By David Shere – January 07, 2011 4:34 pm ET
The right wing press had itself a good laugh today, picking up a story from The Atlantic which reported President Obama referring to outgoing White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ “relatively modest pay.” As has been widely reported, Gibbs makes approximately $172,500. Megyn Kelly devoted a segment on her Fox show America Live to the issue, opening it by suggestively saying ” Gibbs makes $172,000 a year. Does that sound modest to you?” She later added that “the point” is whether Obama’s comments will “alienate him from regular Americans.”
Glenn Beck, as is his custom, gave the most colorful take on Obama’s statement, “tak[ing] it apart sentence by sentence” and putting it back together in a smörgåsbord of inchoate rage. Beck and company offer their standard fare, saying that Gibbs and Obama are Marxists, they’re Socialists and they’re hypocrites. They also rehash the old canard that “the average salary now for a federal worker is what, a hundred and twenty – $125,000 a year?”
The story was also picked up on Beck’s The Blaze under the headline “Disconnect? Obama pities Gibbs for his ‘modest’ $172,200 gov’t salary”
The feigned outrage of Fox and the rest of right wing media would be more believable if they hadn’t spent the past year declaring that families making $250,000 a year are “not wealthy.” Often these comments were made to advance the argument that those who earn this much shouldn’t have their taxes raised because they aren’t rich. Here are some examples:
On the February 1 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, Rush Limbaugh said, “Ladies and gentlemen, $250,000 is not wealthy. And I know that you families, $250,000 — you’re not wealthy. Wealthy — but Obama calls, the Democrats have always called those kind of people wealthy.”
During the February 2 broadcast of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum stated that the revenue provisions in Obama’s budget would affect “the rich, that is people who make over $250,000,” adding, “in some parts of this country, they might not consider themselves rich.”
On the September 13, 2010 edition of Fox & Friends, host Brian Kilmeade said that “if you’re making $250,000, you are not ‘very rich.'”
On the February 2 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co., guest Chris Cotter said that living on $250,000 in New York or San Francisco is “very, very tough…you’re not rich.”
On the February 2 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, anchor Martha MacCallum stated that “in some parts of this country” those making over $250,000 “may not consider themselves rich.”
On the October 22 edition of Fox’s Glenn Beck, Beck said “we’re now going to punish the rich with taxes. And when I say rich, I mean people who make $250,000 a year. That may be a lot more than you make and it may seem like a lot of money but the people who are making $250,000 a year, most likely, started out making as much or less then you are now. And they’ve done some things that have put them in that situation.”
On the July 23 edition of Fox and Friends, host Steve Doocy asked “What do they consider rich in Washington DC? Because what they consider rich, not necessarily part of the real world….[Y]ou know, living in the New York City area, there are firemen who have wives that are in the teachers’ union and they make about [$250,000], and they are not rich.”
Whose comments risk “alienat[ing]” themselves from the American people again?
This isn’t the first time Fox has conveniently changed its definition of “rich” to support whatever the channel’s demonization of that particular day is. As Media Matters‘ Jocelyn Fong wrote on August 10, “turns out that [people who make $250,000 are] not rich if you’re talking about raising their taxes. But they are rich if you’re talking about the Chevy Volt — in fact, they’re ‘very rich.'”
At least they’re consistently inconsistent.