Fox News Hosts Think Minimum Wage Fast Food Workers Should Stop Complaining

"If you're nice to the people, you make a lot of money."
July 23, 2019, 4:28pm
The 'Fox & Friends' hosts on set.
The 'Fox & Friends' hosts in 2016. Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty

The Tuesday morning edition of Fox & Friends, Donald Trump’s favorite TV show, featured the conservative hosts denouncing the sworn enemies of America: McDonald's workers who would like to be paid more.

In a clip highlighted by liberal press watchdog Media Matters, Brian Kilmeade began by reminiscing about his time working in the service industry and singing an ode to tip money: "You don't even expect that check. It's almost a surprise when you get a $60 or $70 check at the end of the week." These kinds of jobs, he emphasized, were meant for students and those looking for better work. "And now all of a sudden people want to make that job something you can make a career out of while destroying small businesses. And those owners work about 60 hours a week. And now you're telling them their labor force has got to make more, maybe, than they do? Forget it."

"A minimum wage job is not meant to be a career," chimed in Ainsley Earhardt. "If you're working at a McDonald's or a small little restaurant where you're making tips, you're right. If you're nice to the people, you make a lot of money."

"Absolutely. And when the other restaurants hear about it, and they want you," Kilmeade added.

Anyone who has been to a McDonald’s knows that for one thing, fast food workers do not make tips. And McDonald’s is not staffed exclusively by young Brian Kilmeades—in fact, fast food workers are now often older Americans. Many, many people make those sorts of jobs into a "career" not because they like the work but because they have no other options. It’s not so easy to slide into better-paying restaurant work from those types of jobs, not least because of the industry’s discriminatory hiring practices. And even employees at fancier dining establishments have to deal with wage theft, sexual harassment, and other humiliations their hard-working owners don’t have to endure.

The reality of doing those jobs year after year and remaining stuck in poverty or something close to it has motivated fast food workers and others to organize around the goal of a $15 minimum wage—a policy that the Democratic Party is now firmly behind, and which more and more experts say won’t actually do damage to the broader economy. Opposition to the wage hike comes from restaurant industry groups, but it also comes from people like Kilmeade and Earhardt.

Their argument, when boiled down, is that low-wage workers deserve to be paid badly because they haven’t been able to find better jobs—if they were smart, they’d do what Kilmeade did and rise to the point where they are sitting on a couch and talking to the president. The argument is that if you are doing these jobs because you desperately need the money and can’t do anything else, you are a failure unworthy of a living wage. If that’s what the Fox & Friends hosts believe, does anyone think they tip those people well?

Follow Harry Cheadle on Twitter.