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.
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any of the policies he mentioned, but because it talked about things like “family” and “church,” which she dismissed as outdated and nationalistic tropes.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:
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.
On Tuesday, President Trump tweeted he would be “announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR” on Monday “in various categories from the Fake News Media." There’s bias, but then there’s sheer incompetence. The biggest media obsession last year was the search for evidence of Trump’s supposed collusion with Russia, in the process, liberal reporters in 2017 repeatedly stumbled into error and were forced to make embarrassing corrections. This post presented eight possible choices that the President could consider.
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.
Liberal reporters are scandalized by what they say is President Trump’s effort to “discredit” and “undermine” special counsel Robert Mueller, worried that it could presage an attempt to “remove Mueller, or end his investigation.” But when President Bill Clinton was being investigated by Ken Starr, journalists applauded Democratic and White House attacks on the independent counsel, and frequently joined in themselves.
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.