Take a few moments – if you can spare it – to jump from one major news channel to the next and you’d be as lucky to find news on Detroit’s water crisis as you are at finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
It just doesn’t exist. MSNBC gives you some solid outrage footage (depending on the show and host agenda, hence you’re more likely to find it on Rev. Al Sharpton’s Politics Nation than Chris Matthews Hardball), but it’s not like MSNBC is doing anything in the ratings race at the moment. News about nearly 20,000 Detroit residents having their water shut off (of the 46,000 shut off notices that have went out) isn’t bubbling to the top of our collective consciousness at the moment, and try all that it might, MSNBC can’t help the situation with low viewership (see Nielsen below)
|TV NEWS RATINGS: 25-54 DEMOGRAPHIC (L +SD) Q2 2014|
|Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.|
|TV NEWS RATINGS: TOTAL VIEWERS (L +SD) Q2 2014|
|Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data|
FOX News is reporting on it, perhaps more so online than through visual means. But, political strings are always attached. Anything to make the Democrats who’ve run the city for eons look bad in contrast to their super-star nerd Republican Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI) is worthy enough of FOX News. So, it’s not like FOX cares about the low income residents suffering through long, endless days of summers with no water to drink or bathe in. It’s all partisan gain in the end and seeing just how many pounds in flesh you can extract from Democratic politicians and labor union chiefs who’ve succeeded in running the Motor City into the ground.
To the larger point: Detroit is lucky to get a slice of the coverage Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 gets or even a decimal point of the coverage on revived hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Ukraine and the Middle East dominate headlines, although polls clearly show very low U.S. public appetite for anything foreign policy. In some respects it speaks to the ongoing disparity between the editorial decisions of network producers – who are like pop radio deejays and program directors addicted to rotating the same song each hour of the day – and the realities of a public exhausted from too much global intervention.
Look no farther than the most recent POLITICO poll on the topic. Only 17% of Americans want direct involvement in Ukraine – although that could tick slightly upward since the poll was taken right before Flight 17 was shot down. Still, only 17% want some sort of confrontation with Russian along with 31% who are just fine with the Obama administration’s work on it and 34% who really want to stay out of it.
Let the POLITICO poll tell it and President Obama’s keep-it-steady, stay out of it approach largely aligns with the public’s own attitude towards Ukraine. Even as more people disagree with his specific strategy:
More want to stay out of it, according to Pew here: