Fox skews health care reform discussion away from deficit reduction
Research ››› ››› MATT MCLAUGHLIN & TOM ALLISON
Fox News immediately responded to cost estimates of health care reform legislation by devoting far more attention to the estimate that the legislation would increase spending by $940 billion over 10 years than it did to the estimate that, including cost savings and revenue increases, the bill would actually reduce the deficit by $130 billion over the same period. On-screen graphics throughout Fox News' initial coverage referred to the cost estimate, while no graphics mentioned deficit reduction.
Fox focuses on cost estimate
Fox shows nearly 10 minutes of on-screen graphic spelling out $940 billion cost estimate, none on deficit reduction. During the 9 a.m. ET hour -- when reports of the Congressional Budget Office's preliminary cost analysis of health care reform legislation first leaked -- Fox News repeatedly aired an on-screen graphic stating, "CBO: Health Care Will Cost $940 Billion Over 10 Yrs," showing the graphic for a total of 9 minutes, 44 seconds. At no time during the 9 a.m. hour did Fox News show a graphic referring to the $130 billion deficit-reduction estimate.
Cost estimate mentioned three times as often as deficit-reduction estimate. During the 9 a.m. hour, the $940 billion cost estimate was mentioned 12 times -- by co-hosts Bill Hemmer (three times) and Martha MacCallum (twice), Fox News contributors Karl Rove (twice) and Juan Williams, guests Joe Trippi and Kevin Madden, and by Rep. John Boehner (twice) during Fox coverage of the GOP press conference in response to the CBO estimate. By contrast, CBO's estimate that the bill would reduce the deficit was mentioned only four times -- by Hemmer, Williams, and Rove, and by Rep. James Clyburn during Fox coverage of the Democratic press conference in response to the CBO estimate.