A new study from conservative media watchdog MRC NewsBusters released Tuesday claims media coverage is overwhelmingly negative when reporting about President Donald Trump but positive about his Democratic presidential challenger, Joe Biden.
The group assessed how the three major networks of ABC, CBS and NBC covered both Trump and Biden on evening newscasts from July 29 – Oct. 20, 2020, and found 92% negative coverage for the president and 66% positive for the former vice president.
The media watchdog determined that the networks devoted 839 minutes to discussing the president’s activities, compared to only 269 minutes for Biden — over three times as much.
The study did not mention, however, that during this period the Biden campaign was often low-key, retiring early in the day or operating from the candidate’s basement. (RELATED: Report: Biden Has Had 50% Fewer Media Questions Than Trump Since Aug. 31)
MRC found that the networks were ten times more likely to make “evaluative statements” about Trump than Biden — with 822 of these (92.4%) being negative and only 68 (7.6%) positive. These statements did not include those assessing who was ahead in the presidential contest or comments from sources supporting the candidates.
Conversely, the study indicated that media reports included 91 evaluative statements about Biden, 60 of which were deemed positive and the remaining 31% deemed negative, adding up to a 66% positive rating.
MRC also argued that the media was selective in what issues it chose to discuss, preferring to focus extensively on the coronavirus pandemic, Trump’s own infection, the president’s opposition to mail-in voting and the unrest in American cities.
There was also considerable attention paid to the New York Times story regarding Trump’s alleged tax returns and an Atlantic report that accused the president of smearing war dead as “suckers” and “losers” that Trump quickly denied was true.
MRC stated that network media almost completely ignored Biden’s advanced age and health as an election issue (only 10 minutes, 33 seconds of coverage) while they extensively focused on Trump’s health when he was diagnosed with the coronavirus, with 140 minutes of coverage.
The story of how a laptop allegedly owned by Hunter Biden contained emails linking Joe Biden to a clandestine meeting with a Ukrainian natural gas official and potential influence peddling garnered only 5 minutes and 19 seconds of coverage — exclusively on CBS News. (RELATED: Front Pages Of National Media Go Full Blackout As Information Surfaces Implicating Joe Biden In Hunter’s China Scheme)
Even those reports tended to defend the Bidens, MRC said, citing a story by CBS reporter Nancy Cordes who, on Oct. 15, characterized the story as “having all the hallmarks of information laundering.”
MRC described its methodology as tabulating every reference to Trump and Biden during the period covered on ABC’s “World News Tonight,“ the “CBS Evening News” and “NBC Nightly News.” In assessing whether bias was present, the group tabulated every “evaluative statement” made by a reporter, anchor or objective news source to reach their totals.