The New York Times and SNAP: We couldn’t help noting more bad reporting in today’s New York times.
Ron Nixon in back on the food assistance beat. Today, his report starts like this:
NIXON (9/25/13): House leaders on Tuesday said they were working with their Senate counterparts toward a new five-year farm bill, just days after the House pushed through a bill that would slash billions of dollars from the food stamp program.This is a classic example of “the journalism of big numbers.”
The farm bill, a 1,000-page measure that sets the nation’s food and nutrition policy, was formerly a bipartisan piece of legislation. But it has been mired in partisan gridlock for nearly two years. Most of the acrimony has been over cuts to the food stamp program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.
House Republicans, led by the majority leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia, have pushed for nearly $40 billion in cuts to the program, a move opposed by President Obama and Congressional Democrats.
First, we’re told that the House passed a bill “that would slash billions of dollars from the food stamp program.” Frankly, that doesn’t sound good.
Later, Nixon gets more precise. The bill would cut “nearly $40 billion” from the food assistance program.
That sounds like a very large number! But how large is it? At no point does Nixon provide a number with which those billions cane be compared.
How big is that cut on a percentage basis? Nixon never says.
We know of no reason to cut or slash food assistance at all. We also know of no reason to report large numbers this way.