An essay posted in October by Linda Tirado entitled “Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, Poverty Thoughts” describing her struggles as a woman with virtually no income was picked up by the liberal Huffington Post and then went viral, drawing more than four million people to read her claim that she is “a poor person,” and “that is all I am or ever will be.”
However, an investigation by Angelica Leicht for the Houston Press discovered that the blog post’s author is a private-school-educated Democratic activist who wildly exaggerated her circumstances. She owns a home as the result of her parents’ generosity, has worked in politics since 2004 and has called herself a private political consultant since 2010.
While describing her supposedly heart-breaking tales of life in poverty, she stated that being poor is self-perpetuating and results in making bad decisions that lead to a destructive spiral from which it is nearly impossible to escape.
Tirado also wrote: “I make a lot of poor financial decisions. None of them matter, in the long term; the thing holding me back isn’t that I blow five bucks at Wendy’s.”
Referring to herself and other poor people, she asserted: “You have to understand that we know that we will never not feel tired. We will never feel hopeful. We will never get a vacation. Ever.”
She then added:
We don’t apply for jobs because we know we can’t afford to look nice enough to hold them. I have missing teeth and skin that looks like it will when you live on b12 and coffee, and nicotine, and no sleep.
Beauty is a thing you get when you can afford it, and that’s how you get the job you need in order to be beautiful.
“We don't plan long-term because if we do we'll just get our hearts broken,” Tirado said. “It's best not to hope. You just take what you can get as you spot it.
“I am not asking for sympathy.” she concluded. “I'm just trying to explain, on a human level, how it is that people make what look from the outside like awful decisions.”
Apparently, writing her article was not one of the terrible choices Tirado claims she makes. Since it went viral, the essay resulted in a response so overwhelming that the author set up a website of her own and has raised more than $60,000 so far.
Meanwhile, Leicht's digging into Tirado's background turned up some very interesting facts:
The real Linda owns a home, thanks to some pretty generous parents. Her LinkedIn profile states she’s been a freelance writer and political consultant since 2010, and has worked in politics since 2004, a claim backed by 27 decent connections.
She’s married to a Marine, has met President (Barack) Obama while interning for a politician (who obviously wasn’t disgusted by those rotten teeth) and has plenty of time to visit Las Vegas on vacation. And blog about her privileged life on WordPress.
When that information went public, Tirado posted this response on her website:
You have to understand that the piece you read was taken out of context, that I never meant to say that all of these things were happening to me right now, or that I was still quite so abject. I am not.
I am reasonably normally lower working class. I am exhausted and poor and can’t make all my bills all the time, but I reconciled with my parents when I got pregnant for the sake of the kids, and I have family resources. I can always make the amount of money I need in a month, it’s just that it doesn’t always match the billing cycles.
The Huffington Post continued to back up Tirado, publishing a video of her in which she demonstrated she does, contrary to some of her critics' initial claims, have bad teeth. According to HuffPo spinner Ryan Grim, this error was supposedly the "chief" argument that Tirado's right-of-center critics were trying to make. Except it wasn't.
As National Review blogger David French noted yesterday, Tirado's admission that she is "reasonably normal lower working class" is a direct contradiction to her false statement that she "will never not be poor." Additionally, people with no means do not own houses and have other people make their mortgage payments for them.
The facts still remain that Linda Tirado lied in order to make her own claims more emotionally powerful. That's simply unacceptable. And even the Huffington Post ought to be willing to admit that.