The lure of class warfare has now seduced even the Fox News Channel. The network, often derided by liberal critics as overly conservative, featured a segment on the May 2 edition of Fox & Friends about the "outrageous" perks that CEOs receive. Co-host E.D. Hill cynically teased the piece by asking, "You know, if you go to work, you get your paycheck, but don't you wish you got a plane too?" She then continued:
Hill: "Or maybe a car or a boat or a country club membership or those sort of things? Well, you will be blown away to find out what perks some executives get."
FNC anchor Brian Kilmeade continued the theme of class envy by noting that some people are "upset about Exxon because they're making way too much money."
The segment, which aired at 7:52AM EDT, featured an interview with John Challenger, the CEO of an outplacement consulting firm. Co-host Steve Doocy reiterated the talking points about these terrible executives:
Doocy: "Unlimited use of corporate jets, extravagant cars, summer homes, personal nannies, and assistants. Those are just some of the outrageous perks given to CEOs at some major corporations, and their shareholders are apparently okay with that."
The segment did feature one outright inaccuracy. Doocy read the following off of his list of outrages:
Doocy: "Yeah, in fact, last year, the company called Aaron Rents, their president of sales, William Butler Jr., apparently the company paid $983,000 this year for driving instructions for his two sons. How bad a driver are those kids for $983,000 worth of drivers instructions?"
Well, no. Butler's two children were given a "driver development program" by race car star Michael Waltrip. But your typical drivers ed, it was not. The real story can be found here:
"The company gets excellent marketing mileage out of the deal, says Aaron Rents finance chief Gilbert Danielson. Local media outlets cover events at stores featuring the Butler brothers before they race in the United Speed Alliance Racing's Hooters Pro Cup Series. At races, the company has signage, an inflatable storefront and display tents. The driving lessons are part of an overall sports marketing program that will cost the company more than $7.5 million this year."
At one point, Kilmeade did try and make the argument that those who produce substantial returns for a company deserve to be richly compensated:
Kilmeade: "But if you make a zillion dollars for a company, in turn they want to show their appreciation, and their shareholders, and in turn they want to show their appreciation by giving you stuff like this. Isn't that just part of the, being the upper class and the extraordinarily successful in America?"
Mr. Challenger replied that "...the question really is, when does it go too far?" He didn't say, in a free market system, who would determine what the definition of "too far" is. And none of the Fox & Friends crew thought to ask. They also allowed him to get away with open appeals to jealousy and envy:
Challenger : "There was one executive from a, a semi-conductor company that got a Porsche Cayenne SUV that was costing over $60,000 a year as part of his package to leave. I mean, he could have gotten any kind of car, but he got a pretty good one."
Steve Doocy seemed to be convinced. He ended the segment by earnestly asking, "Uh, is there anything we can do? No, right?" The answer may be as popular as saying there's nothing the government can do about the gas prices, but, no, Steve, there's nothing that a free society can or should do\001about it.