A general memo to those “independent” outlets that try to hide behind “journalism” but are just twisting the truth a bit to perpetuate fears and misinformation: please don’t pretend that you are all of a sudden concerned about Latinos.
Case in point, a strange story by The Daily Caller today that states: USDA uses Spanish soap operas to push food stamps among non-citizens, citizens [AUDIO]. SIDENOTE: The Daily Caller, the site of Tucker Carlson (below), has already graced the pages of this site when its White House correspondent wanted to interrupt President Obama during his remarks on immigration last month. (Yeah, we know, we are giving them attention, but this one is funny and made us chuckle. Read on.)
Ok, so after reading the headline and thinking that the story would talk about a “telenovela” format that the government was using to market food stamps to Spanish speakers who were maybe citizens or maybe not, we were intrigued. We HAD to check it out. Instead, we read this:
The government has been targeting Spanish speakers with radio “novelas” promoting food stamp usage as part of a stated mission to increase participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps.
Each novela, comprising a 10-part series called “PARQUE ALEGRIA,” or “HAPPINESS PARK,” presents a semi-dramatic scenario involving characters convincing others to get on food stamps, or explaining how much healthier it is to be on food stamps.
The majority of the episodes end with the announcer encouraging the listener to tune in again to see if the skeptic applies for benefits or learns to understand the importance of food stamps to their health.
“Will Claudia convince Ramon to apply for SNAP?” the announcer exclaims at the end of a standard episode titled “The Poet,” “Don’t miss our next episode of ‘HAPPINESS PARK.’”
While the United States Department of Agriculture encourages its outreach partners not to stereotype SNAP applicants, the agency’s use of novelas is notable. The USDA is not promoting an equivalent English-language drama series and telenovelas are a popular form of entertainment in Latin American countries and a culturally relevant way to appeal to potential applicants.
Ok, let’s get this straight, your headline says “Spanish soap operas” and you make this huge illogical leap that these segments are like “telenovelas” but the episodes sound more like a bad VILLA ALEGRE. Here is one example:
Now a quick lesson in Latino culture for The Daily Caller: what you heard there is a radio segment (it’s not even a soap opera format). A scene between different people. Also when you say “novela” in your copy, you are talking about a novel, like one that is printed as a book (and yes, the government can be faulted as well for a mistranslation as well). Sure there are “radionovelas” and ‘telenovelas,” and the segments we heard were not “soap operas.” The following video montage, so you know, shows several examples of a “Spanish soap opera” or “telenovela” (and THAT is what we were expecting from the USDA):
The Daily Caller’s story also implies that this SNAP program by the USDA is a new program, one that just got recently created to help attract “non-citizens.” Funny how the piece forgets one basic fact: these segments are from 2008. How do we know? We went to the official USDA link that contains these segments (and that The Daily Caller used to created their own embedded audio segments). This is what the official USDA page says: (UPDATE, 7/14/2012: Looks like the USDA basically told The Daily Caller what we reported when this piece came out: the ads were done in 2008.) It is also interesting to note that The Daily Caller finally admitted on July 13 that the ads were done in 2008, the day AFTER it published the original “expose.” Last time we checked, the USDA’s big boss was a Republican president from January 2001-January 2008.)
Here is what the Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services provided in a statement to The Daily Caller:
“The American people support helping those in need, but they want to know their tax dollars are being spent wisely. Many of the PSAs and ads on the agency’s website were posted nearly 4 years ago and some of the content in these advertisements does not meet the standards of what I consider to be appropriate outreach,” Concannon said.
“To that end, I have instructed the agency to remove these materials from our website and to cease future production of advertisements. These funds could be better invested in improving our oversight of this critically-important program and that is exactly what I intend to do moving forward,” he added.
|At the Park||script||Dec. 9, 2008|
|Celebration||script||Dec. 9, 2008|
|The Poet||script||Dec. 9, 2008|
|Success||script||Dec. 9, 2008|
|Kid’s Talk||script||Dec. 9, 2008|
|At the Pool||script||Dec. 9, 2008|
|At the Supermarket||script||Dec. 9, 2008|
|Where’s Diana||script||Dec. 9, 2008|
|Good News. Bad News.||script||Dec. 9, 2008|
|The Valedictory Celebration||script||Dec. 9, 2008
So good for you, Daily Caller, in your lame attempt to create outrage and offense about stereotypes. What is tragic is that you are creating this “shocking discovery” to perpetuate the fear about those “damn illegals.” Hey, readers, we found FOOD STAMP PSA’s in SPANISH and THEY TELL A STORY TOO! JUST LIKE TELEMUNDO AND UNIVISION SOAP OPERAS! You know, the ones where everyone is speaking fast and passionately in Spanish?
So, to The Daily Caller, remember your Spanish lessons. It is a big difference between a radio segment and two really annoying Latina women from privilege fight each other. We say this to you: #NoMames.