Media Reality Check
Occasional compilations and studies, from the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division, documenting distorted coverage and/or media omissions. Archive on MRC.org has the full text posts of Media Reality Checks from 2015 and earlier.
In the past 48 hours, the socialist President of Venezuela has installed a new national assembly in order to bypass his political opposition, and has begun rounding up jailing opposition leaders. In response, the United States has imposed a new round of sanctions against Maduro himself. Yet in all of 2017, NBC's Today has yet to utter a single word about the misery wrought by Venezuela's socialist, and increasingly dictatorial, government.
Venezuela’s president held a sham election on July 30 that created an assembly out of his own supporters, to bypass that country’s elected representatives and rewrite the constitution. But, inexcusably, the broadcast networks seem to be going out of their way to avoid reporting on this glaring example of how socialism inevitably turns out, if it’s allowed to continue unchecked.
During the past six months, the broadcast networks have provided massive coverage of the Trump presidency, but last Wednesday they had almost no time to let viewers know about an actual success of his administration. The President's announcement of a $10 billion investment in a U.S.-based manufacturing plant in Wisconsin drew a scant 40 seconds of news coverage on the CBS Evening News (15 seconds) and NBC Nightly News (25 seconds), while ABC's World News Tonight skipped it entirely.
Venezuela’s oppressive, socialist president hopes to seize even more power, yet the broadcast networks continue to largely ignore his country’s violent descent into dictatorship. With over 100 Venezuelans dead from the rapidly escalating violence between the government and protesters, a special vote will take place on July 30 to give authoritarian president Nicolas Maduro the power to rewrite the Venezuelan Constitution to strip legislative power from the rightfully-elected National Assembly.
After tracking down a Reddit user who posted a GIF they found offensive, CNN threatened to reveal his identity if he decides to post anything similar in the future. On July 2, President Trump tweeted out a GIF of himself punching a WWE founder Vince McMahon – with the CNN logo imposed on McMahon’s face. Predictably, CNN and the journalistic community were outraged, while Trump fans and media critics largely found the whole thing amusing.
The committed Obama PR flacks at the broadcast news networks are experts at using biased terminology. When President Obama and the Democrats changed the health care system it was consistently presented as “reform,” but reporters rarely used the word when President Trump and the Republicans try to pass health care legislation.
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.
With Congressman Steve Scalise still recovering from an attack by a crazed leftist, MSNBC’s Joy Reid couldn’t keep from politicizing the tragedy as she took a cheap shot at the congressman’s record. On June 17 the host of AM Joy tweeted “Rep. #Scalise was shot by a white man with a violent background, and saved by a black lesbian police officer, and yet...” Sadly, Reid’s inability to put her leftist agenda aside, even while Congressman Scalise was in the hospital, is reflective of her MSNBC career.
The media seem allergic to reporting on the ongoing crisis in Venezuela. On June 12, protesters set fire to the country’s supreme court, after it “voted to reject a motion that would prevent Mr. Maduro from rewriting the country's constitution,” according to The Telegraph. Yet, the morning and evening news shows of ABC, CBS and NBC failed to mention this major incident even once.
Donald Trump’s repeated branding of CNN as “fake news” may have been born in its biased 2016 campaign coverage, but the truth is CNN has peddled inaccurate reporting with an agenda for at least three decades. From former CNN correspondent Peter Arnett, in 1991, passing along Iraqi war propaganda of allied forces bombing a “baby milk” factory to CNN executive Eason Jordan, in 2005, accusing U.S. soldiers of targeting journalists to CNN contributor Donna Brazile feeding townhall questions to the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign, there is a long history of news fakery at the oldest 24-hour cable news outlet.
President Trump’s announcement that the United States would be pulling out of the Paris climate accord was bound to be met with journalistic hand-wringing, and MSNBC’s Brian Williams didn’t disappoint. “On a sunny day in the rose garden, what could be defined and construed as a dark speech,” Williams said somberly. “And as you go through it, more like four or five dark speeches in there.”
It’s not just the press that are freaked out by Donald Trump. Talk show hosts and celebrities from Stephen Colbert to Robert DeNiro, Katy Perry and Rosie O’Donnell are losing their minds over the new president: DeNiro claimed Trump was worse than con-man Bernie Madoff: “He’s a pig”; Perry whined that Trump’s election brought “a lot of trauma for me”; Colbert infamously characterized Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin in the most obscene terms; and O’Donnell sounded like she was fomenting a revolution: “We have never had this kind of treasonous madness in power before. Desperate times - desperate measures.”