According to a Huffington Post search on the video archiving service TVEyes, the top three major cable news outlets have discussed FAA furloughs and flight delays 46 times so far in the month of April. Thirty-one of those mentions came between April 22 and 9:00 a.m. on April 24, coinciding with the start of the furloughs.
There are a number of reasons for this heavy coverage. A large portion of the U.S. population flies, air traffic delays have a large impact on commerce, airports are often a healthy source of federal funding for congressional districts and both journalists and politicians can personally experience travel delays. There are also safety concerns related to having fewer air traffic controllers watching the skies.
But other important issues appear to have gotten short shrift. Sequestration-enforced cuts to Head Start received 19 mentions, Medicare patients getting turned away from cancer clinics received 21 mentions and reductions to the Meals on Wheels program received just seven.
As you might expect, MSNBC was the channel most likely to cover things other than the potential for flight delays, but overall, the delays have gotten a disproportionate amount of coverage. Predictably, the coverage of the flight delays has caused Republicans to once again care about the sequester, and by care about the sequester I don't mean caring about ending the sequester, I mean caring about blaming big bad Barry O'Bummer for it.
A perfect example: Yesterday, House Appropriations Chairman Mike Rogers slammed FAA for allegedly failing to warn Congress that the sequester might impact their operations. The implication: If Republicans had only known about the impacts of the sequester, they would have avoided it—instead, they were kept in the dark by the tyrannically incompetent (oxymoron intended) Obama administration. The only problem: The FAA did warn us what would happen if the sequester moved forward, and Republicans did nothing to stop it, rejecting every offer the president put forward, even when he volunteered to commit political suicide.
So on the one hand, all this media coverage has finally got Republicans talking sequester again. On the other hand, all we've got to show for it is a lousy hashtag.