Since the inauguration, the network news media have promoted President Obama’s attempts to muscle through health care reform legislation. From exposing the "unhealthy details" of the current system, to openly calling it a "national shame" that the U.S. does not have universal (government) health insurance, the three networks have joined Obama’s campaign for change.Agreed: the media mentions Medicare mainly when Obama points to it. But the press rarely reports how enlarging government could cure Medicare's march to bankruptcy.
In 224 stories on ABC, CBS and NBC, the networks favored proponents to critics by a margin of more than 2-to-1 (243 to 104). Networks also left out one major criticism -- the "exorbitant" cost of Democrat reform proposals -- from most reports.
ABC touted Obama’s proposals as the "UnHillary approach" on March 5, citing the diversity of groups represented at a health care summit that day. According to "Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts, the president was bringing "all the major players in health care to the table."
Only 9 percent of stories (21 out of 224) cited estimates of $1 trillion or more, even though the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated one Senate proposal would cost $1.6 trillion.
The networks only brought up Massachusetts health care reform in one story and entirely failed to report the flaws of a government health care program in Hawaii. They also glossed over the shortcomings of Medicare -- a government-run health insurance program already bound for insolvency.
Each network had its own way of spinning the debate for Obama. On ABC, medical editor and longtime universal care proponent Tim Johnson blatantly cheered for big-government solutions. ABC also aired a primetime special giving Obama time to promote his health care agenda without debate. CBS, particularly the "Early Show," brought on administration officials to promote for government-run health care, but often didn’t supply an opposing view.
NBC, the best of the three, utilized a third approach: airing stories about extreme medical hardship or praising certain hospitals for already doing what Obama has called for -- like implementing electronic medical records.
On June 11 and 12, after Obama had spoken in Green Bay, Wis. at a town hall meeting about health care reform, the three networks gave a perfect example of how little substance mattered in their reporting. The three focused their health care stories on Obama’s "cool" factor rather than substantive policy.
In that speech, Obama admitted the cost of Medicare and Medicaid are "one of the biggest threats to our federal deficit" and promised Americans would be able to keep their doctors "no matter how we reform health care." He also promised that reform would not add to the deficit.
None of the networks examined those claims or pointed out the irony of looking to the government to cut costs since government programs are largely responsible for skyrocketing health care expenditures.
The press analysis is from the Business & Media Institute--read the whole thing.