A Fox News segment highlighting the fact that more Americans are benefitting from food stamps advanced the misleading notion that the United States has become a "food stamp nation" thanks in large part to the Obama administration's supposed comfort with having more people in poverty.
But the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is an antipoverty program -- it's designed to keep people out of poverty. And it closely tracks with the economic situation: As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted, enrollment in the program "expands when the economy weakens and contracts when the economy recovers."
During a discussion about the increase in food stamp enrollment with Fox host Neil Cavuto, conservative pundit Michelle Fields said the increase "has a lot to do with eligibility. They've expanded who can get food stamps, so we're seeing so many more people on them." She added: "That's really what this administration is all about, right, is making people feel more comfortable living in poverty because that's what food stamps are."
Though Cavuto noted that the economic situation is the cause of much of the increase in SNAP enrollment, he nevertheless suggested that spending on the program would continue at current high levels.
In fact, SNAP is an antipoverty program, designed to keep people out of poverty and lessen the extent and severity of poverty and unemployment. In 2011, for example, the program kept nearly 5 million people out of poverty, more than 2 million of them children:
A recent World Bank report warned that we are on the path to a world "marked by extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise." Yet The Los Angeles Times, CNN and Fox News ignored the report entirely, continuing a pattern of deficient climate coverage.
In November 2012, a World Bank report concluded that a 4 degree Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) worldwide temperature increase by the year 2100, of which there is approximately a 20 percent likelihood even assuming current commitments to greenhouse gas reduction are honored, would lead to "unprecedented heat waves, severe drought, and major floods in many regions" and the "regional extinction of entire coral reef species" that provide "food, income, tourism, and shoreline protection" for many communities. It also determined that the consequences of climate change would most adversely affect "many of the world's poorest regions," which have contributed among the least to climate change and have the least ability to adapt.
Of the major print outlets The Los Angeles Times was the only one that didn't mention the World Bank report (The New York Times only covered the report online, but recently created an interactive graphic illustrating one of the report's major warnings: sea-level rise).*
MSNBC's The Cycle, on the other hand, dedicated an entire segment to the report and climate change policies:
Unfortunately, it appears that their climate coverage made them an outlier once again among cable news outlets, as CNN and Fox News skipped the report. Fox News routinely ignores or downplays the veracity and urgency of climate change, and CNN has been criticized for under-covering it.
*This post has been updated to reflect changes in Daily Kos blogger RL Miller's reporting.
On the eve of Thanksgiving, Fox News pundit Andrea Tantaros mockingly dismissed the plight of hungry Americans, claiming that she would "look fabulous" if she were forced to live on a food stamp diet.
Tantaros' vapid commentary came in response to Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker's pledge to accept the food-stamp challenge and try to subsist on $133 for food per month for an extended period of time, just as food stamp recipients in New Jersey do.
After Fox Business panelists speculated whether Booker's pledge is an effort at "positioning himself for a run for the presidency as a man of the people," Tantaros quipped: "I should try it because, do you know how fabulous I'd look. I'd be so skinny. I mean, the camera adds ten pounds."
Tantaros' comments are appalling and uninformed. While most of us feast on turkey and yams, stuffing and cranberries, on Thursday, millions of Americans will go hungry, just as they do every day. The food stamp challenge exists to demonstrate the struggles that food insecure families face trying to live on their monthly allotment of food.
Despite the difficulty in subsisting on food stamps, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), which was formerly known as food stamps, helped keep millions of families out of poverty in 2011.
Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer pushed a claim debunked by the Post's own fact-checker to bash President Obama for supposedly having an un-American agenda.
Krauthammer asserted in his November 1 column that an "Obama second term means that the movement toward European-style social democracy continues, in part by legislation, in part by executive decree. The American experiment -- the more individualistic, energetic, innovative, risk-taking model of democratic governance -- continues to recede, yielding to the supervised life of the entitlement state." He also claimed: "Every four years we are told that the coming election is the most important of one's life. This time it might actually be true. At stake is the relation between citizen and state, the very nature of the American social contract."
To back up his argument, Krauthammer wrote that during his first term, Obama "enacted liberalism's holy grail: the nationalization of health care." But as the Post's fact-checker Glenn Kessler has explained, "the core of the health system in the United States will remain the existing private insurance market. So it in no way resembles the government-run health systems used in most industralized countries in the world." Other fact-checkers agree with Kessler, and Politifact even labeled the related claim that Obama enacted "a government takeover of health care" its 2010 Lie of the Year.
As Politifact pointed out,
[T]he law Congress passed, parts of which have already gone into effect, relies largely on the free market:
• Employers will continue to provide health insurance to the majority of Americans through private insurance companies.
• Contrary to the claim, more people will get private health coverage. The law sets up "exchanges" where private insurers will compete to provide coverage to people who don't have it.
• The government will not seize control of hospitals or nationalize doctors.
• The law does not include the public option, a government-run insurance plan that would have competed with private insurers.
• The law gives tax credits to people who have difficulty affording insurance, so they can buy their coverage from private providers on the exchange. But here too, the approach relies on a free market with regulations, not socialized medicine.
From the October 9 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Fox News repeated the conservative myth that there is an emerging "culture of dependency" and a "culture of entitlement" because of the supposed notion that people would rather collect food stamp benefits than work. In fact, most beneficiaries of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are working-class Americans who already have jobs, and most leave the program after one year.
Sean Hannity dredged up the long-debunked "Obama phone" smear on his radio show by suggesting that a caller was voting for President Obama so he could get a free cell phone. But the program that "Obama phones" refers to was not started under the Obama administration and is not funded by the government or by taxpayer money.
Last week, a video surfaced of a woman who claimed that she received a free "Obama phone." The video was picked up by the Drudge Report and Rush Limbaugh, and it quickly spread throughout the right-wing media. In fact, the current federal program of offering subsidized phone service has nothing to do with Obama - it was created in 1996 and was expanded to cover cell phones in 2008, under the Bush administration. Further, the goal of universal service has been a basic tenet of federal telecommunications policy since 1934, and the program is entirely funded by the telecom industry, not through taxpayer money.
Hannity pushed the false narrative on the October 1 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show while taking a call from someone he identified as "one more Dem in D.C." When the caller said that was voting for Obama and was about to explain the reason he was doing so, Hannity responded: "Let me guess -- you're gonna get an Obama phone."
Hannity's embrace of the "Obama phone" story fits in with the conservative narrative of attacking Obama supporters as lazy and dependent on the state, most recently illustrated by the right-wing media's embrace of Mitt Romney's criticism that "47 percent" of the electorate are Obama supporters who do not pay income tax and refuse to take "personal responsibility" for their lives.
Hannity pushed this theme last month when he asked, "Do you think people are better off on food stamps, or are they better off with a job?" -- even though most recipients of food stamp benefits are working-class Americans with jobs, or are senior citizens or children. Hannity also claimed that Romney's "47 percent" remarks will ultimately "be seen as a godsend" for the candidate.
From the September 25 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' Rush Limbaugh Show:
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From the September 24 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' Rush Limbaugh Show:
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On Fox, Sean Hannity asked if people are "better off on food stamps" or "better off with a job." But most recipients of food stamps, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, are working-class Americans with jobs, or are senior citizens or children.
After Mother Jones released video of Mitt Romney's controversial comments about 47 percent of the voting public, Fox News defended him, suggesting that Romney made an accurate statement about voting preferences while downplaying the other parts of his remarks. In the video, Romney also attacked supporters of President Obama as "dependent on government" and unwilling to "take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
Since the video's release, Fox News has ignored most of what Romney said to donors in Florida, focusing only on his comments involving the "47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what." On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed "if you see the context of what he says," Romney was "saying 'I don't know if I can convince those people to ever vote for me' but it'll be posed as 'I don't care about those people.'" Later in the program, co-host Gretchen Carlson complained that the "headline throughout the day" would not be "the actual mathematical points that he makes."
But Romney's remarks were about more than who might vote for him. In the video, he disparages Obama supporters, describing them as people "who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them." Romney concluded by saying "I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
The right-wing media's assault on struggling Americans found its way in to GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's recently revealed remarks disparaging 47 percent of Americans "who pay no income tax" to a group of wealthy donors, once again demonstrating the conservative media's central role in the GOP.
Fox News' Karl Rove distorted President Obama's record on welfare reform, falsely claiming the administration "will not approve any policies which reduce the level of welfare assistance." In fact, the letter Rove cited as evidence said the administration would not grant waivers to states if their program would block access to the benefit programs. It did not declare that states could not reduce the level of assistance.
In recent weeks, Rove's American Crossroads has been cheering and enabling Mitt Romney's dishonest campaign to accuse the Obama administration of stripping work requirements out of welfare reform. In fact, the waiver program simply grants states flexibility in figuring out how to comply with federal guidelines on transitioning aid recipients to work.
Rove appeared on the August 27 edition of Fox's America Live to discuss the Republican National Convention. After Fox's Juan Williams pointed out that the Romney campaign has made false claims about Obama, including the false claim that "welfare is going to be expanded under President Obama," Rove pushed back. According to Rove, a letter from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said the administration would not approve "any policies which reduce the level of welfare assistance."
Rove's interpretation of HHS letter is a flat out distortion.
From the August 18 edition of Fox News' Forbes on Fox:
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