UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

March 7, 2009

NEAR TOTAL BLACKOUT OF SINGLE PAYER BY MAJOR MEDIA

FAIR - 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 new FAIR study. And advocates of such a system--two of whom participated in the summit--were almost entirely shut out, FAIR found.

Single-payer polls well with the public, who preferred it 59-to-32 over a privatized system in a recent survey. But 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.

Over the past week, hundreds of stories in major newspapers and on NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR and PBS's News Hour With Jim Lehrer mentioned healthcare reform, according to a search of the Nexis database. Yet all but 18 of these 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), and only five included the views of advocates of single-payer--none of which appeared on television.

Of a total of 10 newspaper columns FAIR found that mentioned single-payer, Krauthammer's syndicated column critical of the concept, published in the Washington Post and reprinted in four other daily newspapers, accounted for five instances. 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.

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