The media spun the report by the U.S. Census Bureau yesterday to show that although poverty numbers were lower, the number of Americans without health insurance was increasing. But they didn’t even get that right.

“There's news on the economy tonight,” said NBC News anchor Brian Williams. “The percentage of Americans living in poverty dropped a bit last year to 12.3 percent from 12.6 percent of the population the year before. But there was bad news on this front as well. The number of Americans without health insurance has gone up from nearly 45 million in 2005 to 47 million Americans last year.”

The statistics Williams is referring to come from the U.S. Census Report, “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006.” It broke down the 47 million uninsured and reported that a little over 10 million of those uninsured are not a citizen of the United States, something Williams failed to disclose.



The Census Bureau announced a drop in the poverty rate, but NBC and, especially CBS, on Tuesday night managed to turn the good news into bad by emphasizing an increase in the number of Americans without health insurance while ABC, in contrast, portrayed the decrease in poverty as good news. “A bright spot of economic news today,” fill-in ABC anchor Kate Snow announced, “the percentage of Americans living in poverty dropped last year” by “three-tenths of a percent from the year before.” Reporter Barbara Pinto actually acknowledged some positive trends during the Bush years, pointing to how “in the past four years, the country has added nearly 7 million jobs. And in those four years, the average household income has risen about $700.” Pinto didn't ignore liberal class-warfare arguments, but after a left-winger asserted “there's very little that trickles down to those at the bottom,” Pinto countered: “Obviously, some of that growth is trickling down.”

Though the AP headlined its story, “U.S. poverty rate declines significantly,” NBC anchor Brian Williams reported it dropped “a bit” and CBS anchor Katie Couric relayed how “the poverty rate is down slightly.” And while most of those in poverty manage to have many comforts of life, from good-sized homes to cars, Couric insisted poverty level income is “hardly enough for food and housing, much less other items like health insurance.” Wyatt Andrews devoted a full story to “the highest number of uninsured Americans in 20 years: 47 million without health insurance.” Andrews failed to note that 16 million of the uninsured are illegals or on Medicaid while most people are uninsured for only short periods.


Front and center of USA Today’s homepage right now are two stories that are quite frightening. The first titled, “Home Prices: Steepest Drop in 20 Years; No Recovery Soon.” Then just below that a story dubbed, “Business May Keep Their Wallets Closed.” While these two doomsday stories on the economy are front and center, full with color pictures, off to the side is a very different article entitled U.S. Poverty Rate Down.” (see update below)

This should come as no surprise to anyone that follows the media. Good news is rarely is ever front and center, while the doom and gloom is almost certainly above the fold. Here are a few highlights from the article in case you missed it: