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.
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.
If even Nancy Pelosi thinks that sexual harassment accusations against sitting Democratic Congressman Ruben Kihuen are serious enough that he should resign, why haven’t ABC and NBC covered them at all?
Kihuen has been accused of making multiple sexual advances towards a campaign staffer in 2016 without her consent, including touching the staffer’s thighs. According to the accuser’s interview with BuzzFeed, Kihuen “propositioned her for dates and sex despite her repeated rejections.”
Listening to liberal journalists denounce Roy Moore, Al Franken and John Conyers, you’d think the media had zero tolerance for politicians with a known history of sexual misconduct. But the plain truth is the media have been complicit in normalizing, even justifying, such behavior for decades – if it helped protect the cause of big government liberalism.
Both Republicans and Democrats have faced serious allegations of sexual misconduct, but in the month of November, ABC, CBS and NBC spent twice as much time telling viewers about the Republicans’ problems. Nearly two-thirds of this coverage (4 hours, 27 minutes) focused on Republican politicians, compared to 2 hours, 6 minutes spent on the Democrats, a greater than two-to-one disparity.
The Joe Biden 2020 tease tour is in full swing. On Monday’s Today show, the former Vice President got well over of 20 minutes of interview time as the hosts pushed him to run for President and attack Donald Trump. However, Biden has an entire career full of stumbles, yet is still considered a serious politician, where Donald Trump, who actually won the presidency, is ridiculed almost daily by the press.
For the past four days, the establishment media have provided intensive coverage of the scandal involving Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, with reporters repeating the damning accusations against the candidate and the “mounting pressure” for Moore to quit the race. The media’s reaction to Moore makes their double standard on scandals all the more glaring: Since early September, a sitting United States Senator has been on trial for corruption involving the abuse of his office, and the media have essentially buried the story.