On Friday’s overtime segment of “Real Time with Bill Maher” on HBO, former MSNBC host Krystal Ball claimed that the coverage of President Trump by her former network was ultimately damaging to “progressive causes.”
MAHER: Do you feel [that] networks like MSNBC, which you used to work for … help or hurt progressive causes?
BALL: Overall, I think MSNBC in the Trump era has done real damage to the Left, and I’ll tell you why.
BALL: And I say that with love. I mean, these are my former colleagues, friends. Look, the Russia story and what happened there was important, but it was not all-important, and they went so far in the realm of conspiracy theorizing – I mean, they had Jonathan Chait on…
MAHER: Well, it was a conspiracy.
BALL: They had Jonathan Chait on to talk about how Trump may have been a Russian plant since 1987. This is ridiculous, okay? This is way out from what journalistic facts said, and it’s to the exclusion of other stories that people actually care about – about health care, about trade, about the future of their lives, automation. These things are real, and they don’t get focus when you only look at one thing. So yeah, they built up expectations so much that when the report came out, people were like, “Oh, it was no big deal,” when it was a big deal.
After Ball’s answer, Maher laid the blame for an alleged lack of accountability regarding the Russia investigation at Robert Mueller’s feet, and Ball agreed.
BALL: Why did we put our faith in a Republican? He’s a Republican; he’s a lifelong Republican. What [did] we think?
MAHER: But that was the mistake on MSNBC is making him into this hero.
Despite the mainstream press, including networks like MSNBC and CNN, aggressively pushing the Trump/Russia collusion narrative for more than two years — a narrative that ultimately ended up being disproven by the Mueller investigation — President Trump has retained his standing among a core base of Republican voters.
According to the RealClearPolitics average of polling, President Trump’s job approval stands at 43.8% despite near-universally negative coverage of him since before the 2016 election.
According to a report from the Media Research Center (MRC), from January 2017 through December 2018, 90% of the coverage of President Trump from the major network evening news programs (ABC, CBS, NBC) has been negative, while just 10% has been positive. The analysis excludes “neutral statements.”
MRC states: “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.”
Of the 858 minutes spent by the big three networks’ evening newscasts discussing the Trump/Russia collusion story in 2018, 98% was “negative,” according to the MRC analysis. Of the 643 minutes covering immigration and the border, 94% was “negative.” The least negative of the big five “Trump-bashing” stories that received hundreds of minutes of airtime pertained to North Korea (410 minutes; 80% “negative”).