fair and balanced?

Steve Benen (Washington Monthly): We talked a few weeks ago about the very different ways in which the media responds to court rulings on the Affordable Care Act. Those upholding the constitutionality of the health care law get very little attention, while conservative rulings against the law are literally treated as front-page news.

Now that there’s a new federal court ruling – Judge Gladys Kessler ruled in support of the law on Tuesday, becoming the fifth to rule on the merits – let’s take a moment to reevaluate this.

Three federal district courts have said the Affordable Care Act meets constitutional muster; two have reached the opposite conclusion. Here’s how four major media outlets have covered the rulings, in the order in which the decisions came down: See here for statistics

…the discrepancy is overwhelming. In every instance, conservative rulings get more coverage, longer articles, and better placement ….  the Washington Post couldn’t bother to run a single article – not one – about the Kessler ruling…

…it seems very likely the public has been left with the impression that the health care law is legally dubious and struggling badly in the courts because that’s what news organizations have told them to believe.

Read full article here

9 Responses to “fair and balanced?”

  1. 1 CTGirl
    February 25, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Yep, it’s that liberal media! There you go, the proof is right there! SMH!!

  2. 2 Rose
    February 25, 2011 at 8:54 am

    This is very interesting, to say the least. I’m going to send this chart to my local paper because I think this is how it covers the news, too. Maybe we all should send these kinds of findings to our local media.

  3. 3 dannie22
    February 25, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Our media is sickening.

  4. 4 Theo67
    February 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Steve Benen is fighting the good fight out there.

  5. February 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Nice graphic. Did you create that? I might want to borrow it.

    • February 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm

      Love the graphic too – Benen provides a link for it (http://www.flickr.com/photos/speakerpelosi/5474468198/sizes/l), it’s from Nancy Pelosi’s Flickr page!

      • February 25, 2011 at 9:10 pm

        On second thought, although this certainly looks like right wing bias in the media, maybe it’s not something to get too outraged about. I say this because I just realized that I did a blog post myself on Judge Hudson’s decision– http://www.hopeandchange.net/2010/12/is-health-care-reform-unconstitutional.html — but I wrote nothing about the three district court decisions that found the health care statute constitutional. Maybe this is because finding an Act of Congress to be constitutional is not so remarkable, while overturning an Act of Congress really is more newsworthy. And in the case of the health care law, the decisions overturning it are so much more fun to write about because they are so outrageous. While the decisions upholding it are just, ho hum.

        • February 25, 2011 at 10:34 pm

          I know what you mean Joe, Steve Benen made a similar point in the article –

          “Ezra Klein wrote a few weeks ago about a possible explanation – “The two judges who ruled for the bill upheld the status quo. And they went first. So their rulings changed nothing. No one could accuse me of harboring an anti-ACA agenda, but I didn’t give those rulings much coverage. The two judges who ruled against the bill called for enormous changes to the status quo, and enormous changes to the status quo are almost the definition of what “news” is. These two rulings have genuinely called the bill’s future into question, and that’s a big story.”

          That strikes me as fair. Most sensible people have long considered the health reform law constitutional, so those first two rulings merely confirmed what everyone expected. It wasn’t shocking, and it was easy for the media to be blase about it. The conservative rulings seemed more important, to a certain extent, because far-right judges did something shocking, so news outlets responded accordingly.


          But when I read this extraordinary bit of news today…

          “In a new Kaiser Health poll, just 52% of Americans knew that the health care reform bill signed into law by President Obama is still in place. Meanwhile, one fifth — 22% — of all Americans believe that the law has been overturned, while another 26% aren’t sure what’s up with the law.”


          ….it just confirmed the effect on those who choose only to be informed by headlines that the MSM’s reporting on the issue is having. It’s scary! It’s natural enough, I suppose, that they would focus on the more remarkable rulings, I just wish they’d finish up their reports by clarifying that these rulings are the exceptions rather than the rule.

  6. 9 Rita Chakrabarti
    February 25, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    This is an awesome graphic! How much more apparent can it get? When polls come out saying that the majority of the people believe that the ACA had been repealed, we can point to this directly. For most people still believe the MSM and will not research anything on their own. Shameful.

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