Recycling a section of the media strategy that always stops the U.S. from having any of the good stuff, now journalists are trying to scare Americans into believing that the real source of our fiscal crises is the disabled. And once again the recent reports about federal disability benefits creating a culture of underachievement in poor communities and the poor cheating the social security system to receive the cash benefits eliminated by the Welfare Reform Act in 1996 (any of this sound familiar?), are coming from some of the most supposedly liberal media outlets.
FAIR recently published a report thoroughly debunking the incorrect and compromised reporting from Nick Kristof at the New York Times, NPR’s All Things Considered and Planet Money, The Washington Post, Time, and, never one to let a good witch hunt against the poor go by, of course,The Wall Street Journal.
In their report, FAIR uncovered the fact that Kristof’s sources on the SSI story were either partisan, not accurately depicted in the article, or non-existent, and that most of his reporting was outright falacious. FAIR also revealed that the Planet Money series on supposed rampant fraud in SSDI benefits was underwritten by a private disability insurance company. A fact that NPR did not disclose to listeners.
Kristof’s article was notable for another reason, however. According to numerous disability experts, it was almost entirely wrong or unsupported.
We’ve seen this type of reporting before. Over “death panels” during the health care debate that effectively killed the public option. In 1996, when the welfare safety net was “reformed”. Throughout the War on Drugs. And of course, leading up to the Iraq war. The supposedly liberal American media habitually works as as the propaganda machine for conservative interests. The question is whether this time we are going to let the media pave the way for privatization of long-term disability benefits and turn SSI into yet another safety net only wealthy Americans can afford?