Sep
09
2009

About Those Town Halls…

A curious mention in the Politico today:

One of the summer's surprises has been the degree to which angry "town halls" filled with opponents of healthcare reform has driven the political narrative– no matter that Democrats own both the White House and Congress, no matter that many news organizations were slow to reckon with the consequences of a movement gathering power far from the traditional corridors of power.

Whatever your impression of those town hall events, it's hard to conclude that the media were "slow to reckon" with them. They were blasted all over television, after all.

When Tom Rosensteil of the Project for Excellence in Journalism appeared on the PBS NewsHour on August 31 to talk about the press and health policy, he noted that his group's studies found that "the protests have gotten more coverage, actually, than description of the healthcare plans, or — and twice as much coverage as the stories about the state of the healthcare system." He later elaborated:

What, really, I think, surprises me in the coverage is how little coverage there is of how our healthcare system works, what's wrong with what — what's wrong with it, and what the alternatives could be, based on other countries, other systems, alternative programs in the United States.

That represents only 8 percent of all the coverage that we have seen this year, vs. 55 percent about the political horse races and battles over this, and another 16 percent of the coverage on the protests.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.