Fox's Demonization Of Government Programs Is Failing


Fox News' concerted campaign against government social programs is not resonating with the American people, according to a new NBC/WSJ poll.

An October NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey determined that a majority of Americans now favor the government doing more, not less, to solve problems and meet the needs of the public. This finding runs counter to the Republican party's desire for limited government, as NBC explained:

As the [Republican] party has used the shutdown and fiscal fight to campaign against the nation's health-care law and for limited government, the poll shows those efforts have backfired.


And by a 52-percent-to-44 percent difference, respondents believe the government should do more to solve problems. Back in June, the public was split, 48 percent to 48 percent, on whether the government should do more or less.

The poll found that support for increased government intervention jumped during the 16-day government shutdown forced by the House of Represenative's tea party faction:  

These results should be especially interesting to Fox News -- long before it was championing a government shutdown, the network was leading the charge against government programs and regulation. Fox has tirelessly demonized federal social programs and disparaged those they help, a campaign that does not appear to have had much effect upon the opinions of the public at large.

Here are some of Fox's most strident attacks:


Fox campaigns tirelessly against the federal minimum wage requirement for private businesses. According to Fox, any increase in the wage creates drastic job losses for small businesses and results in the automation of entry-level service work.

Some at the network have even posited that raising the wage rewards mediocrity.  

In apparent attempts to downplay the necessity of the federal requirement, Fox argues that it's mostly teenagers who comprise minimum wage earners, not people expecting to earn a living, and regardless the minimum wage has already been sufficiently raised.

Economists disagree -- as the Center for Economic and Policy Research explained, raising the minimum wage has no "discernible impact" on employment, and in fact, wage increases often result in more jobs rather than less. Adjusting for inflation, the real value of the minimum wage has declined eight percent since 2009, a fact which drives growing income inequality and places an extraordinary financial burden on the millions of adults -- not teenagers -- who depend on these jobs to survive.


Of the many attacks Fox has lobbed at the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare), one of the loudest is that the ACA constitutes an unnecessary and dangerous government intervention into Americans' private lives. The network has deemed the act "socialized medicine" and a "government takeover of health care," claiming that not only is it unconstitutional, it marks "the end of America as you know it."  One Fox contributor even accused the ACA of being "the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery," adding, "it is slavery, in a way."

Of course, with no government option, the ACA relies on private insurance companies to provide health care coverage. Rather than amounting to "a government takeover of health care" -- a line PolitiFact named its 2010 Lie of the Year -- the ACA will actually bring new business to the private insurance industry.


The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is one of Fox's favorite government programs to demonize, painting recipients as free loaders who deserve more stigma for receiving benefits. Network figures have claimed SNAP keeps people in poverty and operates merely as a means of buying votes. When complaining about the program's historically low levels of fraud grew tiresome, Fox hypothesized that the rate of SNAP fraud actually was 5,000 percent higher.  

Unsurprisingly, Fox actively campaigns for recipients to be pushed off the program, encouraging a House vote to cut nearly $40 million of its funding.

What Fox doesn't admit is that economists consider SNAP "one of the most effective forms of economic stimulus," according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The program kept nearly five million Americans out of poverty in 2011, more than half of whom are children and the elderly. And despite Fox's fearmongering, fraud in SNAP benefits is approximately only one percent, one of the lowest levels of fraud out of all government programs.  


Fox News hated the federal government's successful $50 billion bailout of the automobile industry, arguing GM and Chrysler should have gone through private bankruptcy proceedings instead. Fox contributor Karl Rove decried the use of "taxpayer money " to "restructure GM and Chrysler by fiat." Then-Fox host Glenn Beck thought the federal bailout represented the "death of the constitution" and compared it to the actions of German companies "in the early days of Adolf Hitler."

In the end, the bailout spared an estimated 1.4 million auto industry jobs in 2009 alone. And experts agree that it would not have been possible for GM and Chrysler to rely solely on private financing in 2008 and 2009, due to the global financial crisis.

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