The Media Research Center decided to take a look at coverage of Donald Trump by the "Big Three" (ABC, CBS and NBC) in his first 30 days in office to see how much they covered him and if they displayed any bias one way or the other. Well, unsurprisingly to anyone who's bothered to flip on the news anytime recently, MRC certainly found some bias and it certainly did not favor Trump.
The first thing MRC points out in its analysis is just how "obsessed" the Big Three are over Trump. In his first 30 days of office, MRC analysts found that the networks dedicated 16 hours of their evening news coverage to Trump; in other words, "more than half (54%) of all of the news coverage during this period."
So during this coverage of Trump, to which they dedicated 54 percent of their time, did they treat him fairly? Not only did Trump enjoy no "media honeymoon" afforded most new presidents, he was regularly raked across the coals with what MRC calculates is a stunning 88 percent of negative coverage. (By the way that abysmal 88 percent is actually 3 percent better than the 91 percent negative coverage of Trump MRC calculated during the election.)
MRC explains its method for determing "media tone":
Our measure of media tone excludes soundbites from identified partisans, focusing instead on tallying the evaluative statements made by reporters and the non-partisan talking heads (experts and average citizens) included in their stories.
Overall, the conservative media watchdog found, the networks "crowded their stories with quotes from citizens angry about many of his policies, while providing relatively little airtime to Trump supporters," and their "anchors and reporters often injected their own anti-Trump editorial tone into the coverage."
MRC provides some hilarious examples of "objective" journalists inserting their own opinions, including this gem from CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley on Feb. 6: "It has been a busy day for presidential statements divorced from reality." Well done, sir.
As for some of the big stories of the month, MRC provides a few breakdowns of coverage bias, including a look at the most controversial of Trump's actions thus far, the pause on immigration from seven terror-risk countries:
The biggest controversy during President Trump’s first month in office was the temporary ban on immigration from seven countries compromised by Islamic terrorism (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen). The three evening newscasts spent more than 3 hours (188 minutes) on this topic alone, accounting for about one-fifth of all of the Trump administration’s coverage.
Network coverage provided a megaphone to those distressed by Trump’s action, with NBC’s Lester Holt on January 30 beginning his newscasts from “the Statue of Liberty, which for nearly 130 years has symbolized the welcome arms of a country of immigrants.” As for Trump’s temporary ban, Holt quoted anonymous “critics” who “call it a solution in search of a problem, and an unconstitutional and thinly-disguised ban on Muslims.”
The Big Three repeatedly incorporated coverage of anti-Trump protests in their reports. "[N]early an hour of coverage (56 minutes) was given over to anti-Trump protests on various topics, with nearly one-fifth (82 out of 442) of the Trump stories or briefs aired during these 30 days including at least some discussion of an anti-Trump protest," MRC notes.
The Big Three's coverage of the controversy surrounding the resignation of Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump's other cabinet appointments, and Trump's various immigration policies all followed a similar pattern, reports MRC, the networks devoting an egregiously imbalanced amount of the airtime to voices and opinions dissenting with or criticizing Trump.
So is the media the "opposition party"? Just 88 percent of the time.
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