Meet Jason Greenslate.
In one world, Greenslate is the poster child for food stamps fraud because he bought lobster even though he draws $200/month in food stamps.
The Fox "News" cameras catch him buying lobster and sushi. Does that mean Greenslate buys lobster all the time? The one time for the camera? We don't know.
By capturing one moment of ringing up lobster, but not showing the actual purchase with food stamps, the outrage caused GOP politicians to push for — successfully — to reduce money for food stamps for those who truly need help.
“This is the way I want to live and I don’t really see anything changing,” Greenslate said on camera. “It’s free food; it’s awesome.”
Off-camera, Greenslate was more in the reality world "I don't think that one person should be the decision for 47 million people," he told the Huffington Post.
Greenslate could be a genius on some level, though the Fox cameras don't portray him as such. Chances are Greenslate got played by a sophisticated media strategy; seems quite plausible.
Two conclusions from this effort should scare us as a society: 1) this was the best Fox "News" could come up with as an example, and 2) this worked to reduce money for food stamps.
For the record, you can buy lobster with food stamps. Sushi, too. But if you want to eat for the rest of the month, you aren't likely to do that too often. In a world where calories are king, lobster isn't even the best purchase. You can load up on a lot of steak for the price of lobster, but a lot of what you get with a lobster are parts you can't eat.
Food stamps recipients not on TV aren't buying lobster or tons of steak because they live in a non-TV reality world.
A true news investigation would show a widespread pattern of buying lobster or hidden outside income or a luxury apartment or something to show that Greenslate is typical.
But Fox does none of those things. You only see Greenslate buy lobster once. Greenslate paints a picture where this happens all the time, but you don't see any proof.
Two conclusions to take away from the Jason Greenslate "example": 1) Nothing Greenslate admitted to on camera is illegal, and 2) Even the Fox pundits aren't arguing for a change in the law.
When James O'Keefe first burst onto the scene, he was painted by Fox as a independent journalist. Well, O'Keefe wasn't from the start, using unethical tactics and incorporating heavily edited recordings to paint a false picture. By the time that was revealed, the perceptions of what he had done stuck with much of the public. Never mind that truth played no part.
We definitely aren't comparing Greenslate to O'Keefe, but both examples don't pass the smell test.
Jon Stewart also plays selective quotes to paint a picture on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. And some of those quotes are used to draw laughter, a non-partisan activity. As we've seen all too often from the Daily Show and the Colbert Report, it takes a comedian, lots of comedy writers, and an arsenal of news footage to show more truth than any cable news TV outlet.