“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.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate