Media Millionaires: 6 Wealthy Journalists Whine about Income Inequality

If liberals have their way the State of the Union will be all about income inequality. That kind of speech would be cheered by many in the press, including several hypocritical millionaires who love to complain about the one percent.

The broadcast networks already took up this banner, promoting left-wing complaints about inequality and arguing for liberal solutions, in recent years. Well-paid, big name network news anchors, like Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams personally know a whole lot about wealth, since they make millions of dollars every year. At least two are worth $60 million each.

Within the past four years, these multi-millionaires have attacked the “mega-rich,” complained on air about “dangerous” income inequality, and promoted President Barack Obama’s “responsibility” to raise taxes and promote tax “fairness.”

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Obama already brought the issue of income inequality back into the national debate in a Dec. 4, 2013 speech, calling it the “defining challenge of our time.” That was right around the same time that fast food workers launched protests about their wages in 100 cities across the country.

It is clear Obama will focus on the problem of income inequality in Jan. 28, 2014, SOTU address.

Worries about income inequality are not new for the left, but have resurfaced in recent years. Robert Reich, former labor secretary under Bill Clinton, decried rising inequality in a 2013 documentary “Inequality for All,” and blamed low taxes for rising inequality. Liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman agreed with the focus on inequality and called it “the right way to move this discussion.”

Conservative economists disagree. Walter Williams wrote on Jan. 15 that “Democrats plan to demagogue income inequality and the wealth gap for political gain.” In an interview with the MRC’s Business and Media Institute, Dr. Williams connected the emphasis on income inequality to liberal attacks on the rich, saying that the “strategy of the president and other tyrants around the world is to demonize people” because “they get more power that way.”

Six journalists who combine that power with tons of cash are:

1. Wealthy ‘Today’ Host Thinks Obama Has ‘Responsibility’ to Deal with Inequality

Matt Lauer, co-host of “Today” since 1997, often spins stories from the left. That includes his frequent calls for higher taxes.

Lauer is also one of the wealthiest broadcast anchors, with a net worth of $60 million and an annual salary of $25 million per year, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Lauer’s salary is a whopping 486 times higher than the Census figure for median household income in 2012.

His liberal desire to see government intervention was obvious Oct. 27, 2011, when he discussed income inequality with Obama’s campaign advisor Robert Gibbs.

Citing a report that he said “confirmed the rich are getting richer,” Lauer wanted to know, “What responsibility does President Obama have in terms of dealing with income distribution in this country?”

Given those remarks, Lauer is likely thrilled by Obama’s decision to focus on inequality in his 2014 State of the Union address.

2. ABC’s $60 Million Diane Sawyer Blasts ‘Mega-Rich

Liberal media love left-leaning millionaires and billionaires. In 2011, the media darling was billionaire Warren Buffett as the broadcast networks hyped his calls for higher taxes on the rich.

“World News” anchor, Diane Sawyer, put “billionaires on notice” in one news report and adopted the “fair share” language of the left. Then Sawyer asked, “Is it time for the mega-rich to pay at least the same tax rate as their secretaries? And if they did pay their fair share, would it fix America’s schools or roads?”

She also erroneously claimed that “working men and women pay the most taxes” in that report. According to the Tax Foundation’s David S. Logan “our wealthy pay a greater share of the tax burden than do the wealthy in any other capitalist nation.” The New American reported that the Congressional Budget Office found the top 20 percent of earners paid almost 93 percent of all income taxes in 2010.

Sawyer also has a net worth of $60 million, but her $22 million annual salary is a little lower than Lauer’s, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Still, the mega-rich news anchor is doing well for herself, raking in 428 times more than the median household income.

3. NBC’s $40 Million Man Williams Shocked by ‘Dangerous’ Income Inequality

When the British organization Oxfam released a much criticized study warning of rising global income inequality and supplying left-wing solutions on Jan. 20, “Nightly News” anchor, Brian Williams lamented its findings.

“Some new figures out today, as we mentioned, on global wealth and income disparity, and they are so shocking it takes a while for them to sink in. A study commissioned by Oxfam says the world’s richest 85 individuals have the same wealth as 3.5 billion people around the world,” Williams said. He even repeated that statistic for emphasis.

Later in that same report, Williams complained about the “growing and dangerous income disparity.”

Williams’ vast wealth is no secret. Celebrity Net Worth says the anchor is worth $40 million and makes $13 million each year, 253 times more than the median household does. His riches haven’t inhibited his liberalism. In July 2011 he challenged Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., demanding to know “Why shouldn’t rich folks pay more?”

He also hit Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s for his “unimaginable wealth” in January 2012.

4. GMA’s Stephanopoulos on Tax Cuts for ‘Wealthiest:’ ‘Why is it okay?’

“Good Morning America” host George Stephanopoulos openly supported tax increases, even long after his tenure in President Bill Clinton’s administration. He combined his pro-tax zeal with class warfare in 2010 when he pushed Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., on the issue of taxes on the wealthy.

He asked “why is it okay for the wealthiest Americans, earning over $250,000 a year – And remember the President has called for extending all tax cuts for those under $250,000 – for them to get tax cuts extended?” He went on to argue for further spending on unemployment benefits.

Stephanopoulos, who Celebrity Net Worth says has a net worth of $14 million and annual salary of $6 million, repeatedly made pro-tax remarks during his many years working for ABC; endorsing taxes for education, energy, and deficit reduction. In a year, he makes 116 times more than the median household.

5. CBS’ Schieffer Presses Romney, Ryan on Income Inequality, Pushes ‘Fairness’

During an August 2012 “60 Minutes” interview with presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his newly selected running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., CBS’s Bob Schieffer openly touted the left’s income inequality narrative.

Schieffer asserted that “A lot of people think corporations and rich people are getting all these breaks and they’re getting stuck with paying the bills. They see some of the wealthiest paying the lowest tax rates.”

Then, he asked them, “Doesn’t fairness dictate that the wealthiest people should not be paying the lowest taxes because that’s what’s happening many times?”

When Romney disagreed with this claim, correctly pointing out that the wealthy pay the largest share of taxes, Schieffer disagreed, saying “don’t they also pay at a lower rate when you figure in capital gains and all of that?”

Presumably, Schieffer has a pretty good idea what taxes the wealthy pay, being worth $10 million according to Celebrity Net Worth.

6. Worth $70 Million, NBC’s Brokaw Frets Over Possible ‘Class War’

Tom Brokaw, the former anchor of “Nightly News,” stoked fear of a class war, over income inequality in a December 2011 interview. Brokaw was discussing Occupy Wall Street on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight.”

Brokaw said that OWS “resonates with a lot of people” and that “most people, the overwhelming majority obviously, are in the 99 percent.” He certainly isn’t. With a net worth of $70 million by Celebrity Net Worth’s measure, Brokaw is decidedly a one-percenter.

But on Piers’ Morgans show, Brokaw spread fear. After emphasizing that “there is that great concern about income inequality in this country,” he said “I’ve had a lot of high-income people come to me and say we really do have to do something about income inequality because that could trigger a class war in this country. And the consequences are not very pretty to contemplate.”

Sean Long
Sean Long is a former writer for MRC Business.