“Rate Shock” is a Middle-Class Problem, So It Gets Lots of Attention


The media has entered a feeding frenzy of coverage about people who are facing “rate shock” from Obamacare. It’s a real story, even if a lot of the reporting has been sloppy and credulous, but the level of media attention has nonetheless been pretty stunning. Jon Chait says this is partly because the press has a natural attraction to bad news over good. But that’s not all:

There’s also an economic bias at work. Victims of rate shock are middle-class, and their travails, in general, tend to attract far more lavish coverage than the problems of the poor. (Did you know that on November 1, millions of Americans suffered painful cuts to nutritional assistance? Not a single Sunday-morning talk-show mentioned it.)

Yep. It’s the same reason that air traffic controllers got funded so quickly during the sequester while food aid didn’t. In addition, I can only assume that writing about the people who are benefiting from Obamacare would strike DC reporters as a little too much like shilling for the Obama administration. Can’t have that, can we?

In addition to the obvious agenda-setting power of Fox and Drudge, I suspect there’s also one other factor at work here: a news drought. Just as the debt ceiling crisis helped Obama in early October by sucking up all the media oxygen and taking attention away from the disastrous rollout of the website, Obama has been hurt by a news cycle that’s been unusually slow lately. There’s just not much to talk about aside from Obamacare. I suspect that the White House must be wishing for a huge hurricane or something right about now to provide the cable nets with something else to obsess over.

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