Back in April, workers in Seattle were treated to the first step in a series of minimum wage increases that will eventually bring their pay to at least $15 an hour. That set off right-wing media, which was flooded with inaccurate reports about how the higher minimum wage had spurred a string of business closures, particularly among restaurants. Now, as part of their continuing war on the poor, the
fair and balanced fairly unbalanced network is attacking “lazy” minimum wage workers, saying that many of them in Seattle are asking their employers for fewer hours in order to hang on to welfare benefits.
On three separate Fox News shows, correspondent Dan Springer talked about the “unintended consequences” of Seattle’s minimum wage hike. He said that the higher minimum wage has pushed many workers over the cutoff point where they can no longer receive benefits such as food stamps, and rent subsidies. Springer says that this problem runs counter to the claim that a $15 minimum wage will lift people out of poverty.
The suggestion, of course, is that these workers want something for nothing, and they like the idea of working less and continuing to receive welfare benefits. And oh, by the way, Fox viewers, do you see what a waste a higher minimum wage is on these slackers? But, this is Fox News, after all, so would it surprise you to learn that they’re not telling you the whole story?
Media Matters observes that Springer got his information, not from minimum wage workers themselves, but from Seattle talk-radio host Jason Rantz. Rantz works for KIRO radio, but it’s that station’s tv outlet, KIRO-TV, that presents a true picture of what’s going on.
Nora Gibson, who runs Full Life Care, a non-profit that serves elderly residents, tells KIRO of how, after Seattle’s minimum wage increased to $11 an hour, some of her employees started asking to have their hours reduced. Fox actually got that part of the story right. Fox was also correct that the reason these employees made that request was because they feared the loss of some welfare benefits.
But here’s the part that Fox News left out. According to Gibson, her employees were asking for fewer hours because, if they lost their housing subsidies, they could wind up homeless. The new minimum wage could push them above the maximum income for subsidized housing, but it is still well below the amount they would need to afford the rent on an unsubsidized apartment.
Gibson tells KIRO:
This has nothing to do with people’s willingness to work, or how hard people work. It has to do with being caught in a very complex situation where they have to balance everything they can pull together to pull together a stable, successful life.
Gibson says that the requests didn’t surprise her, and observes, “The jump from subsidized housing to market rate in Seattle is huge.”
Once again, Fox News demonstrates how right-wing media works. They don’t exactly lie, so much as they distort the truth, or they simply don’t tell you the whole truth. That is exactly what they did in this case.
Here’s how Fox News reported the issue, via Media Matters:
And here’s the complete truth of the matter, via KIRO:
Featured image via Shannon Kringen/Flickr