All three networks on Wednesday and Thursday parroted the exact same talking points from the White House, touting Barack Obama for expressing "solidarity" with struggling workers by taking a five percent pay cut. The President made the move, which amounts to a minuscule $1700 a month, in the wake of sequestration. On Good Morning America, Josh Elliott trumpeted, "[Obama] says he wants to show solidarity with government workers who face a furlough because of budget cuts." [See a video montage below. MP3 audio here.]
Over on NBC's Today, Natalie Morales touted, "In an attempt at solidarity with federal workers feeling the sequester spending cuts, President Obama is giving himself a five percent pay cut on his $400,000-a-year salary." Offering a remarkably similar thought, World News anchor Diane Sawyer rounded up the amount to a year's total: " That's $20,000, to show solidarity with government employees who will be furloughed." In an impressed tone, the host praised, "The White House says Obama will personally write a check to the Treasury."
Showing group think, Evening News anchor Scott Pelley insisted, "President Obama will return five percent of his salary each month as a show of solidarity with federal workers whose pay was reduced by those recent across-the-board budget cuts."
The anchors of Thursday's CBS This Morning did not use the word solidarity. However, after recounting the news, well-known Obama fan/co-host Gayle King gushed, "Thank you, President Obama!"
The President's official salary is $400,000 a year. His act of "solidarity" will mean a reduction to $380,000. Surprisingly, the Washington Post threw cold water on the idea of Obama as every man. Lisa Rein and Ed O'Keefe explained:
Obama cannot claim true solidarity with most federal employees. He has published two best-selling autobiographies and the vast majority of his income comes in the form of royalties. According to tax returns, the president and Michelle Obama made $750,000 in 2011. In the previous year, the couple made $1.8 million and in 2009 they reported an annual income of $5.5 million.
Over the last four years, journalists have been parroting Obama's talking points. Usually, however, they rephrase the words slightly. On Wednesday and Thursday, all three networks somehow settled on "solidarity."
A transcript of the April 4 "solidarity" remarks can be found below:
ELLIOTT: And President Obama taking a pay cut. He's giving back some $20,000 of his $400,000 salary. He says he wants to show solidarity with government workers who face a furlough because of budget cuts.
NATALIE MORALES: In an attempt at solidarity with federal workers feeling the sequester spending cuts, President Obama is giving himself a 5% pay cut on his $400,000-a-year salary, returning about $1,700 a month to the Treasury.
MORALES: Hundreds of thousands of workers face forced unpaid leave or furloughs if Congress doesn't undo those cuts soon.
DIANE SAWYER: Now we head to Washington where today President Obama drew attention to those across the board budget cuts with a personal action. Those budget cuts, of course, known as the sequester. The President said he will return five percent of his annual salary. That's $20,000, to show solidarity with government employees who will be furloughed. The White House says Obama will personally write a check to the Treasury.
SCOTT PELLEY: The White House told us today that President Obama will return five percent of his salary each month as a show of solidarity with federal workers whose pay was reduced by those recent across-the-board budget cuts. The President makes $400,000 a year. So he'll be giving back just under $1700 a month.
[CBS News Graphic: "Cutting Checks: Obama To Return Five Percent Of Salary"]
NORAH O'DONNELL: And some of this year's automatic budget cuts mean money coming out of the President's pocket. That's right – President Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plan to give up five percent of their salaries. They say they want to share the pain of other government workers who will have to take unpaid leave. The two men are giving up a combined total of about $30,000. It would only pay for about three days of White House tours, which were canceled because of budget cuts.
CHARLIE ROSE: But what would happen if every member of Congress, every Cabinet officer, the Vice President, all of the Supreme Court justices – they took a five percent pay cut? That would add up to a little less than $5 million. That money could save the jobs of 72 teachers in Kansas. It could also pay for a year of food stamps for 3,100 people, or it could keep at least 1,300 Defense Department workers from being furloughed.
GAYLE KING: Let's see how many people sign up and say, I want to do that-
KING: Thank you, President Obama.