If you’ve had the intestinal fortitude to sample the TV news product — just to see what the rest of the electorate is seeing, some 20 million viewers a night — you know in your bones that when the topic is the federal deficit, the culprit is those awful tax cuts or that excessive defense spending. (Sound like the Reagan years? Sure does.) Exploding federal spending on other items never seems to make the news…unless reporters are complaining that proposed new subsidies aren’t generous enough.
Today, MRC’s Rich Noyes confirms what you know. In 108 TV stories on the deficit in the last fiscal year, 66 network linked the deficit to Bush’s tax cuts, and another 45 blamed defense — the war on terrorism, homeland security costs, or the war in Iraq. (Some stories suggested more than one cause.) Only 12 stories mentioned non-war related federal spending as a reason for the rising red ink, even though such spending has risen sharply in the past three years.