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.
Exactly one year ago today, Americans elected Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. But in the days leading up to the election, the establishment news media made it seem as if a Trump victory was unthinkable, as they touted their own polls and predictions as if they were facts. As reporters now thump their chests and label themselves as “facts first,” they should look back with some humility at their performance in last year’s campaign.
After 62 days of testimony, closing arguments and now jury deliberations, CNN has only managed to devoted a paltry 36 minutes out of their 24/7 news broadcast to the corruption trial of sitting Democratic Senator Bob Menendez. But even CNN’s lack of coverage isn’t as bad as the broadcast networks. The evening shows of ABC, CBS and NBC have yet to cover the trial at all.
Beginning on October 17, The Hill broke new stories on the Clinton/Russia/Uranium scandal that deserved extensive coverage. And while Fox News Channel has thoroughly covered the breaking developments they’ve been, unfortunately, the exception and not the rule in TV news. From October 17 through November 2 The Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks have devoted a piddly 4 minutes and 38 seconds to the new findings.
ABC, CBS and NBC evening news shows have not reported on the corruption trial of Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Menendez at all since September 6 when the trial began. The Senator from New Jersey is charged with accepting bribes from a wealthy friend in exchange for political favors.
Here’s one top takeaway from network news coverage in 2017: Sneaky Russian influence in American politics is a huge story if it involves Republicans/Donald Trump, but a non-story if it involves Democrats/Hillary Clinton. From January 20 through October 20, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts have aired 1,000 minutes of coverage of the Trump/Russia/collusion conspiracy theories; since The Hill broke details of a Clinton/Russia/Uranium scandal on October 17, those same broadcasts have generated only 20 seconds of coverage.
For the first seven days after The Hill published startling new information about the Clinton/Russia/Uranium scandal, the 24-hour cable news giant CNN had produced less than five minutes (3 minutes, 54 seconds) of actual news coverage about the case. In fact, from the morning of October 17 through the morning of October 24, CNN's reporters and anchors only mentioned the scandal twice.
On Friday, the Treasury Department reported that the federal government took in a record $3.315 trillion in revenue during the just-completed 2017 fiscal year. None of the broadcast networks bothered to mention the Treasury on any of their Friday evening or weekend broadcasts. Yet even as revenues have grown at an average of 14 percent annually since 1980, liberal journalists have spent that entire time trumpeting the need for even higher taxes.
I have never received more insults in my life, all for simply participating as a volunteer in President Trump’s visit with Hurricane María victims seeking supplies at Calvary Chapel in Puerto Rico.
On Friday and over the weekend, ABC, CBS and NBC reacted with their typical anti-Trump fervor to the President’s decision to end federal subsidies of insurance companies through ObamaCare, but only a meager portion of broadcast news coverage — barely three percent — tipped viewers off to the fact those payments were unconstitutional in the first place.
In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting massacre, the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks wasted little time in exploiting the tragedy to advance their anti-gun rights agenda. In just six days (October 2 through October 8) of coverage, the networks filled their evening and morning show programs with statements favoring gun control over gun rights by a ratio of roughly 5 to 1.
The prosecution rested on October 11 in the corruption trial of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez. Yet, with a whole day of reporting to work with, CNN has only mentioned this story for a total of five minutes on 2 shows. On October 11, The Lead With Jake Tapper gave the story 3 minutes and 9 seconds of coverage. Tapper was the only anchor to cover the story the day that the prosecution rested, with CNN Newsroom covering it for 2 minutes and 2 seconds the following morning.
When Republican Congressman Tim Murphy from Pennsylvania resigned in disgrace on October 5, all three broadcast evening shows ran reports on it. NBC’s Today also covered this story the following morning. But just last year when another Pennsylvania Congressman, Democrat Chaka Fattah, was forced to step down amid a corruption trial that eventually ended in his conviction, not one of the morning or evening shows on ABC, CBS or NBC covered his resignation at all.