Fox News lifted part of a Wall Street Journal opinion piece to attack a federal farm subsidy program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture while Fox News Latino contributor Rick Sanchez dismissed the USDA's history of discriminating against female and Hispanic farmers.
The USDA is currently allowing female and Hispanic farmers to apply for claims of up to $50,000 if they were previously unfairly treated during the federal farm subsidy loan process because of discriminatory practices at the USDA. According to the checklist included in the claim application, applicants must submit official documentation of discrimination -- such as a notarized witness statement, and in some cases a copy of their original loan application -- before their claim can be deemed eligible for review.
An op-ed published March 20 on the Journal's website by James Bovard ignored these facts to ridicule charges of USDA discrimination against female and Hispanic farmers:
Are you a woman or a Hispanic who planted a backyard garden between 1981 and 2000? Did you ever dream of asking for a loan for help growing more? If so, you might be a victim of discrimination and entitled to a $50,000 payout from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
On March 22, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy repeated this portion of the Journal op-ed almost word for word to similarly mock individuals seeking compensation from past discrimination:
DOOCY: Are you a woman or Hispanic who planted a garden between the years of 1981 and 2000? Did you dream of asking for a loan to grow your garden but you didn't get a loan to grow a garden? If so, you could be a victim of discrimination and entitled to $50,000. That sounds crazy, right? It's not. People will actually wind up with money.
During the segment, on-air text referred to the money as an “entitlement” and “reparations”:
As NPR reported in November, the USDA “has a long history of discriminating against farmers who are women, Hispanic, Native American and African American,” leading to lawsuits which have cost the government billions. In 2010, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack acknowledged these civil rights violations at a Senate appropriations subcommittee and committed to “closing this rather sordid chapter of USDA history.”
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has detailed “key steps” the USDA needs to take to ensure “fair and equitable services to all customers” following these numerous reports of discrimination. As of August 2012, the GAO determined that the USDA had fully addressed only half of the GAO's recommendations.
Doocy was not the only Fox figure to dismiss the evidence of discrimination in the program. MundoFox and Fox News Latino contributor Rick Sanchez further claimed the program was part of a government plan to make Hispanics “dependent on a nanny state,” and dismissed the allegations of discrimination, saying: “It doesn't matter if you're a transvestite from Honduras or whether you're a white guy from Iowa ... [t]oday it's women and Hispanics. Tomorrow it's going to be Asians and then it's going to be this and then it's going to be that and pretty soon, look, we don't have enough money as it is.”
Right-wing media previously attacked similar payments from the USDA to African American and Native American farmers as “reparations,” despite a report from the Congressional Research Service which noted that a USDA review commissioned in 1994 found that in the early 1990s “minorities received less than their fair share of USDA money for crop payments, disaster payments, and loans.”