Saturday, March 11, 2006

Fox News Asks The Right Question

In a story on Fox News Live's Studio B today, Fox asked the important question: "the economy's rebounding, so why am I so broke?" To discuss this question, Fox trotted out Dakila Divina, Managing Editor of that hard hitting publication Parade Magazine, whose annual "What People Earn" issue comes out tomorrow. You know Parade, it's that flimsy little trifle you throw out with your Sunday paper. His conclusion: "What we found in our survey is that people on the high end of the scale...the disparity, is growing bigger and bigger, especially when it comes to celebrity salaries."

Well, you knew there had to be some agenda for Fox to actually be asking a question of substance. Yes, the entire purpose of this piece was to advance the right wing "Hollywood is out of touch with average Americans" talking point. Some choice excerpts:

"American hero vs. American Idol." Kelly Clarkson makes $3million + and Marine Sgt. Jimmy Moronta Espital makes just $22,000 a year. "It raises the question, who's the real American hero here."

"Average Housewife vs. The Desperate Houswife." Teri Hatcher makes $1.25 million and New Jersey housewife Carla Kenney makes $0. "The average housewife, very important job."

The piece also touched on the salaries of sports stars but never once talked about corporate CEO salaries.

While Fox's take on this story is not surprising, I was a bit surprised to discover that the Parade article that accompanies the story actually reads like a Democrat's stump speech:

Despite a flourishing economy American workers are less confident about their financial security than they were two years ago. The U.S. has enjoyed four straight years of economic growth, but most families have lost ground: In 2005, more than 80% of American workers saw their inflation-adjusted wages fall for the second year in a row.

While the economy has been growing since 2001, all the benefits of that growth have gone into corporate profits, says Mark Zandi, chief economist at
Moody’s, a Pennsylvania-based consultant firm: “Corporate profits’ share of the national income is at a 60-year high—and that has come directly out of wages and salaries, which are at a record low.” And wages of the top 10% of earners—people making more than $90,000 a year—have risen much faster than everyone else’s. The average worker’s pay stayed almost flat at $27,000 from 1990 to 2004, one study finds.
Notwithstanding the low jobless rate, there’s a lot of uneasiness among workers, notes John Challenger, chief executive of
Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based outplacement firm. “Many people have been falling behind, especially in the middle class,” he says. In 2005, for the first time since the Great Depression, Americans borrowed more than they earned. “Wages haven’t kept up with inflation, and many employers have pushed the cost of health care back to employees in the form of higher premiums and co-pays,” notes Challenger. “Added to that, there’s the higher cost of driving to and from work and heating a home.” (emphasis mine.)
It's nice to see that Parade actually attempts to answer the question that Fox News posed but never truly tackled. This is one issue of Parade we should not throw out.


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