MSNBC’s Ari Melber was up in arms Wednesday night, as he filled in on The Rachel Maddow Show, at Fox News for daring to report that food stamp fraud was up to roughly $70 million in 2016. But the outrage at Fox gave way to outrage at the white working class for falling for the racist “dog whistle” of caring about said fraud. “Why is this all coming up again now,” he inquired to his radical leftist guest Joan Walsh from The Nation.
“Well, why now is because we have Fox News, which is awaiting a President Donald Trump by rerunning their greatest hits,” she declared, “I mean, Fox has done this before. They did it under Obama. They chased this idea of food stamp fraud.” Walsh completely wrote off the facts and pretending like the fraud was not happening, while smearing everyone who brought it up as racist:
But it goes way back, it goes back to Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan in the '60s talked about strapping young bucks buying T-bone steaks with their food stamps and everybody knew who he was talking about. So when Newt Gingrich talked about Obama that way, it's a dog whistle. We've heard it before. We'll hear it again and hear it a lot under President Trump.
Walsh’s cries of racism shifted into a pseudo-intellectual critique of President-elect Donald Trump’s supporters, implying that they didn’t understand they were voting against their self-interest (a common smear from liberal elitists looking down on the working class). “First of all, seven out of ten states that are top food stamp recipients are red states,” she opined to Melber, “They voted for Donald Trump. So the politics of this is very interesting.”
She slammed Republicans for not having solutions for the plight of the working class, while Melber noted that some of those red states had high rates of ObamaCare enrollment. In response to Melber’s point, Walsh whined that people blame the government for their problems and not understanding otherwise, “But we've got this tradition of the white working class sadly hating programs that actually benefit them.”
“Really believing they've come to blame the government for their joblessness or the fact that their jobs pay low wages. So they resent, even though they benefit,” Walsh continued. But what goes well over Walsh’s head (and what she describes as “weird conundrum for Democrats”) is that the working class is smarter than she gives them credit for. The people understand that government erects hurtles that stifle success, and that the liberals’ assault on actual free markets hurts their ability to get ahead.
Ironically, the whole discussion was started when Melber claimed that Fox News had lied about the $70 million in food stamp fraud. Melber claimed that MSNBC called the Agriculture Department and were told they didn’t know the origin of the number. He cited the radical leftist website Mother Jones as a “fact checker” who found “There's zero evidence that fraud is at an all-time high.”
But according to a Washington Post piece criticizing the Fox News report, the number is not an issue but arguing it requires the end of the program is.
<<< Please support MRC's NewsBusters team with a tax-deductible contribution today. >>>
The Rachel Maddow Show
December 28, 2016
9:26:51 PM Eastern
CLIP FROM FOX NEWS: This year it is estimated $70 million of taxpayer money was wasted on food stamp fraud. So is it time to end the program altogether?
ARI MELBER: It is “estimated.” It is? Now, that was Fox News just yesterday reporting on the use of food stamps formally known in the federal government as supplemental nutrition assistance. Fox News source that $70 million fraud claim to the federal government, specifically to the Agriculture Department.
But the Agricultural Department has not put out any new information about fraud. And we called them today to ask about that figure. They say they don't know where Fox got it. Fact checkers [citing Mother Jones] who review these claims find there's zero evidence that fraud is at an all-time high. It's declined in recent years.
Now, the Agricultural Department does try to track it generally. In 2013, not exactly news, they said the program had a fraud or trafficking rate of 1.3 percent. It's not exactly clear why this topic is arising now. We know it's not a response to actual news from the Ag. Department. But Breitbart news, which used
MELBER: But on the politics there are two dynamics are at play here. Number one: making the program sound flawed so that you can try to cancel it, and secondly the effort to tie President Obama and liberals to providing food stamps as if it's something bad, a tactic that's been tried many times most memorably by Newt Gingrich back in his 2012 run for president.
MELBER: Now, if what is old is new again, we have to ask absent new facts or government data, why is this all coming up again now? Joining us is Joan Walsh, a national affairs correspondent at The Nation. Why now?
JOAN WALSH: Well, why now is because we have Fox News, which is awaiting a President Donald Trump by rerunning their greatest hits. I mean, Fox has done this before. They did it under Obama. They chased this idea of food stamp fraud. But it goes way back, it goes back to Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan in the '60s talked about strapping young bucks buying T-bone steaks with their food stamps and everybody knew who he was talking about. So when Newt Gingrich talked about Obama that way, it's a dog whistle. We've heard it before. We'll hear it again and hear it a lot under President Trump.
But I think there's one really interesting thing here. First of all, seven out of ten states that are top food stamp recipients are red states. They voted for Donald Trump. So the politics of this is very interesting. Also most able-bodied adults on food stamps actually work as well. So it's not just people sitting around, you know, lazy, flipping channels, it's really a crisis of the low wage job market that we've gotten ourselves into which Republicans have no solutions for.
MELBER: Right. You mentioned there's a lot of this nutrition assistance in states that went for Trump, those are also the states we found with the highest ObamaCare enrollment.
MELBER: And so, what is the linkage, it may not even be that the Trump transition folks are thinking about this policy oriented strategy, but clearly their putative allies here are trying to re-paint the picture of what these programs do.
WALSH: Well, this is going to be really interesting in the transition, but also in the next 2-3-4 years. Is that, Donald Trump actually ran against cuts to the underlying safety net, specifically social security and Medicare, but he didn't rail against food stamps. He really didn't talk like a budget cutter which he's going along with Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan's budget as well as Donald Trump's tax cuts are going to require food stamp cuts.
So, we don't really know what he thinks. But we've got this tradition of the white working class sadly hating programs that actually benefit them. Really believing they've come to blame the government for their joblessness or the fact that their jobs pay low wages. So they resent, even though they benefit. And this is a weird conundrum for Democrats. That obviously poor Hillary Clinton couldn't sort out, and I think we'll be spending a lot of time thinking about how to do that in the years to come.