A Media Research Center study of every broadcast network evening newscast in the five weeks since the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller on May 17 found a whopping 353 minutes of airtime devoted to the Russia probe, or 55 percent of all coverage of the Trump presidency during those weeks. The study also found one-third (34%) of the networks’ Russia coverage was based on anonymous sources, some of which later proved erroneous.
When the Supreme Court of the United States released its latest batch of rulings on Monday, most eyes were on the court allowing partial implementation of the President’s travel ban on six Middle Eastern countries. The Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) spent a lot of time hyper focusing on that ruling and the CBO report of the Senate health care bill. There was also a big win for religious liberty that got omitted from the reports of both ABC and CBS, while NBC simply tacked it onto the end of their travel ban report.
On Monday morning, even rumors about the possibility of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy retiring sent the network morning shows into panic mode. Reporters wrung their hands over the potential that President Trump could replace the high court’s “swing vote” and make it “solidly conservative for decades.”
On Monday, the news of a Muslim girl being killing in northern Virginian went viral as speculation swirled that she was the victim of a hate crime. According to police, the tragic incident was the result of road rage by Darwin Martinez Torrez, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador. That night, both CBS and NBC ignored the story, while ABC hid Torrez’s legal status. It took NBC until Wednesday night to mention the murder, and even then they censored his legal status while pushing the idea that it was a hate crime.
President Trump found himself, once again, at the receiving end of a high-profile lawsuit involving his business dealings on Monday. The Attorneys General of both the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia filed a suit claiming the Present was in violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which states that an office holder cannot receive payments or gifts from a foreign power. The Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) highlighted the suit while they openly hoped that it would allow them to see Trump’s tax returns.
Another alleged “bombshell” fell on Washington, D.C. Tuesday, this one in the form of a memo Comey supposedly left for himself in his Russia investigation file. According to The New York Times, who had the unclassified memo read to them by a Comey associate over the phone, it purported claims that Trump pressured Comey to end the FBI investigation into Mike Flynn. Every member of the Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) rushed to shout the claims, but none of them have actually seen the memo first hand.
A guest on the MSNBC cable channel on Thursday, May 11 -- who had once worked for the KGB intelligence agency -- compared President Donald Trump and his clashes with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to the disdain former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had for his own secret service.
In the immediate aftermath of the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, the Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) didn’t quite know how to spin it. But just 24 hours later, the narrative was clear: President Trump fired Comey because the Russia investigation was closing in on him. During their Wednesday evening broadcasts, the networks spent almost two-thirds of their Comey coverage (62 percent) pushing that theory. The networks ran 40 minutes, 25 seconds of Comey coverage, and of that, they spent 25 minutes, five seconds on the conspiracy theory.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of the United States heard the oral argument for the controversial Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer. The case tackles the idea of a separation between church and state, “The question: Can states refuse to give money to churches even when it's for something that doesn't involve worship,” noted Anchor Lester Holt during NBC Nightly News. And judging by questions asked by the justices, it appeared as though the majority might side with the church. And judging by NBC’s coverage, the network was appalled by the idea.
In an act similar to that of a whining child, Senate Democrats attempted to block the President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch Thursday. Republicans, in turn, followed through on their promise to execute the so-called “nuclear option” to bring debate to a close and move the nomination forward. In response, ABC and NBC were up in arms that evening. “The Republican leader today emerged from the partisan battlefield with a thumbs up. The top Democrat, his head hung low in defeat,” bemoaned ABC’s Mary Bruce on World News Tonight.
NBC didn't bury the story after a commercial break like the other networks, but they did try to paint President Donald Trump’s nominee in a highly negative light, literally. “Gorsuch says he met Mr. Trump when interviewed for the job,” reported justice correspondent Pete Williams on NBC Nightly News. While he was saying that, a dreary black and white clip of Gorsuch shaking Trump’s hand played in slow motion. It looked as though it was a scene out of a TV murder documentary.