Media Manic About Wage Increase
The federal minimum wage went up on by 70 cents July 24, to the delight of liberal politicians and many journalists.
CNNâs Ali Velshi greeted the change calling it âunmitigated good newsâ on âAmerican Morningâ July 24.
âWeâve been underpaying minimum wage earners for too long,â Velshi continued.
ABCâs Claire Shipman also called it âgood news for thousands of low-paid workers,â on âGood Morning Americaâ July 24.
Jack Cafferty provided a little more cynical perspective on July 25. CNNâs âSituation Roomâ co-anchor said, âItâs nice they increased the minimum wage, but, I mean, this [the Democratâs rally to celebrate] is kind of overdoing it.â
The minimum wage increase, which will continue to rise 70 cents per year until 2009 when it stops at $7.25 an hour, was a high priority for the new Democratic majority that took office in 2007. Some left-wing politicians began discussing further hikes just as the July 24 increase went into effect. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) is leading the charge to establish a $9.50 an hour minimum wage.
Democratic presidential candidates Sen.
While some politicians and members of the media have said this is good news for
Media merriment over the 13.5 percent increase was to be expected since CNN, PBS, ABC, USA Today and The Washington Post all showed support for an increase when it was on the Democrats â100 hourâ agenda.
On January 2, Velshi declared that âitâs simply not fair that there has been a federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour. CNNâs Andy Serwer, now running Fortune magazine, called arguments against a minimum wage hike âa lot of bullâ on the June 24, 2006 âIn the Money.â
Of course, even the increase wasnât enough for some people like CNNâs Lou Dobbs who suggested to CBS viewers that there is much more to be done.
We Make Millions, But Weâll Pretend Weâre Just Like You
Both CNNâs Dobbs and CBSâs Harry Smith were living the fantasy of the common man on July 24, pretending that the minimum wage increase has some affect on their lives.
The increase turns out to be âjust about a 10 percent raise for those folks on minimum wage, about two million of us,â said Dobbs in his commentary during âThe Early Showâ on CBS.
The article, titled âDream Jobs: News Anchor,â interviewed CNN International anchor Jonathan Mann, who said anchoring âis probably one of the lucrative jobs in the television industry.â In addition to anchoring, Dobbs also has had sideline operations including his latest book, âThe War on the Middle Class,â and a financial newsletter.
In the same July 24 broadcast, âEarly Showâ co-anchor Harry Smith also tried to sound like an average Joe. In an interview with home and garden expert Danny Lipford Smith said, ânow that the minimum wage is going up, maybe we can afford it.â Harry Smith actually earns $3 million salary according to the July 26 TV Guide.
Dobbs was also wrong to say that âtwo millionâ people make the minimum wage. According to Heritage Foundation policy paper, only 1.2 million Americans earn the minimum wage or less once tips are included in the figure.
Most [52 percent] of minimum-wage earners are between the ages of 16 and 24 and are working part-time before finishing their education, James Sherk and Rea S. Hederman, Jr. explained in the paper.
âWeâre Still Sorry.â
Even with the July 24 wage hike to $5.85 an hour, which will increase again in the next two years to $7.25 an hour, some in the media are dissatisfied.
â[W]e found out if youâre earning the federal minimum wage and youâre working full-time in this country, weâre still sorry,â said co-host Christine Romans on CNNâs âYour $$$$$ [Money]â July 28.
Dobbs expressed a similar perspective on CBSâs âEarly Showâ July 24. In this weekly rant, he declared the increase âsimply isnât enoughâ and then advocated a much larger increase.
Julie Chen asked Dobbs, âWhat do you think the minimum wage should be today?â
Dobbs replied, âTo adjust to purchasing power, youâre talking about nearly $10 an hour. And thatâs a minimum wage to put us back to where we were 50 years ago. Thatâs an insult.â
Many economists argue that instead of helping poor low-skilled workers, the minimum wage increase could actually hurt them. In fact, a survey of the American Economic Association found that âover 73 percent of AEA labor economists believe that a significant increase [in the minimum wage] will lead to employment losses and 68 percent think these employment losses fall disproportionately on the least skilled.â
Still, the CBS âMorning Newsâ on July 24 shared Dobbs point of view. â[M]any labor experts say itâs not enough,â said Alexis Christoforous without quoting or naming any of those experts. She didnât even mention economic experts who would say that the increase could mean fewer hours or even job loss.
Walter Williams, an economist and BMI adviser, has written: âif higher minimum wages could cure poverty, we could easily end worldwide poverty simply by telling poor nations to legislate higher minimum wages.â
Economic perspective was completely missing from many of the networksâ joyful reports about the wage hike.
CNNâs Ali Velshi indicated on July 24 that another perspective existed, but then glossed over it in his âMinding Your Businessâ segment.
âThere are lots of sides to this story. There is no question about that, but itâs good news,â concluded Velshi. The only nod to another perspective was when Velshi said small businesses are a little âirkedâ about the increase.
In contrast, the July 24
Freedman said, âthe higher federal minimum wage could mean fewer hours for employees, fewer pay increases for other employees, benefits reductions, job losses and waning job creation.â
â[A]ny time you have to arbitrarily increase labor costs, they have to cover the costs in some ways âŚ They have to pay more and get nothing out of it,â he explained.