MSNBC's Sharpton Accuses FNC's O'Reilly of 'Attacking the Poor'

On Tuesday's PoliticsNation on MSNBC, host Al Sharpton griped about FNC host Bill O'Reilly labeling some welfare recipients as "parasites" and complaining about President Obama making it easier for people to take unfair advantage of the system.

Without informing viewers that the FNC host was referring to a California beach bum who seemed disinterested in getting off welfare when he used the word "parasites," Sharpton whined about O'Reilly waging an "ugly war on food stamps," and "attacking the poor" in a "rant about people on food stamps." Sharpton began the segment:

Bill O'Reilly has gone back to one of his favorite talking points, attacking the poor. Here is his latest rant about people on food stamps.

Without divulging the context, MSNBC ran a clip of the FNC host from Monday's The O'Reilly Factor on FNC:

The Obama administration is encouraging parasites to come out and, you know, take as much as they can with no remorse. And this is how a country declines. This is how we become a weak nation.

The MSNBC host responded:

Parasites. The poor are parasites. We've heard these kinds of attacks before: welfare queen, the 47 percent, makers versus takers. Fox News is peddling this garbage in a new one-hour documentary called the Great Food Stamp Binge, featuring some of the right's favorite myths about the poor.

But, a bit before O'Reilly's comment, he had played a clip from the FNC special in which correspondent John Roberts exposed abuse in the system:

JOHN ROBERTS: The food stamp program was designed to be for a point in your life where you were, you know, down, things weren't going well. It's not, quote, "a point in your life." It's, kind of, "this is life for me."

JASON GREENSLATE, WELFARE RECIPIENT: Yeah, this is how I live, man. Cute chicks, doing my thing, you know, this is the way I want to live, and I don't really see anything changing. I don't got a paycheck coming in, so I qualify.

A bit later, O'Reilly picked up on Greenslate's description of himself living a "rat life" as he responded:

I take one look at this guy, and he's making money off the books. Now, I'm not going to make any accusation on national television about how he's making money, but this guy is just not surviving on food stamps, all right, he's making money. It's a rat life. It entails a lot of different things, and he's not declaring that money. He's putting it in his pocket, whatever, might be legal, might be illegal, we don't know, okay.

But this guy is a parasite. And my contention is that the Obama administration is encouraging parasites to come out and, you know, take as much as they can with no remorse. And this is how a country declines. This is how we become a weak nation.

Friday's Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC also ran a report that previewed the special in which Greenslate even more directly stated his disinterest in work:

JOHN ROBERTS: Is it safe to say this notion of holding down a steady job just is something that is not in your wheel house?

JASON GREENSLATE: That's not the direction I'm going right now.

ROBERTS: It's not something that appeals to you.

GREENSLATE: Not whatsoever.

Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the Tuesday, August 13, PoliticsNation on MSNBC, followed by relevant portions of the Friday, August 9, Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC, and the Monday, August 12, The O'Reilly Factor on FNC:

#From the Tuesday, August 13, PoliticsNation on MSNBC:

AL SHARPTON: But first, Bill O'Reilly's ugly war on food stamps. Why he says the Obama administration is encouraging parasites to come out. He'll chew on some of the facts, next.

(...)

SHARPTON: Bill O'Reilly has gone back to one of his favorite talking points, attacking the poor. Here is his latest rant about people on food stamps.

BILL O'REILLY, FNC: The Obama administration is encouraging parasites to come out and, you know, take as much as they can with no remorse. And this is how a country declines. This is how we become a weak nation.

SHARPTON: Parasites. The poor are parasites. We've heard these kinds of attacks before: welfare queen, the 47 percent, makers versus takers. Fox News is peddling this garbage in a new one-hour documentary called the Great Food Stamp Binge, featuring some of the right's favorite myths about the poor.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The government has reached in to American neighborhoods and says, it's okay to be dependent.

BRET BAIER, FNC, CLIP #1: Shouldn't there be at least some stigma?

BAIER CLIP #2: When the safety net becomes a hammock.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The reality is that American poor people are not malnourished. They in fact eat too much food.

SHARPTON: The poor eat too much food? That's ridiculous. And offensive. The average food stamp benefit is just $4.50 cents a day, just 1.50 per meal. Is that too much food? Maybe these right wingers think the poor don't deserve $1.50 a meal. Fox News has it all wrong. But here are some facts. Seventy six percent of households receiving food stamps include children, seniors, and disabled people. Thirty five percent are white. Twenty three percent are black, and 15 percent are Hispanic.

These people aren't parasites. They're Americans trying to feed their families and make ends meet. Did O'Reilly and the gang at Fox think we would ignore their poor logic? Nice try, but we got you.

#From the Friday, August 9, Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC:

JOHN ROBERTS: We caught up with Greenslate in La Jolla, California, close to where he grew up. The 29-year-old has chosen the life of a beach bum in this seaside paradise. With no fixed address, Jason has for the last couple of years floated from place to place. Staying with family, pals and girls he's dated. He gets by with a little with a little help from his friends and you, the taxpayer.

JASON GREENSLATE, WELFARE RECIPIENT: My ABT SNAP card. It's got the coast of California on it.

ROBERTS: How do you get a stamp card?

GREENSLATE: I just go out to the human resource office, have your birth certificate and your Social Security card. I don't got a paycheck coming in, so I qualify. That's that.

ROBERTS: And how often do you have to do this? Every month, every six months?

GREENSLATE: They got it now where you only do it once a year.

ROBERTS: Things have changed. Back in 1996, if you were an able adult like Jason, with no family, there were limitations. You could get food stamps for only three months every three years. The exception, if you were working at least a 20-hour workweek or participated in workfare or a training program.

President Obama wiped away those restrictions when he signed his stimulus bill in 2009. And in 2010, Obama used his regulatory powers to extend the suspension of those welfare to work requirements.

So, you fill out a form for a SNAP card, they give you that for a year, no questions asked?

GREENSLATE: Yeah, you good to go.

ROBERTS: That's $200 a month, right?

GREENSLATE: Yeah, $200. Free money. Radical. Why not?

This is my job right here to make sure everything's rolling smoothly. Make sure the sun's up, and the girls are out.

(...)

ROBERTS: Is it safe to say this notion of holding down a steady job just is something that is not in your wheelhouse?

GREENSLATE: That's not the direction I'm going right now.

ROBERTS: It's not something that appeals to you.

GREENSLATE: Not whatsoever.

ROBERTS: I have to say, I didn't really know what to expect when I sat down with Jason. I was really taken aback that he seemed completely unembarrassed about sponging off the rest of us in this manner. This was a guy who struck me as capable of pulling his own weight, as resourceful, even intelligent and went to San Diego State for a while and then to a technical school where he trained to become a recording engineer, but then he realized what he really wanted in life.

#From the Monday, August 12, The O'Reilly Factor on FNC:

JOHN ROBERTS: The food stamp program was designed to be for a point in your life where you were, you know, down, things weren't going well. It's not, quote, "a point in your life." It's, kind of, "this is life for me."

JASON GREENSLATE, WELFARE RECIPIENT: Yeah, this is how I live, man. Cute chicks, doing my thing, you know, this is the way I want to live, and I don't really see anything changing. I don't got a paycheck coming in, so I qualify.

(...)

BILL O'REILLY: I take one look at this guy, and he's making money off the books. Now, I'm not going to make any accusation on national television about how he's making money, but this guy is just not surviving on food stamps, all right, he's making money. It's a rat life. It entails a lot of different things, and he's not declaring that money. He's putting it in his pocket, whatever, might be legal, might be illegal, we don't know, okay.

But this guy is a parasite. And my contention is that the Obama administration is encouraging parasites to come out and, you know, take as much as they can with no remorse. And this is how a country declines. This is how we become a weak nation.