NowThis News, which claims 2.5 billion monthly video views — to include 60 percent of millennials, published a highly inaccurate and misleading video “exclusive” with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) urging massive government expansion in programs intended to fight poverty but would place extreme burdens on U.S. taxpayers and businesses.
NowThis’ parent company, Group Nine Media, was co-founded by Kenneth Lerer, a former BuzzFeed chairman and Democratic megadonor and fundraiser. In 2016, BuzzFeed reportedly terminated an advertising deal with the Republican National Committee, BuzzFeed’s chairman is hosting a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee.
In her NowThis video, Ocasio-Cortez claims that 18.5 million Americans are living in extreme poverty, which she defines as less than $2 a day. While she didn’t cite her source, Ocasio-Cortez likely got that claim from a highly misleading U.N. report. Wildly high poverty estimates have persisted throughout academia as well.
However, Vox reported that “The most comprehensive response to date — by University of Chicago professor Bruce Meyer, his colleagues Derek Wu and Victoria Mooers, and the Census Bureau’s Carla Medalia — has just been publicly released, and concludes that true $2-a-day poverty, after adjusting the data properly, is extremely rare.
“Our best estimate of the extreme poverty rate,” they write, is 0.11 percent for individuals as of 2011. That implies that about 336,160 people are in extremely poor households,” wrote Vox’s Dylan Matthews. “Because they used private IRS, Social Security, and other government data, Meyer and his colleagues have more precise estimates of what income people are earning and what benefits they’re collecting than surveys can provide. That gives their estimates a great deal of credibility … If Meyer and his coauthors are right, then extreme poverty is concentrated among childless people — not the single mothers most affected by welfare reform. That removes a key argument that welfare reform did damage.”