Rich Noyes is the Senior Editor for Newsbusters
Rich Noyes is currently Research Director at the Media Research Center where he is co-editor of Notable Quotables, MRC’s bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media, and the Media Reality Check, a regular analysis of how major news stories are distorted or ignored.
Noyes has authored or co-authored many of MRC’s authoritative Special Reports, including: The Censorship Election: How the Broadcast Networks Buried the Bad News That Threatened Barack Obama’s Quest for a Second Term; TV’s Tea Party Travesty: How ABC, CBS and NBC Have Dismissed and Disparaged the Tea Party Movement; Cheerleaders for the Revolution: Network Coverage of Barack Obama’s First 100 Days; Better Off Red? Twenty Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Recalling the Liberal Media’s Blindness to the Evils of Communism; and Megaphone for a Dictator: CNN’s Coverage of Fidel Castro's Cuba, 1997-2002.
An expert with nearly 30 years of experience studying the news media’s impact on U.S. politics, Noyes has discussed the issue of liberal bias on the Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC and dozens of radio talk shows, and has authored articles which have appeared in the Journal of Political Science, New York Post, Investor’s Business Daily, Roll Call and Human Events.
Latest from Rich Noyes
At the midpoint of Donald Trump’s first term, the establishment media’s obvious hostility shows no signs of relenting: 90% negative, vs. just 10% positive, matching the historically bad press we documented in 2017. But polls show this negative coverage has had no discernible impact on the public’s attitudes toward the President. Instead, the media's partisan approach has earned them high marks from Democrats, while alienating most Republicans.
Democrats take control of the House of Representatives today, but you don’t hear journalists instructing them to “show that they can govern” by finding ways to “compromise” with President Trump, as you do when Republicans are poised to gain power. “Opposing the President is not a policy,” NBC’s Matt Lauer lectured New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on the November 5, 2014 Today.
The media’s current appreciation for the 41st President stands in sharp contrast to how they covered his presidential campaigns and his administration. When George H. W. Bush was still in the arena, liberal reporters were among his most vociferous critics, who deplored his campaign tactics, accused him of exacerbating racial tensions, and bashed him for failing to adopt liberal policy positions.
It’s been 18 years since a presidential election was clogged and stalled by a recount after a close finish in Florida, and now it’s happening again after Republicans led the election night tallies for Senator and Governor in the state. This time, the national media are scoffing at complaints that Democratic election officials could be seeking to overturn the will of the voters. Back in 2000, those same outlets dripped with suspicion that Florida’s Republican Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, was conspiring to steal that election away from Democrat Al Gore.
This year, with Republicans in control of the White House, House and Senate, journalists are actively electioneering on behalf of Democrats, as a way to put a check on the power of President Trump. But eight years ago, when Democrats held both the House and Senate going into President Obama’s first midterm elections, the media were distressed that liberal power might be diluted, and upset that voters failed to appreciate the tremendous “victories” and “amazing legislative agenda” that Obama and the Democrats had accomplished.
With just one week to go before the 2018 midterm elections, the broadcast networks are heavily spinning their campaign coverage against the Republicans, even as President Trump’s campaign activities have received more airtime than all of the individual Senate, House, and gubernatorial contests combined.
Over the summer, the broadcast networks continued to pound Donald Trump and his team with the most hostile coverage of a President in TV news history — 92 percent negative, vs. just eight percent positive. Nearly two-thirds of evening news coverage of the Trump presidency focused on five main topics: the Russia investigation; immigration policy; the Kavanaugh nomination; North Korea diplomacy; and U.S. relations with Russia, while bright spots such as the booming economy accounted for less than one percent of total coverage.
During the past three weeks, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has received a deluge of news coverage accusing him of vile crimes, including attempted rape and even organizing gang rapes. While these charges did not originate with the news media, the lack of satisfactory corroborating evidence should have caused ethical reporters to refrain from gratuitously repeating allegations that painted Kavanaugh in a monstrous light. But this is not what happened.
During the twelve days since Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein publicly announced the existence of an unspecified allegation against Brett Kavanaugh, the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows have spent nearly six hours (344 minutes) regurgitating various unproved allegations against the Supreme Court nominee. But only a tiny percentage of that coverage — a measly eight percent — has been devoted to Kavanaugh’s denials and the lack of corroboration for his accusers’ accounts.
On Tuesday, two of Brett Kavanaugh’s high school classmates, each named by accuser Christine Blasey Ford as witnesses to the 1982 assault she alleges, issued public statements flatly denying that they saw anything even resembling Ford’s story. Yet on Wednesday, CNN viewers barely heard a peep about these denials, even as the Kavanaugh story dominated their on-air coverage. From 4:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Eastern, CNN spent 3 hours and 23 minutes talking about the Kavanaugh controversy, but only a paltry eight minutes of that time was devoted to these confirmations of Kavanaugh’s unequivocal denial.
An MRC study of all ABC, CBS and NBC evening news coverage of the President this year finds reporters used highly-charged words to paint him as unhinged or out-of-control. Viewers heard Trump variously described as “furious” (17 times), “fuming” (14), “outraged” (8), “venting” (5), “infuriated” (5), “livid” (3), “enraged” (3), “seething” (2), or just plain-old “angry” (23). The President was also “on the warpath,” “volcanic,” “unglued,” “spoiling for a fight” and even “went ballistic,” according to reporters at various times this year.
By far, the biggest news story of the Trump presidency has been the Russia investigation. As of August 15, the three broadcast network evening newscasts have devoted a combined 1,854 minutes to the probe, or nearly one-fifth (19.6%) of all of their Trump news. Yet virtually none of that airtime (just 62 minutes, or 3.3%) has been spent scrutinizing Robert Mueller’s investigation — a big shift from twenty years ago, when the networks made Ken Starr’s conduct the focus of much of their coverage.
During the 18 months of the Trump presidency, immigration has received more airtime on the three broadcast evening news shows than any other policy topic. The networks’ coverage has been relentlessly hostile to the administration (92% negative, just 8% positive), largely because these newscasts have framed nearly all of their coverage around the plight of those adversely affected by the administration’s enforcement agenda, and have virtually ignored law enforcement or anyone harmed by illegal immigration.
Since the 1980s, the well-worn liberal playbook is to claim that Republican appointees to the Supreme Court should be voted down as ideologues who are outside the judicial mainstream. The establishment media aids this tactic by often tagging GOP nominees as “conservative,” while ignoring — or even disputing — the liberal bent of Democratic nominees to the Court. True to form, ABC, CBS and NBC’s morning and evening broadcasts branded Judge Brett Kavanaugh a “conservative” a total of eleven times in the first 24 hours since his nomination by President Trump.
President Trump won’t officially announce his latest nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court until this evening, but it’s already easy to predict the liberal media’s spin. As with all recent Republican nominees, reporters will repeatedly label them as “conservative,” which will nicely reinforce the Democrats’ strategy to paint them as outside “the mainstream.” But when Democratic Presidents announce their Supreme Court nominees, those same reporters can’t find the words to call those choices “liberal.”
Longtime ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross is leaving the network seven months after he notoriously tanked the stock market with a false on-air report that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn would testify against the President. But that wasn’t the first, or second, or even third time that Ross’s investigative scoops have blown up on ABC News. Let’s review:
The 17-year-long war in Afghanistan continues, with nearly 15,000 U.S. troops currently deployed to support the fight against Taliban and ISIS forces, but you’d barely know it from watching any of the three broadcast network evening newscasts. The three newscasts combined have aired barely 32 minutes on the war this year, or a paltry one-third of one percent of their total evening news airtime.
CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta has suggested President Trump is a “racist,” while whining that Trump’s complaints about press bias were doing “real damage to the First Amendment,” speculating that some day we might see “a dead journalist on the side of the highway, because of the rhetoric coming out of the White House.” Then on Wednesday’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Acosta said this about his Trump coverage: “Listen, when I covered Barack Obama, I was just as tough on him. People might not believe that.” Let’s investigate.
In the past ten weeks, lawyer Michael Avenatti, who is representing porn star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits against President Trump, has been interviewed a staggering 147 times on broadcast and cable news shows. More than half of those interviews (74) were on CNN, which almost certainly makes Avenatti the most ubiquitous guest in the network’s history. No guest — not Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders in 2016, nor Adam Schiff in 2017 — received anything close to the outpouring of free media coverage that CNN has bequeathed to Avenatti.
The Media Research Center studied all broadcast evening news coverage of the President from January 1 through April 30, and found 90 percent of the evaluative comments about Trump were negative — precisely the same hostile tone we documented in 2017. But unlike last year, when the RealClearPolitics average depicted a slow but steady erosion in the President’s job approval numbers, the public has apparently warmed to Trump in 2018, even as the networks are as frosty as ever.