This may be one of the biggest pieces of garbage masquerading as a news story I've seen in a long time.
KMOV ran a story this week as part of their loaded "Is This Why We're Broke?" series alleging "questionable spending" by TANF recipients because some happened to use their EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards in other states. KMOV "reporter" Chris Nagus doesn't have any evidence the money was used in a "questionable" manner, but he doesn't let that slow him down.
The argument goes like this:
- Sometimes the working poor leave Missouri.
- Some of the places they go are in states that happen to border an ocean.
- Cue the beach footage.
At no point in the KMOV story does "reporter" Nagus say which cities or stores were the recipient of Missouri dollars. In fact, "reporter" Nagus posted his source material online here, and he doesn't even have that information. But he does have Brian Hook of the conservative Missouri Watchdog organization to tell him it's a "gold mine" for "people who say this just allows for government waste." (Missouri Watchdog is part of a constellation of organizations funded by the right-wing Franklin Center For Government and Public Integrity, one of which just funded a "mysterious conservative poll" in Wisconsin.)
Nagus and Hook just have numbers broken down by state, and manufacture their stories from there. Was the money spent at a Piggly Wiggly in Tallahassee? At a convenience store across from a hospital in Sacramento? They don't know, and don't seem to care.
Even if Nagus and Hook could look down their noses to receipts proving that some money was spent in places they'd like to visit, what would they propose? There are already limits on what can be purchased with EBT cards. Do they want tracking devices implanted on the working poor so their movements can be monitored from the KMOV studio? Should recipients of agriculture subsidies be subjected to the same scrutiny? Or would the personal travel or spending choices of executives at companies cashing tax credits qualify for KMOV's "investigative reporting?"
Or did I make the mistake of thinking that KMOV News is in the business of journalism?