Health Care Debate: A Really Big Story, Except When It Isn’t


Coverage rose after Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, unveiled the Senate’s version of the bill late last month and when the Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of the proposal a few days later. But it dropped rapidly soon after.

The count includes national sources like The New York Times and The Washington Post, as well as regional and online news sources.

Analysts say coverage was abundant before the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, partly because of the public process through which the bill was constructed, including a series of hearings, markups and committee meetings. In contrast, Mr. McConnell created the G.O.P. Senate bill behind closed doors with a group of 13 lawmakers, keeping others in the dark about the contents until shortly before it was released.

“One reason to go behind the door is if you’re trying to deflect all the pressure from the various groups,” said Thomas Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “And one way that pressure materializes is through news stories.”

Coverage of health care by a subset of regional news sources mirrored that by the national media. Health care coverage increased after the Senate released its bill. But by early July, coverage was competing with that of North Korea’s missile launch. These sources include 436 outlets.

Regional U.S. News Media Coverage

Next week lawmakers will return to the capital, having heard from their constituents and from lobbyists, and health care will probably return to the forefront — depending on other events, of course.

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Health Care Debate: A Really Big Story, Except When It Isn’t

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