This week, Jotman's Fox News Award* goes to CNN for its special investigation into something called “food stamp fraud.”
Essentially, that's when impoverished Americans use their food stamps (these days a government-issued debit card) to pay for stuff that’s not food-related groceries. Some people use the cards to buy cigarettes, alcohol and — according to the CNN report -- condoms. (Can't have the government making it possible for poor Americans to practice birth control!). The grocery store sometimes gets a kick-back for misuse of the card.
Most other developed countries, of course, don't force low income people to suffer the indignity of "food stamps." So this particular kind of "scam" would be impossible. In fact, the real story here, which CNN missed entirely, is why, having been robbed of their jobs by corrupt Wall Street banks and their lackey politicians, any unemployed US citizens should continue to suffer the indignity of food stamps.
Anyway, the small store owner that CNN investigated — his store may have processed $3 million in questionable purchases — got arrested.
But this story had a really tragic ending. A few days later this small shop owner was found dead: Suicide perhaps.
As much as anything, what's disturbing about the report was its timing. This is 2010. Eighteen months after the collapse of the financial markets, job losses continue, small businesses still cannot get loans, and the financial industry remains unregulated. Something is deeply amiss when CNN plays up a story about small-business corruption, involving unemployed Americans, and — this is key — a low-income community. Where are the investigations into Wall Street banks, the health insurance industry, and military contractors?**
*The Fox News Award is a feature at Jotman.com that began early 2008. It goes to a media organization that has gone the extra mile during the course of the week to make the public more stupid. (Otherwise corrupting the ethic of creativity and global citizenship.) Some past winners.
** UK blogger Rick B. found himself asking more or less the same question this week about a eerily similar story published in the Daily Mail.