During a conference hosted by Georgetown University, President Obama talked about poverty and the public perception on the impoverished class in the United States.
In an effort to explain perception and the misguided public narrative regarding poverty, President Obama made an example of Fox News as a shaper of public opinion.
The discrepancies in American society are consistent with expanding gaps between social classes, as well as societal factors such as community belonging, family environment, income or the openness of the job market. Mr. Obama urged for a balanced approach when discussing poverty. As always, the truth can be found midway.
It is fundamentally erroneous to believe that the impoverished class is solely comprised of people who are lazy, addicted and slacking. Moochers – in other words – waiting for government giveaways. It is also wrong to believe that political will is clear-cut divided into socialists and full-fledged capitalists that only hold true to their respective ideologies.
However, when it comes to shaping public opinion, big players are under the spotlight. And their narrative often shadows real efforts in facing this serious issue of the American society.
Numerous teeth-clenched reactions to the President’s example revealed just how true the above statement is.
Joe Scarabough of MSNBC demanded that specific proof be brought to the panel that Fox News ever called poor people leeches, sponges or lazy.
To help refresh his mind, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show aired clippings of anchors freely talking about the „subsidized freeloaders”, „moocher class”, „sponges”, „leeches” and „lazy”. For further reference, the episode airing can still be viewed on the website of The Daily Show. Jon Stewart asked if:
“Are these glaring contradictions a product of a lack of self-awareness or cynicism or stupidity or evil? I don’t know anymore.”
Bill O’Reilly, the indisputable face of Fox News has repeatedly used the same rethoric on the issue of poverty. And if it was a simple debate on poverty, it would have proven its value. But when an entire class of people is target, things change.
In 2004, O’Reilly stated that in the United States of America one can only succeed through education and hard work. What of those who do not afford quality education and whose exclusion looms dark on the horizon? They are, according to O’Reilly, irresponsible and lazy.
2012 saw the same discourse, followed in 2014 by an „in-depth” explanation of what the true causes of poverty are:
„addictive behavior, laziness, apathy”.
Arguably, these represent sufficient proof to back President’s Obama statement.
At the same conference, Mr. Obama stressed the importance of government resources that, if pooled together, could make a change. Rather than hiding behind empty talk, a more pro-active attitude would benefit the worsening situation. A nation’s priorities are reflected in its government spending.
Making reference to the recent regrettable incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, or in Baltimore, the President also stated that it is the right moment to refocus attention on poverty and poverty alleviation. To combat at least one factor in the matrix leading to this situation, Mr. Obama has recently announced the establishment of My Brother’s Keeper Foundation. The aim of the foundation is to help young black and Hispanic men to keep their lives on track. Education support, competence training and finding a job for these young men is among the features of My Brother’s Keeper Foundation.
Image Source: georgetown.edu