Fox & Friends continued the right-wing media's war on nutrition this week by claiming the child nutrition bill passed by Congress last week could “ban bake sales at schools.” The co-hosts kept singing the same tune even after one of their guests correctly observed that the bill does not “ban” bake sales and would not affect after-school fundraisers. The bill, called the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, was passed by a vote of 264-157 in the House on December 2 and was passed this summer in the Senate by unanimous consent.
On the December 6 edition of the show, co-host Gretchen Carlson teased an upcoming segment on the bill by saying, “Don't touch my muffins! A new bill headed to President Obama's desk would give the government the power to limit school bake sales? Is that any of the government's business?”:
Later, co-host Brian Kilmeade brought on two guests to discuss the bill and introduced the segment by saying, “Say good-bye to homemade brownies and Rice Krispie treats. There's new legislation on the way to the president's desk and backed by his wife, the First Lady, that could ban bake sales at schools across the country. Is this going too far?” One chyron during the segment read: “War on Desserts: Bill would ban unhealthy food at schools.”
Well, the bill doesn't ban bake sales, as Kilmeade's first guest told him. Maryland State Senator David Harrington responded to Kilmeade's question about a “ban on bake sales” by pointing out that while the bill does “authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to set new regulations that provide [children] healthy choices... during their lunches,” the bill's regulations “do not extend” to bake sales “outside of school hours...at basketball games, football games, clubs.”
Kilmeade continued to push his line of attack, responding, “You're saying they can do it after but not during school.” Harrington corrected him, saying, “No, they can do it during school,” adding that the bill gives the Secretary of Agriculture additional authority to “look at bake sales” but not does ban, in Kilmeade's words, using “cupcakes...to fundraise”:
Indeed, a December 3 AP article noted that Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack sent out a letter last week stating that he would not use the new bill to ban bake sales. The article said the child nutrition bill gives the government power to “limit school bake sales and other fundraisers that health advocates say sometimes replace wholesome meals in the lunchroom” and later said:
Public health groups pushed for the language on fundraisers, which encourages the secretary [sic] of Agriculture to allow them only if they are infrequent. The language is broad enough that a president's administration could even ban bake sales, but Secretary Tom Vilsack signaled in a letter to House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Calif., this week that he does not intend to do that. The USDA has a year to write rules that decide how frequent is infrequent. [AP,12/03/10]
The article also noted that the legislation “wouldn't apply to after-hours events or concession stands at sports events.”
So after the interview with Harrington, Fox & Friends must have tweaked their language a little and acknowledged that the bill doesn't really “ban” bake sales, right?
Wrong. About an hour later, Kilmeade teased an upcoming segment with Buddy Valastro, star of the reality show Cake Boss, by saying, “We debated it earlier -- banning cake at school bake sales. We're not afraid to eat cake. The cake boss is here. He's not afraid to make cake. That's a dangerous combination. He's good at it”:
During the segment with Valastro, which featured shots of the co-hosts frosting cupcakes, Carlson said, “Let me ask you this. Earlier today we were doing this debate about the federal food bill -- may outlaw things like cupcakes from public schools! What will the cake boss do?”
Interestingly, Valastro, by responding, “If it's done in moderation, having cupcakes are fine at a school. I don't think it should be daily, but in moderation, anything is good,” doesn't necessarily sound opposed to moderating the frequency of bake sales:
If so, that would put him in the same camp as the American Bakers Association, because guess what? They support the bill.