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.
A Media Research Center analysis of all 950 ABC, CBS and NBC weekday and weekend evening news stories about the 2016 presidential campaign from January 1 to June 7 finds the broadcast networks organized their coverage to ensure that Clinton’s historic candidacy was almost entirely reported by women correspondents, while the GOP race was largely reported by male correspondents.
Despite Trump being the only candidate remaining in the GOP race, his supporters accounted for only 12 percent of all participants (9 out of 77 total) in roundtable discussions on Sunday shows from May 8 to May 29. A staple of Sunday political shows, the roundtable discussions give a chance for pundits from across the political spectrum to voice their concerns and opinions about the political news of the day.
Asked what he thought of privatizing airport security, the head of the TSA laughably responded that “no matter how you do it, you need federal oversight of the system to ensure consistency and high standards.” Even more laughable, two NBC hosts just accepted that answer and moved along to asking if Congress needs to pay the TSA more. Amid record lines, staffing turnover and scandal, the crew at NBC’s Today tried to help Peter Neffenger, the TSA Administrator, find someone else to blame during an interview on May 26.
The backlash against the increasing delays caused by the TSA has been so bad that on March 24, the TSA reassigned its head of security. According to CBS Evening News, 450 people missed their flights from Chicago’s O’Hare airport on May 15 because of TSA delays. Despite devoting more than 42 minutes to the abysmal failures of the TSA since coverage began on May 10, neither ABC, CBS nor NBC once even hinted that the Obama Administration might bear even some of the blame on their evening news shows.
Despite more evidence that The Clinton Foundation was used as a slush fund to enrich the Clintons and their cronies, the Big Three networks have all but stopped covering the scandal swirling around the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s charitable organization. A review of the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) evening and morning programs (since January 1) shows only a total of 4 minutes and 24 seconds was devoted to the “charity fraud.” In contrast, a decades-old controversy of Donald Trump pretending to be his own publicist garnered eight times more coverage (38 minutes and 2 seconds) in just four days.
A look at the past four months of news coverage shows Donald Trump received three times as much TV news coverage as his closest rival, Ted Cruz, and a whopping 15 times as much as John Kasich. On the Democratic side, however, the gap was much narrower, with Bernie Sanders getting more than two minutes of TV news coverage for every three minutes given to Hillary Clinton. In other words, the Democratic race was treated as an actual contest between Clinton and Sanders, while TV news coverage of the GOP race was organized around Donald Trump, with his competitors treated as afterthoughts.
When Comedy Central host Larry Wilmore plugged his White House Correspondents’ Association dinner hosting gig on CBS This Morning, the hosts absurdly praised him for being a “passionate centrist.” But if a review of his hosting duties at The Nightly Show is an indicator of who he will skewer the most at Saturday’s event, expect a lot of crass shots taken at the Republicans who are running for president.
Yesterday, NewsBusters reported that cable news has awarded Donald Trump and his surrogates significantly more airtime than the other Republican candidates. Today, we report how those same networks have divvied up the airtime between Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and challenger Bernie Sanders. Unlike the top two Republican candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’s campaigns received nearly equal airtime on CNN and MSNBC, with Sanders and his surrogates garnering 263 minutes of airtime, vs. Team Clinton’s 248 minutes. On Fox News, interviews with Clinton or Sanders surrogates amounted to just 13 minutes, compared to 666 minutes for representatives of the three GOP campaigns.
A team of MRC analysts logged each prime time interview of a presidential candidate or a plainly-identified supporter or surrogate on CNN, MSNBC and the Fox News Channel from March 21 to April 15, weekdays only, poring over approximately 240 hours of programming. Our study found that the Fox News Channel spent much more time interviewing Donald Trump and his surrogates than either of his GOP competitors. Trump was interviewed for a total of 178 minutes on Fox, while his leading competitor, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, was featured in interviews totaling 120 minutes on FNC.
On April 13, ABC’s World News Tonight correspondent Tom Llamas devoted most of that night’s report to chilling death threats against the Colorado state Republican party chairman, angered at how Donald Trump failed to win any delegates at the weekend party convention. That one report, plus two minor mentions on ABC and CBS, is all of broadcast news attention given to these threats. But the broadcast networks have aired a collective 45 minutes, 30 seconds of coverage since Sunday of Trump’s post-Colorado complaints that the GOP nominating system is “crooked” and “rigged.” That’s 24 TIMES more airtime spent on Trump’s grievance about the process, vs. death threats against anti-Trump Republicans.
In March, the GOP nomination contest winnowed to essentially a two-man race between frontrunner Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, with Ohio Governor John Kasich trailing far behind. Yet the broadcast networks spent much less time on Cruz and essentially ignored Kasich, giving Donald Trump a whopping 72 percent of the Republican airtime last month. Trump's 267 minutes of coverage was more than five times as much as Ted Cruz's 52 minutes (14% of the GOP total) and nearly 15 times more than Kasich's 18 minutes (4.8% of the total).
Whomever Barack Obama selects to fill the vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia expect the liberal media to worry the selection isn’t progressive enough. As might be expected, journalists criticize the Supreme Court appointments made by Republican presidents as “hardline” and “very conservative.” But even the nominees elevated by recent Democratic presidents have been challenged as not liberal enough for the media’s taste.