Media Reality Check
Occasional compilations and studies, from the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division, documenting distorted coverage and/or media omissions. Archive on MRC.org has the full text posts of Media Reality Checks from 2015 and earlier.
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.
CNN has exhibited a fetish for the Stormy Daniels story, particularly for her Trump-smacking lawyer, Michael Avenatti. In less than two months (from March 7 to April 30), Avenatti has been a guest on CNN a total of 59 times – an average of more than once per day.
Today marks the official release of fired FBI director James Comey’s new book A Higher Loyalty and the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks already have done their part to boost its sales, packing a total of two hours, 24 minutes in five days of coverage on their evening and morning news programs.
As James Comey’s book exploded onto the scene, CNN pumped the breaks on its “Facts First” campaign to revisit perhaps the most salacious claim contained in the Steele dossier. Specifically, the dossier alleged that Donald Trump had paid ladies of the night to micturate upon one another in Moscow, and that the Russian government had taped the horrific escapade. To date, no aspect of these allegations has been substantiated in any capacity.
The hype for James Comey’s book tour (set to launch on ABC Sunday evening an hour-long George Stephanopoulos special) began last November 2 when CBS’s Gayle King teased it during an interview with the former FBI director. And while liberal journalists are clearly hoping for Comey to dish dirt on President Trump, there was a time when they hammered him as a partisan hack whose investigation into then-candidate Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal was sneaky sabotage of an all-but-certain Democratic victory in 2016.
Traditionally, the news media have demonstrated great interest in movies with social or political themes, but so far Chappaquiddick has been completely ignored by CBS This Morning, while NBC’s Today and ABC’s Good Morning America have each featured only a single segment about the film.
Since Sunday night, the liberal media have been haranguing network affiliate owner Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG) for a new “must-run” promo that warned against “biased and false news.” The two have slammed it as Trump-backed “state-run TV” on par with the former Soviet outlet Pravda that's “chilling,” frightening” and “a really embarrassing moment for journalism.” A NewsBusters study examined the two cable networks on April 2 found that CNN spent 76 minutes and 42 seconds while MSNBC hyperventilated for nearly twice as long at 134 minutes and 42 seconds.
The news media’s obviously insatiable appetite for scandal news surrounding Republican President Donald Trump is sharply at odds with their aversion to covering such stories about Democratic President Bill Clinton two decades ago. From March 7 through March 25, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts aired 23 reports about various allegations involving President Trump, totaling 40 minutes of airtime. None of Clinton's accusers ever had that kind of media attention lavished on their claims.
Saturday’s “March for Our Lives” represents the culmination of more than a month of the liberal media’s seemingly endless parade of soundbites and interviews featuring the strident and, at times, vicious anti-gun statements from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, teachers, parents and their allies in the Democratic Party. Looking just at the airtime of soundbites in these stories and interview segments, gun rights opponents received 71.5 minutes, roughly eleven times more coverage than pro-gun rights voices (6.5 minutes).