Mike Ciandella is a research analyst for the MRC's News Analysis Division
Mike Ciandella is a research analyst for the MRC's News Analysis Division, and manages the MRC's Bias by the Minute project (BBTM). Bias by the Minute is an extensive database of evening news broadcasts from ABC, CBS and NBC, stretching back to January 2015. By utilizing this database, Ciandella and other MRC analysts are able to release detailed studies on network media coverage. On top of this, BBTM also publishes studies looking at cable news coverage, timing out the coverage of various topics to the second.
You can check out the full archive of Bias by the Minutes stories here: http://newsbusters.org/administrative/bias-minute
Latest from Mike Ciandella
The major health insurance provider Aetna announced that it would be pulling out of the last two states where it still participated in Obamacare. Yet, the morning news shows of ABC and NBC completely ignored this important news story, while CBS This Morning gave it a mere 25 seconds.
This continues a longstanding network news tradition of defending the Affordable Care Act and ignoring its failures.
If you heard anyone from the media praise the House of Representatives passing health care reform as a “milestone” or “historic,” you may be stuck in 2009. Instead, this year’s Republican health care bill was met with words like “risk” and “extreme.”
On Tuesday’s edition of Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough suggested President Trump was exhibiting symptoms of dementia, while a Princeton professor accused Trump supporters of using Trump’s “ignorance” to justify “not really wanting to be informed.”
In the May 2 broadcast, which focused mainly on Trump’s statements on Andrew Jackson and the Civil War, Scarborough and co-host Mike Brzezinski zeroed in on Trump’s mental faculties. “I will tell you, for better or worse, and no matter what people have thought along the way, we have known this man for a very long time. And we're not seeing the same guy here,” Brzezinski stated.
While a former CNN anchor acknowledged the existence of the media politicizing their coverage of President Trump, current CNN host Brian Stelter tried to defend the media – but stumbled over the facts instead.
Stelter slammed the Media Research Center’s documented analysis that media coverage of Trump’s first 80 days in the White House had been 89 percent negative, during a panel on his show Reliable Sources on April 30. “You’re citing a Media Research Center study,” Stelter retorted to former Trump advisor Jason Miller, “which is a conservative group, only looking at the three nightly newscasts, from their own conservative bent.”
Liberal reporters have been eager to report on President Trump’s low approval numbers, but they’ve mostly ignored their own, significantly lower approval ratings.
According to Gallup in September of 2016, “Americans’ trust and confidence in the mass media ‘to report the news fully, accurately and fairly’ has dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history, with 32% saying they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media.”
“It has been the most hostile, most negative reaction to a new president that I can remember, and I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years,” MRC Research Director Rich Noyes told Fox and Friends Saturday host Abby Huntsman. Noyes was on Fox to discuss the recent MRC study which revealed that network evening news show coverage of President Trump in his first 80 days in office has been an astounding 89 percent negative.
After 95 days of unremittingly hostile coverage of President Donald Trump, the two liberal cable news networks indulged themselves on Monday by offering an incredible hour of uncritical live coverage to a not-very-newsworthy event by former President Barack Obama in Chicago. While Fox News showed only 7 minutes and 20 seconds of Obama’s talk, CNN and MSNBC broadcast the speech and question-and-answer segment following it for a full 52 minutes, 12 seconds and 58 minutes, 46 seconds, respectively.
In sharp contrast to the relentlessly hostile coverage President Trump has faced, eight years ago the liberal media celebrated and adored President Barack Obama during his first 100 days in office. From day one when CBS’s Harry Smith called the 2009 inauguration “this most sacred event,” the early days of the Obama presidency were met with a flood of positive media coverage.
As President Trump approaches the end of his first 100 days in office, he has received by far the most hostile press treatment of any incoming American president, with the broadcast networks punishing him with coverage that has been 89% negative. The networks largely ignored important national priorities such as jobs and the fight against ISIS, in favor of a news agenda that has been dominated by anti-Trump controversies and which closely matches what would be expected from an opposition party.
On the April 5 NBC Today, correspondent Kristen Welker repeated last-minute accusations that Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch had plagiarized – but it wasn’t until after she had gone onto other topics and was wrapping up her report that she mentioned that the person he was accused of plagiarizing had already debunked those claims.
“We never thought of ourselves as a country where, like, Uday and Qusay get to be ministers of whatever they want,” MSNBC host Rachel Maddow ranted during her monologue at the start of her show on April 3. The rant was in response to Eric Trump’s wife, Laura, being hired by Donald Trump’s campaign’s digital vendor, and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s trip to Iraq.
On CNBC’s Squawk Box on March 30, a former senior Obama administration official tried to take back her earlier admission that the former administration tried to “get as much information” as possible on Trump and his associates before the transition of power – but she only dug herself in deeper.
The broadcast and cable news shows raced to proclaim the stall in the passage of an Obamacare replacement as a “disastrous” failure for the Trump administration, with reactions ranging from gloating exaggerations to blatant falsehoods. “The President who fancies himself a master of the art of the deal is still an apprentice when it comes to politics,” CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley chortled on March 24. “This is an embarrassing defeat for President Trump and for Paul Ryan,” NBC Senior Politics Analyst Mark Halperin on the March 24 Nightly News.
All it took was one picture of Trump meeting with an all-male Congressional committee to get the BBC to lump him in the same boat as a country that until 2015 didn’t allow women to vote. The liberal Twitter mob attacked the White House on March 23 after Vice President Mike Pence tweeted out a picture of President Trump meeting with the House Freedom Caucus. Although Kellyanne Conway was in the room off screen, critics complained that the photo of a meeting about the now-defunct GOP healthcare bill didn’t include any women, but the BBC took it one step further.
When President Trump made his claim that President Obama “wiretapped” Trump Tower during the presidential campaign, the media demanded evidence. Since Trump’s initial tweet on March 4, the evening news shows of ABC, CBS and NBC have called on the White House to provide more evidence a grand total of 123 times.
Despite a complete lack of newsworthiness, the morning news shows of ABC, CBS and NBC on March 15 spent 20 minutes and 28 seconds speculating about President Donald Trump’s tax returns based on two pages that even they had to admit were “certainly not scandalous in any way.” On March 14, Rachel Maddow revealed that her much-hyped excerpt from Trump’s 2005 tax returns were completely inconsequential and revealed nothing relevant. Nothing good, nothing bad. Just nothing. It was so little payoff for so much hype that even CNN mocked Maddow.
Media criticism of the current GOP health care bill has been swift, but ObamaCare’s rollout was met with unified and resounding support from these same networks. In his report on NBC Nightly News on March 7, correspondent Tom Costello included a clip of a George Washington University professor who claimed that “The losers in this are lower income people who need financial assistance to be able to buy coverage that’s affordable for them.”
Since Saturday, when Donald Trump first took to Twitter to accuse former President Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower, the morning and evening shows of ABC, CBS and NBC have devoted 107 minutes, 33 seconds to refuting the President’s claim. In contrast, new reports from previous weeks suggesting the Obama Administration did, in fact, initiate surveillance were essentially ignored at the time.
If you ever doubted that the media see the news through a partisan prism, consider this: in less than two days, ABC, CBS and NBC devoted nearly 7 times as much coverage to Jeff Sessions meeting with the Russian Ambassador in his role as a U.S. Senator than they did when then-Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress in June 2012.
A new American President is always a big story, but TV news is obsessed with the Trump administration — and not in a good way. In the first 30 days (January 20 to February 18), our analysts determined that the President and his team were the subject of 16 hours of coverage on just the Big Three evening newscasts, or more than half (54%) of all of the news coverage during this period. And while most new presidents enjoy a media honeymoon, the tone of Trump’s coverage was nearly as hostile (88% negative) as we found during last year’s presidential campaign (91% negative).