CBS and NBC Ignore White House Hypocrisy on Equal Wages for Men and Women

On Tuesday evening, the networks all dutifully touted President Obama's call for equal pay for women in the workplace. NBC and CBS ignored Obama's hypocrisy – the pay gap that exists among his own White House staff.

ABC's Diane Sawyer put a dramatic spin on the news, saying Obama called for "action" on the "explosive issue of equal pay for equal work." The World News did note the GOP response that women in the White House earn 88 percent of the men's salaries, but relegated that important fact to the very end of the report. Neither NBC nor CBS reported it.

Yet on Tuesday morning, CBS's White House correspondent Major Garrett exposed Obama's hypocrisy on the issue, saying the White House got "roughed up by hits on pay equity rhetoric." Garrett added that "An analysis of White House salaries, which nobody here disputes, shows that the median income of female staffers is 88% of that of male staffers."

Yet CBS didn't follow up on Garrett's scrutiny of the White House on Tuesday evening, and ABC ignored Karl's debate with Carney, only mentioning that "the right" argued "that women in Obama's own White House make 88 cents to a man's dollar." NBC ignored the fact altogether, instead playing the role of White House stenographer.

As Brian Williams reported, "the White House says today April 8th is an important date for women because they say for the average American woman to earn what the average American male was paid last year, she has to work all of 2013 plus all the way through today into 2014."

And on Tuesday afternoon, ABC's Jonathan Karl pushed White House press secretary Jay Carney on the matter, prompting a lengthy tussle. Karl asked:

"The President cited Census data that women, on average, make 77 percent of what men make. Why is that an example or evidence of discrimination in the workforce at large, but it's not evidence of discrimination when women here at the White House make 88 percent of what men here at the White House make?"

But here's how ABC covered it instead. Diane Sawyer led off the show with Obama taking on an "explosive issue" with action: "Good evening to you on this Tuesday night. And tonight, the explosive issue of equal pay for equal work is front and center in the news. Today, President Obama said it's time to take action, signing an executive order aimed directly at a workplace secret. The gap in pay between men and women doing the same job. And ABC's Mara Schiavocampo tells us what changed today."

Schiavocampo offered not one second of Karl's five-minute tussle with Carney:

MARA SCHIAVOCAMPO: Today at the White House, President Obama said it's time to go on the attack.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I've got two daughters and I expect them to be treated just like anybody's sons.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: By signing an executive order, the President said if you want government money, you have to let everyone in your company discuss how much they make. An assault on the fact that tonight, half of all workers say they are required to stay silent about their salary or they can get in trouble.

EXPERT (FEMALE): Employers can argue that they are really protecting the business culture and the business strategy and the competitiveness. This is data that belongs to the company.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: If women could eliminate that pay gap, the average working woman could pay for than a year's worth of food in California, 10 months of rent in Georgia, and more than 1,900 gallons of gas in Florida. And maybe today's push will embolden women to ask for more without fear of losing their jobs.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014