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.
It’s been nine days since Hillary Clinton, on a visit to India, disparaged the voters who elected Donald Trump as President in 2016. This weekend, some Democrats openly broke with Clinton over the comments, while the ex-candidate herself felt the need to engage in a bit of backpedaling in a Facebook message posted Saturday afternoon. Given the blowback, you’d imagine that the broadcast networks would have found at least a few moments for this controversy. You’d be wrong.
NewsBusters analyzed MSNBC’s coverage of the first eight hours that followed after both the Flynn and McCabe stories broke. Within these designated periods, the network spent a total of 379 minutes (78.9 percent of the full eight hours) discussing Flynn’s alleged transgression, but only 21 minutes (4.4 percent) on McCabe’s, amounting to roughly 18 times more coverage of Flynn.
Put simply, CNN has a porn problem. For the so-called “Facts First” network, the President’s alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels has become their new missing Malaysian plane with exhaustive coverage and speculation. CNN took it to another level on Saturday, devoting roughly 41 minutes to her Friday performance at a Florida strip club.
At the Jeffrey Zucker-led CNN, they can be trusted to go all-out whenever they find a news story that they deem worth obsessing over. Whether it was the missing Malaysian plane or Sam Nunberg, CNN has proven itself incapable of covering more than one topic at a time. On Wednesday, CNN’s primetime programming showed that with over 149 minutes pushing the Trump scandal involving porn star Stormy Daniels and another 86 minutes on other Trump-related scandals.
On March 5th, former Trump campaign operative Sam Nunberg made the rounds on cable news, giving two interviews on MSNBC and three CNN in the afternoon and evening. Newsbusters examined all cable news shows that aired between 3:30 and 11:00 p.m. Eastern, starting after the daily White House press conference concluded. Not surprisingly, CNN came out ahead in this regard, dedicating 73.3 percent (230 minutes) of its total news coverage to Nunberg, compared to MSNBC's 56.7 percent (196 minutes).
A Media Research Center analysis of the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts in January and February found ten times more negative comments (91%) about the President than positive statements (just 9%). Out of 851 total minutes of airtime devoted to the administration, the networks spent almost one-fourth of it (204 minutes, or 24%) on the Russia investigation, eclipsing other major topics such as the economy, immigration reform, and even the gun debate.
One of the revelations in Friday’s indictment handed down by Special Counsel Robert Mueller was that alleged Russian attempts to sow disunity in 2016 included the organization of both pro- and anti-Trump rallies in New York City on the Saturday after Election Day. A check of their November 12 coverage showed both CNN and MSNBC gave enthusiastic coverage to the Russian-organized anti-Trump rally that day, with live reports every hour. Correspondents celebrated the idea that it was “a love rally,” and repeated the marchers’ anti-Trump mantras, such as: “We reject the President-elect.”
To create hype for his network’s Olympics coverage, NBC’s Keir Simmons decided it would be a good idea to play bumper cars in a North Korean amusement park. “They’re ruthless, these guys,” Simmons joked in the June 6 Today segment, about the other bumper car drivers – in a country that is legitimately ruthless to its own people. Not once in the segment did Simmons use that word to describe Kim Jong Un’s regime. But this isn’t the first time that NBC News has run a report that bordered dangerously close on propaganda for a foreign dictatorship.
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.
Since the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), voted on Monday to release a memo detailing alleged misconduct and legal abuses by the FBI, the three major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) have been acting like the mouthpiece for the Democratic Party. Between January 29, when the vote was held, and February 1, the networks dedicated roughly three and a half times the coverage to worries about releasing the memo than the allegations against the FBI than its purported contents.
During President Trump’s first State of the Union address on January 30, MSNBC host Joy Reid took to Twitter to rant about how polarizing the speech was – not because of any of the policies he mentioned, but because it talked about things like “family” and “church,” which she dismissed as outdated and nationalistic tropes.
When Donald Trump delivered his first joint address to Congress, on February 28, some in the media were actually outraged by the President’s invitation to Carryn Owens, the widow of Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens. Bill Maher called her a “prop.” The New York Times's James Poniewozik was enraged by Trump's other invitees, including victims of undocumented immigrants. The following are some of the worst takes on Trump’s first address to Congress, as culled from the MRC’s archive: