Fox News is again highlighting a misleading chart to distort the debate over welfare reform and to amplify Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's inaccurate message that President Obama is "dismantling" welfare reform. In fact, Obama simply gave states the flexibility they asked for in overseeing the welfare program.
Hemmer stated: "If you take a look at the chart, the number has been rising steadily since 2009."
But the chart's scale is deceptively skewed. The chart's y-axis is 94,000,000, not 0 -- as graphs are conventionally delineated. Here's what a more realistic chart would look like when drawn to scale:
Since Fox's chart provides no actual numbers, the increase can only be roughly approximated, but an increase of 96 million to 108 million is an increase of less than 12 percent.
After days of right-wing media outlets lauding Mitt Romney for his hypocritical ad attacking President Obama over welfare work requirements, a Fox News guest finally criticized the ad. But instead of pointing out Romney's hypocrisy, he lamented its lack of images of "welfare moms."
In July, the Obama administration agreed to consider waivers to states to experiment with work requirements in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Such waivers had been requested by two Republican governors. In 2005, an even more extensive version of these waivers were requested by 29 Republican governors, including Romney. But despite his previous advocacy, Romney produced an ad attacking Obama for supposedly gutting welfare reform by supporting such waivers. Right-wing media figures have ignored the hypocrisy and praised the Romney ad.
Today, Fox & Friends hosted Michael Maslansky, business partner of frequent Fox guest Frank Luntz, to critique Romney's ad. Maslansky asserted that the ad contained "a great narrative that Obama doesn't care about ... requiring people to work for welfare." Maslanky then added:
But the imagery is all wrong. It's got people working when he talks about Obama not caring about people going to work. It should have welfare moms as pictures. You want to make it a strong ad? Put welfare moms up there.
Fox News is telling a one-sided story focused exclusively on cuts to defense spending that were included in a 2011 budget deal. What Fox is not telling its viewers is that the deal also included cuts to critical services for vulnerable Americans and reductions in important medical research funding, and that non-defense spending cuts would lead to a loss of more than 1 million jobs.
From the July 26 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the July 24 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
Fox's Laura Ingraham dismissed a recent rule change regarding welfare work requirements as an attempt by the Obama administration to buy votes, a charge right-wing media have frequently leveled at Obama after his attempts to improve antipoverty programs. But the rule change was reportedly requested by GOP governors, and a 2005 version of the waivers was supported by several GOP governors, including Mitt Romney.
Amid reports of rising poverty, two Fox News contributors claimed that anti-poverty programs have done nothing to alleviate poverty. In fact, federal government programs such as food stamps, Social Security, and other measures created or boosted by the stimulus billhave kept millions out of poverty and lowered the poverty rate.
From the July 23 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
Fox's Steve Doocy lamented a report that poverty is rising, calling it "heartbreaking" that "so many people are at the end of the food chain." But, Doocy and other Fox figures regularly attack policies with a proven record of assuaging poverty.
Fox & Friends hosted Fox Business's Stuart Varney to discuss a recent AP article that projected the poverty rate to be higher than any time since 1965. Doocy found the report "heartbreaking," lamenting the fact that "so many people are at the end of the food chain" and saying America "is supposed to be the place where everybody has a chance, and unfortunately, given the state of things, we don't."
But while Doocy's concern about rising poverty levels is reasonable, it is difficult to rectify with Fox's consistent assaults on efforts proven to lift people out of poverty or keep them from falling into poverty.
From the July 21 edition of Fox News' Cavuto on Business:
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Mike Huckabee appeared on Fox & Friends on Tuesday morning to attack President Obama over a plan to allow states to apply for waivers from welfare work requirements. But in 2005, as governor of Arkansas, Huckabee endorsed federal legislation that would have created even more expansive state waivers than the ones being implemented by the Obama administration, signing a letter that promoted "increased waiver authority" as a means "of moving recipients from welfare to work." The attacks from the right-wing media mirror attacks from GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who also endorsed Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) waivers as governor of Massachusetts in 2005.
In a recent rule change, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed granting states more flexibility in how they implement TANF programs by granting them waivers from requirements that require benefit recipients to document work-related activities in order to qualify for the program. Although the rule change was reportedly requested by Republican governors from Utah and Nevada, the right-wing media reacted by accusing the Obama administration of "gut[ting]" the "Clinton welfare work requirement." Fox News host Huckabee appeared on the July 17 edition of Fox & Friends to perpetuate the attack, claiming:
HUCKABEE: A lot of people thought [TANF work requirements] would just cause all kinds of trouble. Well, the opposite happened. More than half of the people that had been on welfare got off and went on payrolls from welfare rolls. It was successful. The unemployment rate went down, the poverty rate went down, and now the Obama administration, through what I believe to be an illegal executive order and a change of the rule, is trying to make it so that they redefine what work means.
Huckabee went on to claim that the Obama administration was issuing the rule change "to make people dependent upon the government that they want to keep in power so they will continue to get benefits."
But Huckabee was not always opposed to TANF waivers. As the Washington Post reported, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius pointed out recently that Mike Huckabee, as governor of Arkansas, "specifically endorsed Senate legislation, which would have allowed many states to receive waivers far broader than we are allowing now." In a 2005 letter to then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Huckabee, along with several other governors, endorsed a TANF reauthorization bill that would have created "[i]ncreased waiver authority" and granted states more flexibility. From the letter:
From the July 18 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Fox & Friends criticized changes to the federal welfare program with deceptive talking points that were identical to a Republican senator's press.
The Fox & Friends co-hosts' target was a recent rule change issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Conservative media last week decried the change and claimed it "guts" TANF's work requirement. Today, Fox & Friends went farther and claimed that the change will allow welfare recipients to get "paid to exercise and read -- even get a massage." Here's how co-host Steve Doocy introduced the segment:
DOOCY: Meanwhile, imagine getting paid to exercise and read -- even get a massage. Well, under new welfare reform waivers, you may be able to do just that. Last week, President Obama announced the White House will now issue waivers to federal work requirements laid out in the 1996 Temporary Assistance Program. The new waivers still will allow states to qualify such activities as work.
Co-host Gretchen Carlson later read aloud a list of activities that she claimed would "qualify as work" thanks to the rule change:
Fox & Friends didn't name a source for these claims. However, a quick Google search reveals an identical list on a press release from GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch (UT):
Hatch's press release specifies that these were activities that a few states defined as "federal work activity" in 2005. This is true, although it lacks context -- "bed rest" and "personal care activities," for example, had to be included as part of a welfare recipient's "recovery from a medical problem."
Hatch's press release then claims that even though those work requirements were tightened in 2005, the Obama administration's new rule change "opens the door to allowing states to count 'bed rest' as a work activity."
But in running with criticism identical to that levied by Hatch, Fox & Friends left out critical information.
In response to requests from Republican-led states, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it will consider allowing states to create more efficient ways to report on the work requirement for recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The conservative media have responded by falsely claiming that this is the "end of welfare reform" and that it "guts" the work requirement.
From the July 13 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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