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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Lies, damn lies and Gingrich

Newt Gingrich holds an important place in creating the hateful tone that has afflicted American politics for a generation. But why has the media been his biggest enabler?

Gingrich's latest outrage is a doozy:
"I'm prepared, if the NAACP invites me, I'll go to their convention and talk about why the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps," Gingrich said.
The problem, aside from the inherent racism? It's a gross distortion of reality:

About 40 million Americans (in 18.4 million households) receive food stamps, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released in September, using the latest (2010) data.

Among the food stamp recipients 33 percent (13.4 million) are white, 22 percent (8.9 million) are black, 16.7 percent (6.6 million) are Hispanic, and 2.8 percent (1.1 million) are Asian.

Almost half (47 percent) of all Americans who receive food stamps are children. Another 8 percent are elderly. About 20 percent are disabled.

And where did I find these facts? Certainly not on the mainstream media outlets like local television stations that played his soundbite without any of the fact checking they like to tout in their promotional ads.

The fact is politicians know how to play the media like a violin: polls, sound bites and ads drive coverage and smart consultants are the ones who know how to play to the media weaknesses.

This weekend, we are being buried with daily polls tracking phantom movements. We are getting ads making outrageous claims. And we are about to get network sponsored debates that will rehash the same sound bites we've been accosted by for weeks.

Every four years, the media big feet get together, lament how things did not go as they would have liked and promise change. They've become as reliable as the men and women they cover in failing to deliver on their promises.

And the tone of our discourse continues to sink deeper into the mud.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would be interested in seeing the percentages of chronic use of foodstamps and all forms of government assistance based on race. I bet Lyndon Johnson never envisioned the war on poverty turning out the way it did. The current economic downturn has forced many new customers for the foodstamp program but how many kids have never seen their parents or grandparents buy items any other way.

January 08, 2012 11:32 AM  

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