Bias by the Minute

It has been a week since the disturbing allegations came to light that Rob Porter, a now-former White House staffer close to the President, had a history of domestic abuse against his two ex-wives. And during that time, the evening newscasts of the major network news outlets (ABC, CBS, and NBC) had dedicated almost a combined hour to the story. But when it came to similar accusations against congressional Democrats, they couldn’t be bothered.


When the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down nearly 1,200 points on Monday, the three major network news outlets (ABC, CBS, and NBC) dedicated nearly 10 minutes of combined coverage to the drop when they began their evening broadcasts. 24 hours later, the market bounced back and closed with a 500-point rebound, but the networks spent roughly half as much time on the positive news.


When Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in a January 11 press conference, belittled the $1,000 bonus Walmart workers that were going to get (via the tax cut) as mere “crumbs”  CNN and MSNBC offered the elitist comment a mere 17 seconds in a week’s worth of coverage. 


The corruption saga of Democratic Senator Bob Menendez (N.J.) appeared to have come to an end after federal prosecutors announced on Wednesday that they would not be seeking a retrial following the mistrial back in November. And while the major three network news outlets (ABC, CBS, and NBC) sparsely covered the case during their morning and evening newscasts as the trial was proceeding, their coverage of the Justice Department’s decision was just as lackluster.


The FBI was caught off guard Monday when Deputy Director Andrew McCabe decided to kick off his retirement early and resigned his post with little fanfare. Speculation swirled over why he chose that day to call it quits but the liberal networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) decided only one person was really to blame: President Trump and his desire to obstruct justice. That despite the fact that other close sources cited a harsh Inspector General investigation report coming down the pike.


As many as five months worth of texts between two anti-Trump officials at the FBI are missing, but ABC and NBC have yet to report on this stunning development. The missing texts story first broke on Sunday night (at that point it was thought to be only 400 missing messages) and while Fox News was on top of story, the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) stories had completely ignored it –  until CBS This Morning finally arrived on it in a three-minute Paula Reid segment on Tuesday’s show. 


Yesterday, we reported on the massive amount of coverage that the broadcast network evening newscasts devoted to the Trump administration in 2017, nearly all of it (90%) negative. While topics such as the Russia investigation and other controversies were given extremely heavy coverage — more than 43 hours of coverage on just these three newscasts — the networks were nearly silent when it came to a number of Trump administration accomplishments. This article documents some key examples.


A Media Research Center study of every broadcast evening news story about the Trump administration in 2017 found the new President was by far the biggest story of the year, accounting for one out of every three minutes of evening news airtime; the tone of coverage was incessantly hostile: 90% negative, vs. just 10% positive; and more than two-fifths of evening news coverage of the President (43%) focused on controversies, not policies, with the Russia investigation alone accounting for one-fifth of all Trump coverage (1,234 minutes).


The Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks engaged in a feeding frenzy over Michael Wolff’s gossip-filled book, as they ate up the salacious details in Fire and Fury. From January 3 through January 9, the networks stuffed their evening and morning programs with over two hours of coverage of the Wolff book and the subsequent fallout for former Donald Trump aide Stephen Bannon. 


Thursday marked one week since the small protests in Mashhad, Iran that sparked the ongoing, country-wide uprising that’s left the tyrannical regime in a panic. Thursday also marked the second day since numerous salacious passages from journalist Michael Wolff’s gossip-laden book about Trump’s White House were released to the press. Despite the growth and length of the Iran protests, the three major network news outlets (ABC, CBS, and NBC) found more interest in Wolff’s palace intrigue that the Iranian people’s struggle for freedom.


As yesterday’s throwdown in the White House press room made clear, relations between the President and the press corps are as bad as they have ever been during the Trump administration. But as the Media Research Center has been documenting all year, the media have approached the Trump presidency with unrelenting hostility. Our latest numbers show that coverage of Trump on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts in September, October and November was more than 90 percent negative.


NBC News still hasn’t reported on the sexual harassment accusations against Democratic Congressman Ruben Kihuen, but ABC took things a step farther. ABC isn’t just ignoring Kihuen: the network buried its own bombshell scoop on him. In an interview with ABC News Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce that was posted on the network’s website but never made the cut for television, Kihuen accused Democratic leadership for being opportunistic in calling for his resignation.