Bias by the Minute

On network evening broadcasts, the President and his administration have received virtually no credit for this achievement. Since Inauguration Day (January 20, 2017), the three network evening newscasts have spent more than 10,000 minutes on the Trump presidency, and only 33 minutes (0.33%) involved the administration's handling of the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.



Over the summer, the broadcast networks continued to pound Donald Trump and his team with the most hostile coverage of a President in TV news history — 92 percent negative, vs. just eight percent positive. Nearly two-thirds of evening news coverage of the Trump presidency focused on five main topics: the Russia investigation; immigration policy; the Kavanaugh nomination; North Korea diplomacy; and U.S. relations with Russia, while bright spots such as the booming economy accounted for less than one percent of total coverage.



During the twelve days since Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein publicly announced the existence of an unspecified allegation against Brett Kavanaugh, the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows have spent nearly six hours (344 minutes) regurgitating various unproved allegations against the Supreme Court nominee. But only a tiny percentage of that coverage — a measly eight percent — has been devoted to Kavanaugh’s denials and the lack of corroboration for his accusers’ accounts.



On Tuesday, two of Brett Kavanaugh’s high school classmates, each named by accuser Christine Blasey Ford as witnesses to the 1982 assault she alleges, issued public statements flatly denying that they saw anything even resembling Ford’s story. Yet on Wednesday, CNN viewers barely heard a peep about these denials, even as the Kavanaugh story dominated their on-air coverage. From 4:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Eastern, CNN spent 3 hours and 23 minutes talking about the Kavanaugh controversy, but only a paltry eight minutes of that time was devoted to these confirmations of Kavanaugh’s unequivocal denial.



Hillary Clinton, on last night’s Rachel Maddow show, insisted that the FBI investigate Christine Blasey Ford’s rape accusation against Judge Brett Kavanaugh – which is pretty audacious considering that’s something Juanita Broaddrick never got. Broaddrick noticed and called out the former First Lady on Twitter. Of course Maddow never brought up the obvious hypocrisy, as she never even mentioned Juanita Broaddrick’s name to Clinton. 
 



After the morning newscasts of ABC and CBS spent a total of 4 minutes and 44 seconds covering the criminal indictment of California Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter in the first 36 hours since the story broke, the number increased four-fold following another news cycle, with the total standing at 17 minutes and 13 seconds as of Friday morning.



In roughly the first 36 hours since prosecutors indicted California Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter on campaign finance violations charges, the morning and evening newscasts on ABC and CBS have spent a total of 4 minutes and 44 seconds covering the story since Wednesday morning. CBS This Morning spent 1 minute and 59 seconds on the topic on Wednesday morning and an additional 51 seconds on Thursday. And over on ABC, Good Morning America mentioned it in a 17-second brief on Wednesday while, hours later, World News Tonight spent one minute and 38 seconds on Duncan.



By far, the biggest news story of the Trump presidency has been the Russia investigation. As of August 15, the three broadcast network evening newscasts have devoted a combined 1,854 minutes to the probe, or nearly one-fifth (19.6%) of all of their Trump news. Yet virtually none of that airtime (just 62 minutes, or 3.3%) has been spent scrutinizing Robert Mueller’s investigation — a big shift from twenty years ago, when the networks made Ken Starr’s conduct the focus of much of their coverage.



Early Friday, NewsBusters reported that CNN spent only one minute of airtime on the recanting of a former Ohio State University wrestler’s allegations against Ohio Republican Congressman Jim Jordan. After reviewing coverage of the original NBC article which leveled the claims against Jordan, NewsBusters found that there was a massive discrepancy in reporting.



Following the arrest of Republican Congressman Chris Collins, the broadcast networks once again showcased their partisan double standard when it comes to corruption allegations against members of Congress. Collins’s arrest on Wednesday on insider trading charges resulted in a deluge of coverage, over 18 minutes in less than 24 hours. But in 2015 and 2016, ABC, CBS and NBC buried the indictment, trial and conviction of two Democratic representatives, offering absolutely no coverage of the scandal surrounding Congresswoman Corrine Brown (convicted of fraud) and a paltry 68 seconds to Chaka Fattah (convicted of bribery and fraud). 



During the 18 months of the Trump presidency, immigration has received more airtime on the three broadcast evening news shows than any other policy topic. The networks’ coverage has been relentlessly hostile to the administration (92% negative, just 8% positive), largely because these newscasts have framed nearly all of their coverage around the plight of those adversely affected by the administration’s enforcement agenda, and have virtually ignored law enforcement or anyone harmed by illegal immigration.



In just three nights (July 16-July 18), CNN swamped their primetime shows with over 7 hours of coverage – almost all of it critical – of Donald Trump’s Helsinki Summit with Vladimir Putin, including CNN’s hosts and guests speculating that Trump had been compromised by the Russian president and committed treason.