For Immediate Release
Media Matters on Income Inequality Coverage Ahead of State of the Union Speech
WASHINGTON - As President Obama plans his State of the Union speech to focus on income inequality in America, Media Matters for America experts will be available to discuss the conservative narrative that has tried to undermine the president’s efforts in the areas of raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment benefits, and student loan relief. They will also be able to comment on mainstream media’s scant coverage on extending unemployment benefits.
In December 2013, President Obama declared that reversing the widening gap in income inequality -- the distribution of economic gains to a small percentage of the population, which, in this case, favors the very wealthy -- is "the defining challenge of our time," and began unveiling a legislative agenda aimed at addressing that trend.
Recent attacks against the reality of income inequality by conservative pundits and documented by Media Matters include:
- Fox’s James Rosen said income inequality “exists as a function of the genius of the American Enterprise.”
- Fox correspondent Doug McKelway once claimed it was merely "class resentment," that exists because "some people are better, smarter, harder-working, or luckier than others."
- Bill O'Reilly called it "bull."
- Fox contributors have claimed that there is "no way" growing inequality is "going to be stopped," that attempting to reverse it will result in "chronic unemployment," and that the Obama administration's focus on closing the income gap is merely a "distraction."
Seizing upon a new study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), right-wing media has been brandishing out-of-context statistics on inherited wealth to argue that lower-income Americans are disproportionately benefiting from inherited wealth transfers, unlike the wealthiest Americans who earn their wealth with hard work. In fact, the average value of wealth transfers received by the top 1 percent of U.S. households was twenty-five times the average value of inheritances for households in the lowest income bracket and income inequality has been growing for decades, long before the president took office.
Since the failed bid to extend unemployment benefits, nightly broadcast news programs have largely ignored the issue. Only one evening news segment on ABC, CBS, and NBC devoted time to discussing the now-expired benefits. That came in the form of NBC Nightly News host Brian Williams explaining that the measure to extend benefits failed in the Senate on January 14. Since then, there has been no discussion on any of the three networks.
Recent Media Matters analysis on conservative narrative on income inequality:
Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.