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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Right-wing media figures are heaping praise on Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget plan, with one Fox host calling Ryan "Mr. Budget." In fact, Ryan's budget plan would harm many Americans: It increases taxes on the poor while cutting them for the wealthy, drastically cuts Medicaid and other needed safety net programs, and would cost millions of jobs by reducing federal spending during a still-weak economy.
Fox host Megyn Kelly let Lou Dobbs promote the bogus narrative being pushed by Fox News and Mitt Romney's campaign that President Obama's administration is stripping work requirements from welfare reform, even though she noted shortly after the segment that the claim has been debunked by fact-checking organizations.
After the Obama administration announced that it would comply with governors' requests for more flexibility in administering work requirements for people receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) benefits, the right-wing media immediately went on the attack, claiming Obama was gutting the work requirements that were passed as part of President Clinton's 1996 welfare reform.
On America Live, when Kelly asked Fox Business host Lou Dobbs for "the truth" about the issue, Dobbs agreed that Obama was gutting welfare reform "by fiat" and claimed he "wants to enlarge the level of dependency in this country of the federal government even farther and wants to do so with those who are so dependent, unencumbered with any sense of responsibility." Dobbs' claim is one that has been pushed by Fox News incessantly over the past few weeks and was even adopted by the Romney campaign despite the fact that Romney himself requested similar waivers as governor of Massachusetts.
But later in the show, after letting Dobbs push the dishonest right-wing narrative on the welfare waivers, Kelly noted that "for what it's worth" the fact-checking website PolitiFact "rated that claim with a 'pants on fire' rating a few days ago."