| October 24, 2019 02:38 PM
Coastal elites aren’t born. They’re made.
Television host Kelly Ripa, who boasts a net worth between $75 and $120 million, upset the internet this week by claiming her son is living in “extreme poverty.” Speaking with Jimmy Kimmel, Ripa said her son, Michael Consuelos, is financially struggling in his Brooklyn apartment.
“He hates paying his own rent, and he is chronically poor,” she said. “I don’t think he ever really experienced, you know, extreme poverty like now.”
She added that her parents always give her children a card with $20 for Halloween, which Michael has been waiting on to pay his electricity bill. “He’s experiencing being an adult,” Ripa said.
Viewers quickly grew outraged at the implication that a millionaire’s 22-year-old son living in Brooklyn could be struggling as much as, say, a single mother in Harlem.
“She’d be there in a second for him if he was really living in ‘extreme’ poverty,” commented one viewer. “How disrespectful to those that truly are.”
It’s commendable that Ripa is trying to teach her son financial lessons by having him pay his own rent and electricity bills. Presumably, though, she still pays his tuition at New York University, which costs over $49,000 per year.
Not to be bullied for calling it as she saw it, Ripa quickly addressed the online outrage with a comment on her Instagram, writing that her son is a senior in college who works full time. She continued:
He is in his first non parent subsidized apt with roommates. I’m used to getting a lot of slack because people love to have fake outrage over something they didn’t see. They only read a headline and wag their tired fingers. I didn’t grow up privileged and neither did [my husband, Mark.] We work and we expect our kids to as well. And the fact that a pack of fools want to bitch about that, i say let em.
There’s no crime in being rich, but there is a problem in pretending that you struggle. A little publicity advice for Ripa: Take the L. Say you’re sorry you equated your Brooklynite son’s struggles with those of families on food stamps, and move on.
Ripa may be a millionaire now, but she grew up with a stay-at-home mother and a father who drove buses and headed a labor union in New Jersey. So, if she’s out of touch, at least she’s only recently so.
In a 2001 article from the New York Times, Ripa talks about visiting her parents’ home, where she helped her father around the house. ”He never made me clean out the trash cans when I was young,” Ripa said. The article notes that she is “wondering if her father wanted to be sure she remembers where she comes from.”
By making her son pay his own rent, Ripa is channeling her father, trying to remind a privileged child that life still requires work. It’s a good aim, but if paying your own rent still seems like a significant trial, Ripa has grown more out of touch than she realizes.
And she’s not the only one. When she told Kimmel her son had never experienced living in poverty, he solemnly affirmed, “Of course, when would he have?”
It’s incredibly humorous, in a dark sort of way, to watch a couple of rich celebrities bond over the struggles of an NYU student. Yes, they’re out of touch. But the worst part is that they don’t even know it.