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
Despite repeatedly calling it “unconfirmed” and “unsubstantiated,” the ABC, CBS and NBC morning news shows on Wednesday spent a combined 44 minutes promoting allegations the Russian government had information that they could use to blackmail President-elect Donald Trump. These allegations stemmed from a 35-page “report” published by BuzzFeed, which itself doubted the veracity of the information.
When President-elect Donald Trump announced that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, would be taking an advisory role in the White House, all three broadcast evening news shows raised concerns about “nepotism,” with each one specifically using that word. But, on January 25, 1993, when President Bill Clinton appointed his wife to lead a health care task force, the broadcast networks praised the decision, and not a single one even mentioned “nepotism.”
In an attempt to promote a pro-abortion “women’s rights” march in Washington D.C. following Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Washington Post Express accidentally made a graphic with a crowd rallying in the shape of the symbol designating – male?
After being published online and on Facebook for hours and being distributed in print (the Express is a free newspaper available at many stands throughout the Washington D.C. area), the Express was forced to admit their mistake. “We made a mistake on our cover this morning and we’re very embarrassed. We erroneously used a male symbol instead of a female symbol,” the paper tweeted from its official account. They followed up with a picture of the corrected graphic, this time using the female symbol instead.
On November 5, 2008, the day after the election, CBS Evening News correspondent Chip Reid said of then-still-president George W. Bush, “he is now not only deeply unpopular, he's a full-fledged lame duck.”
But in the 57 days after the 2016 election, the morning and evening news shows of ABC, CBS and NBC haven’t used the term “lame duck” even once.
Instead of downplaying President Obama’s role, the networks hyped disagreement between him and Trump, calling it a “turf war.” (Mary Bruce and Rebecca Jarvis, December 24, ABC World News Tonight).
For people who lived in or near New York City during the past century, the completion of the Second Avenue subway line was as elusive as the legendary Jersey Devil, or finding someone who doesn’t claim to be part Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. But an NBC reporter praised the completion of the first stage of the project as a great example of “showing people that government can still do big things.”
This portion of the subway line took 96 years to complete.
Apparently still trying to fill the “fake news anchor” void left by the demotion of Brian Williams, NBC is resurrecting Katie Couric to rejoin the cast of Today for Matt Lauer’s 20th anniversary of co-hosting.
Couric, who used to co-host the Today show with Lauer – before she quit for an ill-fated anchor gig at CBS Evening News in 2005, before she moved to a daytime talk show syndicated by ABC in 2011, before she moved to Yahoo news in 2013 – will return to the show for one week beginning on January 2. Couric will be subbing in for Savannah Guthrie, who is currently out on maternity leave.
The networks treat accusations of Russian hacking very differently when they can use it as an angle to bash Trump. When Russian cyber criminals were accused by intelligence agencies of hacking the emails of the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, the networks devoted 58 minutes, 47 seconds to these allegations since December 12.
CNN President Jeff Zucker went on the defensive Wednesday night, when a room full of campaign surrogates called him out for his network’s lopsided campaign coverage. However, as a surrogate for a former GOP candidate pointed out, the MRC has proven that CNN's track record this campaign season has been anything but defensible.
When Jill Stein was the Green Party’s candidate for U.S. president, the networks only gave her 36 seconds of coverage. However, as soon as she launched a campaign to contest the presidential election and demand a recount of ballots in several key states, the evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC managed to find 7 minutes and 26 seconds of coverage for her in just four days.
As NewsBusters has documented, journalists continually predicted a Hillary victory, skewed coverage in her favor, and were heartbroken when she lost. All the celebratory joy media personalities felt in 2008 was gone. Yesterday, MRC President Brent Bozell called the media “the second-biggest losers” of this election.
And apparently even a few members of the media are starting to realize this. Will Rahn, a political correspondent and managing director for politics for CBS News Digital, wrote an opinion piece on November 10, criticizing the “unbearable smugness.”
For supposedly non-partisan reporters of the news, journalists sure reacted differently to President Obama’s election in 2008 and Trump’s election in 2016.
Obama’s election was a “leap towards something better and uniting our country as never before in our history,” according to MSNBC’s resident Obama-super fan Chris Mathews, on the Sunday before election day eight years ago. But early Wednesday morning, Matthew’s colleague Andrea Mitchell frowned at Hillary’s defeat, calling it “history put on hold yet again.” Earlier in that same segment, NBC Today co-host Savannah Guthrie shared this same sentiment: “Hillary Clinton's attempt to break the ultimate glass ceiling in politics” was “a presidential bid that once again fell short.”
It isn’t just conservatives complaining about the news media this election cycle. Hoping to interview a millennial voter of Puerto Rican descent, MSNBC reporter Kerry Sanders found a Jill Stein supporter who didn’t think her candidate was being covered fairly.
When Sanders pointed out to the young woman that her candidate probably wouldn’t win, she responded “Well, according to all of the, you know, the media, it's either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. But everyone, there’s other people to vote for! There’s other people. So, let your voice be heard, and research, and go online, and don't listen to the media.”
Despite skyrocketing premiums, major insurance companies backing out, and one state exchange after another failing, in all of 2016, the evening news broadcasts of ABC, CBS and NBC have only devoted 10 minutes and 21 seconds combined to ObamaCare failures. Until Bill Clinton called the Affordable Care Act “this crazy system” on October 3, ABC and NBC hadn’t covered any ObamaCare news in 2016 at all.
While there is no shortage of negative coverage of Donald Trump, the broadcast networks continue to bury, ignore or downplay negative news about Hillary Clinton. As NewsBusters has pointed out before, even when the broadcast networks cover the WikiLeaks release of hacked emails from Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta, they pick and choose which released emails to cover. Many emails that could be damaging to Clinton or President Obama were ignored or dismissed.
From Friday evening to Thursday morning, the morning and evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC dedicated 4 hours and 13 minutes to discussing the recent allegations of sexual misconduct surrounding Donald Trump’s campaign. Meanwhile, not only has the continual release of the WikiLeaks emails from top Hillary staff gotten a comparatively puny 36 minutes of coverage during this same time period, the coverage that is there continues to ignore specifics that could be damaging to Hillary.
Since Friday, ABC, CBS and NBC have inundated viewers with more than 200 minutes on a tape showing Trump making inappropriate remarks. However, these same networks gave 24 minutes, 5 seconds to the Wikileaks release of multiple years’ worth of e-mails from Hillary Clinton’s staff – but very little of this coverage was on specific emails or issues that were brought up by the emails.
According to a recently released batch of emails, White House and State Department Staff had conspired to pressure CBS to not ask Kerry anything about Clinton’s email scandal during a Face the Nation interview on March 15, 2015. Jennifer Palmieri, the former White House communications director sent an email about this very interview asking "[t]hink we can get this done so he is not asked about email.”
The recurring media narrative of 2016 continues: stories that could embarrass Donald Trump get lots of coverage, while stories that embarrass Hillary Clinton get little or none. In today’s episode, the three broadcast news networks yawned at newly released audio of Hillary Clinton disparaging Sanders voters who “lived in their parents’ basement.” But when an anonymous source leaked three pages from Trump’s 1995 tax returns to The New York Times, they were suddenly much more interested.
Once again, ABC, CBS and NBC have ignored a major news story that could be embarrassing to Hillary Clinton and have national implications, while promoting a negative (and trivial) Trump story initially pushed by the Clinton campaign. On September 23, news broke that during the now-infamous investigation into Clinton’s emails, the FBI granted Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills immunity. Yet, neither ABC, CBS nor NBC ever even mentioned this story once.
Never say they aren’t consistent. As per usual, during 2016 the media ignore Democratic scandals while hyping Republican scandals. Between the three of them, the evening shows of ABC, CBS and NBC spent a combined 6 minutes, 56 seconds on the LePage controversy, just in the month of August. For contrast, here are some Democratic scandals that they neglected to cover: