More 'Hunger in America' Exaggerations Relayed By Jason DeParle

Reporter Jason DeParle plumps another exaggerated "hunger in America story" in Wednesday's paper. But he's been dead wrong about such issues before.

Wednesday's "National Briefing" section print edition contained a short item with a simplistic and misleading headline "One in Five Report Hunger," over report Jason DeParle's brief of a survey compiled by Gallup but released by the Food Research and Action Center.

Jason DeParle referred to the left-wing group only as "anti-hunger" in his summary, adapted from a much longer online story: "Americans Struggle to Afford Food, Survey Finds."

Notice how the nuanced survey question morphed into a bluntly dramatic "one in five report hunger" headline:

Nearly one in five Americans said they lacked the money to buy the food they needed at some point in the last year, according to a survey co-sponsored by the Gallup organization and released Tuesday by an anti-hunger group.

The numbers soared at the start of the recession, but dipped in 2009 despite the continuing rise in unemployment. The anti-hunger group, the Food Research and Action Center, attributed that trend to falling food prices, an increasing use of food stamps and a rise in the amount of the food stamps benefit.

More than 38 million Americans - one in eight - now receive food stamps, a record high.

DeParle briefly stated the controversy over the exaggerated numbers issued by FRAC and other liberal groups:

Efforts to measure hunger-related problems often spawn political disputes, and this one may do so as well. Some conservative critics have accused liberals of exaggerating the problems to justify increased government spending. Others have accused the conservative critics of ignoring the problem's depth.

DeParle has long been biased (and dead wrong) on welfare issues, fiercely opposing President Clinton's welfare reform signing in 1996 and making dire predictions on the widespread hunger that would result, writing in a July 28, 1996 Times Week in Review story:

No doubt the harsh reality of an empty stomach will cause some people to do better. Some may indeed get jobs and marry, as [Fla. Rep. Clay] Shaw predicts. Others may turn to prostitution or the drug trade. Or cling to abusive boyfriends. Or have more abortions. Or abandon their children. Or camp out on the streets and beg.

None of DeParle's predictions came to pass. But that hasn't stopped him from insisting Americans are in danger of going hungry.