Ever since it was announced, on Friday, that the FBI was pursuing new leads into the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server scandal, the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks have gone into attack mode against James Comey, turning what should be a scandal about Clinton into a smear against the FBI director.
Beginning with the evening (October 28) of the announcement through Monday morning (October 31) MRC analysts reviewed all statements (by reporters, analysts, and partisans) that took a position on Comey and Clinton and found arguments against Comey (88) swamped those against Clinton (31) by a ratio of almost 3 to 1. There were a handful of statements that praised either Comey (10) or Clinton (4).
MRC analysts also discovered that the Big Three networks’ evening (ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News) and morning show programs (ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, NBC’s Today) devoted a total of 2 hours, 19 minutes and 49 seconds to the Comey story.
Network anchors immediately questioned Comey. On the October 30 edition of Good Morning America co-anchor and Clinton Foundation donor George Stephanopoulos slammed Comey: “It’s hard to know what’s going through James Comey’s mind right now. Remember when he came out in July? He broke tradition back in July when he gave the press conference. Rather than simply closing the investigation, he said he was doing it because there was such intense public interest in this case. You would think that same standard would drive him to release more details.”
CBS This Morning co-anchor Gayle King, on October 31, relayed the harsh criticism: “Former Attorney General Eric Holder, along with nearly 100 former Justice Department officials on both sides of the aisle, said that they were astonished and perplexed by Comey’s decision. Holder wrote this in the Washington Post — that he’s afraid that Comey has unintentionally hurt the public’s trust in the FBI, allowing — quote, ‘misinformation to be spread by partisans with less pure intentions.’”
And over on NBC’s Today show Willie Geist, on October 30, peppered Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway: “This is an open investigation. It’s on the eve of an election. That’s why the DOJ recommended to Director Comey not to proceed with this letter because everyone knew it would be leaked out to the public. If you were on the other side of this, would you think this was the right thing to do on the eve of an election to be so vague about it without knowing the content?”
Special thanks to News Analysts Mike Ciandella, Scott Whitlock, Kyle Drennen, Matthew Balan and Kristine Marsh for their contribution to this study.