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.
The media are hyping former White House aide Omarosa’s negative takes on “racist” Donald Trump and of course playing audio from her surreptitious tapes – with the networks devoting 93 minutes on the topic so far. On Monday’s Today show, co-host Savanna Guthrie teased: “Just ahead, our exclusive - live with Omarosa on the secret recording she made of President Trump...and the troubling picture she’s now painting of the president.” Guthrie even joked with Omarosa as she began the interview: “I should let you know, I’m recording this conversation.”
Early Friday, NewsBusters reported that CNN spent only one minute of airtime on the recanting of a former Ohio State University wrestler’s allegations against Ohio Republican Congressman Jim Jordan. After reviewing coverage of the original NBC article which leveled the claims against Jordan, NewsBusters found that there was a massive discrepancy in reporting.
Following the arrest of Republican Congressman Chris Collins, the broadcast networks once again showcased their partisan double standard when it comes to corruption allegations against members of Congress. Collins’s arrest on Wednesday on insider trading charges resulted in a deluge of coverage, over 18 minutes in less than 24 hours. But in 2015 and 2016, ABC, CBS and NBC buried the indictment, trial and conviction of two Democratic representatives, offering absolutely no coverage of the scandal surrounding Congresswoman Corrine Brown (convicted of fraud) and a paltry 68 seconds to Chaka Fattah (convicted of bribery and fraud).
During the 18 months of the Trump presidency, immigration has received more airtime on the three broadcast evening news shows than any other policy topic. The networks’ coverage has been relentlessly hostile to the administration (92% negative, just 8% positive), largely because these newscasts have framed nearly all of their coverage around the plight of those adversely affected by the administration’s enforcement agenda, and have virtually ignored law enforcement or anyone harmed by illegal immigration.
Since the 1980s, the well-worn liberal playbook is to claim that Republican appointees to the Supreme Court should be voted down as ideologues who are outside the judicial mainstream. The establishment media aids this tactic by often tagging GOP nominees as “conservative,” while ignoring — or even disputing — the liberal bent of Democratic nominees to the Court. True to form, ABC, CBS and NBC’s morning and evening broadcasts branded Judge Brett Kavanaugh a “conservative” a total of eleven times in the first 24 hours since his nomination by President Trump.
The 17-year-long war in Afghanistan continues, with nearly 15,000 U.S. troops currently deployed to support the fight against Taliban and ISIS forces, but you’d barely know it from watching any of the three broadcast network evening newscasts. The three newscasts combined have aired barely 32 minutes on the war this year, or a paltry one-third of one percent of their total evening news airtime.
Outraged anchors and correspondents at ABC, CBS and NBC attacked the Trump administration for separating children from parents at the border as they overwhelmed their Monday morning and evening news programs with a massive 94 minutes of coverage on the detainment policy. Overall, in just six days of coverage (June 13 through June 18) the nets have flooded their broadcasts with almost three hours (176 minutes) of emotional segments that included pictures of crying children and accompanying anger from correspondents and pundits alike.
The pundit class have lost their minds over the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance border enforcement policy. Since Friday, the collective breakdown has yielded a total of 22 instances in which cable news commentators compared the separation of parents and children illegally entering the country to World War II-era war crimes and human rights violations.
While liberal journalists are pooh-poohing in advance any sort of success Donald Trump may have with his summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, that wasn’t the case back in 1994 when Bill Clinton struck a that would have supposedly resolved the nuclear threat from North Korea.
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.