Producer of an MSM morning news show? Got a few minutes to fill at the end of your first half-hour? Why not resort to a tried-and-true winner: a bit of good old class warfare?
That was the "Today" formula this morning. Matt Lauer introduced the segment, enviously entitled "Share the Wealth?: The Rich Get Richer," fanning the flames of envy and resentment with this opener:
TODAY CO-HOST MATT LAUER: Do you feel like you're working harder and harder nowadays just to stay financially afloat while fat cats get richer and richer? It's not just a feeling, and you're not alone. The story now from from CNBC's Scott Cohn.
View video here.
"Fat cats," Matt? Like morning-show hosts pulling in $13 million a year?
Cut to Cohn, with footage of Richard David Story, editor of the magazine for American Express's "most elite cardmembers," holders of the black Centurion card. Amidst shots of mounds of jewelry and rich people being pampered, Cohn explained that Story "is on a constant quest for the glitziest, the most glamorous, for an audience that just keeps wanting more."
RICHARD DAVID STORY: They're looking for that one perfect bottle of wine. They're looking for that one perfect not hotel room, not suite, that one perfect villa. And they're extremely demanding right now.
COHN: They can afford to be, with a record stock market, and hedge funds creating a new crop of billionaires. But then, there's the rest of us.
After a couple average-folks-in-the-street comments, Cohn resumed his kvetch.
COHN: Not only are the rich getting richer, they're leaving everyone else behind. In fact the last time the rich were this much richer than everyone else . . . was the Great Depression.
Ooh, scary. But what's the relevance? Are most of us in danger of hitting the soup line anytime soon? Cohn then passed along the finding of a study from perhaps America's most liberal university, Berkeley.
COHN: A University of California study shows the top 1% of Americans now make 22% of the nation's income, their biggest piece of the pie since 1929, while middle-class Americans, by and large, are stuck, rising energy prices canceling out any increase in wages.
I couldn't substantiate Cohn's claim. I did find this recent column describing a Berkeley study reporting that the richest 1% garner 17% of the income. In any case, Cohn failed to mention that that same richest 1% also pay . . . 36.9% of federal income taxes, and that the bottom 50% pay 3.3% (earning 13.4%).
Cohn then rolled a clip of Robert Greenstein, Executive Director of the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities [whose funders include George Soros' Open Society Institute and the Barbra Streisand Fund], lamenting: "It makes it harder to achieve the basics of the American dream for the millions of families that get up, work hard, play by the rules every day."
"Work hard and play by the rules"? Wasn't that Bill Clinton's middle-class mantra? Not surprising Greenstein should be parroting it. After all, in 1994 Clinton appointed him to the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform. Of course Cohn didn't bother to identify the Center's liberal orientation. What are the odds "Today" would have on a representative of, say, the Heritage Foundation without tagging it "conservative"?
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