A New Study Confirms What We Already Knew About the Media

AP Photo/Ron Harris

The tables have turned in the past couple of years. We once heard chants of “Lock Her Up!” referring of course to Hillary Clinton and her bathroom closet server full of classified emails. Now, the mainstream media is cheering on those who want to lock up Donald Trump for whatever the authorities can drum up.


Witness Sam Donaldson on CNN on Sunday. The retired reporter and anchor, whom many people consider a scion of old-school journalism, likened Donald Trump to Al Capone. Why? Much like how the Feds had to snag Capone on a lesser charge of tax evasion to have him pay for the more serious crimes he committed, today’s law enforcement has to get Trump on, well, something — anything.

Donaldson said:

Well, you know, when I heard about it, the fact that the FBI had seized from his safe and other places these documents which should be held someplace else, particularly the top secret ones which must be held someplace else, it may be a violation of the Espionage Act of 1917. That’s a very serious crime. I thought of Al Capone. Al Capone was a great big gangster in the 1920s and ’30s, bootlegged millions of gallons of whiskey, that was illegal, but more than that, a lot of credible evidence that he had ordered the murder of many people. But they never brought him to justice on that. But wait a moment. The IRS discovered that Al Capone was cheating on his income taxes, and so they brought him to justice on that, he went to prison, that’s where he died. If the Attorney General cannot bring himself, because of lack of evidence or belief that the country is not ready to bring a president on charges of insurrection or obstruction of justice, how about violation of laws which keep this country safe like the Espionage Act? If there’s credible evidence, I think more of the American public would say, ‘Well, yeah, he shouldn’t have done that. Let’s see what the jury of his peers provides for.’ I’d like to see it.


A common refrain from those of us on the right is that Trump has broken the mainstream media. We even have a quasi-scientific name for it: Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS).

Related: Gaslighting: How the Mainstream Media Tries to Drive You to the Left

Now we can “follow the science” on TDS because there’s a study that came out a couple of weeks ago that has proven what we already knew: the media has polarized since Donald Trump ran for president.

Erik Wemple of the Washington Post writes, “According to a study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, both CNN and MSNBC swerved radically to the left between 2016 and 2021.”

“A sharp cable-news divergence opened up during prime-time hours, the study found: ‘Polarization was driven by all three channels, but there was a sharper turn to the left in 2016 among MSNBC and CNN than there was a right turn [at] Fox News,’ says one of the study’s co-authors, Yphtach Lelkes, an associate professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania, speaking to the prime-time gap under Trump,” Wemple continues.

Using analysis of the political donations of guests on news programming — but not the anchors themselves, since most anchors apparently don’t make political contributions — CNN and MSNBC lurched to the left in 2016 when Trump became the GOP’s frontrunner, while Fox News coasted slightly more rightward.

But perhaps the most interesting part of the study concerns what happened in the half-dozen years before Trump broke through. Using the same analysis from 2010 to 2016, CNN and MSNBC skewed a tiny bit more toward the right before taking a hard left faster than the late Dale Earnhardt. In other words, for much of the Obama years, the Big Three news networks antagonized the Condescender-in-Chief to some extent.


Wemple, like any good leftist member of the press, feels compelled to stick up for CNN and MSNBC.

“During the period under consideration, several conservatives on Fox News came on air to promote Trump’s ‘big lie’ that the 2020 election had been stolen,” he writes. “Liberal voices on CNN and MSNBC did no such thing. In other words, sometimes ‘polarization’ is a way of saying one side is telling the truth and the other isn’t.”

Wemple just proved the point that, even though we’re now aware of how the media has become more polarized since the Trump presidency, they’re not likely to change a thing.

Recommended: The New York Times Editorial Staff Reportedly Sought to Run a Tim Scott Op-Ed by Chuck Schumer

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