FAIR HAS an article out focusing on poverty and the coverage the subject does not get from top echelon national media in the country. It’s simply not on big media’s radar.
Part of the issue is that neither Barack Obama or Mitt Romney talk about poverty. There’s no advantage to it, because both political parties are focused on austerity. Even Democrats voted against SNAP, with the current political thinking that too many people are on food stamps because they want to be.
Discussions of poverty in campaign coverage were so rare that PBS NewsHour had the highest percentage of its campaign stories addressing poverty—with a single story, 0.8 percent of its total. ABC World News, NBC Nightly News, NPR’s All Things Considered, and Newsweek ran no campaign stories substantively discussing poverty.
The New York Times included substantive information about poverty in just 0.2 percent of its campaign stories and opinion pieces—placing it third out of the eight outlets, behind PBS and CBS.
By contrast with other issues that have received wider attention in recent campaign coverage, “poverty” was mentioned at all, with or (most often) without substantive discussion, in just 3 percent of campaign stories (309 stories) in the eight outlets. This compares to “deficit” and “debt,” which were mentioned about six times as often, in 18 percent (1,848) of election stories.
Even throwing a wider net, to include stories that mentioned “poverty,” “low income,” “homeless,” “welfare” or “food stamps,” turned up just 945 pieces, 10 percent of total election stories—still well below the rate at which “debt” and “deficit” were mentioned.
In the current election year, when neither the incumbent Democratic president nor any of his challengers in the GOP primary have been making poverty even a minor issue, such “rules” are relegating tens of millions of struggling citizens to virtual invisibility.