Bill O'Reilly (Credit: Fox News)

Bill O'Reilly doesn't believe in child poverty: "There are no urchins running around starving because of the system"

It's a "total lie," a "myth" that there are poor, starving children in America -- because O'Reilly wants it to be


Scott Eric Kaufman
October 7, 2015 4:34PM (UTC)

On "The O'Reilly Factor" Tuesday night, host Bill O'Reilly got into a heated debate with guest Kirsten Powers about the difference between the world as it exists and the world O'Reilly would like to believe exists.

Powers asserted that entitlement programs supported by Democrats provide "the necessities of life," or as O'Reilly characterized it, "free stuff, free, free."

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Powers shot back that what he and GOP presidential candidates call "free stuff" actually refers to matters like "children getting food." Many of the people on welfare, she argued, belong to the class known as "the working poor. They're people who have jobs. But they don't have enough money to get food."

She was going to continue, but O'Reilly cut her off, shouting that that's "a myth that's been busted time and time again."

"It's not a myth," Powers retorted, "it's not a myth."

"Sure it is," O'Reilly said. "If you look at the studies of poverty --"

"At least 50 percent are working," Powers interjected.

"If you look at the studies of poverty, most poor people in this country have computers, have big screen TVs, have cars, have air conditioning," O'Reilly replied. "This myth that there are kids who don't have anything to eat is a total lie." (Which is actually completely true, just the exact opposite of what O'Reilly meant to say.)

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"It is absolutely not a lie," Powers said.

"It is absolutely a total lie on a mass level," O'Reilly replied.

Powers looked aghast as she said, "there actually are students in New York City, there are kids in New York City who go all weekend without anything to eat except when they eat in the schools. That is absolutely a fact."

"That is such the biggest baloney," O'Reilly said, "you produce one! You produce one! You can't!"

"I know it's a fact," Powers said. "I know that because of the churches that I have worked with in New York City who serve those children. It's an absolute fact."

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O'Reilly contended that there are food banks in churches, so ipso facto there are no starving children in America Q.E.D. Or if there are, it's only because "derelict" parents are abusing the system, "squandering the food stamps that come in or selling them on the black market. This is insane. You are telling me that you believe in the United States of America, with all the entitlement programs and food stamps and everything else, there are urchins running around that don't have any food because of the system?"

"Being poor is not child abuse," Powers replied. "There are people who actually work very hard and who still cannot make enough money to make ends meet and have enough food for their children. And I'm sorry that you refuse to believe that."

But O'Reilly was having none of it, insisting that "the entitlement culture that we have in place -- public housing, direct payments, all kinds of things, have wiped that out."

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Watch the entire exchange via Media Matters below.


Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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