If you did nothing but watch cable news for the last two days, you would have no idea that hundreds of fast food workers in the midwest are on strike — walking out of their jobs, protesting outside of the storefronts, calling on employers to end the horrendously low wages that have left many workers in poverty.
Since Wednesday, when the strikes began, neither CNN nor Fox News has even mentioned the fast food worker protests, according to a quick search of media monitoring site TV Eyes. MSNBC has discussed the strikes once, during a segment of All In With Chris Hayes.
It’s not that the channels haven’t discussed economic issues: For comparison’s sake, in the same time period, CNN mentioned the Dow on eight separate occasions, MSNBC on 23, and Fox News on 14. They have also managed to have dozens of discussions about fast food — particularly McDonald’s. But all were in reference to what Charles Murray — one of the men who rescued three kidnapped women in Ohio — was eating before his heroic act.
Cable news often fails to cover economic news as it relates to people’s lives. Every station was equally abysmal at discussing job-threatening sequestration cuts, though they spent a lot of time focusing on lines at airports or the discontinuation of White House tours.
But the workers’ strike is certainly worth the time of all three major cable channels. Currently, those hundreds of workers on strike don’t make a living wage and lack any union representation that would help them collectively bargain. Even as the profits of the companies they work for rise, workers’ wages have stagnated. The fight is also happening at the federal level; in his State of the Union, President Obama called on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour. That puts it just at 1981 levels, accounting for inflation.