Economy

The Invisible Unemployed: Major Media Ignore Jobless Americans And Obsess Over U.S. Debt

As ThinkProgress’s Lee Fang has reported, a handful of right-wing front groups and billionaires have engineered a political consensus that trumpets reducing U.S. debt rather than tackling unemployment. But unfortunately, these front groups have had some assistance from the mainstream media outlets who seem obsessed with covering deficit reduction and debt debates in Washington, while ignoring the other problems plaguing the economy as it recovers from the Great Recession.

For instance, a ThinkProgress media analysis of the coverage of three major cable news networks — CNN, MSNBC, and Fox — over the last week finds that these outlets gave a much larger portion of their coverage to U.S. debt rather than the unemployed. ThinkProgress scanned media coverage at these outlets for the words “unemployed,” “unemployment,” and “debt.” The first two phrases put together still got 15 times less coverage than the debt. ThinkProgress has assembled this data in the following chart:

Of course, it makes sense that the media dedicated time to the debt ceiling debate last week, as the U.S. was inching closer and closer to an unprecedented default on its obligations. However, by failing to cover the other problems in the economy — continued high unemployment, mounting foreclosures, and record corporate profits that are not translating into job creation — the media does a disservice to those who are struggling with a slew of economic problems that have nothing to do with the federal budget or congressional negotiations.

And while the mainstream press has obsessed over U.S. debt, the American people appear to have different priorities. A Gallup poll taken last month finds that only 16 percent of Americans see the federal budget deficit as the “most important problem facing the country.” Meanwhile, 27 percent of American see “unemployment/jobs” as that problem, while 31 percent name the “economy in general” as that concern.