PEJ: Republicans Won Message War at Height of Health Care Coverage

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As the Supreme Court prepares to decide the constitutionality of the Obama Administration-backed health care law, a Project for Excellence in Journalism study of health care coverage by the media during the height of coverage of the bill's passage (June 2009-March 2010) found that the coverage centered on the politics of health care and that the Republican messaging dominated.

According to a new content analysis of language used in that 2009-2010 coverage, opponents of the law "won the so-called 'messaging war.'"

For example, collectively, language about "more government involvement," "more taxes" and "rationing health care" got a total of 18,181 mentions in national media outlets, while language about "more competition," "insuring preexisting conditions," and "greedy insurance industry," totaled about 10,883.

In the third quarter of 2009, the health care debate accounted for 18% of the news hole and was the No. 1 story.

The study was based on 5,500 stories from approximately 60 national news outlets from five media sectors, cable and broadcast, online, radio and print.