On Tuesday's New Day, CNN's John King targeted President Obama and his administration for their "textbook case...of do as I say, not as I do" on the issue of equal pay for women. After playing a clip of Press Secretary Jay Carney playing up how the 88 cents on the dollar women in the White House apparently make compared to men is "better than the national average," King quipped, "I guess the coach would say, is that the best you got?"
The journalist also spotlighted two past studies involving the White House and congressional payroll at the time Mr. Obama was serving as a senator from Illinois, and pointed out the bad optics of the situation: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
JOHN KING: And this is not new...In 2011, there was a study that said women at the White House made 18 percent less than their male counterparts. When Barack Obama was in the United States Senate, there was a study that found – and this is across all congressional offices, not just his – but the man, on average, made $54,000 a year; the woman, on average, $45,000 a year. So, he, sort of, knows he's sticking his hand in this blender, doesn't he?
King brought on Margaret Talev of Bloomberg News and Politico's Manu Raju for a panel discussion, and led the segment with his "do as I say, not as I do" label of the Obama administration's hypocrisy on the salary issue. Talev replied to CNN journalist's "best you got" retort to Carney by noting, in part, that the press secretary is "saying, well, it's apples and oranges – the statistics are more complicated than they show....But critics of this, sort of, 77 cents number say the same thing, which is it's more complicated than it seems."
When King then used his "sticking his hand in this blender" line about President Obama, Raju acknowledged that it's "clearly not the message they want to send on equal pay day," but continued by regurgitating the administration/Democrats' spin on the issue:
MANU RAJU, POLITICO: ...But what the Democrats will say is that look, we are pushing measures that actually – that women do support things that are easy to point to on the campaign trail – the so-called Paycheck Fairness Act that is coming up in the Senate this week. That is a rallying cry in these Democratic states, where these members are up in these very key Senate races; where they need a majority of women to come out to the polls to have them keep their majority. So, look, they can – they may have their own problems, but on the campaign trail, they believe they have things they can point to – to put the Republicans on the defensive.
Two hours later, on CNN Newsroom, anchor Carol Costello had a more blunt reaction to Carney doing his best to find the silver lining on the White House pay gap during a segment with correspondent Jim Acosta and Christine Romans:
CAROL COSTELLO: ...So there's another little bit of controversy going on about about this, too, inside the White House supposedly – one study shows – women are making 88 cents – you know, to every man's dollar. Is that true?
JIM ACOSTA: Right. Well, you know, this is a study that was put out by the American Enterprise Institute. It's a conservative think tank, as you know, Carol. But over here at the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about it. He didn't deny it. So basically, yes, this is happening over here at the White House as well – although the White House says, look, the President has many top senior advisers who are women: the national security adviser, Susan Rice, to the senior political adviser to the President, Valerie Jarrett.
Here is how Jay Carney answered the question when he was asked about this yesterday.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY (from press briefing): I think that those studies look at the aggregate of everyone on staff, and that includes from the most junior levels to the most senior. What I can tell you is that we have, as an institution here, have aggressively addressed this challenge. And obviously, though, at the 88 cents that you cite, that is not 100, but it is better than the national average.
ACOSTA: Now, this question-
COSTELLO: Oh, come on! Really?
ACOSTA: Yes, now that – exactly. And this question that you raise, Carol, goes to a very real political problem for this White House. They're sort of – they're trying to move on to other topics here with the midterms coming up and talking about these women's issue. But yet here, they have a rollout of an issue of equal pay that didn't quite work out the way they had intended.
COSTELLO: Christine, were you going to say something? Because I'm stunned by his answer.
CHRISTINE ROMANS: You know, I'm going to say this – I mean, it depends – and, look, everyone thinks that you should be paid the same amount for the same work. I mean, there's no – you know, that's a pretty bipartisan kind of sentiment....