White House press secretary Jay Carney lashed out at Reuters’s Jeff Mason today for challenging the statistic that women earn 77 cents for every dollar men make. Given the widespread debunking of the 77-cent line, which the White House has been using as part of its equal-pay push, Mason asked whether it was inaccurate.
“That’s absolutely not the case,” Carney snapped.
“I mean, from Reuters, I would expect something a little more precise,” he continued, drawing some jeers from the press corps. Carney said the data was based on Census data — but it’s just the ratio of the average earnings of men and women working full-time, without taking into account several other variables, such as the employees’ education, tenure, hours worked, and even different occupations held.
Later, when pressed by Ed Henry of Fox News why their arbitrary metric is a problem but the White House’s own pay gap is not, Carney said the administration is “hard at work” to remedy the difference, which is a result of differing seniority and experience between male and female staffers. He assured reporters there is no discrimination at the White House.
As for the 77-cent line, Carney conceded that there are “a lot of things go into that discrepancy” besides alleged discrimination.