HARPER: Media whoppers misrepresent the GOP

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Politicians and the media like slogans. They’re simple and don’t necessarily need to be true.

The past week, we got two whoppers, which are likely to set the tone of the 2014 campaign, that Republicans are sexist and racist.


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No. 1: President Obama said, “Today, the average, full-time working woman earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. In 2014, that’s an embarrassment. It is wrong.”

No. 2: Baseball legend Hank Aaron “reportedly” compared Republicans who oppose Mr. Obama to the Ku Klux Klan.

Many news organizations bought Whopper No. 1 hook, line and sinker. Laura Bassett, a reporter for The Huffington Post, blasted the GOP for voting against the so-called “Paycheck Fairness Act.” The meme played out throughout the country, challenged only in some of the more perceptive media outlets.

In a column, Mark Perry and Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute take down the wage myth fact by fact. The headline notes: “Once education, marital status and occupations are considered, the ‘gender wage gap’ all but disappears.”

Some pertinent facts from the column:

Men are almost twice as likely as women to work more than 40 hours a week, and women are almost twice as likely to work only 35 to 39 hours per week. Once that is taken into consideration, the pay gap begins to shrink. Women who worked a 40-hour week made 88 percent of what men were paid.

The wages of single women who have never married jumped to 96 percent of men’s earnings. (See http://on.wsj.com/1qfBwix).

Even The Washington Post dismissed Mr. Obama’s claims in its “The Fact Checker” series, noting a number of incorrect statements on the wage differential. (See http://wapo.st/1g7u3yA).

As The Washington Post said, “The president must begin to acknowledge that ‘77 cents’ does not begin to capture what is actually happening in the workforce and society.”

The news organization gave the president two “Pinocchios” for misleading people on the issue. An outright lie earns four Pinocchios.

Whopper No. 2: Mr. Aaron did not compare the GOP with the KKK. Nevertheless, a number of news organizations decided to headline that obviously negative and ridiculous comparison.

Mr. Aaron hit more home runs than anyone else in U.S. baseball history except for Barry Bonds, who has been suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs. It was an amazing accomplishment, which occurred 40 years ago.

As part of the anniversary celebration, Mr. Aaron, who now serves as senior vice president of the Atlanta Braves, said this in an interview with USA Today: “President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he’s treated. We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country. The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”

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