Nets Brush Off Biden’s Grabby Hands, Spending Less Than 2 Minutes On Controversy

April 25th, 2019 3:23 PM

As far as the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks are concerned, Joe Biden’s troubles with touching women are essentially over. At least that’s the impression left when you look at the tiny (1 minutes, 52 seconds) amount of time devoted to the former Vice President’s grabbiness in their coverage of his campaign’s official launch. 

Beginning with Tuesday evening’s coverage through Thursday morning (April 23-April 25) the networks evening and morning shows brushed aside Biden’s roaming hands problem.

CBS didn’t seem to care at all about the controversy as they just spent a mere 16 seconds on Biden’s gropes. NBC devoted only 46 seconds to Biden’s bad touch. ABC spent the most amount of time (50 seconds) on complaints from women about the Democratic frontrunner. 

In total the networks gave Biden a generous hand, spending 26 minutes and 57 seconds on his campaign announcement. NBC had the most coverage, filling their evening and morning shows with 13 minutes and 47 seconds of Biden campaign launch coverage. ABC came in second with 8 minutes and 26 seconds, while CBS offered 4 minutes and 44 seconds of coverage talking about the ex-veep’s entrance into the 2020 race. 

Even when reporters briefly mentioned Biden’s female problems, they couched it in the most favorable terms. On Thursday’s Today show, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell breezily dismissed the issue: “More recently, criticism that Biden has given unwanted contact to women, although not sexually. Biden responded to the allegations, saying he never touched anyone in ways he believed were inappropriate, but says he will be much more mindful of personal space.”

The networks never mentioned Biden’s other glaring flaw, his penchant for gaffes.

Some reporters did bring up some past political stances that could give Biden problems – from his left flank. Chief White House correspondent Hallie Jackson, on the April 23 edition of NBC Nightly News recalled “And while his decades-long record includes support of the Violence Against Women Act and same-sex marriage, he’ll probably field questions about his vote to authorize the Iraq war, and Justice Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearing.”

For the most part, the nets spent their Biden segments celebrating the former Democratic Senator from Delaware. On Thursday’s Good Morning America, correspondent Terry Moran promoted Biden’s campaign video: “He jumped into the 2020 race with a bold appeal to bedrock American values...Joe Biden jumping into the 2020 race for President with a stark and stunning video announcement. Images of white supremacists marching in Charlottesville framing his vision of what's at stake in this election.”

Over on CBS This Morning co-host Norah O’Donnell highlighted Biden’s folksiness: “But apart from these [endorsements], this is Uncle Joe. You know? Regular Joe from Scranton, Pennsylvania and the rust belt states and the white working class voters that Democrats lost in the last election.” 


(For this study MRC analysts looked at ABC’s World News Tonight and Good Morning America; CBS Evening News and CBS This Morning; NBC Nightly News and Today.)