Bill O’Reilly was at his most condescending as he whitesplained to an African American attorney that hunger is the fault of “irresponsible people” having children they can’t feed or take care of properly.
The segment was a follow up to an argument O’Reilly had with Fox News' Kirsten Powers a few weeks ago about hunger in America. O’Reilly insisted that the only reason there are hungry children in the United States is because their parents “abuse the system by not using the food stamps for food.”
O’REILLY: There are food banks in these churches, and it goes back to the parents who are usually derelicts of some kind …and who squander the food stamps that come in, who sell them on the black market. This is insane. You are telling me that you believe in the United States of America, with all the entitlement programs and food stamps and everything else, there are urchins running around that don’t have any food because of the system? …No, it’s their parents who are abusing them.
O’Reilly challenged Powers to bring on a family that can’t feed their children which, O’Reilly said in this segment, is still in the works.
Meanwhile, O’Reilly heard from tax attorney Nikki Johnson-Huston who grew up in poverty and very effectively challenged O’Reilly’s disdainful assumptions about poor people.
Rather than let Johnson-Huston make her argument, O’Reilly interrupted her early on to highlight what he clearly saw as the irresponsibility of her parents, as a distracting gotcha. (Transcript via Media Matters):
O’REILLY: Where am I going wrong?
JOHNSON-HUSTON: Where I think you are going wrong is twofold. I think that you overestimate the availability of those services and poor people’s ability to access them.
JOHNSON-HUSTON: First off.
O’REILLY: Well all right—go ahead.
JOHNSON-HUSTON: And secondly, The second point was that you were making the point that because children might be hungry it’s totally the parent’s fault and that it was a form of child abuse. And I thought that your characterization of the poor was unfair and not nuanced enough.
O’REILLY: OK. Let’s take your situation, all right? From what I understand from our research of you, in San Diego, when you were growing up, there was a six month period in 1983-84 where you were hungry; is that correct? As a child.
JOHNSON-HUSTON: I was homeless.
O’REILLY: You were homeless and hungry.
O’REILLY: And that is because your mother—no father, right?
JOHNSON-HUSTON: Father wasn’t around.
O’REILLY: OK. Your mother was an alcoholic, is that true?
JOHNSON-HUSTON: She had alcohol and drug issues, yes.
O’REILLY: OK. And drugs issues. Now, my point is: I feel terrible for you that you had to go through that, I really do. And I give literally hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities to help kids who are in your circumstance. You should know that.
Clearly, Johnson-Huston has a most compelling life story. But O’Reilly was only interested in the part about her shiftless parents that should not be his concern because he gives “literally hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities” to help kids like her.
And did you notice that right after he said he felt “terrible” that Johnson-Huston “had to go through” what she did, rather than congratulate her on her success in overcoming such obstacles, he congratulated himself?
Later, O’Reilly more explicitly expressed his contempt for the poor.
O’REILLY: That’s what I want you to understand and everybody else hear me. It is not the system or the country’s fault that irresponsible people have children and then cannot feed or raise the children.
…JOHNSON-HUSTON: You are confusing an economic status of someone with their character, and people make mistakes in life. …No one said it was America’s fault. …(Powers) wasn’t saying that it was America’s fault. …She was saying that it doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to. She was saying that she volunteers her time and she sees it on the ground and so do I.
O’REILLY: And we applaud that. But there is nothing on earth that America can do.
JOHNSON-HUSTON: Absolutely can.
O’REILLY:No they can’t.
Of course there’s plenty America can do to combat hunger and poverty. O’Reilly just doesn’t want our country to do anything. And he obviously thinks that much of what is done is wasted on the undeserving.
But Johnson-Huston got in a great line at the end:
O’REILLY: Listen, in my opinion, and you should respect it—
JOHNSON-HUSTON: I do respect it. I respect that you’re wrong, but I respect it.
Touché, counselor. But actually, it was O’Reilly who was doing the disrespecting.
Watch his scorn below, from the October 21 The O’Reilly Factor, via Media Matters.
“. . . who squander the food stamps that come in, who sell them on the black market.”
If you have $100 worth of food stamps, the “black market” won’t give you $100 in cash for them and I doubt that anyone’s going to want to buy food stamps from the “black market” because the “black market” will charge MORE than face value for them. It’s not like scalping where you might be willing to pay $1000 for a $100 concert seat; there’s no one who has $1000 in cash who’s going to be stupid enough (or desperate enough) to buy $100 worth of food stamps. Hell, if you’ve got $100.01 in cash, why would you turn around and spend that on $100 in food stamps? (Okay—maybe to avoid sales tax but a lot of states don’t tax food at all and food stamps can’t generally be used to purchase the types of food that may be taxed in other states. Some states that don’t tax general grocery food items will however tax prepared grocery store deli or bakery items as well as food from restaurants—fast food and otherwise. But still, if you’ve got the cash, spending it to get black-market food stamps is a bit absurd.)
Anyways………..food stamps are generally a “once-a-month” deal. If you sell them on the “black market” for “spending cash,” you only have cash to last you for that month. Once that’s gone, there’s no more till the next month rolls around. And, food stamps aren’t a “one-size-fits-all” deal. Single people using food stamps don’t get as much as a single person with 3 dependents or a married couple with zero dependents, etc. And, if you’ve got even a part-time job, you may qualify for food stamps but at a reduced level.
Then there’s also, as realtors say, “location, location, location.” Where you live can affect how your food stamp allotment travels. Most inner-city food stamp beneficiaries may not have a real selection of outlets at which to spend them. Small markets in poor neighborhoods tend to have less fresh produce (and what there is may be more expensive) or lean meat and fish options (even “scrap” meats—like bones for soup and things like tripe and oxtails—can be pretty expensive for what they are). And, in a lot of larger cities, transportation can be a factor in getting to the market (a neighborhood market where it costs $10 for a package of ground beef versus a Wal-Mart 10 miles away where the same package of ground beef is only $7.50—but the trip to Wal-Mart involves a one-way trip of at least 30 minutes since most city-owned buses don’t offer “non-stop” routes; so the neighborhood market may seem more expensive but, in the end, the cost when factoring in time and travel expense means the Wal-Mart isn’t really all that much cheaper).
O’Reilly is hooked on putting other people down, and feeding his egomania. His constant reliance on the list of fallacies is so pervasive that he appears clinically delusional.