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.
Bias by the Minute
Bias by the Minute
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.
If you ever doubted that the media see the news through a partisan prism, consider this: in less than two days, ABC, CBS and NBC devoted nearly 7 times as much coverage to Jeff Sessions meeting with the Russian Ambassador in his role as a U.S. Senator than they did when then-Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress in June 2012.
A new American President is always a big story, but TV news is obsessed with the Trump administration — and not in a good way. In the first 30 days (January 20 to February 18), our analysts determined that the President and his team were the subject of 16 hours of coverage on just the Big Three evening newscasts, or more than half (54%) of all of the news coverage during this period. And while most new presidents enjoy a media honeymoon, the tone of Trump’s coverage was nearly as hostile (88% negative) as we found during last year’s presidential campaign (91% negative).
On Wednesday, the network morning shows declared a “White House in crisis” amid the fallout from the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and a New York Times report on Trump campaign officials having contact with Russia during the presidential race. While those “bombshell” stories garnered 36 minutes 17 seconds of air time on the broadcasts, only a scant 2 minutes 2 seconds was featured on criticism of the serious national security leaks that fueled both stories.
On January 30, the first weekday morning after President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order which temporarily banned immigration from several Middle East countries, the networks devoted 64 minutes, 8 seconds of coverage to this topic. However, on January 12, then-President Obama ordered the ending of America’s longstanding “wet foot, dry foot” policy, which had allowed Cuban refugees entrance to the United States. But the broadcast networks were largely silent.
The broadcast morning and evening news shows have spent 20 minutes and 18 seconds focusing on White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s comments about the size of Donald Trump’s Inauguration crowd. Meanwhile, when President Trump signed a far more consequential executive order that limits the penalties from the Affordable Care Act, the same networks spent only 1 minute and 39 seconds covering it – less than one-twelfth the coverage.
The broadcast news networks barely even mentioned the latest significant overhaul of U.S. policy by the Obama Administration.
For two decades, the United States has granted asylum to Cuban fleeing the Castro regime who make it to American soil, a policy known as “wet foot, dry foot.” Now, in his final days in office, President Obama has ended this policy, to applause from the Cuban government. According to NBC’s Today, “The policy change has been in the works for several months, as the U.S. and Cuba work to cement changes in their relationship.”
Last night and this morning, ABC, CBS and NBC dedicated a paltry 86 seconds to this news. ABC was the worst with a stingy 15 seconds of coverage, while CBS came in close behind with 23 seconds.
Despite repeatedly calling it “unconfirmed” and “unsubstantiated,” the ABC, CBS and NBC morning news shows on Wednesday spent a combined 44 minutes promoting allegations the Russian government had information that they could use to blackmail President-elect Donald Trump. These allegations stemmed from a 35-page “report” published by BuzzFeed, which itself doubted the veracity of the information.
The networks treat accusations of Russian hacking very differently when they can use it as an angle to bash Trump. When Russian cyber criminals were accused by intelligence agencies of hacking the emails of the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, the networks devoted 58 minutes, 47 seconds to these allegations since December 12.