Study: Network Anti-Trump Coverage Hits New Level: 'Never More Biased'


A study of the big three broadcast evening newscasts found that the networks have doubled down on their negative coverage of President Donald Trump while covering Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden positively.

The Media Research Center analyzed all coverage of Biden and Trump on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts from July 29 through Oct. 20.

During that time period, Trump received 839 minutes of coverage, while the former vice president received just 269 minutes, the study said.

During the 839 minutes of Trump coverage, 890 total evaluative comments were made about the president.

Of those comments, 822 (92.4 percent) were negative and 68 (7.6 percent) were positive.

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Biden received 91 evaluative comments, 60 of which were positive, while only 31 were negative, according to the media watchdog group.

In total, Biden received 66 percent positive coverage, the MRC study said, compared to 92 percent negative coverage for Trump.

“If Trump’s coverage seems nightmarishly negative, Biden’s media profile might be a dream-come-true for a presidential nominee, especially one favored in the polls,” the MRC said, noting that the big three evening newscast coverage has been “never more biased” than it is now.

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During the same time period in 2016, the Media Research Center found that Trump’s personal controversies received 440 minutes of airtime, while Hillary Clinton’s controversies received 185 minutes of airtime.

In their coverage of the 2016 presidential candidates, 145 (79 percent) of the big three broadcast networks’ opinionated comments about Clinton were negative, compared to 623 (91 percent) negative statements about Trump.

The evening newscasts have been critical of Trump’s presidency since his inauguration.

From Jan. 20, 2017, to Oct. 20, 2020, there were 16,755 evaluative comments made about Trump, 90.5 percent of which were negative, the MRC said.

Trump has been criticized over topics ranging from the Russia investigation to his impeachment to the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the 12 weeks covered in the MRC’s most recent study, networks spent 424 minutes of Trump coverage discussing the coronavirus pandemic, 87 minutes covering Trump’s comments about mail-in voting and 63 minutes on protests that have swept the nation.

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The networks also covered Trump’s tax returns as reported by The New York Times and a disputed story from The Atlantic.

Biden, on the other hand, has skated by with the networks covering things like his health and age, while largely ignoring claims that Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris could pursue far-left policies and a scheme to “pack” the Supreme Court.

Recent New York Post reports that led to renewed allegations of corruption involving both Joe Biden and Hunter Biden have only been covered by CBS for five minutes and 19 seconds, and not at all by ABC and NBC’s evening newscasts.

“What we’ve seen in this campaign, and over the past four years, is the establishment media choosing to abandon its traditional role and become combatants on behalf of liberal politicians,” the Media Research Center said.

“When supposed news coverage becomes so tilted against one party in favor of another, it fails in its core mission to serve voters. Regardless of who wins next week’s election, the news media will be in desperate need of reform.”

For its study, the MRC analyzed every mention of Trump and Biden from July 29 through Oct. 20 on ABC’s “World News Tonight,” “CBS Evening News” and “NBC Nightly News.”

The analysts then tallied explicitly evaluative statements of the candidates from reporters, anchors and nonpartisan sources. Evaluations from partisan sources were not included.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith