Did Liberal Groups Pressure Networks to Limit Coverage of the RNC?

Screenshot via C-SPAN

As we continue to bask in the glow of a masterfully produced Republican National Convention, questions linger over the coverage of the event by some networks. Many viewers, including several of the live bloggers here at PJ Media, openly wondered why some networks covered so little of the actual content, and why so much of the convention coverage ended up devoted to analysis instead of speeches.


I spent quite a bit of time over the past four nights marveling at ABC’s coverage, or lack thereof, in the liveblog. The convention was almost an afterthought for George Stephanopoulos and the gang. They cared far more about analyzing Trump’s administration than the event itself. A few examples:

Night 4:

  • Aug 27, 2020 9:42 PM est | Jeff Reynolds

ABC panel now obsessing about Trump’s twitter feed. They still don’t get it. He leads people like them around by the nose, and they take the bait EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. They still haven’t figured out how to beat him.

  • Aug 27, 2020 9:37 PM est | Jeff Reynolds

Rahm Emmanuel on ABC says the convention is trying to push COVID aside and make safety on the streets the top issue. I’m sure I saw Rahm on the panel last night, was he watching at all? [Night 3 was dedicated to first responders]

  • Aug 27, 2020 9:09 PM est | Jeff Reynolds

ABC now obsessing over whether the crowd on the South Lawn for the convention is legal. And here I had a moment of hope for balanced coverage when it began.

Night 3:

  • Aug 26, 2020 10:35 PM est | Jeff Reynolds       

I count 18 minutes without speakers on ABC, leading into Mike Pence.

  • Aug 26, 2020 10:33 PM est | Jeff Reynolds       

Jonathan Karl tells us on ABC that Mike Pence will be the only live speaker of the evening. That’s a bald-faced lie.

  • Aug 26, 2020 10:31 PM est | Jeff Reynolds       

Holy crap, ABC comes back from commercial to bobblehead analysis AGAIN. UNBELIEVABLE.

  • Aug 26, 2020 10:30 PM est | Jeff Reynolds       

I’m going on 15 minutes without a speaker watching ABC. This is unconscionable.

  • Aug 26, 2020 10:28 PM est | Jeff Reynolds       

I have gone from bemused by ABC’s coverage to filled with rage.

  • Aug 26, 2020 10:28 PM est | Jeff Reynolds

Wow. ABC just went 5 minutes of commercials, 3 minutes of bobbleheads, and back to commercial. Skipped probably 4 or 5 speakers.


That’s just a small sampling of the coverage by ABC that seemed designed to suppress the most effective speakers the RNC had to offer at the convention. Of course, I understand the networks’ need for commercials, revenue, and editing for time’s sake. This seemed like more than a convenient excuse, suggesting that the network had to pay the bills.

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An answer may lie in a letter sent to the heads of the major networks by ten liberal groups on Monday, August 24, demanding that they broadcast the convention on tape delay to avoid misinformation and allow for real-time fact-checking. The letter, released by a group called Ultraviolet, demanded that networks “fact check and debunk dangerous disinformation in real time and stop it from spreading.” The letter draws on fact-checking resources from Media Matters for America (MMfA), among other radical leftist organizations, and is signed by UltraViolet, Higher Heights Political Fund, BlackPAC, ACRONYM, MomsRising, Color Of Change PAC, NARAL, EMILY’s List, #ShePersisted, and United We Dream.

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The letter reads, in part:


CNN Worldwide President Jeffrey A. Zucker

MSNBC President Phil T. Griffin

ABC News President James Goldston

NBCUniversal Worldwide News Group President Noah Oppenheim

CBS Corporation President Joseph Ianniello

As our nation battles the dual crises of systemic racism and the coronavirus pandemic, relying on the media for factual, life-saving information is crucial to the health of the American people and our democracy.

We need truthful information to stop the proliferation of disinformation that impedes the American public’s health and safety, and our democracy.

Starting on Monday, August 24th and running through Thursday, August 27th, your network will air the Republican National Convention’s programming. We recognize that you have a responsibility for the fundamental importance of giving equal time to both major political parties, but we request that you put the Republican National Convention’s programming on a 1-minute time delay, so that your network can actively fact check and debunk dangerous disinformation in real time and stop it from spreading. CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS have previously cut away or run fact-checks in real-time during coronavirus briefings, and this should be no different. The potential risk of unfiltered disinformation emanating in real time, via your network, to millions of homes around the country, is too great.

We have already seen Americans die due to disinformation around the COVID-19 pandemic and the search for a treatment. We have also seen an increase in hate crimes, police brutality, and racial injustice due to inflammatory and racist disinformation on the news.

Make no mistake, the Republican National Convention’s programming will be a primary source of dangerous disinformation about everything from voting rights, to racial justice and police violence, to medical disinformation and dangerous medical falsehoods about the pandemic. It is likely that this information will also include racist and sexist attacks designed to stoke division and hatred. We know this, because we have seen it before. We know who the speakers at the convention will be, and an overwhelming majority of them contribute to the spread of dangerous disinformation every single day.


The Sun reported that some networks did, indeed, cut away in real-time for fact-checking analysis:

On Monday night, the first night of the party’s convention, CNN and MSNBC cut away from Patricia and Mark McCloskey to fact-check their claim that Democrats want to abolish suburbs by ending single-family home zoning, The Hill reported.

CNN and The New York Times also run fact-checking pages.

“I think it’s important for objective journalists to note how wildly imbalanced the dishonesty is between current parties,” CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale tweeted on Monday.

“This one half-night of Republican programming so far has been exponentially more dishonest than the entire four nights of the Democratic convention.”

CNN and MSNBC have long since abandoned any pretense of objective journalism, so their coverage comes as no surprise. Were CBS, NBC, and other networks influenced in their coverage? Did George Stephanopoulos—former press secretary for President Bill Clinton—take his marching orders from Ultraviolet, MMfA, and other hard-left organizations?

It sure looks that way.

Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff, and on Parler at @RealJeffReynolds.

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