Traditionally, FOX News has found interesting ways to demonize the poor. In 2004, they discovered an interesting trick: the poor aren’t living in complete squalor, so they can’t really be poor.
An article entitled The Specter of Poverty in America denigrates the Census Bureau’s 2004 report highlighting the 35.9 million people “living in poverty” (quotes inserted by FOX) the prior year.
The article states:
“For most Americans, the word “poverty” suggests destitution: an inability to provide a family with nutritious food, clothing and reasonable shelter. But only a small number of the million persons classified as “poor” by the Census Bureau fit that description. Real material hardship certainly does occur, but it’s limited in scope and severity. Most of America’s “poor” live in material conditions that would be judged as comfortable or well-off just a few generations ago.”
It went on to explain that 76 percent of poor households have air conditioning, the majority aren’t completely overcrowded, nearly 75 percent of poor households own a mode of transportation to work, and (GASP) 73 percent own a VCR or DVD player.
“Overall, the typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave,” the article continues, as though not suffering negative health effects of overheating, keeping food fresh, cooking said food, cleaning clothes, and being able to heat up some Ramen noodles are somehow bad things.
While it was mentioned over the years, the network embarrassed themselves again by drawing a link between affluence and refrigerators in a 2011 segment. Host Neil Cavuto highlighted a Heritage Foundation report that once again demonized the poor because they have personal possessions.
Varney ran down the usual list. He pointed out that 99.6 percent of “poor” (once again, quotes added by FOX) households have refrigerators, 81.4 percent have microwaves, 78.3 percent have air conditioning,” and so on.
For some reason the refrigerator “thing” has become a go-to “argument” for FOX News when they aren’t imagining poor people buying weed with food stamp money or citing the Great Depression as evidence that the poor don’t need government assistance…or offering heartfelt advice: “Stop being poor.”
Apparently, it’s that time again!
On Tuesday’s The Five, FOX claimed that a new Census Bureau report showed that the “war on poverty” is a failure because 45 million Americans still live below the poverty line.
“The war, this war against poverty was plotted to continue indefinitely,” Greg Gutfeld said. “The census counts a family as poor, but excludes the government spending that they get, the programs they get from that actual income. So what happens is it guarantees that programs will grow while poverty is unchanged because you’re not counting the money their getting!” Gutfield later added that the war on poverty is a “zombie that you can’t kill.”
Eric Bolling explained that under that socialist Kenyan Muslim Obama’s leadership, those dirty poors don’t even have to “pretend” they are looking for work.
“President Obama is the first president to pull that [requirement] out,” Bolling said. “So it’s literally more financially beneficial for you to stay on welfare programs than it go out and get a job for a good percentage of the population.”
As the misinformation peddlers spoke, FOX flashed the numerous amenities to which “poor” (their quotes, not ours) families have access, including air conditioning, a computer, and internet access.
In 2014, the United Nations declared internet access a human right — and we all know how FOX feels about the human rights of the less fortunate. The Center for American Progress explained that the items FOX is parroting from the Heritage Foundation’s latest report are necessary for survival, and that using them to measure poverty is “misleading.”
“These arguments are mean and misleading on several accounts. First, the electronic devices that Heritage cites are everyday necessities today. Who has iceboxes anymore? Who doesn’t need a cell phone to find a job or keep one? Fortunately, these appliances are all significantly cheaper these days, but not so the real everyday basics such as quality child care and out-of-pocket medical costs, both of which have risen much faster than inflation, squeezing the budgets of the poor and middle-class alike. In fact, if anything, those who we consider poor today are far more out of the social mainstream in terms of their basic income than when our poverty measure was first set in the 1960s.
To avoid a real discussion of these issues, the Heritage Foundation craftily creates indexes that rank households on skewed measures of “amenities” that suggest that no further federal action is needed to buoy the standard of living of poor and working-class families. Such indexes are heartless and foolish. Heartless because they ignore the fact that it takes much more than a few appliances to support a family. And foolish because they lend credence to the calls for cutting the supports that research has shown are necessary for every child to become a healthy and productive adult.”
Watch the latest installment in FOX’s perpetual whinefest about the poor, below: