Media & Health Care: 30 Percent Of Americans Say “Death Panels” Claims Are True

2801274450_2e8ca6f755_oThe latest Pew Research Center survey, released 2 days ago, illustrates again that the American public has a hard time focusing its attention on more than just one news story at a time.

A few weeks ago, it was the death of Michael Jackson receiving non-stop coverage from the media, and of course occupying in return most people’s attention. For the time being, the public interest is narrowly focused on one topic:Health care, and the health care reform bill.

A full 46 percent of  Americans named health care as the story they followed closely. Meanwhile, the media concentrated 32 percent of their coverage on the topic. A distant second was the economy with 23 percent of news interest from the public, and only 12 percent of the media news coverage.

Not surprisingly, international news barely registered on the American public’s radar during the same time frame, with a meager 7 percent interest in stories about Iraq and an even smaller coverage from the mainstream media with only 2 percent of their airtime related to events in Iraq. As usual, and unfortunately Americans continue to have almost no interest in world news. For example, the important Afghan elections story did not even registered in the Pew survey as a subject of interest.

However, the disturbing part of the findings from the survey concerns the so called “death panels”. It is quite frankly astonishing and almost defies reason.

A full 86 percent of Americans have heard about “death panels”, 50 percent say that the claim is not true, but 30 percent believe that health care reform will create such organization, and 20 percent say they do not know.

In terms of party affiliation, 47 percent of Republicans say the “death panels” claims are true, as well as 20 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of Independents.

What is even more surprising are the survey results for each cable news or network news audience. Not surprisingly, 45 percent of Fox’s regular viewers think the “death panels” claim is real, but 27 percent of MSNBC’s viewers share the same belief, 26 percent for CNN’s viewers and 25 percent for network news.

For the complete Pew Research Center survey click here.


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