Alexandra Pelosi Fumbles with New York Video

Pelosi shot a new video for Real Time -- this time at a welfare office in New York City.

Totally false equivalence. Right there.

When Maher mentioned "apples and oranges" he was absolutely correct, but that doesn't forgive the misleading nature of the clip he aired. By Maher's own setup, polling has confirmed the observations from Pelosi's Mississippi video. The Mississippi people aren't outliers. They're a majority representation, and Pelosi's sampling was accurate.

Second, there are more whites on food stamps -- as a percentage of the white population -- than blacks on food stamps. To single out several black people (one or two were obvious addicts, if not drunk/high on the video) is extraordinarily unfair to all the people who legitimately need food stamps and welfare. And who even knows if those guys were actually granted welfare checks and stamps. This was never clarified. Yes, some people are abusing the system, and it seems like Pelosi inadvertently illustrated conservative stereotypes against social safety nets: welfare is for lazy, shiftless black people who don't want to work. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

The attitudes on the Mississippi video aren't exclusive to toothless rednecks. The same opinions are expressed on thousands of radio stations and Fox News every day. And in a disappointingly self-conscious effort to appear balanced, Pelosi cherry-picked a miniscule sampling of people on the opposite end of the continuum, and, in the process, totally misrepresented what the social safety net is all about.

Additionally, the Mississippi guys were walking contradictions -- opposing President Obama who is actually trying to help them. My big take-away from the Mississippi video wasn't necessarily the racism or the toothlessness, but the remarkable contradictions: I'm on food stamps while being against food stamps, etc. I thought the contradictions were supposed to be the point of the video. Conversely, an illustration of the "other side" should have been, likewise, liberals inexplicably voting against their best interests, too. Something equaling the Mississippi contradictions. (I'm not sure where she'd find such people -- perhaps liberals who support Ron Paul? I don't know.) Instead, and to repeat, Pelosi only succeeded in illustrating the far-right's inaccurate and racist stereotypes about blacks. HBO was right in its attempts to stop her from airing it. She so totally missed the point.

  • M.

    Et tu, Pelosi?

    I stopped watching Maher when he had Thom Hartmann on and tried to blindside him with Penn Jillette. Next week he should have Trey Parker and Matt Stone on and they can all tell black jokes.

  • Jimmy Abraham

    I kind of think this was done on purpose to have a bigger point that they may talk about later…both are stereotypes and do you find yourself thinking one is close to true than the other when they are both outliers. I say, let this play out a little longer and create the correct narrative out of this.

    Also, some of the quotes from the people from NYC seem like they were getting their info from Fox News…Come on…”I want my Obama bucks!” Where would they get that thought other than Fox News?

  • nicole

    I just watched this again.

    First, she really irritates me, in fact, I freaking can’t stand her.

    Second, I firmly believe that a few of those guys were playing with her. I mean, come on, she’s a white girl asking stupid questions, so they gave her what she expected.

    If she had chosen a different time of day, she probably would have gotten more white people, since we know that a higher percentage of whites are receiving welfare.

    Thanks, Pelosi, and Maher, for perpetuating a stereotype that not only is NOT true, but is wrong and is unfair to every person affected by that stereotype.

    Last, she sure as hell sounds more like a damn right winger to me. She definitely has their scummy talking points down.

    And finally, if you want to see people leave the Dem Party, Alexandra, just go ahead and start eliminating entitlements. And by the way, we the people PAY for those goddamn “entitlements”.

  • mrbrink

    Nothing more revolting than a couple millionaires casting judgement on the character of the poor who are standing in a line for food benefits, for fuck’s sake.

    And I see Bill Maher’s already using his million dollar donation as his “black friend.”

    Some people are empowered by those people who demand that the South rise again! and those guys in the welfare line suffer for their ignorance.

    But what’s more shockingly ignorant, or anti-social, really?

    “God’s work,” or “Obama bucks?”

    Because the way I see it, “Obama bucks” doesn’t owe anyone an explanation for why he/she needs food, or can’t find gainful employment as a resentful ass-kissing doorman who is probably subsidized as a government employee, for instance.

    “God’s work,” on the other hand, owes the entire fucking world an explanation for why that man is standing in a line and taking shit from anyone for his attitude and personality.

    • nicole

      Couldn’t agree more, mrbrink.

    • JackDaniel07


      Maher’s “black friend”, just friggin brilliant

  • stacib23

    There is an editorial in the Chicago Tribune today of a young white woman who is now getting food stamps and how she never thought she would be one of those people. Pelosi should talk to her.

    • Victor_the_Crab

      I like that idea a lot.

  • missliberties

    Feeding the right wing narrative and adding fuel to the fire.

    With friends like these…..

    This just reminds me that a lot of ‘liberals’ and some democrats are equally as happy to engage in the meme, that the only reason the President got elected is because ‘his own kind’ voted for him.

    Noting that Mississippi is the poorest state and takes more than any other state in federal dollars, presumably because Haley Barbour is to much of a cheapstake to spend money on education etc.

  • Chernynkaya

    Pelosi found the worst stereotypes to reinforce our prejudices. Hey, I can find you a bad Asian driver here in L.A., or a lazy Mexican if I tried. I can find you a few Jewish bankers, and I can even find you a filthy rich, elite white guy, dripping with condescension and privilege who will set the hairs on your neck up–oh wait, too easy–he’s on TV every night and is running for President.
    But beyond all that stereotyping, the people on the welfare video really didn’t surprise me nor set my hair on fire. To be honest, the toothless Mississippians did more.
    For one thing, I’m such a dyed-in-the wool Lib that I agreed with the guy who said he can’t get a job because he was in jail–that’s a fact. I even said to my husband, “Damn, the New Yorkers are smarter than the Yahoos–at least they are doing something in their self-interest!”
    The difference between those two groups–as extreme and unrepresentative as they are–is that one group would prefer to act out of resentment and hatred, and the other out of self-interest.
    Government benefits like welfare, Medicare, Social Security help millions of Americans–all kinds. Some may be undeserving, some cheat. So what? Sure, I wish we lived in a prefect world, but I’d much rather have to put up with a percentage of malingerers than not be able to help the rest of us.
    There are literally millions of dysfunctional people in the country: people who have no mental or emotional skills. They are not certifiable but they are in one way or another broken. Go to any remedial program or jobs training program, and you can see people who are functionally illiterate. People who don’t know what to wear to a job interview or know that they have to be on time–really basic information that we all take for granted. They cannot get a job even in flush times. There IS an underclass, and I don’t know what to do about that. Let them starve?
    Pelosi actually called them “Welfare Queens”, a Reagan phrase.
    Dems care about jobs and the economy, the war on women, economic inequity and corporate domination. Worry about black people getting welfare is not a major Dem concern, it’s how Repubs spend their days.

    • JackDaniel07

      times a trillion!
      Thank you Chernynkaya!!!

    • nicole

      FTW. :)

  • JackDaniel07
  • nicole

    Pelosi needs to go back to school instead of capitalizing on nepotism to make bad films.

  • KAboink

    I totally agree. The fact that Pelosi’s first video was shot in several locations such as a Wallmart parking lot, outside a mechanic’s shop and at private homes showed at least a little integrity. The second video was a single location in front of a welfare office of all things, with no attempt to garner a cross section of views from NY. Pelosi should learn that lazy-assed hack journalism which promotes stereotypes should be left to the professionals at Fox. She should have been told by Maher and HBO to redue her homework.

  • jmby

    I just sent this piece to two good friend who both applied for and got SNAP this year. One is a woman in her 30’s with three jobs, two boys, a deadbeat ex-husband who can afford, but doesn’t pay his child support. The other friend is a 40-something woman who runs her 30+ year-old family business and has to pay herself very little to be able to afford health insurance for her employees and keep her doors openduring recession. By the way, she should and could grow her business due to market demand, but even with almost perfect credit, banks simply will not give her (or other small businesses) the needed loan.

    I’m sure both these women will find this video less than hilarious.

  • LK3

    Agreed. I have no idea what her point was with the video Friday night. I feel her motives were disingenuous. She did a huge disservice to those who have lost their jobs and are having trouble finding a job in this economy. And, what was the point? Like you said Bob, even if she cherry picked in MS and I feel she did no matter what she says, the point was these people hate Obama and the programs he supports and yet use/ want the ones they need. Like you said, an equivalent example would be liberals voting against their interests.
    I did not know that HBO tried to stop her from airing. I wish they had won that argument. And, shame on Bill for airing it.

  • rootless_e

    “have been, likewise, liberals inexplicably voting against their best interests, too. Something equaling the Mississippi contradictions. (I’m not sure where she’d find such people — perhaps liberals who support Ron Paul? I don’t know.) ”

    She can easily find such people in NY and SF: “liberals” who hate President Obama.

    • missliberties

      That’s IS the name of that tune. Travis Smiley comes to mind.

  • utmb

    I completely agree with you. I watched this clip last night and felt disgusted that she was so off the mark. Maher should have sent her back out to do it again. All this segment will do is reinforce racist stereotypes, while providing zero insight, nothing else. Why couldn’t she have found WHITE food stamp recipients (who are the majority, as you say) in NYC? What about executives who benefited from federal money, who are still against Obama?

    Because, like you, I thought the message of the Mississippi clip was supposed to show the stupidity of people who vote against their own best interests, based on racism or fear or just plain ignorance.

    • nicole

      “Maher should have sent her back out to do it again”

      Maher is intellectually lazy and also specializes in cheap, demeaning humor when it comes to minorities, i.e., “Sanford and Son” (Maher’s term for the President of the United States)

      • jmby

        Nicole, I’ve wanted to punch Maher for some time now. Knowing he referred to our President as Fred Sanford makes me want to punch him in the THROAT.

        • nicole

          Same here. My POV re Maher totally changed when he started the S & S crap back in 2009.

    • JackDaniel07

      The ol’ Teflon “Both Sides” defense – Maher is a blackbelt.
      Political/Social cover for his cunt remarks.

    • M

      You must live out in the middle of no where to think there are white welfare recipients in NYC… There are very very few poor whites in NYC proper

  • agrazingmoose

    I found myself really disliking the woman as I watched that. I found both of her videos to be intellectually lazy and she comes off looking like a rich snob dabbling in the lives of our saddest citizens so she can get some glory and make a few bucks.

    I hope that her mother takes her aside for a little chat.

    BTW. My son has a friend on food stamps. She is white, 22, pregnant and already has two children. She and her kids would starve to death without the assistance because the kid’s father is an Iraqi vet with PTSD and zero support from the VA.

    I am sure that she would be happy to talk with Pelosi.

    • jmby

      I’m glad to see someone else express these thoughts, and I agree with you. As I watched her Mississippi video, I wondered what her point was. We all KNOW people like that exist. We’ve even seen this type of “documentary” done: the very poor and very ignorant blithely spouting hate towards those who help.

      I’m not surprised Mahr aired both pieces; rigorous intellect is not his forte. He’s way too into the cheap, self-aggrandizing shot with the easy laugh payoff.

      I kept comparing Colbert’s similar pieces while watching these. The difference is like Gallagher vs. Carlin: stupid laughs vs. insightful ones.

    • JackDaniel07

      Just another broad who got a digital camera for Christmas, so now she’s a photographer. I got enough of them on my Facebook list.

      • agrazingmoose

        I was thinking the same thing.

    • Dan_in_DE

      Indeed. Her mother could propably best set her straight on this.

      These things aren’t remotely similar:

      toothless rednecks admit to using foodstamps after declaring their hatred for the welfare state.


      thugged out (and probably drugged up) black guys talking about getting them some of that Obama-welfare, son! (with more than a little hint of irony)

      and alternatively,

      the unintentional irony of bigots on the dole actively working against their own interests


      The sad reality of the being poor and black in a society that has historically waged brutal oppression against black people, and again in recent decades taken a quite few steps backward in equality by making our social safety net by far the most unlivable among advanced nations.