The National Media’s Misbegotten Sequester Coverage
First, Republicans accused the president of over-hyping the impact of the sequester and many reporters dutifully began asking the White House if they regretted the alleged over-hyping. Soon, however, both Congressional Republicans and the media found one impact of the sequester that represented an all-out crisis: the cancellation of White House tours.
(The Secret Service is subject to sequester cuts — $84 MILLION worth — and suspending the tours will save $74,000 a week. This will allow them to avoid furloughing additional workers.)
One-quarter of Americans say that they’ve already been negatively affected by the painful sequester cuts; those making less than $50,000 were twice as likely to have been impacted as those making more than $100,000. The worst impacts of the cuts are still to come and will only get worse over time, yet cable news has hardly covered the impact on some of the most vulnerable among us. Instead there has been absolutely breathless coverage of the apparent national crisis caused by the cancellation of White House tours.
The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein hits the nail on the head in his piece lamenting the “gross obsession with White House tours.” You should read the whole thing, but here’s the key paragraph:
There’s bargaining power for Republicans in upholding the convenient fiction that we can make these cuts and no one will really hurt, because government spending is just wasteful and unnecessary. But the effort here isn’t to make sure no one hurts. It’s to make sure no one with the political capital to do something about it hurts. As such, the minor inconveniences of the politically powerful have become a national crisis, even as some of the politically powerless are losing not just a White House tour, but the very roof over their heads.
The Beltway media should follow the lead of local media outlets covering the impact of the sequester. Instead of hyperventilating about White House tours, local outlets have been covering cuts to things like Head Start, medical research, public housing, schools, and the military (including active duty soldiers).
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