Major TV networks spent one out of three minutes covering President Donald Trump last year, with 90 percent of that coverage negative. A full one-fifth of that coverage focused on the Trump-Russia “collusion” scandal.
“‘90% of Trump 2017 news coverage was negative’ — and much of it contrived!” Trump tweeted Monday morning.
“90% of Trump 2017 news coverage was negative” -and much of it contrived!@foxandfriends
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2018
The major television networks — ABC, CBS, and NBC — spent 100 hours covering the Trump presidency in 2017, according to the Media Research Center (MRC). This represented 34 percent of the coverage. President Obama only received 10 percent of this coverage in 2015 and 2016.
A negative tone dominated 90 percent of the coverage, with only 10 percent of it positive (excluding neutral statements). Positive comments rose above ten percent during three months: January, when reporters discussed Trump supporters’ positive reactions to the Inauguration; April, when some praised Trump’s missile strikes against Syria; and in December, when Congress passed tax reform.
Even during those months, negative coverage still vastly outpaced the positive: 85 percent in January, 82 percent in April, and 85 percent in December.
How did the coverage become this negative? “The evening newscasts have provided extremely heavy coverage of some stories (Russia, the travel ban, and myriad personal controversies) where they evidently believed heavy criticism is justified, while they barely mention other topics where the administration has a positive story to tell,” MRC’s Rich Noyes and Mike Ciandella reported.
Perhaps most revealing, the Russia investigation alone accounted for one-fifth of Trump coverage, 1,234 minutes. More than two-fifths (43 percent) of evening news coverage of the president focused on controversies, not policies.
Coverage of the Trump-Russia scandal dwarfed every policy issue. No issue even reached half of the time given to the Russia scandal. The networks spent 475 minutes on the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), 364 minutes on the scuffles with North Korea, 258 minutes on immigration policy, 251 minutes on the temporary travel ban, and 222 minutes on tax reform.
Despite the focus on Trump-Russia, these outlets mostly overlooked questions about how the investigation began and whether Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation could be biased.
“Suggestions that Obama administration officials had improperly ‘unmasked’ Trump officials caught up in foreign surveillance garnered just 20 minutes of evening news coverage, or less than two percent of the Russia total. Evening news coverage of the uncorroborated anti-Trump dossier, which we eventually learned was financed by the Clinton campaign’s lawyer, amounted to a mere 15 minutes of airtime,” MRC reported.
The networks spent a combined 11 minutes (less than 1 percent of Russia coverage) on the internal FBI anti-Trump text messages, and barely 5 minutes (less than 0.5 percent of Russia coverage) on the criticism that Mueller’s team had improperly obtained Trump officials’ emails during the transition period.
Liberals have insisted that the Russia investigation would derail Trump’s presidency, suggested that outreach to Russians constituted evidence Trump committed treason, and predicted impeachment over the issue. None of these things has come to pass, and the story seems much more complicated than that.
The central event in the Left’s focus on Russia — a June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya — could have been a set-up by the Clinton campaign, which paid Fusion GPS for the unsubstantiated Trump-Russia dossier. Fusion GPS had worked with Veselnitskaya for two years prior to the meeting, on the very issue the Russian lawyer pressed with Trump Jr. in 2016. Fusion’s founder Glenn Simpson actually met with her before and after this meeting.
Whether or not the Russia scandal becomes a serious thorn in Trump’s side, the networks’ constant harping on this issue suggests they are indeed in league against him. It is no wonder the president shared these results with his followers — now there is concrete evidence that the major networks are biased against him.
Will the media start to balance their coverage after this? Don’t hold your breath.