Media bias in political coverage is hardly new. Going back to the muck-racking days of “yellow journalism”, newspapers have expressed clearly partisan slants in the way they cover candidates to higher office. And going back at least to the early 20th Century, that bias has tended, at least generally speaking, to favor candidates professing a liberal progressive agenda.
This election season, however, appears to be have reached new levels of slanted coverage, one media watchdog says, with a report showing negative news coverage of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump outweighing positive coverage by a whopping 11-to-1 margin.
According to the report, produced by the conservative Media Research Center, of all news coverage focusing on Donald Trump on the three major non-cable television networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) during their evening news shows from July 29th through October 20th, roughly 91% of mentions of the GOP nominee were in a negative context. Only 9% of news stories on Trump carried by those three networks were positive towards the Republican nominee.
While some may attribute the highly negative coverage of Trump to his earlier low favorability ratings – the lowest for any major party presidential nominee since the inception of polling – the MRC report notes that coverage of Hillary Clinton, who nearly ties Trump in low favorability levels, was far gentler.
While the three major TV networks dedicated more than 440 minutes dissecting Trump’s personal controversies, such as his tax returns and past statements on women, only 185 minutes worth of coverage were used to discuss Clinton’s personal issues, including her email scandal, Benghazi, the Iran deal and questions over her health.
For example, while the three networks spent a combined 102 minutes digging into comments by Trump regarding women, only a paltry 24 minutes were given to news coverage of the ongoing Clinton Foundation scandals. That’s just 1 minute more than the 23 focusing on the tiff between Trump and the Khan family – the parents of a fallen Muslim-American soldier, who were invited to the Democratic National Convention.
And despite an official FBI investigation into her use of a private internet server to handle classified government materials, the three TV networks spent just 40 minutes combined discussing the matter, less than half the time used covering Trump’s comments on women 11 years ago and only slightly more than the 33 minutes of primetime coverage on his tax returns and 32 minutes covering allegations Trump had flip-flopped on immigration.