Oct 23 2007

USA Today’s SCHIP Favor

Paper's misleading poll boosts White House veto

The White House veto of a Congressional plan to expand the SCHIP children’s health care program seemed to run against public opinion, which squarely supports the measure. But USA Today conducted a misleading poll that assisted the Bush administration’s efforts to portray the veto as an effort to help poor children. On October 16, the paper ran a story headlined “Poll: Mixed Feelings on Kids’ Healthcare Program,” which declared that “slim majorities” support White House arguments that are “at the core of the president’s opposition to the expansion.” Most importantly, majorities apparently “agree with Bush that most benefits should go […]

Sep 01 2007

The Poor Will Always Be With Us–Just Not on the TV News

FAIR Study

The PDF version of the study is available here. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, 37 million Americans—one in eight—lived below the federal poverty line in 2005, defined as an annual income of $19,971 for a family of four. Yet poverty touches a far greater share of the population over the course of their lives: A 1997 study by University of Michigan economist Rebecca Blank found that one-third of all U.S. residents will experience government-defined poverty within a 13-year period. The poorest age group is children, with more than one in six living in official poverty at […]

Aug 27 2007


Poverty or Pop Star: What's More Newsworthy?

When Hurricane Katrina devastated poor communities in New Orleans two years ago today, the media pledged to pay attention to the plight of the poor. Can you guess how newsworthy the major TV networks thought poverty was the year Katrina hit, compared to, say, the legal ordeals of millionaire pop star Michael Jackson? Or which of the major three networks aired the most stories on poverty, and which ran the least? Click here to record your guess

Jan 05 2007

Best of CounterSpin 2006


Download MP3 On this special Best of CounterSpin, program we look back over some of what was news for the mainstream media in 2006—and some of what wasn’t news, but should’ve been. Our guests this year included a range of activists, researchers and journalists—all of whom had an angle on events that we thought worth hearing and, more often than not, one you weren’t hearing many other places. Whether the issue was medicare or immigration, Wal-Mart or welfare policy, each in his or her way reminded us of the need to see beyond the narrow, often distorted dialog provided by […]

Dec 01 2006

The Smell of Success

After 10 years of 'welfare reform,' ignoring the human impact

In August, the federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program—popularly known as “welfare reform”—turned 10 years old, sparking a rash of articles looking back on how the new law’s emphasis on time limits and “work activities” requirements has fared. But even with recent figures showing poverty on the rise, by and large news media treated the program as an unquestioned success. Defining what exactly constitutes “success” when it comes to welfare policy has long thrown reporters. TANF was originally sold as a program that would get people off welfare and into jobs, thus lifting them out of poverty. Yet journalists […]

Nov 01 2006

Wrong Numbers

Distorting Venezuela’s record on poverty

One charge that U.S. media have hurled at Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez—that poverty has worsened under his administration—seems tailored to alienate the populist leader from his natural supporters. Isn’t Chávez a leftist? Aren’t his policies pro-poor? progressives may wonder. What about all that oil wealth? Is this really true? No, it’s not. But that doesn’t stop the media from printing misinformation about poverty in Venezuela. It isn’t that opinion writers and editorial editors used false statistics or made errors in their calculations—in most cases, they used the Venezuelan government’s own statistics, as many editorials pointed out. Instead, they used old […]

Sep 01 2006

Sue Sturgis on Katrina anniversary, Heather Boushey on welfare ‘reform’

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina was marked by media outlets remembering, among other things, those few days when some reporters decided they wouldn’t tolerate lying and deception from government officials. But what’s happened on the Gulf Coast since then, away from the cameras and TV anchors? We’ll speak with Sue Sturgis of the Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch. Also on CounterSpin today, another media anniversary: It’s been ten years since the passage of so-called welfare reform, and most of the media are celebrating its success as measured by the plummeting numbers on the […]

Jul 07 2006

John Feffer on North Korea, Neil DeMause on welfare and poverty

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: North Korea’s launch of several missiles on July 4th revealed once again the sensational and crisis-driven nature of U.S. media coverage of North Korea. While media dredged up stories of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s irrationality and eccentricity, coverage left many Americans ill-informed U.S./North Korea relations. Korean expert John Feffer will join us to talk about the latest alleged crisis. Also on the show: Remember Ronald Reagan and his Cadillac-driving welfare queens? Now that the White House wants to tighten public assistance even further, officials are pushing a new image: welfare recipients will […]