President Barack Obama very poignantly said that the media narrative portraying America’s poor as “leeches” on the system, needs to end.
In a discussion at Georgetown University this past Tuesday, President Obama said the right-wing media like Fox News goes out of its way to portray poor + and struggling Americans as “sponges, leeches, don’t want to work, are lazy, are undeserving.” This couldn’t be further from the truth – and the narrative really needs to change. Perpetuating a false image of struggling Americans is not only inaccurate, but it further stigmatizes and alienates this already disadvantaged population.
But back to President Obama – here is a section of his discussion on poverty at Georgetown University on May 12, 2015:
There’s always been a strain in American politics where you’ve got the middle class, and the question has been, who are you mad at, if you’re struggling; if you’re working, but you don’t seem to be getting ahead. And over the last 40 years, sadly, I think there’s been an effort to either make folks mad at folks at the top, or to be mad at folks at the bottom. And I think the effort to suggest that the poor are sponges, leaches, don’t want to work, are lazy, are undeserving, got traction. And, look, it’s still being propagated.
I mean, I have to say that if you watch Fox News on a regular basis, it is a constant menu—they will find folks who make me mad. I don’t know where they find them. They’re like, “I don’t want to work, I just want a free Obama phone”—or whatever. And that becomes an entire narrative, right? That gets worked up. And very rarely do you hear an interview of a waitress—which is much more typical—who’s raising a couple of kids and is doing everything right but still can’t pay the bills.
And so if we’re going to change how John Boehner and Mitch McConnell think, we’re going to have to change how our body politic thinks, which means we’re going to have to change how the media reports on these issues and how people’s impressions of what it’s like to struggle in this economy looks like, and how budgets connect to that. And that’s a hard process because that requires a much broader conversation than typically we have on the nightly news.
Transcript courtesy of the White House