Study: Media Blackout on Single-Payer Healthcare

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Steve Rendall
srendall@fair.org
Tel: 212-633-6700 x13

Study: Media Blackout on Single-Payer Healthcare

New Study on Media & Healthcare Reform

NEW YORK CITY -  A timely new study
documents a significant gap in recent media coverage of healthcare reform.

Major newspaper, broadcast and cable stories mentioning healthcare reform in
the week leading up to President Barack Obama's March 5 healthcare summit rarely mentioned the idea
of a single-payer national health insurance program, according to a study by
the media watch group FAIR. And advocates of such a system--two of whom
participated in yesterday's summit--were almost entirely shut out, FAIR found. This despite the fact that single-payer polls well with the public,
who preferred it 59-to-32 over a privatized system in a recent survey (New York Times/CBS, 1/11-15/09).

Of the hundreds of major newspaper, broadcast and cable stories mentioning
healthcare reform on NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR
and PBS's NewsHour With Jim
Lehrer, the study found that:

-All but 18 stories made no mention of "single-payer" (or synonyms
commonly used by its proponents, such as "Medicare for all," or the
proposed single-payer bill, H.R. 676)

-Only five stories included the views of advocates of single-payer--none of
which appeared on television.

-A media consumer in the
week leading up to the summit was more likely to read about single-payer from
the hostile perspective of conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer than see
an op-ed by a single-payer advocate in a major U.S. newspaper. Of a total of 10
newspaper columns FAIR found that mentioned single-payer, Krauthammer's
syndicated column critical of the concept, accounted for five instances, while
only three columns in the study period advocated for a single-payer system.

-The FAIR study turned up only
three mentions of single-payer on the TV outlets surveyed, and two of those
references were by TV guests who expressed strong disapproval of it.

A
full summary of the study's findings is available at: http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=3733

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FAIR, the national media watch group, has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986. We work to invigorate the First Amendment by advocating for greater diversity in the press and by scrutinizing media practices that marginalize public interest, minority and dissenting viewpoints.

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