On January 8, Fox News’ The Five aired a segment about internships involving a discussion on paid internships versus unpaid internships. During that segment, host and self-proclaimed libertarian Greg Gutfeld said:
“[T]he biggest myth of all time is that sweatshops are bad.”
Merriam-Webster defines ‘myth’ in this context:
“A popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone” and “an unfounded or false notion.”
The term, “sweatshop” originated back in the 1850s, when priest, professor, historian, and novelist Charles Kingsley wrote about the woes of “the sweating system” and its role in “destroying the living wages of the working man.” Thereafter, the term “sweatshop” became known as “a shop or factory in which employees work for long hours at low wages and under unhealthy conditions” (again, according to Merriam-Webster).
But Mr. Gutfeld is saying that long hours at low wages and in unhealthy conditions being perceived as ‘bad’ is an unfounded or false notion. Was he joking?
The Five segment began with an introduction by rotating-host, Dana Perino. As soon as she uttered the word “interns,” it sent hosts Eric Bolling and Bob Beckel into gales of barely suppressed laughter, causing Dana to rebuke them by saying, “No, we’re not talking about that kind of intern.” (What kind of intern, I wonder, did they think Dana was talking about. And why did it amuse them so?)
Then Eric Bolling was asked if he had ever worked at an unpaid internship and he replied that he hadn’t, but that his first job on Wall Street paid “really, really no money, like $150 a week.”
Dana then turned to Greg to get his views on internships. He started out:
“For information on this topic, I tried to contact an organization called Liberal Business Owners of America, but it didn’t exist!”
Rimshot: badum tssssh. He goes on to say:
“The left paints this myth that people toil for years on this low-wage job. But no, they don’t. They’re only on that low rung of the ladder for a short time. That’s why it’s low paying and that’s why it’s a low rung.”
Bob asks, “How do you know that?”
Greg replies, “Because I studied it! A low-paying job has to be on the low rung in order to get people up on that.”
He doesn’t clarify exactly what “up on that” is, but continues,
“If you make that low rung high-paying, then the unskilled worker can’t get up there and move up.”
You wouldn’t expect such a cleverly articulated argument from Greg. I guess he’s saying that if you start low-wage workers at a higher wage, they’ll miss out on the experience and opportunity of getting to that higher wage. Okay. He continues:
“That’s why the biggest myth of all time is that sweatshops are bad. Sweatshops for an emerging economy are for workers with no skills. And then over time, the country moves away from it.”
In other words, Greg is saying that sweatshops are a necessary evil. I wonder if his opinion would be the same if he’d ever had to work in one. Maybe he’d feel differently if he had had to work in one as a child, as so many children in other countries do. The discussion then went on to the minimum wage, where Eric Bolling declares:
“There is nothing good about the minimum wage laws in this country.”
(I won’t get into that argument here; I covered it not too long ago in my “Minimum Wage Hikes Are Not Job Killers” here.)
Greg concludes the segment with a hilarious joke about sexual harassment in the workplace:
“I have two interns right now at Fox News which I actually don’t pay at all. I just give them afternoon back rubs. And I know they’re working because they’re trembling.”
Greg’s statement regarding sweatshops got me to wondering if the notion that they’re bad is truly the “biggest myth of all time.”
Mythbusters (surely the experts on myths) disagree, saying the biggest myth is “Science is just for nerds.”
But Fox News has featured a lot of “biggest myths” over the years:
Fox News contributor and former politician Zell Miller, said on Fox News back in 2004 that Democrats being united was the “biggest myth right now.”
In December 2008, the Fox News Website featured an article about “Standout Cover Letters,” where Human Resources Manager at HarperCollins, Rebecca Alimena, was quoted as saying the biggest myth is that recruiters don’t read cover letters.
And the Fox Business News site reported in April 2011 that the “biggest myth” believed by “wannabe entrepreneurs” is that “you need money, connections, technical knowledge and experience to start a profitable business.”
“Cook For America” co-founder, Kate Adamich, was quoted in an article appearing on the FoxNews’ website last year that the biggest myth was that it was more expensive to cook from scratch.
And, in an AP article that appeared on the Fox News website last year, historian Olivier Bouzy said that Joan of Arc leading the French in battle was the biggest myth.
But my personal favorite Fox News “biggest myth” took place in August 2005, when during an interview with Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly said that “the biggest myth in the world” was that the U.S. lost the Vietnam War (Coulter disagreed with O’Reilly on that point, but said it was “a debate for another day.”)
I have my own opinion about Fox News and “biggest myths”… it involves the surely sarcastic slogan, “fair and balanced.”