New evidence that food stamps help to drastically reduce poverty has been largely ignored by the media, even as the right pursues a campaign to bully those who face food insecurity into silence and help conservatives slash funding for successful antipoverty measures.
In a report released April 9, researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that food stamps "reduced the poverty rate by nearly 8 percent in 2009." That year, USDA researchers concluded, food stamps reduced the depth of child poverty by 20.9 percent.
As MSNBC's Al Sharpton explained, "facts matter" in the debate over anti-poverty programs. But a Media Matters analysis shows that major broadcast news outlets completely ignored the study, even as Republicans demonize food stamps and push to slash funding for the program.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that the Republican budget plan introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan and endorsed by Mitt Romney would cut funding for food stamps by $134 billion over 10 years. As the USDA estimates show, those cuts could have a significant impact on poverty rates.
From the April 9 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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From the February 29, 2012 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson is set to receive a journalism award at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference from Accuracy in Media, a right-wing group with a long history of promoting anti-gay views and conspiracy theories. Attkisson -- the first reporter from a mainstream news outlet to receive AIM's annual award -- has produced some notably bad journalism over the past year, particularly on the topics of clean energy and vaccines.
Right-wing media, especially Fox News, have a long history of attacking healthy eating and exercise while promoting unhealthy habits such as eating fast food or using too much salt, or getting Botox and going tanning. If getting healthy is one of your goals for 2012, here's why you shouldn't trust any advice from the right-wing media.
Today, MSNBC's Willie Geist asked what seemed like a rhetorical question during Morning Joe: "Who is against giving children good food for lunch?" While some of his co-hosts laughed at the idea that anyone could be against such a thing, there is, in fact, a major media outlet that has loudly opposed healthy food and exercise initiatives for children: Fox News.
Geist's question came during an interview with Share Our Strength (SOS) founder and CEO Bill Shore and actor Jeff Bridges, who were on Morning Joe to promote SOS's No Kid Hungry campaign. After playing a clip of Jon Stewart mocking Congress' decision to allow schools to count pizza as a vegetable, the co-hosts discussed SOS's successes and struggles in trying to get healthier food into school lunch and breakfast programs. That's when this exchange happened:
GEIST: So when you go out there, Jeff, let's say you go up to Washington, and I mean this as a serious question, who is against giving children good food for lunch? I mean that.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI (co-host): Well, the clip that we --
GEIST: We laugh at the Jon Stewart clip. But are there people, when you say, we need to get fruits and vegetables, they say, no, no, we're sticking with the frozen pizza. I'm backed by the pizza industry. How does it work? Who's against this?
Bridges responded by saying, in part, that "hunger is so connected with poverty. And ... poverty, you know, when you start to deal with that, everybody has different opinions," then concluded: "But you're right. When you talk about feeding kids ... it's a no-brainer."
Geist and Brzezinski don't need to look as far as the pizza industry to find an outspoken opponent of SOS's work getting kids healthier food. They only need to look to neighboring cable channel Fox News.
During an attack on Michelle Obama for promoting greater access to grocery stores as a way to deal with childhood obesity, Sean Hannity claimed that there are "grocery stores everywhere." In fact, millions of Americans live more than one mile from a grocery store and do not have access to a car, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that greater access to grocery stores is related to a reduced risk for childhood obesity.
Right-Wing media attacked President Obama for a recent Department of Agriculture decision to assess a tax on Christmas trees, claiming Obama is "grinching 15 cents out of your pocket." In fact, the tax is intended to promote the live Christmas tree industry and is supported by grower associations.
In a November 1 editorial titled, "Americans groan: Michelle Obama's new book demonstrates her appetite for green," The Washington Times attacked the first lady, calling her "America's First Nanny" who "admits she can't stay away from French fries herself," yet "that doesn't stop her from lecturing everyone else on what to eat." From the Times:
Liberals love to tell other people what to do. America's First Nanny, Michelle Obama, is no exception. Though she admits she can't stay away from French fries herself, that doesn't stop her from lecturing everyone else on what to eat. Now she wants us to spend our money to buy her new book on tips from the White House garden.
"American Grown: How the White House Kitchen Garden Inspires Families, Schools and Communities," is scheduled to hit the bookshelves April 10, just in time for spring planting - and the 2012 campaign season.
Mrs. Obama, the de-facto national food czar, is backing the effort to redesign the traditional food pyramid. With the help of $2 million from the Department of Agriculture, she converted the pyramid into a food circle. Dubbed "My Plate," the revamped bureaucratic diet regime is supposed to help the hungry eater select correct portions of the various food groups by arranging them as they would appear on a plate just before digging in.
The first lady does lead by example with her crusade for exercise called "Let's Move!" Hitting the road, she visited Chicago on Oct. 25 to warn residents of the dangers of dessert and attend a fundraiser for the Obama Victory Fund. Supporters were offered the opportunity to have their photos taken with Michelle for $10,000.
As Mrs. Obama barnstorms the country for her husband's re-election in the coming year, taxpayers have found her weakness for pricey vacations, costing them $10 million in 2010 alone, a little hard to swallow. While Michelle puts the finishing touches on "American Grown," Americans groan. Meanwhile, the Census Bureau reports 46.2 million Americans are living below the poverty line - the most in 52 years.
This morning, the Fox Nation website highlighted an Associated Press article about the White House's annual tradition of giving out Halloween treats to costumed children. The article, a descriptive narrative about how the Obamas spent a snowy Saturday in front of the White House handing out "Halloween candy to trick-or-treaters from capital area elementary schools and children of military families," bore the headline: "Things get seasonal at the White House; Obamas hand out Halloween treats." From the AP's story and the Washington Post's photo gallery, it looked like Halloween at the White House was a roaring success. For the kids at least.
For Fox Nation, not so much. "TRICK," blared the headline above a photo of the Obamas. The entire Fox headline read: "TRICK: Obamas Hand Out Dried Fruit at WH Halloween":
An earlier Fox headline to the AP story read: "Happy Halloween: The Obamas Pass Out 'Fruit' ":
Funny. Alisyn Camerota, Clayton Morris, and Dave Briggs -- otherwise known as the Fox & Friends weekend morning crew -- thought the whole thing was "cool"; including Michelle Obama's healthy goody bag. Briggs said, "I'm with Michelle Obama. I would eat that! I'd go back [for] seconds." And Camerota agreed that dried fruit was indeed "delicious."
Rush Limbaugh rarely needs a reason to launch attacks on first lady Michelle Obama. This week, he was given the perfect opportunity to further his attacks when he parroted unsubstantiated claims from the Drudge Report that claimed "Michelle Obama [was] furious with cooking queen Paula Dean [sic]."
The Drudge headline linked to a National Enquirer article alleging that Michelle Obama "is now furious with Southern cooking queen PAULA DEEN for crowing that the first lady, a healthy-eating advocate who's waging a war against childhood obesity, pigs out on fattening foods." The Enquirer quoted an unnamed source saying, "Michelle's spitting mad. ... She thinks Paula is trying to smear her and her family just as the 2012 presidential election race swings into gear."
The Enquirer further reported:
The trouble first began before Barack Obama was even elected president in 2008, when Michelle made a guest appearance on Deen's popular "Paula's Party" show and revealed that fried shrimp was her family's favorite meal.
Then in an interview after filming the program, Paula quipped that Michelle would be serving high-fat, greasy and sugary foods in the White House if Obama won the election!
Now Paula is rehashing those attacks on Michelle in an attempt to plug her latest cookbook and offset Michelle's new book about eating healthy, noted the source.
"She's no different than the rest of us," Paula said about Michelle in a new interview.
Paula added: "She probably ate more than any other guest I ever had on the show! She kept eating even during commercials. Know what (the Obamas') favorite foods are? Hot wings. Y'know -- those kinds of foods that aren't necessarily top-of-the-list healthy foods."
LIMBAUGH: I read all of this, and nowhere do I see Moochelle getting around to denying what Paula Deen is saying. All Moochelle's upset about is that Paula Deen is saying it. But Moochelle's not denying liking all that food. Just mad that Paula Deen's saying so.
LIMBAUGH: By what measure or standard is Michelle Obama qualified on these subjects? So, she's first lady. That means she's qualified to tell everybody else how to eat, what to eat, when to eat, and where to eat? And not just food advice. Moochelle is now giving parenting advice. What makes her think most parents in this country need lectures from her about parenting? I mean, the arrogance of these people, folks, it's just astounding.
Maybe the executives at Fox should petition Bill O'Reilly for his trademark slogan "Culture Warrior." Seriously, when was the last time the network didn't wring its hands over yet another perceived assault on Christmas? Or, for that matter, Easter? It didn't really matter whether there was any truth to Fox hosts' claims that there was indeed a "War on Christmas" or a "War on Easter." The mere effrontery of "Happy Holidays" was enough for some to go into apoplectic shock; it even led co-host Gretchen Carlson to demand that Republican presidential candidates be asked what should be done about it.
The holiday season is still a full month away this year. But today, a Fox Nation headline read: "Schools Declare War on Halloween":
The headline linked to a story by correspondent Todd Starnes, which reported:
Public schools across the country are cancelling Halloween celebrations over issues ranging from candy corn to concerns that Americans are forcing their holiday traditions on new immigrants and many parents are angered by what they are calling political correctness.
The principal at Buckman Elementary School in Portland, OR recently banned costumes at his school, calling instead for boys and girls to embrace a "spirit of equity."
"For many reasons, the celebration of Halloween at school can lead to student exclusion," Principal Brian Anderson wrote in a letter to parents. "There are social, financial and cultural differences among our families that we must respect."
Anderson wrote that the "spirit of equity" has led most public schools in the city to "deemphasize the celebration of Halloween at school."
The story went on to highlight a mother's derision for "the country's obsession with the politically correct."
But as is clear from the links Starnes included in his article, this is stretching the truth.
From the October 21 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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A Washington Times editorial titled, "Bachmann is right: HPV vaccine has dangerous side effects," argued that Rep. Michele Bachmann, a 2012 Republican presidential candidate, "shouldn't step away from her original claim about the [HPV] vaccine's unintended results because she's actually right." The Times may have been referring to an interview Bachmann gave on NBC's Today, during which she relayed a mother's contention that after her daughter was given the HPV vaccine, "she suffered from mental retardation." Doctors have called that suggestion "irresponsible" and wrong.
The Times did not defend Bachmann's suggestion that there is a link between the HPV vaccine and mental retardation. Rather, the editorial brought up another argument against the HPV vaccine, stating: "There are serious side effects to government mandating the HPV vaccine, but they are behavioral, not medical. Teens 'inoculated' against HPV are being given a false sense of security tantamount to a green light to participate in sexual activity."
But that, too, has been disputed. In fact, there is no evidence the vaccine leads to promiscuity, and studies show that when they are asked about their own behavior, teens are "much less likely to say" that the vaccine would have some kind of influence on their decision to engage in sexual activity.
Right-wing media have reacted to the announcement that the parent company of Olive Garden and Red Lobster will make adult and children's meals healthier by inventing the conspiracy that the decision was the result of favors from the administration or political pressure from Michelle Obama. This follows the right-wing media's long history of attacking healthy eating and exercise.