ABC on Thursday night again offered a one-sided take on the fast food "strikes," promoting the "living wage." Economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis featured multiple clips of angry protesters, but none of those on the other side. (She did the same thing earlier in the day on Good Morning America.) In comparison, NBC's Nightly News at least highlighted those worrying about the economic impact of doubling the minimum wage.
World News anchor Diane Sawyer introduced, "A lot of people at the drive through window at your favorite fast food are asking the question, what is a fair living wage?" Jarvis included a clip of a woman asserting, "My whole household of seven people is surviving on my one $8 an hour [salary]. So, we're barely holding our head over water." At no time did she wonder if the protests were organically grown or something heavily promoted by wealthy unions.
All Jarvis could allow was reading a partial quote from McDonald's, saying, "[We aim] to offer competitive pay and benefits to our employees." She also noted that the chain's $1 menu could rise to $1.25, if hourly wages are raised.
In comparison, NBC reporter Katy Tur featured Georgetown professor Harry Holzer who pointed out: "The big risk is in a very weak job market, you don't want to give employers any excuse to cut back on their hiring any more than they've already done so."
Angelo Amador of the National Restaurant Association insisted that the protests are "going out after the small business owner that is trying to stay afloat and create jobs in the process." (Many local McDonald's are owned and operated by franchisees.)
CBS offered the least amount of coverage. On the Evening News, Scott Pelley simply told viewers that "fast-food workers today took their demands for higher wages to the streets and to the restaurants." He then summarized the story in less than 30 seconds.
On Friday, ABC's GMA and NBC's Today didn't cover the protests. CBS This Morning allowed a 22 second news brief. Gayle King enthused that it was the "biggest protest yet over low wages." She didn't offer any proof for this claim.
A transcript of the August 29 World News segment is below:
DIANE SAWYER: And the question of jobs, next, across America tonight. A lot of people at the drive through window at your favorite fast food are asking the question, what is a fair living wage? People on minimum wage jobs went on strike today. They now earn $7.25 an hour. They're asking for twice that, $15. ABCs chief business and economics correspondent, Rebecca Jarvis.
REBECCA JARVIS: Outrage in Chicago, In Indianapolis and Los Angeles today. Employees at 1,000 fast food restaurants in 50 cities walking out of work and onto picket lines, even forcing someone to shut down.
WOMAN: My whole household of seven people is surviving on my one $8 an hour. So, we're barely holding our head over water.
MAN: After you pay one bill or try to put food in the house, that's the end of it.
JARVIS: Demanding the minimum wage more than doubles from $7.25 an hour to $15.
CROWD: When do we want it? Now!
JARVIS: So, is it possible? For a burger off the dollar menu McDonald's pays about 34 cents for the cost of food. Twenty three cents in rent. Twenty five goes to hourly workers, leaving about 18 cents of profit. Analysts say even if McDonald's wanted to it couldn't afford to pay employees double without raising prices. How much higher would prices go? About 25 percent. So that dollar menu item would tick up to about $1.25. McDonald's says it "aims to offer competitive pay and benefits to our employees." But, that's hard for this working mom to swallow.
WOMAN: Come down and try to live my life for a day and see what I go through. See my reality and see if you can handle it.
JARVIS: Rebecca Jarvis, ABC News, New York.