Two of the women who anchor hour-long news programs on the MSNBC cable TV channel have stated that "the guys get paid more," but they are nevertheless "lucky" to be paid half of what a male co-host earns.
During an interview on Thursday, Mitt Romney senior adviser Barbara Comstock told the host of "Andrea Mitchell Reports" that "we know here at MSNBC, the guys get paid more," and Mitchell replied: "We certainly do."
The comments came while the two women discussed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, and MItchell said that to Ledbetter, "this was not just a legal issue."
This was the fact that she was not permitted to sue for equal pay because the statute had run out, and the law said if you didn't know the men you were working with were making more money, which many of us don't know, we don't have access to those confidential -- .
At that point, Comstock cut Mitchell off by laughing and stating that the male members of the channel's staff receive higher wages than the females. "We know that," she added, and the host agreed with her assessment.
"So this is one of the places where you need to be a little bit more public with it," Comstock said.
At the end of the segment, Mitchell's guest again brought up the issue of equal pay at the channel.
"You get after MSNBC here, Andrea," she said. "Make sure the women make the same here."
"Thank you very much," Mitchell replied flatly.
Then on Friday morning's edition of "Morning Joe," co-host Mika Brzezinski praised her colleagues and the company she works for on the issue of fair pay.
"We've been talking a lot this week about women and equal pay and all these issues," she said. "I have to say in all seriousness, I'm very lucky to be working with you (co-host Joe Scarborough) and for a company (MSNBC) that has actually dealt with this problem transparently."
According to an article by Daniel Halper on the Weekly Standard website, "Scarborough makes a cool $4 million per year, while Brzezinski's salary is half as much, coming in at $2 million per year," according to statistics on the Daily Beast website.
Therefore, her remark "basically amounts to Brzezinski saying that she is 'lucky' to get paid half as much as Joe Scarborough."
As you might expect, it didn't take long for Mitchell to issue a "clarification" regarding her remark: "I was referring to the industry as a whole. This remark has been taken out of context."
MSNBC spokeswoman Laurel Skowronski added: "We take this issue very seriously, and I can tell you that we're proud of the gender equality at MSNBC."
Regarding Brzezinski, she too tried to play down her problems with the channel even though her public dispute with MSNBC about pay equity has been well known. In fact, she's made that point herself several times while co-hosting the morning news program.
"We make less than our male counterparts," Brzezinski said last year. "I found out on this show that I made a lot less than Joe: 14 times less."
It was my fault ultimately that I was in that position because I accepted a deal that wasn't right for me. And I didn't have the perception and confidence in myself to communicate that effectively.
"It took four tries with MSNBC president Phil Griffin who is, you know, a tough manager but does the right thing for his company to get it right for myself," she added.
Halper noted that Brzezinski almost left the channel over the pay disparity dispute. And she wrote a book about overcoming gender discrimination in the workplace (though, again, she still makes half as much as her male counterpart).
"But in an election year," Halper stated, "perhaps playing down pay disparity at a liberal institution by extension makes liberal politicians look better. And Brzezinski's preference for Obama is beyond well-established."
What a tough choice she has to make: Either get a higher salary or help President Barack Obama get re-elected. Now there's a "no-brainer" if I've ever seen one.