Media Give One-Sided Coverage on Wage Gap Study, Include No Critics

For years, the liberal media have promoted erroneous claims that women are paid far less than men for the same jobs. So it was only natural, that many outlets would seize on the claims of a new study called “Women Can’t Win.”

That Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce (CEW) report alleged that “some of the patriarchy of the job market is being wiped away,” by women’s higher education attainment but “the gender wage gap is still far from closed. In the workplace, women are forced to play by a different set of rules than men.”

Liberal news outlets quickly parroted those claims and the “rules” for women. CNBC.com, Marketwatch, ABC online, Money and Fortune all reported the study without any criticism or opposing views. “Is That All? Women Need An Extra Academic Degree to Achieve Equal Pay With Me,” the Fortune headline snarked.

Most of those new stories didn’t include any other sources or context; just cited the report and quoted its authors without question.

Yet, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics advises journalists to “Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story” and to “Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.”

CNBC’s website published Georgetown CEW’s claims without challenge, focusing on the “10 fields where men earn $1 million more than women over the course of a career” and promoting one of the main points: “women with the same college majors working in the same careers as men still only earn 92 cents for every dollar earned by men."

The financial website also featured a chart from the report and published it a special section of the CNBC website called, “Closing the Gap,” that focuses entirely on the supposed gender-driven wage gap.

CEW’s conclusion, according to CNBC.com, was that "even when they do everything 'right'—choose a high-paying field of study, pursue a high-paying major within that field, and get a job in a high-paying occupation—women still get paid less than their male peers.”

ABC News online proclaimed on March 1, “Women need one degree more than men to earn equal pay, report finds. The story promoted CEW’s claims that “women face pay discrimination but also fall victim to a culture that does not always set women up to pursue the most lucrative careers.”

ABC News online was the only one of the stories that wasn’t single sourced with only Georgetown’s claims. But that wasn’t because they sought ought opposing views.

ABC turned to a person with Catalyst — a nonprofit that works with companies to “build workplaces for women.” That group affirmed the findings and blamed “barriers” created by “unconscious biases” and “gender discrimination.”

Georgetown’s economists claimed that after controlling all the other variables, 8 cents of the pay differences is the result of discrimination. In fact, their report declares “The generally accepted interpretation is that this unexplained portion of the gender wage gap captures discrimination that women experience in the workplace, whether outright sexism or unconscious, systemic, and socially entrenched prejudice.”

However, that’s far from universally accepted.

A Washington Examiner op-ed on Feb. 27, the same day as a press release for the “Women Can’t Win” report, noted that personal choice is a huge factor in pay. After examining the hardships in male-dominated fields like sanitation, Andrew Syrios also pointed to a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research and one that was commissioned by the Department of Labor.

In the latter case, the researchers found only a five cent difference that could not be explained by other factors.

“A 5 percent gap is still something, but there's still no evidence that it's caused by discrimination,” Syrios wrote. “It could have to do with women being on average more agreeable and therefore less likely to negotiate for a raise, or with decisions about childbearing and prioritization of time with family, or perhaps it’s just statistical noise. No regression analysis can be perfect.”

In 2016, Daily Wire ran the story “7 Facts That Show Women Are Not Victims of Pay Discrimination.” The list included several factors such as women choosing lower paying career paths, men being more likely to choose physically dangerous careers, men work longer hours on average, and the fact that many women leave the workforce by choice (for a time) to raise children.

Some liberal websites began pushing back against the wage gap “lie” in recent years, but usually only about the claim that women make 78 percent of each dollar a man makes. The Washington Post fact checker has given it “two Pinocchios” for being completely “misleading,” while Slate’s actually called it a “lie” and urged people to stop repeating it.

But many other media still promote claims of rampant gender-driven, pay discrimination.


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Julia A. Seymour's picture