No one with any hint of objectivity would say that news networks not named Fox News were "fair and balanced" when it came to President Trump in 2018. But a new study by a conservative media watchdog found that the "Big Three" networks were even more shamelessly biased against the president last year than most would think possible for outlets that present themselves as nonpartisan news sources.
The Media Research Center, which has been closely tracking news bias against Trump since he first took office, released their final 2018 report this week documenting a truly remarkable degree of one-side reported.
Since he was inaugurated on January 20, 2017, MRC has been tracking "every moment of coverage of President Trump on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts," which a total of some 23 million viewers watch on average every night. And what they've found since they first started watching is amazingly consistent: the media's spin on all Trump-related stories has been "incessantly hostile: 90% negative, vs. just 10% positive (excluding neutral statements)." That matches the historically biased coverage MRC reported in 2017.
NewsBusters summarizes what MRC analysts found over the first half of his first term:
As has been the case since the President took office, the tone of network coverage has been exceptionally hostile, ranging from 82% negative in April 2017 (after Trump was praised for a missile strike punishing Syria for a chemical weapons attack) to 96% negative in February 2018 (when the news agenda focused on the Russia investigation, demands for gun control, and a White House aide accused of domestic abuse).
Positive stories about Trump are downplayed or conveniently ignored, while a vast majority of airtime is dedicated to stories that are either inherently negative for the president or which the networks report from an overtly negative angle. The most covered story of the year? You guessed it: the Russia investigation, which racked up a total of 858 minutes of airtime in 2018 and 2,092 minutes of coverage during the Big Three's evening newscasts since his inauguration.
And it's not just MRC that's concluded that news coverage has been decidedly one-sided. "The 90% negative spin we calculated roughly matches what the Pew Research Center, not a conservative group, found in their study of coverage of Trump’s first 60 days in office," MRC notes. "They found 62% of network stories were negative, vs. 5% positive and 33% neutral. If you remove the neutral stories and look at just the stories with a clear spin, Pew’s bottom line looks like ours: 93% negative spin, vs. just 7% positive."
NewsBusters notes that Harvard media scholar Thomas Patterson's analysis of NBC's and CBS's news coverage found similar results: the former's coverage was 93% negative, while the latter's was 91% negative. CNN and leading newspapers were also egregiously biased. The most "fair and balanced" was in fact Fox News, which was "52% negative vs. 48% positive," the outlet notes.
NewsBusters explains how MRC determined "negative spin" below:
To determine the spin of news coverage, our analysts tallied all explicitly evaluative statements about the President or his administration from either reporters, anchors or non-partisan sources such as experts or voters. Evaluations from partisan sources, as well as neutral statements, were not included.