Longtime E! News host Catt Sadler recently went public with her decision to leave the network after 12 years, citing a massive pay disparity for her exit. Without mentioning anyone by name, Sadler revealed that a “similarly situated male co-host” had been making double her salary for the last few years, though we all gleaned that the co-host in question is Jason Kennedy. Kennedy’s wife Lauren Scruggs defended her husband on her blog, intimating that Kennedy deserved his salary.
In the aftermath, we don’t think anyone blamed Kennedy, except for maybe him not speaking up in support of Saddler’s reasons for leaving. It’s not his fault that the wage gap favored him. If anything, the public was upset with E! and empathized with Sadler. Despite this, Scruggs felt the need to defend her husband’s character.
Scruggs noted a New York Times article where an E! spokeswoman revealed that Sadler’s and Kennedy’s roles were not comparable, so let us break down their achievements. Kennedy hosted E! News five days a week and co-hosted the major red carpet events which only happen a few times a year. Sadler was one of three co-hosts for Daily Pop, which aired every day, and she co-hosts E! News twice a week. Per week, Kennedy does five shows, while Sadler does seven. We absolutely understand how the pay disparity would make Sadler feel undervalued, given the number of on-air hours she gave the network each week (two more, technically, than her co-worker). We also understand how Scruggs and Kennedy would believe he works on more “high profile” shows.
Scruggs continued her blog post with an anecdote about a different female colleague (likely Giuliana Rancic) who made more money at one point than Kennedy.
“I believe in female empowerment and gender equality, but it is heartbreaking that a network (that truly cares about its employees) is being deemed as sexist when that is simply not true. At one time my husband had a female co-anchor on E! News who made three times his salary. Women are paid accordingly on this network, and the difference in his salary versus theirs did not affect Jason whatsoever because he knows there are always more components to consider when determining one’s salary than gender alone,” Scruggs wrote on her blog.
We feel that this bit of information about the other female anchor’s salary is a, well, moot point. The most salient point here is that Sadler felt undervalued, tried to renegotiate her salary, and E! still didn’t meet her needs. She was ultimately forced to leave, which is unfortunate. Parsing hairs over who did more work won’t help the wage gap conversation.
If a woman learns that she is making significantly less than her male co-workers, at this time in our culture, the onus is on women to speak up and demand what we believe we deserve. However, whether or not E! correctly valued Sadler’s services to the network is another question. We hope that company understands that this is an issue women won’t be retreating from anytime soon.