Mika Brzezinski to Obama: 'Do We Need the Government' to Make Equal Pay Happen?

Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski has never been one to hide her partisan liberal leanings, and it showed in her interview with President Obama which aired on Monday’s show. While Brzezinski started the interview with some tough foreign policy questions, it lost steam later on as she voiced admiration for the President on equal pay for women, and encouraged him to do more on the issue.

Brzezinski could not contain herself, declaring herself a “champion” of the cause, and begging the President for more government intervention: “Do you think that there will be a day in our lifetime where women are paid equally across the board? And do we need the government to make that happen?” [MP3 audio here; video below]

Mika alleged that there was a double standard between men and women on family child care situations, professing:

It's funny you talk about dads who want to spend time with their kids. When they leave work–I wish you could do something about this–and it's to be with their kids, everyoneis like oh, look at that great dad, he's amazing. Meanwhile, we're sneaking out, hoping that no one notices that say we're doing what we're supposed to do.

President Obama seemed to concur with Brzezinski’s assertion entirely, suggesting that fathers are typically expected to be involved with their children only under special circumstances:

I think there’s a little bit of a double standard there...Where we now encourage men to be engaged in their children's lives, as if they're doing something special. Whereas women, when they do it, oftentimes people say, you see, she's not fully committed to the job.

To be fair, Brzezinski did hit the President on foreign policy. The Morning Joe co-host questioned: “You said that the war was ended in Iraq...you said that Al Qaeda was decimated...you said it was stable.” She followed up by asking President Obama whether he would have “moved differently in Syria, given this eruption in Iraq and given that the chaos has spilled over now?”

The relevant portion of the transcript is below:

MSNBC
Morning Joe
June 23, 2014
8:36 a.m. Eastern

MIKA BRZEZINSKI, Morning Joe host: Equal pay kicked off your presidency Two of the champions here in the room with us [Mika referring to President Obama and herself]. It’s become really a theme, one of the themes of your time here. Do you think that there will be a day in our lifetime where women are paid equally across the board? And do we need the government to make that happen?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think the government can help. I think there's a whole series of actions that we can take that empower people to make sure they're being treated fairly, but also to give information to employers about what's good for their business. Keep in mind that issues like equal pay for equal work, issues like child care, issues like workplace flexibility and paid family leave, those aren't just women's issues. Those are family issues. Women now account for 40% of the primary bread winners among American families. You know, you've got men who recognize that they'd like to spend time with their kids too. There are very few families who have not gone through this. I know Michelle and I have. And when I think back to when Malia and Sasha were young, the biggest source of stress for us, and we were a lot luckier than most, was these issues surrounding work and family. I'm away down at the state capitol, Michelle is back home, she's got her own job. Teacher calls, Sasha is sick. How do you deal with that? And that is the kind of thing that everybody, I think, can relate to.

BRZEZINSKI: Lifting up women is good for business. I think companies are finding. It's funny you talk about dads who want to spend time with their kids. When they leave work–I wish you could do something about this–and it's to be with their kids, everyone is like oh, look at that great dad, he's amazing. Meanwhile, we're sneaking out, hoping that no one notices that say we're doing what we're supposed to do.

OBAMA: I think you're right. I think there's a little bit of a double standard there.

BRZEZINSKI: Totally.

OBAMA: Where we now encourage men to be engaged in their children's lives, as if they're doing something special. Whereas women, when they do it, oftentimes people say, you see, she's not fully committed to the job.

BRZEZINSKI: I had lunch with a CEO of one of the biggest companies in America the other day. He said the women just leave. They don't even ask. You know, they don't know how to ask or they feel bad about asking, when what they should really be doing is saying here's the deal. I have so much value, here's what I need to make this work. He's like if they'd just ask.

OBAMA: Part of that is creating a culture where people feel comfortable asking. You mentioned something like equal pay.

BRZEZINSKI: Right.

OBAMA: There's some folks who challenge the statistic that women get paid 77 cents on the dollar. They say, well, that's a choice women are making. First of all, real discrimination does take place. Second of all, oftentimes women are forced into choices that they shouldn't have to make. The question is are we putting the burden entirely on women to make those choices. This is an issue not just for women. This is a family issue, a middle class issue, an American issue.

Connor Williams
Connor Williams
Connor Williams is a contributing writer for NewsBusters.