Fox Spins Poll To Revive “Makers Vs. Takers” Rhetoric

Fox News' Megyn Kelly and Chris Stirewalt used a recent poll that asked whether Americans believe the federal government protects or threatens their individual liberties to resurrect previous smears by right-wing media and Republicans that suggests half the country is dependent on government.

During the December 12 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Kelly and Fox News digital politics editor Stirewalt highlighted a recent poll by Rasmussen saying 45 percent of likely U.S. voters see the federal government as a “protector” of individual rights, while 46 percent say the government is a “threat” to those rights.   

Kelly said that the poll shows the rhetoric between “red vs. blue” (Republicans vs. Democrats) is sharply divided on whether the federal government protects or threatens individual rights. Kelly explains that people who fall into the “blue” category believe the government can “save” them, while those in the “red” feel the government needs to “stay out of my business.”  Fox contributor Chris Stirewalt went on to look at what he claimed is the “underlying question”: “Does the government give you things? Do you have a right to things like, for example, health insurance or other things? Or do you believe you have a right to be protected from the government?”

Stirewalt further suggested that conservatives believe that the Constitution is meant “to protect you from the government,” while liberals believe the government should “provide for the needs of the individual.” This prompted Kelly to note that the number of people who see the government as a “protector” has gone up, suggesting, in her mind, that this is “a shift in favor of big government.” 

In fact, the actual wording of the Rasmussen poll question was much different than Stirewalt and Kelly led on. The question simply stated, “Is the federal government today a protector of individual rights or a threat to individual rights?”

Fox's twist on the poll echoed comments made by former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Romney's infamous remarks suggested that 47 percent of Americans are “dependent upon government” echoed right-wing “makers vs. takers” rhetoric -- an argument that has been repeatedly promoted on Fox News. This is also the same idea behind the conservative media's suggestion that people voted for President Obama and Democrats because they see Obama as “Santa Claus” and just “want stuff.”