Donald Trump spent more than 52 minutes laying out his plans for the economy in Detroit Monday. It’s an issue voters ranked as their most important, yet ABC spent only devoted 33 seconds to what Trump proposed.
Pew Research Center reported on July 7 that voters ranked the economy as their highest priority. But World News Tonight barely covered the substance of Trump’s speech on that very issue. Instead, it spent more than five times more or 178 seconds harping mostly on criticisms of Trump and his plan.
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Anchor David Muir introduced that night’s political segment with news about Republicans opposing Trump and a poll showing Hillary Clinton beating him by 14 points.
Muir narrated that Trump was trying “to turn the page” and suggested he showed “a new sign of discipline” in how he handled protesters.
For that story, ABC correspondent Tom Llamas said Trump “shed that brawler label to focus on the economy.” Llamas briefly touched on Trump’s actual proposals before touting Clinton’s economic positions and reporting that Trump had to “worry” about a third party candidate.
“And now, Trump may have more than Clinton to worry about,” Llamas commented.
ABC then introduced former CIA operative Evan McMullin who had just announced an independent bid challengingTrump. Of course, the network showed the operative slamming Trump, and saying the candidate “cannot win.”
World News Tonight did report that George P. Bush, son of former presidential candidate Jeb Bush, supported Trump. But the clip the network showed was of Bush describing support for Trump as a “bitter pill to swallow.”
Evening news shows framed Trump’s speech as an attempt to “get his troubled campaign back on track,” as CBS’s Charlie Rose put it on Aug 8. When the media wasn’t criticizing Trump, it was mostly boosting Hillary Clinton.
The media fixated on Republicans calling Trump “reckless,” Clinton’s criticism of his proposals and Clinton’s “widening lead” in the polls.
NBC Nightly News wasn’t as bad as World News Tonight, but spent only 50 seconds on Trump’s plan. When Nightly News correspondent Katy Tur did report on Trump’s tax plan, she framed it as an attempt to appease disgruntled republicans.
“Coming off a bruising week in which the GOP threatened revolt, Trump is getting in line,” Tur said on Aug 8, before NBC showed Trump describing his proposal.
But neither NBC nor ABC used that speech to boost Hillary Clinton quite like CBS correspondent Nancy Cordes did. Cordes spent a minute and 58 seconds on Aug 8, mostly detailing Clinton’s reaction to Trump and reporting that she was ahead of him in the polls.
Cordes reported that Clinton had a slightly higher ratio of democrats who said they would vote for her than republicans who said they would vote for Trump.
“It may not sound like a big difference, Charlie, but it can swing an election in a country as closely divided as this one,” Cordes said in conclusion.