Bias by the Minute

A Media Research Center study of every broadcast network evening newscast in the five weeks since the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller on May 17 found a whopping 353 minutes of airtime devoted to the Russia probe, or 55 percent of all coverage of the Trump presidency during those weeks. The study also found one-third (34%) of the networks’ Russia coverage was based on anonymous sources, some of which later proved erroneous.


Former FBI Director James Comey has not said a single word in public, but the liberal media have been salivating for days over his upcoming testimony on Thursday. Case in point: from noon on Thursday (June 1) when the date for the testimony was set, until noon today (June 7), CNN has already devoted more than 10 hours of coverage to testimony that has yet to even occur. Their "Comey Countdown” logo first appeared at 3:01 AM on Monday – a full three days before the hearing was slated to start.


At midnight on May 31, President Trump tweeted the enigmatic “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.” Despite that fact that everyone, including journalists, make typos, the media pounced. On just the morning news shows of ABC, CBS and NBC, there was a baffling ten minutes of coverage devoted to speculating about what Trump meant by this cryptic word that in context was clearly supposed to mean “coverage.”


CNN claims it’s right down the middle, somewhere between the left-wing MSNBC and the more conservative-friendly Fox News Channel. But an MRC study of an entire day of CNN’s coverage shows the network spent almost all of its time covering the Trump presidency, with a heavily skewed roster of anti-Trump guests and on-air commentators.


The major health insurance provider Aetna announced that it would be pulling out of the last two states where it still participated in Obamacare. Yet, the morning news shows of ABC and NBC completely ignored this important news story, while CBS This Morning gave it a mere 25 seconds.

This continues a longstanding network news tradition of defending the Affordable Care Act and ignoring its failures. 


In the immediate aftermath of the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, the Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) didn’t quite know how to spin it. But just 24 hours later, the narrative was clear: President Trump fired Comey because the Russia investigation was closing in on him. During their Wednesday evening broadcasts, the networks spent almost two-thirds of their Comey coverage (62 percent) pushing that theory. The networks ran 40 minutes, 25 seconds of Comey coverage, and of that, they spent 25 minutes, five seconds on the conspiracy theory. 


After 95 days of unremittingly hostile coverage of President Donald Trump, the two liberal cable news networks indulged themselves on Monday by offering an incredible hour of uncritical live coverage to a not-very-newsworthy event by former President Barack Obama in Chicago. While Fox News showed only 7 minutes and 20 seconds of Obama’s talk, CNN and MSNBC broadcast the speech and question-and-answer segment following it for a full 52 minutes, 12 seconds and 58 minutes, 46 seconds, respectively.


As President Trump approaches the end of his first 100 days in office, he has received by far the most hostile press treatment of any incoming American president, with the broadcast networks punishing him with coverage that has been 89% negative. The networks largely ignored important national priorities such as jobs and the fight against ISIS, in favor of a news agenda that has been dominated by anti-Trump controversies and which closely matches what would be expected from an opposition party.


When President Trump made his claim that President Obama “wiretapped” Trump Tower during the presidential campaign, the media demanded evidence. Since Trump’s initial tweet on March 4, the evening news shows of ABC, CBS and NBC have called on the White House to provide more evidence a grand total of 123 times. 


On Monday, the liberal broadcast networks and cable outlets tag-teamed to ignore live opening day coverage of Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to become the next Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, instead spending over 11 hours of coverage on the FBI Director James Comey, addressing allegations of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.


Despite a complete lack of newsworthiness, the morning news shows of ABC, CBS and NBC on March 15 spent 20 minutes and 28 seconds speculating about President Donald Trump’s tax returns based on two pages that even they had to admit were “certainly not scandalous in any way.” On March 14, Rachel Maddow revealed that her much-hyped excerpt from Trump’s 2005 tax returns were completely inconsequential and revealed nothing relevant. Nothing good, nothing bad. Just nothing. It was so little payoff for so much hype that even CNN mocked Maddow.


Since Saturday, when Donald Trump first took to Twitter to accuse former President Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower, the morning and evening shows of ABC, CBS and NBC have devoted 107 minutes, 33 seconds to refuting the President’s claim. In contrast, new reports from previous weeks suggesting the Obama Administration did, in fact, initiate surveillance were essentially ignored at the time.