The Media Research Center has published a new study on media coverage for this election and to no one’s surprise, it shows the coverage of Trump by ABC, NBC, and CBS over the last 12 weeks has been 92 percent “negative.”
Coverage of Joe Biden, on the other hand, was 66 percent positive. Perhaps more tellingly, Trump got almost four times the scrutiny that Biden got, with the Democrat getting a pass on many issues.
This time around, it’s obvious that the networks are pouring their energy into confronting and criticizing the President, not equally covering both campaigns. During the twelve weeks we examined, Trump received 839 minutes of coverage, compared to just 269 minutes of airtime for Biden, a three-to-one disparity.
Even more lopsided, our analysts found ten times more evaluative statements about Trump than Biden: 890 comments about the President, of which 822 (92.4%) were negative, vs. 68 (7.6%) that were positive. Note that these totals do not include statements about the candidates’ prospects in the campaign horse race (i.e., standings in the polls, chances to win, etc.), nor does it include partisan statements from the candidates or their surrogates.
It’s been that way from the beginning of Trump’s presidency.
The three evening newscasts have been relentlessly negative throughout Trump’s presidency. From Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017, through October 20, 2020, our analysts have tallied 16,755 evaluative comments, 90.5% of which (15,161) have been negative. While the topics have shifted from the Russia-collusion investigation to Ukraine and impeachment to this year’s coronavirus pandemic, the networks’ hostility has been incredibly consistent.
It’s not just a negative spin in Trump coverage that’s a problem. It’s the lack of coverage of obvious weak points in Biden’s campaign that demonstrates such a laughable bias.
The topics tell the story: Trump’s coverage during these crucial 12 weeks has been dominated by the coronavirus (424 minutes — 284 minutes spent on policy and 140 minutes on the President’s own diagnosis), his comments about mail-in voting (87 minutes) and the ongoing protests in major American cities (63 minutes). Notable controversies include The New York Times’ reporting on Trump’s apparently stolen tax returns (23 minutes), and the hotly-disputed Atlantic story about the President supposedly calling U.S. war casualties “suckers” and “losers” (19 minutes).
The newscasts are airing practically nothing about controversies that could jeopardize Biden’s lead in the polls. Topping the list: the former Vice President’s age and health, with 10 minutes, 33 seconds of coverage — a tiny fraction of the airtime devoted to President Trump’s health following his coronavirus diagnosis (140 minutes).
I recall that in 1984, the three networks couldn’t shut up about Reagan’s age and the fact that he would, if elected, be the oldest serving president.
Hannity said that during the 1984 race, Reagan, then 73, was being slammed by the media and by Democrats who claimed he was showing signs of early-onset dementia at age 73.
He said a Seattle newspaper had referred to him as “old,” and other reports claimed that First Lady Nancy Reagan was “maneuvering” behind the scenes to hide signs of the president’s alleged mental decline.
“The mob and the media back in the day, they raised all the questions everywhere — it was like a mass diagnosis of Ronald Reagan,” Hannity continued.
But silence is apparently golden when it comes to a serious discussion of Joe Biden’s age and obvious infirmities.
The names and faces may have changed since 1984, but the bias that set the media against Ronald Reagan has only gotten worse since then. Today, they don’t even try to hide their favoritism. And if they’re criticized, they scurry like rats to hide behind the First Amendment. Trump is “threatening” or “attacking the press,” claim these high priests of the information age.
They are nothing more than partisan hacks and should be required to tell the American people what their biases are.