The Problem With the Media

Did you hear about the government spent $16 a muffin at a recent breakfast? You probably did, even though it isn’t true. As Sam Stein shared on Huffington Post, that price actually reflected “a full continental breakfast plus tax.” But instead of searching for context or qualifiers, most media outlets just ran the prepackaged “government wastes your cash” staple and called it a day.

Stein sums it up:

There were 223 stories that mentioned either “$16 muffins,” “$16 per muffin,” “sixteen dollar muffin” or “16 dollar muffin,” according to a LexisNexis search. Of those, 178 reported the issue critically or didn’t even mention the Hilton hotel’s response. Thirty-seven stories offered an explanation for the cost of the muffins or attempted to correct the record. Eight simply played off the issue without taking a side (such as figuring out how one would actually make a $16 muffin).

That’s not to say the government doesn’t waste money. But if you want to know why the public thinks the government wastes more than half of what it spends, stories like this are a good place to start.