Equal Pay for Equal Work at MSNBC? Liberal Network Refuses to Say

May 1st, 2012 6:25 PM

In a much-ballyhooed exchange with GOP consultant Alex Castellanos on "Meet the Press," Rachel Maddow parroted the liberal trope that women receive 77 cents for every dollar earned by men in America.

Castellanos added sorely needed nuance to the conversation, as liberals are so fond of doing, pointing out that men work longer hours and in higher paying jobs and women want more flexibility in the workplace, thus skewing the overall numbers. (video after page break)

If Maddow's claim was true, Castellanos said with pinpoint logic, "every greedy businessman in America would hire only women, save 25 percent and be hugely profitable."

A CNN "fact-check" segment credited Maddow with getting the better of the exchange, but with a huge caveat -- overall wage disparity is closer to five cents on the dollar instead of the 23 cents alleged by Maddow.

On her MSNBC show last night, Maddow revisited her tussle with Castellanos and described how the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill signed into law by President Obama, back in January 2009. Maddow succinctly described the legal concept of equal pay for equal work, which dates back to a federal law signed in 1963 by John F. Kennedy that Maddow avoids ever mentioning --

If you're a woman working in a job and you're being paid less than a man who is doing the same job, that's illegal. That is discrimination. If the same company is paying a man and a woman different amounts for doing the same work and they're paying the man more and the woman less, just because of gender, that's illegal discrimination.

Which begs the question -- is Maddow paid the same salary as Ed Schultz and Lawrence O'Donnell? Think about it -- all three work for the same company, MSNBC, and each of them hosts an hour-long prime-time cable show on weeknights. Moreover, the format and content for each of their shows is robotically the same, night after night -- the hosts and their same predictable guests sing Obama's praises, condemn Republicans, and trumpet redistribution.

Since Maddow, Schultz and O'Donnell all work for the same company and do the same work at roughly the same time, are they getting paid the same amount? Seeing how it's the law and all, as Maddow often reminds us, while avoiding mention of the fact it's been the law for decades.

I called MSNBC's media office today in search of answers. Please contact Lauren Skowronski by email, I was told. Here's what I wrote --

Hi Ms. Skowronski,

How are you, hope things are well. I was hoping you could provide me with some information, specifically the salaries and overall annual compensation for all of your MSNBC cable show hosts, starting with Willie Geist of "Way Too Early" and continuing all the way to your last show of the day, "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell, and also including weekend show hosts Alex Witt, Chris Hayes and Melissa Harris Perry.

I am trying to determine if MSNBC is complying with federal law in providing equal pay for equal work to Rachel Maddow, who hosts a primetime show weeknights on MSNBC, with her male co-workers, Ed Schultz and Lawrence O'Donnell, who do likewise.

I am also trying to determine if Al Sharpton, a well-known African-American civil rights activist, is compensated to the exact same extent as the decidedly Caucasian Chris Matthews, seeing how both perform the equal work of hosting early evening MSNBC shows before prime time.

It would be helpful if I could also determine whether the openly gay Maddow is compensated to the same extent, no more, no less, than her heterosexual male co-workers who also host primetime shows on MSNBC.

The reason I ask for the figures of overall total compensation for all of your cable hosts is to show that MSNBC is indeed complying with the law in providing equal pay for equal work. What better way to demonstrate this than through the presumably equal levels of compensation for MSNBC cable hosts, whose work appears essentially interchangeable one hour to the next.

As President Reagan once said when referring to an earlier group of collectivists, trust but verify.

If I can clarify this request in any way, please don't hesitate to call me.

Jack Coleman, NewsBusters

Four hours later and still no response from MSNBC. If one is provided, I'll update this post with what the network has to say.