Normally, it would be a “dog-bites-man” story – overtly liberal media figures promoting a liberal, big government policy initiative. But when the left-leaning Project for Excellence in Journalism notices a trend, and The New York Times deems it worth reporting, something funny is going on.
On June 21, the Times’ “Media Decoder ” blog suggested that historians studying how ObamaCare passed “might assign a bit of the credit to liberal talk show hosts.” The article cited a study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism  (no right-wing outfit, that) showing that, during the lead-up to health care reform passage, “liberal hosts like Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz” spent nearly twice as much airtime on health care reform as did their conservative counterparts.
Left-wing hosts “spent 44 percent of their airtime talking about health care from June 2009 to March 2010, while conservative hosts spent 26 percent of their airtime on the subject,” according to the article. Further, MSNBC gave it 32 percent of its airtime, while Fox gave it 20 percent.
Again, no surprise that MSNBC got behind the Democrats’ big push for socialized medicine, to the extent that the network gave the topic nearly a third of its airtime.
What is interesting is the study found, and the Times article briefly noted, “reporters and pundits more commonly echoed words used by opponents of the Democratic proposals than terms used by supporters. Notably, it found more than 2,500 media references to ‘death panels.’”
Proponents of ObamaCare continually shifted their rhetoric and hid behind numerous obfuscations as they sought to sell a deeply unpopular bill to the public. (In fact, the public is still learning about the true costs and provisions of the measure.) For sympathetic reporters in the mainstream media, making derisive use of terms like “death panels” was easier than finding out what was actually proposed in the legislation.