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Fox News isn’t exactly known for being the hallmark of veracity, but their latest gaffe is “see it to believe it” off the mark.

Colorado recently passed a law making marijuana legal, which has caused Fox News to jump on it like a hot lottery ticket. A recent article by them speculated that food stamps users would use SNAP benefits to withdraw cash at ATMs in marijuana dispensaries, and use that money to get high.

This is ridiculous, of course, and there’s no point in using more polite language to say so. Electronic SNAP cards don’t work in ATMs, with the only exception being cards that contain Social Security Disability benefits or other benefits. The fact that no cases of EBT cards being used to withdraw cash at marijuana dispensaries hasn’t stopped Fox from perpetuating this myth, nor has it stopped Republicans from trying to pass a bill that would ban EBT cards from withdrawing cash from ATMs in casinos, gun stores, liquor stores, adult entertainment venues and, yes, marijuana dispensaries.

The USDA has put in several measures to prevent food stamps fraud. It’s not perfect and the fraud won’t stop, but the amount of fraud is very little. Thousands of retailers have been removed from the SNAP list for failing to abide by the rules, and computer programs are used to track abuses on cards so federal and state law emergencies can be alerted to investigate. Again, the system isn’t perfect and fraud does—and still will-continue, but officials aren’t blind to the methods and tricks that are tried.

And to say what Fox did was poor journalism is a massive understatement, sort of like pointing to a tomato and calling it red. It’s shoddy reporting at its worst because it consists of a team—and yes, a whole team works on stories like this: the writers, researchers, editors, publishers, publicists and others—taking the laziest route out. Fact-checking, especially in 2014, takes all of two seconds. There’s no excuse for not doing what a second grader is capable of, which means Fox willfully twisted the facts to suit their own purpose and manipulate public support.

Part of the blame also lies with Republicans and the general public for two reasons: not doing their own due diligence, and allowing factual misplay to benefit themselves. It reeks of desperation, a lack of intellect, appealing to emotion, rhetoric over logic, and wasted time spent trying to enact a bill that would do absolutely nothing.

But at the end of the day, Fox News should be publicly shamed, maligned and metaphorically stoned for what they did, as it serves no purpose other than to stir the pot of nonsense. It also damages a program that, for the most part, helps people instead of hindering them. And if Fox is so concerned about the efficiency and worth of the SNAP program, surely they are big enough and wealthy enough to go about it more intelligently.

It’s a shameless, lazy, malicious smear campaign aimed at people who can’t fight back, and it makes Fox a bully of the highest accord. 

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