Republicans Have Gamed ‘Meet the Press’ and Other Sunday Political Shows into Venues for Spreading Lies – Rachel Maddow Fights Back

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During a discussion about women’s pay on Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Rachel Maddow attempted to state the fact that women are paid 77 cents for every dollar men are paid, but she could barely get a word in edgewise because of interruptions by Alex Castellanos, a Republican operative, who insisted that it was not true — that women and men are paid equally:

RACHEL MADDOW: The Romney campaign wants to talk about women and the economy. Women in this country still make 77 cents on the dollar for what men make. So if —

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Not exactly.

MADDOW: Women don’t make less than men?

CASTELLANOS: Actually, if you start looking at the numbers, Rachel, there are lots of reasons for that.

MADDOW: Wait, wait. No.

CASTELLANOS: Well, first of all, we –MADDOW: Don’t tell me what the reasons are. Do women make less than men for the —

CASTELLANOS: Actually. No, because —

MADDOW: Wow. OK.

CASTELLANOS: Well, for example, men work an average of 44 hours a week. Women work 41 hours a week. Men go into professions like engineering, science and math that earn more. Women want more flexibility —

MADDOW: Listen, this is not a math is hard type of conversation.

CASTELLANOS: No, no. Yes, it is, actually.

MADDOW: No, it isn’t.

CASTELLANOS: We’re having to look —

MADDOW: No, listen —

GREGORY: All right Let Rachel, frame it though —

MADDOW: Right now, women are making 77 cents–

CASTELLANOS: And litigated —

MADDOW: — on the dollar for what men are making, so —

CASTELLANOS: Well, that’s not true.

MADDOW: So —

CASTELLANOS: If so every —

GREGORY: All right, let Rachel make her point.

CASTELLANOS: — greedy businessman in America would hire only women, save 25 percent and be hugely profitable.

MADDOW: I feel like this is actually —

CASTELLANOS: That’s it.

MADDOW: — and it’s weird that you’re interrupting me and not letting me make my point, because we get along so well. So let me make my point.

CASTELLANOS: I will.

Castellenos was lying, of course, which Maddow proved on her show Monday night by providing, you know, facts. Unfortunately, however, the damage is done. None of the conservatives who watched “Meet the Press” will be exposed to the truth about his issue — because they only watch Fox and certainly would not tune into the Maddow show.

But conservatives were not the primary target of Castellanos’ lies. He was addressing swing-voting independents, many of whom are generally unengaged in politics until close to Election Day — except for occasionally dipping in to watch the Sunday shows. They don’t watch Fox or MSNBC.

It’s this factor that makes Castellanos’ strategy a success. All he needed to do was muddy the facts, to create doubt about the factual assertions made by supporters of women’s equal pay, in the minds of the swingsters — so, mission accomplished.

Republicans have been gaming the stodgy format of “Meet the Press” and the other Sunday shows for years. They know their lies will never be fact-checked in real time, they don’t care if the truth comes out later on another platform, like Factcheck.org or other sources, because those outlets do not get the exposure that the Sunday shows do.

The classic — and direst — case of Republicans manipulating the Sunday show format happened in September 2002, when the Cheney-Bush administration launched it’s “marketing” campaign for the invasion of Iraq.

First, Cheney’s people leaked false information to Judith Miller and Michael Gordon at the New York Times claiming that Saddam Hussein had tried to obtain yellowcake uranium from Niger as well as aluminum tubes to used as components of centrifuges used to enrich aluminum.

The article by Miller and Gordon, “U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts,” appeared on the front page of the Times on Sunday, Sept. 8. That same day, Cheney appeared on “Meet the Press,” with Tim Russert, and referred to the Times report as the centerpiece of his rationale for invading Iraq. Tim Russert, then the host of “Meet the Press, cluelessly helped Cheney lie:

CHENEY: The third thing you need is fissile material, weapons-grade material. Now, in the case of a nuclear weapon, that means either plutonium or highly enriched uranium. And what we’ve seen recently that has raised our level of concern to the current state of unrest, if you will, if I can put it in those terms, is that he now is trying, through his illicit procurement network, to acquire the equipment he needs to be able to enrich uranium to make the bombs.

RUSSERT: Aluminum tubes.

CHENEY: Specifically aluminum tubes. There’s a story in the New York Times this morning – this is – I don’t – and I want to attribute the Times. I don’t want to talk about, obviously, specific intelligence sources, but it’s now public that, in fact, he has been seeking to acquire, and we have been able to intercept and prevent him from acquiring through this particular channel, the kinds of tubes that are necessary to build a centrifuge.

There was plenty of evidence out there, but, as media critic Jeff Jarvis says, “Russert, the alleged reporter, was too busy kissing Cheney’s butt to out and find them.”

On that same Sunday, top Bush officials, including Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs Chair Richard Myers, appeared on the other political shows and referred to the false story the Cheney team had planted in the TImes.

At CBS News, Bob Simon had actually investigated the story. He later said, “You leak a story to the New York Times, and the New York Times prints it, and then you go on the Sunday shows quoting the New York Times and corroborating your own information. You’ve got to hand it to them. That takes, as we say here in New York, chutzpah.”

Chutzpah, maybe. Traitorous, for sure. Dick Cheney and the Bush White House cabal were in the act of committing what was literally a war crime — an act of depravity that resulted in the deaths and maiming of thousands of American service personnel and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraq children, women and men. Tim Russert and other in the “liberal media” acted as their unwitting accomplices.

Russert never took responsibility for this journalistic malpractice, and NBC apparently never viewed the manipulation of the “Meet the Press” format by Cheney and other Republicans to be a problem that required fixing. As we saw on Sunday, the format is intact and Republicans like Alex Castellanos are still using the show’s low journalistic standards as a safe redoubt for spreading lies and its perceived credibility to bolster their claims.

Transcript from the Rachel Maddow Show, Monday, April 30:

MADDOW: The list of most common jobs for men in this country and the list of the most common jobs for women in this country are two lists that have very little in common, it turns out. The jobs we do in this country are still sort of surprisingly really segregated by gender.

But whether you have an occupation that is male-dominated or you have an occupation that’s female dominated, there’s one thing that just about every single job in America has in common. Dudes get paid more for doing it. If you are a driver, men get paid more. If you’re manager, men get paid more.

If you’re a janitor, men get paid for. If you’re a retail salesperson, men get paid more. If you’re a sales rep, if you are a cook, a chief executive, a security guard, a police officer, a customer service representative– in all those cases, men get paid more. In 19 of the 20 jobs that are the most common occupations for men in this country, women lag behind what men get paid for doing that same work. It’s also true in the most common jobs that women have in this country.

If you are a secretary, men get paid more. If you’re a teacher, men get paid more. If you’re nurse, men get paid more. If you’re a cashier, men get paid more. If you’re a receptionist, a financial manager, if you wait tables, men get paid more. Again, in 19 of the 20 jobs that are the most common occupations for women in this country, women lag behind what men get paid for the same work. Overall, when you aggregate everybody working, women get paid 77 cents for every dollar that men get paid. For the same work, dudes get paid more. ” Bloomberg News” crunched the numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau this year. They divided the country up into 265 different occupations and they found, surprise, no matter how you slice it, men get paid more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nationwide, the median salary for men is greater than women in 99.6 percent of major occupations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There’s only one out of 2645 major occupation categories where the median salary of men exceeded that of men, and that was personal care and service workers. We’re talking house sitters and butlers, valets. And even then, it’s only 2 pennies more on the dollar, or 2 percent more that these women are making. So, in 264 out of 265 at the major occupations, men are getting paid more.

MADDOW: In 264 out of 265 major occupations, men get paid more than women do. Republicans, it turns out, do not believe this. I did not know this was one of those things in which conservatives and the rest of the country have two totally different understandings about what is true. But it turns out this is one of those things. And figuring that out makes a bunch of stuff make sense that never really seem to make sense before. It raises one question about the presidential campaign moving forward. President Obama was, of course, sworn into office on January 20th, 2009.

Two days after he was sworn in, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that the brand new president had been advocating for on the campaign trail, had been asking Congress to pass, had been saying he wanted to sign as president. If you’re a woman working in a job and you’re being paid less than man who is doing the same job, that’s illegal. That is discrimination. If the same company is paying a men and a woman different amounts for doing the same work and they’re paying the man more, and the woman less just because of gender, that’s a illegal discrimination. But how do you know it’s happening if it’s happening to you? I mean, companies don’t volunteer that they are discriminating on the basis of gender. And people in all sorts of different jobs don’t generally volunteer their salaries to each other.

So, you have to know what you are being paid and you have to know what somebody else in a comparable position to you is being paid so that you can compare the two before you have any idea that discrimination is going on. If you find out you are being discriminated against and you want to sue for that because that is illegal discrimination, it used to be that the statute of limitations for you being able to sue would start ticking on the date of the last discriminatory paycheck that you got.

So, there is a statute of limitations. You can’t sue somebody for discrimination on a job that you quit 25 years ago or something. But every time you get a new discriminatory paycheck, that statute of limitations clock starts ticking again. In 2007, there was a court ruling that changed that. It said, from now on, the statute of limitations start ticking with your first discriminatory paycheck, even if you do not know it’s discriminatory. So, think about this, by the time you figure out you’re being discriminated against at your job, too bad, the statute of limitations has ran out. It’s over.

You have to live with it. Ha! I mean, discrimination is still technically illegal, but thanks to that court ruling in 2007, essentially, now, there’s nothing you can do about it.

Nice loophole, right? That bill that the Senate passed two days after President Obama was inaugurated that the House passed a few days after that, a bill that was on the president’s desk nine days after he became president, the first bill he signed as president fixed that loophole. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, that’s what it did. So, if you are being discriminated against at work, if you are getting paid less because you are a woman, the statute limitations will not be over by the time you can conceivably figure that out. You can actually take an employer to court to stop the discrimination.

Straightforward as policy, right? Noncontroversial. Thirty-six Republican senators voted against it. The only Republicans who voted for it were the four female Republicans in the Senate and Arlen Specter, who was about to become Democrat. That’s it. All of the other Republican senators voted no. On the House side, 172 Republicans voted against it. Only three Republicans voted for this thing.

And when that happened, I’ve always thought about that vote as just the first sign that Republicans were going to vote no on everything that Barack Obama supported, even anodyne , noncontroversial, narrowly targeted solutions to real world problems like this. But now we know that while women getting paid less than men is a real world problem, in Republican world, it is not a problem. Not it’s happening and we don’t mind, but it’s not happening. In Republican’s minds, women don’t get paid less than men in this country.

You know, look. In one profession out of 265, women are doing great. Butlers turns out. It’s awesome. The other 264 occupations, those are obviously just statistical aberrations. I honestly thought this was one of those issues where Republicans and Democrats might disagree about how to solve the problem or Republicans might think it’s important to oppose the president than try to solve the problem. Before yesterday morning, I did not know that Republicans literally do not believe this problem exists.

DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, “MEET THE PRESS”: How, Rachel, should this conversation actually be framed? I made the comment when I’ve done this topic before. In a lot of ways, you know, men bringing up this question it’s almost a condescending question. “Well, what is it that women want?”

MADDOW: Right.

GREGORY: So what is the right way to be framing this conversation and this debate? Which is a very serious debate, because we’re talking about the real deciders in the race.

MADDOW: Policy. It should be about policy. And all of our best debates are always about policy. And it should be about policy that affects women specifically. The Romney campaign wants to talk about women and the economy. Women in this country still make 77 cents on the dollar for what men make. So if —

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Not exactly.

MADDOW: Women don’t make less than men?

CASTELLANOS: Actually, if you start looking at the numbers, Rachel, there are lots of reasons for that.

MADDOW: Wait, wait. No.

CASTELLANOS: Well, first of all, we —

MADDOW: Don’t tell me what the reasons are. Do women make less than men for the —

CASTELLANOS: Actually. No, because —

MADDOW: Wow. OK.

CASTELLANOS: Well, for example, men work an average of 44 hours a week. Women work 41 hours a week. Men go into professions like engineering, science and math that earn more. Women want more flexibility —

MADDOW: Listen, this is not a math is hard type of conversation.

CASTELLANOS: No, no. Yes, it is, actually.

MADDOW: No, it isn’t.

CASTELLANOS: We’re having to look —

MADDOW: No, listen —

GREGORY: All right Let Rachel, frame it though —

MADDOW: Right now, women are making 77 cents–

CASTELLANOS: And litigated —

MADDOW: — on the dollar for what men are making, so —

CASTELLANOS: Well, that’s not true.

MADDOW: So —

CASTELLANOS: If so every —

GREGORY: All right, let Rachel make her point.

CASTELLANOS: — greedy businessman in America would hire only women, save 25 percent and be hugely profitable.

MADDOW: I feel like this is actually —

CASTELLANOS: That’s it.

MADDOW: — and it’s weird that you’re interrupting me and not letting me make my point, because we get along so well. So let me make my point.

CASTELLANOS: I will.

MADDOW: But it is important, I think, the interruption is important, I think, because now we know, at least from both of your perspectives, that women are not faring worse than men in the economy. That women aren’t getting paid less for equal work. I think that’s a serious basis — difference in factual understanding of the world. But given that, some of us believe that women are getting paid less than men for doing the same work, there is something called the Fair Pay Act. There was a court ruling that said the statute of limitations, if you’re getting paid less than a men, if you’re subject to discrimination, starts before you know that discrimination is happening, effectively cutting off your recourse to the courts. You didn’t know you were being discriminated against. You can’t go. The first law passed by this administration is the Fair Pay Act– to remedy that court ruling. The Mitt Romney campaign put you out as a surrogate to shore up people’s feelings about this issue after they could not say whether or not Mitt Romney would have signed that bill. You’re supposed to make us feel better about it. You voted against the Fair Pay Act. It’s not about —

MADDOW: — whether or not you have a female surrogate. It’s about policy and whether or not you want to fix some of the structural discrimination that women really do face that Republicans don’t believe is happening.

GREGORY: It’s policy is the argument.

CASTELLANOS: It’s policy. And I love how passionate you are. I wish you are as right about what you’re saying as you are passionate about it. I really do.

MADDOW: That’s really condescending.

CASTELLANOS: For example — no.

MADDOW: I mean, this is a stylistic issue.

CASTELLANOS: I’ll tell you what —

MADDOW: My passion on this issue —

CASTELLANOS: Here’s a fact —

MADDOW: — is actually me making a factual argument —

CASTELLANOS: Can I share one- –

MADDOW: — on it, Alex.

CASTELLANOS: May I share one fact with us?

MADDOW: Please share.

CASTELLANOS: When you look at, for example, single women working in America today between the ages of, I think, 40 and 64, who makes more? Men or women, on average? Men make $40,000 a year. Women make $47,000. When you take out the marriage factor, look at some economics. My point here is that we’re manufacturing a political crisis to get away from what this election really wants to be about.

MADDOW: Manufacturing a political crisis. What I wanted to talk about there was policy, about why Republicans would not support a common sense solution to a very specific part of the problem of women making less than men. But on the way to trying to raise that question, I accidentally learned, I guess we all accidentally learned that Republicans don’t believe that women make less money than men do. Women make less money than men do. On average women, get paid 77 cents for every dollar that man gets paid. That’s for everybody in the work force. If you look at the most popular jobs among men, it’s the same thing. If you look at the most popular job among women, it’s the same thing. There are a few outliers. You can cherry pick, like you can with any statistical truth. But this is a really, really clear statistical truth.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Here is a question. Do women in the United States make less money than men for doing the exact same work? On NBC’s ” Meet the Press” yesterday, the Republican strategist and CNN contributor Alex Castellanos answered no. That sparked a very passionate debate with Rachel Maddow of MSNBC. We asked Lisa Sylvester to do a fact job. Lisa, who’s right?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a fascinating subject, Wolf, and we have been looking into this. We reached out, by the way, to Alex Castellanos but he was not available for comment. The question, is there an earnings gap between men and women? And the answer, according to the Census Bureau is yes.

SYLVESTER (voice-over): But data directly from the Census Bureau shows there is a pay gap and it’s real. Quote, “In 2010, the earnings of women who worked full-time year round were 77 percent of that for men working full-time.

MADDOW: Women get paid less than men do, 77 cents on the dollar on average. That’s true. Democrats know that’s true. It’s the accepted truth by anybody who is looking at the facts of the matter. Republicans do in the know that’s true. This seems important. I finally see this now. It’s important both in terms of the facts but also in terms of the politics. I think this is why this debate has been so talking past each other, so incoherent and dissatisfying. Republicans think you solve the war on women perception problem by having your presidential candidate be seen with women. That’s Mr. Romney on the campaign trial with Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte. She won Judd Gregg Senate seat after he retired from the Senate two days after President Obama was inaugurated, Judd Gregg was one of those Republicans who voted no on the Fair Pay Act, because there is no fair pay problem, right? When they got in trouble on this issue earlier, they put out Cathy McMorris Rodgers as Mr. Romney’s female surrogate to shore up the way people felt about this issue. She voted no on the Fair Pay Act. Mr. Romney himself will not say whether he would have signed the Fair Pay Act that President Obama signed. Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin who Mitt Romney has been praising as a hero, he just repealed the state-level version in Wisconsin of the Fair Pay Act. If you recognize that there’s a problem with women getting paid less than men, a political party opposing or at least refusing to support policy to fix that problem seems like hostility toward women’s interests. But if you don’t recognize there’s a problem with women getting paid less than men, then policy debates about how to fix something that’s not a problem don’t seem that important to you. And so, you downplay the importance of policy and you can’t understand why everybody keeps saying this war on women thing is going on. And your 17-point deficit with women voters, that’s — that’s just the product of not putting your candidate out there with enough women standing next to him regardless of how they vote and what they think.

And that brings us to what’s going be a central bet in the campaign, a central question: does the country live in Republican world? Where women are getting paid less than men, somehow isn’t a problem. Where policy on issues like this don’t matter because it turns out women are doing great. While Mitt Romney was on the campaign trial with a female senator, Kelly Ayotte, today, on the campaign trail with President Obama in New Hampshire, in the same state, was Lilly Ledbetter, after whom the Fair Pay Act was named. The Democratic side is making a bet that general election voters are not Republicans on the set of ” Meet the Press.” They are betting that the average general election voter does not live in Republican world, but rather in the reality based community where facts are useful for understanding what problems are and policy is useful for solving those problems. Joining us now is Dr. Heidi Hartmann. She’s founder and president of the Washington-based Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Dr. Hartmann is also a research professor at George Washington University. Dr. Hartmann, thank you very much for being here. I really appreciate it.

DR. HEIDI HARTMANN, INSTITUTE FOR WOMEN’S POLICY RESEARCH: You’re welcome. It’s a pleasure. Thank you.

MADDOW: I know that you at the women’s — Institute for Women’s Policy Research, you have done some of the most important and most highly publicized work on this issue. Is there any way that the idea of a gender- based disparity is something that depends on how you look at it? Is this something other than a blunt truth about the American economy?

HARTMANN: Well, I mean, you obviously have by far the better part of the argument. You’ve got the Census Bureau and I might mention, the Bureau of Labor Statistics agreeing with you. Oh, also, I could mention, the U.S. General Accountability Office. I think what the issue is for the Republicans is that they believe that that’s not — no matter how big the wage gap is almost none of it is due to discrimination. And, of course, these numbers from BLS and Census Bureau are not really talking about discrimination. But the GAO study that I just mentioned did. They said that even when you put everything you can possibly think of in the regression equations, the statistical analyses to try to make that gap go away, you can’t explain at least 20 percent of it. Now, most other studies place the part you can’t explain as a quarter to a half. So, a large part of the gap probably is due to discrimination. But that seems to be what the debate is. And, you know, when you ask can the Republicans convince women they don’t live in the real world? Probably not, because almost every survey that’s ever been done of working women, when you asked them about their job, like 95 percent say my biggest problem on the job is lack of equal pay.

MADDOW: In terms of just making it very clear, what you were talking about there about doing a statistical regression analysis on these things, controlling for other factors — I spent a long time going through the Republican side of this argument today just trying to understand how you could look at these very blunt numbers and come up with the opposite truth. What you’re saying basically is when you control for things like the number of hours worked, you’re still getting a gender based pay disparity that is not explained by working a different number of hours?

HARTMANN: Right. Exactly. I mean, Alex seemed to believe if you put in working a different number of hours that would explain it. No, far from it. If you look at all workers and male and female in the economy, we know, let’s say, during the childbearing years, about a third of women may be working part time. So count part time. Count how much women work. OK. I’m working part time. Only making $400 a week. Compare it to all the men, more of whom are working full time. You still get a wage ratio of 72 percent. So that means that that 77 percent isn’t going to move very much if you suddenly remove the people where the men are working 44 and the women are only making 40. No. The number of hours explains a very small part of it. I mean, these regression analysis, they include occupation. They include your education, number of years of experience, maybe sometimes marital status, number of children — just about anything you can think of. And you cannot make the whole gap go away. So there is discrimination. Now, those studies aren’t even in a way counting the sex segregation that you opened your presentation with this evening. Those studies try to hold occupation constant. You have the data up there occupation by occupation. We have some equal occupations. You mentioned police officers and sheriffs. Women are only like 1 percent behind there. Amazing. But you go to financial managers, they’re 26 percent behind. So, it is different within each occupation. But maybe why women don’t go into police as much and go into nursing more is also discrimination. So, even the exercise of trying to decide how much of wage gap is due to discrimination and how much isn’t is — that’s open to interpretation. That’s why in Canada, for example, when they talk about the wage gap between women and men, they would use a number comparable to that 72 percent figure I gave you. They would use a number that says, well, look, at how much difference men and women earn in the labor market. I mean, if we believe men and women are equally competent, equally capable, also have to live and eat and support their families, we should be wanting a society where that gap is zero, where a man and woman are making the same amount.

MADDOW: How to get to zero seems like where — that’s where I thought we were on policy. Everybody agreed there was a gap, we’re trying to get to zero, let’s fight about how we all get there, with all the ideological biases and all the different places we come from. Instead to be denying that the gap is there has blown by mind. Dr. Hartmann, founder and president of the Institute for Women’s Police Research– thank you very much for joining us and helping us understand this. I really appreciate it.

HARTMANN: You’re welcome.

MADDOW: All right. General Motors is alive and Osama bin Laden is dead — all thanks to Mitt Romney, turns out. Exactly how that is possible, coming up.

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