Sunday, July 31, 2016
Condemning Republicans, Cheering Democrats: The Media’s Biased 2016 Convention Coverage
With both the Republican and Democratic conventions now concluded, it’s time to judge the news media on how fairly they covered the two parties. Media Research Center analysts looked at various aspects of coverage, all of which demonstrate that journalists obviously favored the Democratic gathering.
By a 12-to-1 margin, journalists spent far more time deriding the Republican convention for its negativity, even as their reactions to Democratic speakers were consistently positive and often enthusiastic. Cable news had its own unique biases: MSNBC carved out time on each night of the GOP convention for interviews with top Democratic officials, but — despite promises to the contrary — aired no such interviews with Republicans during the Democratic convention. Meanwhile, CNN devoted more than an hour of airtime during the Democratic convention to airing 18 party-produced videos, but only included three such videos during the GOP convention.
Here are details of our research evaluating the convention coverage, with special thanks to MRC analysts Matthew Balan, Mike Ciandella, Nicholas Fondacaro, Curtis Houck and Scott Whitlock.
* Double standard on convention videos: During the Republican convention, CNN’s primetime (8pm to midnight, ET) coverage included just three RNC-produced videos totalling a bit more than 14 minutes of airtime: a non-partisan tribute to the Apollo 11 mission; a video narrated by Lynne Patton telling how she was helped by the Trump family; and the six-minute Thursday night biography of Donald Trump shown in advance of his acceptance speech. CNN skipped videos on important topics such as the Benghazi attack and the Obama administration’s Fast and Furious scandal, instead airing journalist panel discussions.
But during the Democratic convention, CNN chose to air 18 of the Democrats’ videos, six times more party videos than they aired during the GOP convention. Included in those that made the cut on CNN: two “Funny or Die” videos mocking Donald Trump’s policies, and several “Trump In His Own Words” videos criticizing the GOP candidate’s controversial statements. In addition, CNN showed the party-produced videos introducing speakers including Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, Tim Kaine, President Obama, and the nearly 12-minute video for Hillary Clinton that aired on the final night of the convention.
The total airtime for Democratic videos shown during CNN’s primetime coverage: 62 minutes, or more than four times the 14 minutes of airtime given to Republican videos during the same time slot the prior week.
* Double standard on giving free airtime to the opposition: During the first night of the Republican convention, CBS’s 10pm ET primetime coverage included a four-minute long segment of an interview of Hillary Clinton, during which Rose invited Clinton to bash her Republican opponent, asking if Donald Trump was “the most dangerous man ever to run for President of the United States?”
But during their primetime coverage of the Democratic convention, CBS included no interviews with Republicans so they could bash Hillary Clinton.
Similarly, MSNBC’s primetime coverage (8pm to midnight ET) of the GOP convention included five interviews with elected Democrats: Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Tim Ryan (D-OH) on Monday, July 18; Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on Tuesday, July 19; Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) on Wednesday, July 20; and Senator Al Franken (D-MN) on Thursday, July 21.
None of the Democratic interlopers missed a chance to take shots at the GOP. Schiff was brought on board a few minutes after Pat Smith spoke about the loss of her son in Benghazi. “We’ve never politicized a tragedy like this,” Schiff claimed, “and I just think it really is unfortunate to bring a grieving woman before the convention this way.”
Later in the week, Senator McCaskill condemned the GOP program as “very dark and angry, and mostly fact-free,” points echoed the next day by Senator Franken, who blasted the convention as “very ugly.”
Setting up his interview with Representative Ryan, anchor Brian Williams explained that “we like to bring in the other side, as in fairness we’ll be doing when it’s the Democrats’ turn.” But that wasn’t true: during all four nights of the Democratic convention, MSNBC’s 8pm to midnight coverage included absolutely no interviews with any Republicans.
* Double standard on complaining about negative rhetoric: During the first two days of the Democratic convention, various speakers called Donald Trump a con man, a fraud, a bigot, and a racist; someone who “cheats students, cheats investors, cheats workers,” who “rejects science” and would take America “back to the dark days when women died in back alleys.” Trump’s policies and rhetoric was described as “cruel,” “frightening,” “deceitful,” “deeply disturbing” and “ugly.” He was someone who promoted “racial hatred,” who had “hate in their heart,” and was “making America hate again.”
But while the media routinely attacked the Republicans during the GOP convention for negative attacks on Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ attacks on Trump were given a pass. MRC studied ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and NBC’s coverage from 9pm to midnight during the first two nights of each convention. During the GOP convention, journalists scolded the Republicans for negativity 63 times; for the same time period during the Democratic convention, viewers heard only five such comments from reporters, a more than 12-to-1 disparity.
A few examples: CBS’s Bob Schieffer on July 19 said Clinton had been “accused of everything from a ‘who’d a thought it’ to the diphtheria epidemic.” On NBC, Tom Brokaw said the convention was trying to “work up a big hate for Hillary.” On MSNBC, Chris Matthews called the convention a “festival of hating Hillary tonight, this brewing up of almost a witch-like ritual tonight,” adding the words “bloodthirsty” and “blood curdling” to describe the delegates’ reaction to Chris Christie’s speech.
During the Democratic convention, the references to negativity were far fewer and much milder. CNN’s Gloria Borger on July 25 pointed out that speakers were “belittling and making fun of Donald Trump a lot tonight.” On MSNBC the next night, regular panelist Steve Schmidt, a former GOP campaign consultant, said there had been “real tough blows tonight on Donald Trump,” for the purpose of “the destruction of Donald Trump’s character.”
* Gushing over Democratic speeches while panning the GOP: In addition to the supposed negativity of the overall program, journalists scorned the individual speeches delivered at the GOP convention, especially nominee Donald Trump. CBS’s Scott Pelley said Trump was “more vengeful than hopeful,” while ABC’s Terry Moran called it “more of a harangue than a speech.” NBC’s Tom Brokaw thought some viewers “are going to see someone they will only think of as a demagogue of some kind.”
Thursday’s reactions to Hillary Clinton’s address, while unenthusiastic, included none of the criticism aimed at Trump. NBC’s Savannah Guthrie said Clinton’s was “a do-no harm speech,” while her colleague Chuck Todd thought it “was a grinder” of an address. CNN’s Gloria Borger admitted “it was not an oratorical masterpiece” but called Clinton’s speech “sturdy” and “steely.” Over on CBS, co-anchor Norah O’Donnell touted Clinton for “stressing her steadiness, her readiness, her experience and her empathy.”
Up until Clinton’s speech, the media had been positively swooning over the Democratic speakers. On Monday, CNN’s Jake Tapper was excited by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, calling his speech “a crowd pleaser like no speech I’ve seen at a convention since a young state senator Barack Obama in 2004.”
Minutes later on ABC, anchor George Stephanopoulos gushed over First Lady Michelle Obama: “Polished, passionate and personal,” while on MSNBC, Joy Reid called the First Lady’s speech “magnificent, exquisite...[and] splendid.”
Hardball host Chris Matthews loved all of it: “I just thought the whole night was a slugger’s row of wonderful sentiments.”
As the week wore on, none of the major Democrats earned a bad review. On Tuesday night, CBS’s Gayle King found Bill Clinton’s speech on behalf of Hillary “heartwarming.” The next night, correspondents for NBC, CBS and ABC praised vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine for his “suburban dad” personality, whose “extraordinary” Spanish-speaking skills made for “a Spanish lesson down here.”
And, of course, President Obama sent thrills up journalists’ legs. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a President, save Lincoln, who is as great a speechwriter as this man,” NBC’s Andrea Mitchell oozed. “It was magnificent,” MSNBC’s Matthews tingled, “a wonderful farewell address.”
Every four years, the party conventions give the establishment news media a chance to provide even-handed coverage of the two parties. Once again, unfortunately, the networks have shown their obvious bias in favor of the liberals that rule the Democratic Party.
Time For Post-Convention Clarity
The major party infomercials have folded up their tents. Just over 100 days now unfold to an election where we will plot the course that will determine American history for decades if not more.
That’s how sharp the differences are between a Donald Trump win and a Hillary Clinton win. Republican Trump-haters will say otherwise, but the week-long assault of the Democrat convention should convince even them that their myths of equivalency are born of a perceptual disorder.
I no longer have the time to diagnose and coddle these people. They are grownups. I will leave it to them to examine the ideas from the DNC that threaten our national future, and snap back to reason about the necessity of preventing Hillary from achieving the presidency.
But as some Never-Trumpers shake awake, I want to offer only grace and gratitude. I will spend a lifetime wondering what bug climbed into their bonnets to lead them to the insanity of ambivalence if not outright support of a Hillary presidency, but my bafflement is irrelevant now.
As much as I disagreed with that crowd and lose patience with those still dwelling among it, no call for unity is aided by an accompanying boot to the head. Let’s save “What were you thinking?” for convivial reminiscences after an inauguration that does not feature another Clinton (and thus another Obama) presidency.
I pray, and actually believe, that the months of August and September will see more skeptics shrug into recognition of what we must do. I also pray that our nominee does not hinder that process with any unforced errors. (This week’s absurd Russian hack story does not apply. Trump sarcasm about the Russians sharing what Hillary never will was a stroke of genius, eating into a day of foul DNC oxygen with free media that forced attention back to the e-mail scandal. For the left to jump at this was predictable; for Republicans to join them was just depressing.)
But to the now indelible list of reasons why anyone with a shred of conservatism must join the fight: We can talk ourselves into multiple dithers about our various concerns about a Trump era. But the truth is that no one knows how those years will go. They could range from a disconcerting mixed bag to a surprisingly successful inspiration. But no point on that spectrum comes remotely close to the damaged America that was dangled before us from that stage in Philadelphia.
A Hillary presidency promises generations of constitutional ruin with the appointment of young, vigorous Supreme Court tyrants who will sacrifice the rule of law on the altar of their collective whims.
That assault will begin with the evisceration of the Second Amendment, the one that gives the rest of the Bill of Rights its shield of required protection.
She will lead a charge of economically ruinous policies based on the fraud of man-made climate change.
She will continue the assault on traditional values, leaning toward a European model featuring the stigmatization and even criminalization of some Biblical beliefs and practices.
She will perpetuate the noxious political correctness that strangles religious freedoms.
She will continue to welcome insufficiently vetted waves of Middle Eastern immigrants, containing within their ranks jihadis sure to wind up in tragic headlines on our own soil.
She will continue to coddle race-baiters like Black Lives Matter, the carriers of the most toxic poison in today’s race relations.
She will spur the growth of an already bloated government, fighting against any trends toward reining in the Nanny State.
She will pay for this expansionist, collectivist nightmare by maintaining confiscatory tax levels that brutalize Americans for their success.
She will saddle American businesses with high taxes and overregulation, stifling the job creation we need for any chance at rediscovered prosperity.
She will expand a culture of dependency that has drained our national work ethic and fostered an idle underclass insufficiently driven to succeed on the fuel of actual effort.
She will obstruct our efforts to escape the shackles of Obamacare, damning us to additional years of its exploding costs and strangled services.
Now, conservatives, please share with me again your jitters about the Trump presidency.
From trade policies to the minimum wage and a few intermittent issues beyond, Trump himself telegraphs that this will not be a down-the-line conservative White House. But if he delivers on Scalia-like Supreme Court justices and thwarts only half of the Hillary sins listed above, we will be grateful every day that we stopped her.
And enough hand-wringing about what is happening to Republicanism or conservatism. The party will be what it wishes to be moving forward, based on voter approval or disapproval of what a Trump presidency brings. And as for conservatism, those of us who bleed its wise tenets will be there every day, making clear what we like and don’t like about his leadership. I’m guessing there may even be congenial differences among conservatives featuring varying reviews. Imagine that.
The fact is that those conversations will be a joy, because they will be conducted in an America that we saved from the clutches of Hillary Clinton.
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Posted by JR at 12:03 AM