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Cable News Obsessively Covers Cuts To White House Tours, Ignores Cuts To Programs For The Poor

Cable News Obsessively Covers Cuts To White House Tours, Ignores Cuts To Programs For The Poor

Written by Aviva Shen and Adam Peck

Thanks to Congressional gridlock, automatic budget cuts took effect 14 days ago, threatening 700,000 jobs and gutting funds for vital programs in housing assistance, early childhood education, disaster relief, and national security. Secret Service staffing was also impacted, prompting the cancellation of White House tours last week. Republicans immediately attacked the decision as a political move designed to turn the public against the sequester and 14 Republican senators signed a letter demanding information.

The media has also latched on to preserve the White House tours, while largely ignoring other much more devastating sequester cuts. As Ari Melber of The Nation pointed out on Wednesday, there are 12,000 news stories concerning White House tours and less than 1,000 about the sequester’s impact on housing assistance programs, which disproportionately affect low-income Americans.

ThinkProgress examined this trend on three major cable news networks — Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC — since March 6. White House tours were mentioned 33 times as often (Fox News had 163 segments, CNN had 59, and MSNBC had 42) as mentions of other sequester impacts hitting the poor. Any discussion of sequestration’s steep cuts to housing assistance, food stamps, and Head Start early education was virtually nonexistent on all 3 networks in the same time frame. Fox News mentioned Head Start three times, ignoring housing and food stamps entirely; MSNBC mentioned Head Start 4 times, food stamps once, and did not cover housing assistance cuts at all. CNN stayed completely silent on all three issues:

While covering budget cuts, cable news channels have also largely avoided discussing military tuition assistance programs, which were suspended by the Marine Corps and the Army shortly after sequestration. CNN and MSNBC each mentioned the cuts to tuition assistance once since March 6, while Fox News took the lead with 11 segments.

The media’s silence on the most brutal sequester cuts is well in line with the fourth estate’s normal approach to poverty. During the 2012 presidential campaign, just .2 percent of campaign coverage by major TV, radio, and print outlets addressed poverty in any substantive way. More recently, the media mostly ignored the effects of spending cuts in the so-called “fiscal cliff” at the end of 2012, preferring to discuss tax hikes instead.

In response to the highly publicized backlash over White House tours, Obama is now signalling some tours may resume.

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.


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Photo: martha_jean/flickr

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8:31AM PDT on Mar 23, 2013

Yes Paul because BOTH needed to be done. The Bush era tax cuts that were temporary, needed to vanish. They were two separate things. The tax code needs major revisions and simplifications. Loopholes need to be closed. These are two separate items Paul. BOTH needed addressing. Boehner is getting immense pressure to get rid of, or damage SS and medicare over any other consideration. So even though Boehner agrees the tax code needs to be cleaned and loopholes closed he won't talk about it now.

4:08AM PDT on Mar 23, 2013

What you lack in substance , you make up for with incivility.

4:14PM PDT on Mar 22, 2013

Republicans are so damn stupid that boggles the mind. Just look at the last few that posted here should you need proof.

12:20PM PDT on Mar 22, 2013

Obama had the opportunity to eliminate the tax loopholes earlier this year as well when Boehner proposed that as a solution rather than tax rate increases, but Obama refused that option, saying it wasn't what was needed. Well, just a couple months later, NOW it is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing we could do!?!?!?!

Doesn't anyone think that is a purely political stunt. If you look at MOST of what he does, you find a primarily political motivation. NOT A LEADER... simply a "Community Organizer Gone Wild" in DC... a prostitution of the American Dream.

12:08PM PDT on Mar 22, 2013

Obama is trying to change to agreement AFTER he got what he wanted... the tax increases agreed to earlier this year. He proposed the plan, he agreed to the plan, but now wants to change it midstream.... plus he refuses to take ANY responsibility of provide ANY leadership to minimize the damages the cuts (which aren't really cuts, but mostly a decrease in the scheduled increases) by accepting the authority to massage the cuts into areas that would be least impactful.

But that is not what he wants. He intentionally wants it to hurt as much as possible so he can continue to BLAME the Reps for being unreasonable to his desires to change the deal he already agreed to. He doesn't want to be responsible for anything that someone can blame him. Picking where to reallocate the cuts would be subject to review and criticism, and that only serves to diminish his appearance of being "above it all." That is what he wants, but that is not what we need.

Obama is NOT A LEADER. He always looks for ways to politicize everything and that is creating more harm to everyone than should be. If he was truly concerned about the impact of the sequester, he would gladly take the helm and do what he could to minimize it, on the kids, the servicemen, and all the other he said would suffer who shouldn't.

7:19AM PDT on Mar 22, 2013

This legislation would have mitigated the damage to allow cuts with discretion. The fact that it didn't pass is not the issue. The fact that obama would have vetoed it if it had passed is the issue. HE doesn't want the responsibility!!!! That way of thinking is perverse.

This statement is very telling:

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, says they're playing politics by forcing the president to take the blame for cuts he's being forced to make.

The buck 'should' stop with the president.

6:39AM PDT on Mar 22, 2013

Well said David Kudos

6:38AM PDT on Mar 22, 2013

No Mary, I don't want anyone to suffer. But offering Obama the arrow on a stick they did was not mean to end suffering. Obama brought up the sequester because he though the Republicans would NEVER allow such radical cuts to go through. He hope they would be reasonable. Instead Boehner sat on his hands because his dysfunctional congress is full of radicals that simply will make NO deal aside from butchering SS and medicare. He is trying to make everyone else do his job….the senate…..Obama………whoever will do something. But they would have used that carrot to slam Obama's every single move. Right now, Mary, nothing is at it seems in Washington. We are in the middle of the most dysfunctional congress we have had in my history. WEll, when Newt was speaker it was almost as bed……but THIS congress is the worst and most destructive to our country. And their main goal is not to truly save money unless it is at the expense of butchering SS and medicare.

6:14AM PDT on Mar 22, 2013

SO... Mary, does that answer your questions well enough???

6:13AM PDT on Mar 22, 2013

page 2

The White House support comes even though the Senate bill actually adds to the budget deficit.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Democrats' bill would increase budget deficits by $7.2 billion over 10 years, largely because it contains new farm subsidy spending included to mollify rural Democrats angry over the $30 billion cut in direct farm payments in the bill.
The Toomey-Inhofe bill is opposed by appropriators in both Houses of Congress and has been targeted by Republican defense hawks. They worry that President Obama would abuse the new flexibility to go after projects they favor.

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