On the Friday, December 13, PoliticsNation, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank joined host Al Sharpton in complaining that conservatives "demonize" people who receive welfare benefits as the two discussed efforts to restrain welfare spending.
But, Dana, what gets me is the demonizing. I mean, we just played that tape of Ronald Reagan. More than just the policy is the need to denigrate, to demonize, to in many ways make people that are already suffering appear so outrageously exploitative and like they are some kind of criminals almost, when they're really, in most cases, in need.
Milbank went along with Sharpton's premise and introduced a "racial component" as he responded:
Right, Reverend. And, in fact, if you look at those who are on these programs, it's, you know, the stereotype that the conservatives are projecting, is this has a racial component, has an urban component. In fact, it's nothing of the sort and it's widespread. A lot of the constituents of Louie Gohmert, who you just played there, these other Republicans, are the people on food stamps, on the WIC program and others like this.
The Washington Post columnist added:
But, look, I mean, it's the oldest story in politics. It makes it a lot easier to make your case if you can have a villain, if you can have a demon, and if you can demagogue it. And I think we don't pay a whole lot of attention to the rhetoric when it's just empty rhetoric. But when they're actually succeeding in cutting those very programs, then it takes on additional significance.
Sharpton set up the discussion by playing a clip of Ronald Reagan's speech at the 1964 Republican National Convention recounting the case of a woman who had tried to get divorced so she could collect more welfare benefits, and then noted a recent National Journal article decrying the focused placed on people who scam the welfare system during the current debate over government assistance.
--Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brad Wimouth on Twitter.