's past and present statements on letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire. Doocy claimed the president said back in 2009, "you never raise taxes during a recession," but that he's now saying: "This is the perfect time to raise taxes."
In August 2009, Obama said that "normally you don't raise taxes in a recession, which is why we haven't." President Obama added: "We have not proposed a tax hike for the wealthy that would take effect in the middle of a recession."
At the time the president made that statement, the country was just at the end of a recession. The National Bureau of Economic Research (the organization that semi-officially declares when the United States is in a recession) announced that the recession officially ended in June 2009, but it did not make that announcement until September 2010.
Later in the same segment, Fox's Dana Perino pointed to a different Obama statement as "slightly more important." Perino said that in December 2010 -- i.e., after it was clear that the country was in recovery -- Obama said "the worst thing you can do is raise taxes in the middle of a slow economic growth and high unemployment. Let's extend these tax cuts for another two years."
But Perino completely misrepresented Obama's 2010 comments.
From the November 7 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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