NBC’s Nightly News Tuesday did itself a disservice by spreading “facts” about pay inequality that have been debunked for years. Anchor Lester Holt opened the program by trotting out the tired old “Women make seventy-nine cents for every dollar a man makes” line before delving into the report, which relies on celebrities and disenfranchised civilians repeating faulty statistics as “proof” that the wage gap is a legitimate and serious issue.
Holt led into correspondent Andrea Mitchell’s report by heralding the “major unveiling” as President Obama dedicated a new national monument to “a battle generations have fought for women’s equality.” Holt claimed, “On average, women in the U.S. make 21% less than men,” before handing the report off to Andrea Mitchell.
Mitchell opened by interviewing a woman who worked in the education field, coming to, as Mitchell put it, “the stunning realization” that she made $12,000 less than her male colleague. Mitchell repeated the erroneous statistic that women make $0.79 for every dollar a man makes before playing clips of the U.S. women’s soccer team and actress Patricia Arquette advocating for “equal pay.”
NBC then played a clip from a MSNBC segment earlier today of Mitchell talking to Arquette, who urged, “Concrete changes have to be made. Women can’t wait any longer.”
While NBC irresponsibly spread a message of activism rather than actual journalism, on Fox News Channel’s Special Report with Brett Baier, a much more fact-based approach to “equal pay day” was underway.
Guest Sabrina Schaeffer from the Independent Women’s Forum blasted President Obama for repeating those debunked statistics stating, “Saying it over and over again simply does not make it true.”
Host Shannon Bream brought up that various media outlets have debunked these statistics as false or misconstrued, yet the President and other media (like NBC) keep repeating it, wishing it was. Bream explains:
BREAM: The Washington Post's fact checker called similar statements by the President misleading and gave them a two Pinocchio rating, meaning “significant omissions and/or exaggerations.” The conflict comes when raw wage data from the Labor Department is lumped together and averaged without taking into account actual hours worked. Significant absences from the work force and that men overwhelmingly select the more dangerous fields which come with bigger paychecks. Statistics also show that nine of the ten most profitable are dominated by men while nine of the ten least profitable are dominated by women.
Schaeffer added in that it’s not just conservatives saying this.
SCHAEFFER: There are plenty of groups on the left as well who have double research and they have — you know, it’s their research has shown the same thing that when you control for any number of these variables, you have a much smaller wage gap.
Telemundo's Maria Celeste Arraras also devoted 38 seconds to equal pay day, regurgitating the same statistics, which claim women make $11,000 less than the average salary for a man.