Columbus Dispatch Gives Medicaid Expansion Backers a Giant Boost
News coverage from The Columbus Dispatch quoted supporters of Medicaid expansion 114 times between February 4 and June 18 while quoting the policy’s opponents just 40 times, a review of Dispatch reporting reveals.
Based on a LexisNexis search, the paper reported on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) Medicaid expansion in a total of 60 news stories. A Media Trackers analysis counted the number of supporters and opponents quoted in each story.
Not only were backers of Medicaid expansion quoted nearly three times as often, 26 Dispatch news stories quoted one or more Medicaid expansion advocates and no opponents.
In an April 9 story titled “Sitting this one out,” for example, Catherine Candisky and Jim Siegel gave two supporters of Medicaid expansion six paragraphs to make their case. The Dispatch news story – accompanied by a graphic of an elephant with a Gadsden flag sitting on an Uncle Sam hat full of cash – quoted no Medicaid expansion critics.
The Dispatch editors may insist Medicaid expansion critics were rarely quoted because almost no one opposes the policy, but a March poll indicated 65 percent of Republican primary voters are against Medicaid expansion.
Dispatch reporters ignored the Opportunity Ohio poll and have refused to report on any Medicaid expansion research from Opportunity Ohio, one of the state’s two conservative think tanks.
Only 5 Dispatch news stories quoted Medicaid expansion opponents without quoting supporters; even in those few instances, reporters made the same assumptions and arguments as the lobbyists pushing for Medicaid expansion.
In a March 14 story about a House panel of Medicaid expansion critics, Candisky quoted no Medicaid expansion backers but also ignored 3 of the 5 panelists. Candisky seemed appalled that Republicans care what conservative policy experts think about Medicaid expansion “despite wide support from Ohio businesses, hospitals and other health-care providers, and advocates for the uninsured.”
Regardless of how many friends or foes of the PPACA Medicaid expansion were quoted in a given story, the Dispatch routinely devoted entire paragraphs to quotes from Medicaid expansion supporters while limiting opponents to short blurbs.
Supporters of Medicaid expansion were quoted to reinforce points Dispatch reporters themselves were making, while opponents of Medicaid expansion were painted as villains in news stories like senior editor Joe Hallett’s “State covers many foes of expanding Medicaid,” published June 18.
What the Dispatch failed to cover during the 18-week period reviewed is at least as telling as the disparity in supporter and opponent quotes, especially when stories including “Medicaid expansion crucial to mentally ill” (Candisky, 05/30) and “Without Medicaid expansion, poorest lose” (Candisky, 06/02) passed muster as “news.”
In addition to completely overlooking Opportunity Ohio, the Dispatch never acknowledged Media Trackers’ refutation of Gov. Kasich’s false funding claims, our analysis of hospital financials, or any of our other Medicaid expansion research.
The Ohio Liberty Coalition was mentioned in several Dispatch news stories, but never permitted to explain itself.
“Opposition to Medicaid expansion is purely ideological,” The Columbus Dispatch editorial board announced in an April 28 column. Dispatch news reporting from February 4 to June 18 was clearly tailored towards promoting that narrative.
|News Story Title||Date||Medicaid Expansion Supporters Quoted||Medicaid Expansion Opponents Quoted|
|The Kasich Budget / 2014-15||02/05/2013||0||0|
|Tax proposals to dominate Statehouse||02/05/2013||0||1|
|Feds’ help sought with Medicaid expansion||02/05/2013||3||0|
|Kasich’s plan taps hospitals Medicaid boon||02/09/2013||1||0|
|Kasich downplays Medicaid expansion||02/10/2013||1||0|
|Mandel: Don’t expand Medicaid||02/13/2013||2||2|
|Governor: Medicaid deal right for Ohio||02/14/2013||1||0|
|Mentally ill benefit in Kasich budget||02/14/2013||4||0|
|GOP chafes at Kasich’s plan to expand Medicaid||02/15/2013||2||3|
|Budget will be Kasich’s main focus||02/19/2013||0||0|
|GOP leaders not yet backing plans||02/20/2013||2||2|
|Kasich implores GOP to expand Medicaid||02/20/2013||3||1|
|Governor urges GOP to expand Medicaid||02/22/2013||2||0|
|Sebelius countered Medicaid argument||02/24/2013||1||1|
|Kasich’s budget; Revisions will require rebalancing||02/27/2013||1||0|
|State goal; Show costs at hospitals||03/03/2013||2||0|
|Religious groups push for Kasich’s Medicaid expansion||03/04/2013||5||0|
|Medicaid expansion opposed||03/14/2013||0||3|
|Rally backs expanding Medicaid coverage||03/15/2013||3||0|
|Opinion poll; Ohioans divided on tax plans||03/17/2013||0||0|
|Clergy pushes Medicaid expansion||03/21/2013||3||0|
|Governor defends plans to GOP crowd||03/28/2013||1||1|
|Medicaid alternatives developing||03/29/2013||2||0|
|Opposition mounts to Medicaid plan||04/02/2013||3||2|
|Governor, team remain optimistic||04/04/2013||1||0|
|Medicaid expansion foundering||04/06/2013||2||3|
|Jobless man can’t pay bills for care he needs||04/06/2013||0||0|
|Likely Ohio GOP chief will face rifts||04/08/2013||2||1|
|Sitting this one out||04/09/2013||2||0|
|House GOP shreds Kasich’s priorities||04/10/2013||5||1|
|Governor’s proposals not dead yet||04/11/2013||1||1|
|Batchelder’s comment is criticized||04/11/2013||2||1|
|Battle lines solidify in Medicaid debate||04/12/2013||6||1|
|“Ohio solution” would try to save $13B||04/12/2013||2||0|
|Kasich isn’t playing hardball on budget||04/14/2013||4||0|
|Debate might pit tax cut vs. school funding||04/14/2013||0||1|
|Medicaid expansion could be back in play||04/16/2013||1||1|
|Medicaid? Still no, but sex limits advanced||04/17/2013||0||0|
|State budget: Amended bill goes to Senate||04/19/2013||3||0|
|The state budget; Smaller proposals tossed into bill||04/21/2013||1||1|
|Hospitals could lose millions||04/22/2013||4||1|
|State budget: Medicaid is separate, Faber says||04/25/213||2||0|
|Borges wins GOP contest easily||04/27/2013||0||1|
|State senator, others push for Medicaid expansion||05/02/2013||4||0|
|Tea party has had it with GOP||05/06/2013||2||4|
|Ballot is backup for Medicaid expansion plan||05/07/2013||4||0|
|Medicaid director touts Ohio reforms||05/08/2013||4||0|
|Medicaid changes considered||05/17/2013||0||1|
|Medicaid expansion could be on ballot in 2014||05/18/2013||2||0|
|Senators propose narrowing tax cut, expanding Medicaid||05/23/2013||1||0|
|Bill revives Medicaid expansion||05/23/2013||3||1|
|Mentall Hell: Overwhelmed, underfunded||05/26/2013||0||0|
|Mental Hell: Mental-health fix not just about money||05/28/2013||4||0|
|Medicaid expansion crucial to mentally ill||05/30/2013||2||0|
|Without Medicaid expansion, poorest lose||06/02/2013||1||1|
|Basic needs in Ohio cost 23% more than in ’07||06/05/2013||0||0|
|Kasich on defense this time around||06/10/2013||0||0|
|Group: State must act fast on Medicaid||06/12/2013||2||0|
|Bills don’t expand Medicaid||06/13/2013||0||0|
|State covers many foes of expanding Medicaid||06/18/2013||5||4|