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It’s Actually on the Decline: Fox News Issues Correction to Food Stamp Fraud Story

After a flurry of online outage, Fox & Friends issued a correction to their report from earlier this week in which they asserted food stamp fraud was on the rise. Oops.

“We reported that back in 2016 that $70 million were wasted on food stamp fraud. That was actually incorrect. The latest information from 2009 to 2011 shows the fraud at 1.3 percent, which is approximately $853 million dollars for each of those three years. And nationally food stamp trafficking is on the decline. So sorry about that mistake,” co-host Abby Huntsman said on Friday’s program.

On Tuesday, Huntsman had told viewers that “Food-stamp fraud is at an all-time high, and some of the worst offenders this year have included a state lawmaker and a millionaire. This year, it is estimated $70 million of taxpayer money was wasted on food-stamp fraud. So is it time to end the program altogether?”

Except that it turns out that there are no numbers to prove that is true. In fact, the latest government numbers show that food stamp trafficking is on the decline since the 1990s. According to the USDA report, “During 2009 to 2011, the rate of trafficking increased to 1.3 percent of total SNAP benefits from the previous estimate of 1.0 percent in 2006-2008 study. Rates of trafficking have declined over time from nearly 4 percent of total SNAP benefits in the 1990s.”

As The Washington Post‘s Erik Wemple pointed out, even if the 2016 numbers stayed consistent with 2011, Fox News would have underestimated the dollar amount of money wasted on food stamp fraud, while still apparently erroneously noting it was on the incline. Huh?

Wemple writes:

Now here comes the mind-blowing part: Take that 1.3 percent trafficking rate from 2009 to 2011 and apply it to the 2016 SNAP budget of about $70 billion. It comes out to about $910 million, or more than 10 times the rate that Fox News claimed on its show. So even as it reported that food-stamp fraud had hit an all-time high, Fox News was actually reporting a preposterously low number for food-stamp fraud. Only a program as idiotic as “Fox & Friends” is capable of such feats.

Seems things have now been clarified.

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