Media hypocrisy describes the tendency of mainstream media outlets to make hypocritical critiques (usually in opinion pieces, but sometimes evident in the biased slant of otherwise 'factual' news stories), usually of government policies. The hypocrisy is cloaked by separating the articles in question either in space (different pages in a newspaper) or time (different programming slots). The hypocrisy is not intentional, but media outlets tolerate it in their efforts to sensationalise everything.
In particular, news outlets will target a government's responses to impending disasters. For a given disaster, they will print articles with one of the following themes:
- "Why didn't the government do more? Lives have been lost because of the government's poor forward-planning."
- "The government spent large amounts of money preparing for this disaster, and nothing happened. What a waste of money."
The second of the two responses ignores an obvious fact: a lack of detrimental consequences was probably caused by the government spending money preparing for it. No matter what happens after a disaster, the media can print one of these themes, maximizing sensationalism.
Examples of the latter response include the Y2K bug, Bird Flu, and SARS.