Mike Ciandella

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Research Analyst


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

To ABC and NBC, a Donald Trump misstatement is worth reporting multiple times, but a falsehood by Hillary Clinton isn’t worth a second of coverage. On July 11, Hillary Clinton grossly distorted FBI Director James Comey’s statement on her handling of classified email during a CBS News interview. She restated this assertion to host Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.


It seems like the only way a military family can get media attention these days is by bashing Donald Trump. On the evening shows of August 1 and the morning shows of August 2, the broadcast morning and evening news shows spent an additional 29 minutes and 53 seconds on the speech by family of slain U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan at the Democratic National Convention, while the same shows only spent 47 seconds on Benghazi mother Pat Smith’s speech at the Republican National Convention. 


Even before Indiana Governor Mike Pence was selected as the GOP vice presidential candidate, all three broadcast networks instructed viewers that he was a "staunch conservative" and "social conservative" who was "popular with the Tea Party." But those same networks are now advertising Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton's choice to be the Democrats' vice presidential candidate, as a "centrist" and "moderate," even though Kaine is as far to the left as Pence is to the right.


It’s been a day and a half since the establishment liberal media sank their jaws into the Melania Trump “plagiarism” story, and they are showing few signs of letting go, with heavy coverage on the broadcast networks’ Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning news shows. Eight years ago, however, when a similar flap threatened then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, the broadcast networks generated much less coverage — just 14 minutes of airtime, or barely one-fourth what they’ve churned out this week.


The morning after the first night of the 2016 Republican National Convention, all six broadcast and cable network morning news shows pounced on the fact that Melania Trump's much-touted speech shared similar phrasing with Michelle Obama's 2008 speech to that year's Democratic convention. The flap over Mrs. Trump's speech swamped all other convention topics, especially on cable.


The Affordable Care Act crisis is continuing, but you wouldn’t know that if you relied on ABC, CBS or NBC for your news. On July 5, CNBC called Connecticut’s state co-op “financially unstable,” noting that “HealthyCT is the 14th of 23 original ObamaCare co-ops to fail since they began selling health plans on government-run Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges.” A few days later, on July 8, Oregon’s co-op became the 15th to fail. Illinois followed on July 12.


“I have defended him in the past, but those days are over.” Former FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom slammed current FBI Director James Comey during an interview on Fox News Channel’s The Kelly File on July 5. Kallstrom criticized Comey for not recommending charges against Hillary Clinton over her private email server. Before giving that recommendation, Comey listed multiple examples of questionable activity by Clinton and her staff, but argued that the apparent lack of intent cleared her of any wrong doing. As the MRC’s Nicholas Fondacaro noted, the evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC all ran the stories about the recommendation without asking if the law actually requires that there be proof of “intent” for a conviction.


During an interview on on CNN’s Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield, the Center on Global Policy’s Haroon Moghul called ISIS’s terror attack on the Saudi holy site of Medina “the most odious or egregious example of their violence.” According to Moghul, this attack was “the Rubicon,” where Muslims would have to make decisions about ISIS. Banfield didn’t question him about this phraseology.


The point of a publicity stunt is to reap publicity, of course, and the daylong gimmick of House Democrats seizing the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for a sit-in was generously rewarded with hours of free airtime on CNN and MSNBC — but much less on the Fox News Channel. Looking at cable news coverage from noon to midnight on Wednesday, MSNBC was by far the most excited by the Democratic protest, giving it a total of 4 hours, 27 minutes of airtime. CNN followed with 2 hours, 32 minutes of coverage, while Fox News provided a grand total of 14 minutes of coverage through midnight.


Out of the four broadcast news Sunday political shows, only Fox News Sunday covered Obama CIA Director John Brennan directly contradicting the President’s optimistic assessment of the war against ISIS. Both CBS’s Face the Nation and ABC’s This Week mentioned the CIA director’s grim report, but failed to mention that it contradicted President Obama. NBC’s Meet the Press didn’t mention Brennan’s statement at all.


Despite Trump being the only candidate remaining in the GOP race, his supporters accounted for only 12 percent of all participants (9 out of 77 total) in roundtable discussions on Sunday shows from May 8 to May 29. A staple of Sunday political shows, the roundtable discussions give a chance for pundits from across the political spectrum to voice their concerns and opinions about the political news of the day.


Asked what he thought of privatizing airport security, the head of the TSA laughably responded that “no matter how you do it, you need federal oversight of the system to ensure consistency and high standards.” Even more laughable, two NBC hosts just accepted that answer and moved along to asking if Congress needs to pay the TSA more. Amid record lines, staffing turnover and scandal, the crew at NBC’s Today tried to help Peter Neffenger, the TSA Administrator, find someone else to blame during an interview on May 26.


The backlash against the increasing delays caused by the TSA has been so bad that on March 24, the TSA reassigned its head of security. According to CBS Evening News, 450 people missed their flights from Chicago’s O’Hare airport on May 15 because of TSA delays. Despite devoting more than 42 minutes to the abysmal failures of the TSA since coverage began on May 10, neither ABC, CBS nor NBC once even hinted that the Obama Administration might bear even some of the blame on their evening news shows.


The broadcast news networks couldn’t get enough of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan – until a leading Democrat in town became the target of a corruption lawsuit. Despite spending 1 hour and 42 minutes discussing the Flint since the story broke onto the national stage in December, 2015, the evening news shows of ABC, CBS and NBC have completely ignored reports that Flint’s Democrat mayor allegedly funneled money from a charity meant to help victims of the crisis into her personal PAC.


NBC Nightly News is still worried about the evils of capitalism destroying the pristine communist utopia of Cuba. “Do you feel you’ve gotten here before it changes?” NBC correspondent Kerry Sanders asked an excited American tourist, camera in hand. “I hope so,” she replied, cheerily. This continues a trend of the media fretting about American influence ruining Cuba, including when rival news network CBS warned that U.S. business could “endanger” Cuba’s “unique charm.” 


On the one-year anniversary of the riots and systematic failures of Democrat-run Baltimore in Democrat-run Maryland, only CBS Evening News managed to acknowledge that anything even happened. ABC's World News Tonight’s only mention of Baltimore or Freddie Gray was a throwaway line in an April 22 obituary for the pop singer Prince, where correspondent Byron Pitts noted that “Prince was an artist and an activist, releasing songs in the aftermath of Freddie Gray in Baltimore.” End of sentence, end of topic, end of discussion. NBC failed to mention even that much.


Yesterday, NewsBusters reported that cable news has awarded Donald Trump and his surrogates significantly more airtime than the other Republican candidates. Today, we report how those same networks have divvied up the airtime between Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and challenger Bernie Sanders. Unlike the top two Republican candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’s campaigns received nearly equal airtime on CNN and MSNBC, with Sanders and his surrogates garnering 263 minutes of airtime, vs. Team Clinton’s 248 minutes. On Fox News, interviews with Clinton or Sanders surrogates amounted to just 13 minutes, compared to 666 minutes for representatives of the three GOP campaigns.


A team of MRC analysts logged each prime time interview of a presidential candidate or a plainly-identified supporter or surrogate on CNN, MSNBC and the Fox News Channel from March 21 to April 15, weekdays only, poring over approximately 240 hours of programming. Our study found that the Fox News Channel spent much more time interviewing Donald Trump and his surrogates than either of his GOP competitors. Trump was interviewed for a total of 178 minutes on Fox, while his leading competitor, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, was featured in interviews totaling 120 minutes on FNC.


Deciding that actual journalism was far too difficult, CBS News decided to go full Buzzfeed and ask Senator Bernie Sanders what his spirit animal was and whether he’s gained supporters because “it seems that birds on your side.” This “interview” of the controversial socialist Sanders was so glowing and positive, that it even began with Sanders being asked to “say hi to all your Facebook fans” – on CBS News’s Facebook page. 

 


NBC anchor Chuck Todd isn’t buying the National Enquirer hit piece on Ted Cruz. On the March 27 edition of Meet the Press, Todd commented that “there’s more evidence that ties Trump to planting the story, than there is to the story itself tying anything to Cruz.”