MSNBC discusses the size of the gender wage gap!


Then succumbs to a slow transcript day: Last night, the gender wage gap was widely discussed on MSNBC’s programs.

That’s good.

The channel hasn’t posted its transcripts yet. That’s bad.

We aren’t going to do the transcribing ourselves. For that reason, we’ll settle for our recollections of some of the things that occurred.

On the Chris Hayes show, a pair of bright young guests wandered off the reservation. They said the gender wage gap is roughly seven cents on the dollar when you adjust for factors like seniority, hours worked and type of work.

It seemed to us that guest host Ari Melber did his best to move the discussion away from that undesirable factoid. Meanwhile, one of these inconvenient guests stressed an obvious point—even if there is only seven cents’ worth of discrimination, that seven cents of discrimination should of course be addressed.

Still, everyone from Obama on down has been pimping the inaccurate idea that women lose 23 cents on the dollar “for the same or equal work.” Again and again, we see people saying that this just isn’t the case.

Women get paid 77 cents on the dollar for the same or equal work! To all appearances, the Democratic Party is going to push that bogus perception in an attempt to survive this year’s elections.

If so, they’ll do it for an obvious reason. It will mean they don’t know how to approach the public unless they make things up.

In the past, this has been the trademark behavior of the corporate right. (If we lower our tax rates, we get extra revenue!) It’s sad to see the liberal world following this path.

(We thought we saw a White House spokesperson trying to obscure the basic facts on the Hayes show last night. We’ll check the transcript, if it ever appears.)

The most remarkable thing we saw last night was Rachel Maddow’s presentation on this topic. We’ve reached the point where we’re really wondering about the inside of Maddow’s head.

Can she really be this incompetent? Could she possibly be this dishonest?

In her segment, Maddow immediately misrepresented the views of Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly, each of whom has given perfectly sensible accounts of the size of the gender wage gap on recent programs. In each case, Maddow cherry-picked other statements, thus giving a false impression.

Beyond that, she grossly misrepresented the contents of an official statement by the Republican Party about the gender wage gap. To peruse the GOP brochure, just click here.

Sad but true: That GOP brochure is much clearer, and much more accurate, than Maddow’s work on this topic, which has been utterly hopeless. Last night, Maddow grossly misrepresented what that brochure says.

That said, what made Maddow's segment especially striking was the return of Heidi Hartmann, the George Washington University professor with whom Maddow discussed this topic in April 2012.

We just watched the tape of last night’s segment again. Professor Hartmann was bad. Cable star Maddow was awful.

Maddow seems completely unable, or completely unwilling, to make Hartmann answer this basic question—how much of the gender wage gap is caused by discrimination? In turn, Hartmann seems disinclined to answer that question unless she is forced.

Maddow’s discussion of this issue was by far the worst we saw last night. This channel’s performance is breaking down fast, but Maddow is leading the race to the bottom.

That said, MSNBC is having a slow transcript day. We’ll have to wait for another day to show you what was said.

Worms have been eating the nation’s brains! In particular, the pseudo-liberal world seems to be losing ground fast.


  1. Yes, Bob, go get 'em! It's time this myth of unequal pay is fully exposed! It's been around far too long.

    Here is a story from CNN, dated April 3, 1998, not long after Somerby started blogging, that cites one of the worst offenders who ever spread this fable:


    At a White House ceremony marking Equal Pay Day, Vice President Al Gore called the income gap unacceptable.

    "We insist that women receive full and fair reward for their work and that the nature of that work reflect a full and fair recognition of women's accomplishments," Gore said. "For me, it's a simple matter of wanting my daughters to have the same opportunities in life that my son will have."

    "It is not merely a matter of women with the same positions as men getting lower pay, it is also a matter of women with the same merit as men getting lower positions," he added. "Women in almost all types of jobs make less than men."

  2. Somerby asks: "how much of the gender wage gap is caused by discrimination?"

    The answer to this questions depends on whether you consider the various factors that affect women's choice of type of work or the limits on their number of hours as part of discrimination or not. Is it discrimination when women are expected to do the bulk of the child care in a family, thereby limiting the amount of overtime they are available to put in? Is it discrimination when women are hazed out of higher paying occupations (from road work to engineering) and thus seem to voluntarily choose low paying occupations such as child care or service jobs? Broadening the definition of discrimination to include all of the systematic ways in which women's occupations are deemed lower paying and all of the systematic factors affecting women's choices in the workplace would make that 23% more relevant than the 7% that results from the incidents where women overcome the other obstacles only to find that men are paid more or directly preferred on the basis of sex.

    I have seen the boys push the girls away from the blocks in kindergarten. I have seen them take over the softball fields before school, leaving girls to jump rope (abetted by school administration). I have seen surgeons haze female med students more harshly than men, driving them away from a specialty they might be good at because they dislike the uncollegial atmosphere in which they would work. I have seen men ignore, interrupt, speak over, fail to summarize or take seriously the ideas of women in meetings, so it is not surprising women have trouble making sufficient impact to be promoted into better paying work categories on the job. These discriminatory actions lead to women seeming to prefer those lower paying jobs by choice, when there is little choice involved.

    You might ask why animal technicians who are paid to feed, clean cages and monitor welfare of animals in labs are paid two or three times as much as day care workers, who are paid to feed, clean and monitor welfare of children. Why are the former nearly always men and the latter nearly always women? This is discrimination too.

    Accepting that this discussion is only about that 7% leftover after you ignore the other factors affecting women's employment is demeaning to the aspirations of women. It is like defining slavery as only the lack of wages and not focusing on the less tangible aspects of being a slave, from the systematic suppression of culture, literacy, religion and indeed humanity, the breaking up of marriages and separation of parents from children, the whipping and other physical mistreatment, the lack of proper clothing, housing, medical care, the degrading demands and assumptions about the capabilities of slaves as people, and so on. All of this is part of slavery. Similarly, all of the intangibles that result in the 23% gap between women and men in the workplace are important aspects of discrimination, not simply the 7% attributable after all those things are controlled for.

    Women see this as an attempt to define away discrimination that they know exists because they have experienced it first hand. It is ugly when Somerby does this -- in the name accuracy -- and it is ugly when Republicans or Democrats do it, in the name of maintaining their position of privilege in society. It would be nice if Democrats made this part of their platform and addressed it in some meaningful way. This debate, over 7% vs 23%, just shows that the men engaging it such a controversy still don't get it when it comes to understanding women's experience. I won't vote for anyone who thinks equal pay for equal work is the heart of women's workplace concerns. Equal participation and equal opportunity are the goal. That's why it does matter that only 4% of women are CEO's while they are 48% of the workforce in corporations.

    1. so what is it that you think government should do? It just might be that equal participation is already here. As to the rest of your theory out of all of the women in my life --slaves they are not.

    2. Than you! This is what has been bothering me about Somerby's nit-picking on this issue. The GOP brochure isn't "more accurate" because they compare unlike sexually segregated occupations. Instead of comparing a male engineer to a female social worker, lets compare him to a female worker in a job that requires the same level of education, the same level of responsibility - how about a female nurse? It would be hard to argue that the engineer would have any greater responsibility or education, and yet the nurse will be paid about 77 cents to every dollar the engineer earns. Is this difference because of discrimination? It is hard to argue that it is not - some will state that it is simply the vagaries of the market, but that is simply saying that the market discriminates against women.

    3. Plus One-million, anonymous at 3:40 PM.


    4. Very well put.

      I would add that I don't like the way we may respond to the discrimination you beautifully describe. Often we will toy with a male's mind, his need to feel masculine or avoid seeming effeminate. Often we sexualize ourselves to gain favor and position, socially and in the workplace. These behaviors reinforce the bad behavior we don't like to see in males, it becomes a negative feedback loop.

    5. Outstanding job of entirely missing the point about slavery, Anonymous at 5:17 PM.

    6. Just curious, 1:42. What are your views on female impersonation?

    7. Yes Anonymous @ 1:42 it is often women's participation
      in the negative feedback loop which contributes to the "rape culture" in which men find themselves hopelessly trapped.

      Consider the case of Rep. Kramer, the poor Wisconsin legislator whose case of "assault" seemed improperly elevated to "Sexy-time" national coverage by Rachel Maddow in the post just before this one.

      Some woman has accused him of grabbing and fondling her.
      But consider what she did. "(The victim) has very nice doctor enhanced breasts. I am not a big fan of those I like the real ones," Kramer told the detective.

      Read more from Journal Sentinel:

  3. Somerby seems to think it is the job of MSNBC to provide instant transcripts. How long has it been since Crooks and Liars pioneered the horribly difficult task of embedding video?

    The fact is Somerby, through use of his favorites weasel words, has misrepresented what Obama and others, including the folks on MSNBC
    have said on this issue. Repeatedly.

  4. I would pay a premium to see a Somerby transcription of an MSNBC program. The repetitive equivocations alone would be worth the money.

    1. Are implying that Somerby, in the interest of accuracy, might say "our guest tonight is a professor of law at Ripuoff University, and, though young, is noted as an expert in family law, but you know how worthless some professors are."

      Or are you suggesting something else. Because I thought I understood your meaning. But maybe I don't. That said, how many of you would want Bob to be honest if he hosted an MSNBC show?

  5. Bob really should write no more about women's issues until he apologizes for the demeaning headline, deceitful coverage and errors contained in his post about a "sexy" sexual assault case in Wisconsin
    in an effort to attack Maddow.

    And if you want to respond to this comment I strongly suggest you read that post and watch the video of Maddow it links to before doing so. It makes my blood boil how bad that post by Somerby is. So damned dismissive. It explains all you need to know about his demeaning post about "rape culture" and his effort to turn "wage gap" into an assault on people trying to erase the income disparity faced by women.

    1. I agree. And has Bob presented a shred of counter-evidence for his claims re: the wage gap? Maybe he has, but I haven't seen it. Perhaps one of this remaining apologists can furnish us with a link. I'd welcome that.

    2. Why Bob devoted much of a previous post to such evidence.
      He applauded Chris Hayes on January 28, 2014 for a guest on his show. Here is Bob's description of her:

      "Kay Hymowitz, a conservative-leaning expert on the gender pay gap."

      Hymowitz misrepresented the work of Harvard labor economist Claudia Goldin. Instead of challenging this, Bob applauded Hayes for having this "expert" on his show. Here are Hymowitz's credentials that Bob used to call her an expert:

      Kay Hymowitz is an American author. Born in Philadelphia in 1948, she earned her B.A. at Brandeis University, and her M.A. in English literature from Tufts University. She taught English literature and composition at Brooklyn College and at the Parsons School of Design. As of 2010 she was the William E. Simon fellow at the Manhattan Institute. She is the author of "Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys."

  6. Bob as the famed Cokie:


    1. Many would appear but Sunday morning is a time many women chose to attend services with their family while the bread winner devotes himself to sectarian civic commentary.
      Others voluntary sacrifice the opportunity to comment due to
      traditional Sunday breakfast and dinner preparations.

  7. Very bad day for Bob.

    First, he calls the latest, ridiculously irrelevant right-wing talking point against Obamacare "accurate."

    Then he disappears "felony" and "sexual" from "assault" in order to downplay and minimize the charges lodged against the Wisconson pol.

    And he now rounds off his day by regurgitating the same old tired right-wing talking points about the "wage gap."

    1. You show Somerby disappearing words. He also disappeared
      a U.S. Senator from the story in order to make the story appear local.

      The disppearance issue is not nearly as infuriating as the headline he used. "Sexy-time sex talk." Then he has the nerve to follows that with an amazing complaint about a "deceptive" MSNBC headline.

      Disgusting and shameful. Both the elected official and the blogger.