Media bias in political coverage is hardly new. Going back to the muck-racking days of “yellow journalism”, newspapers have expressed clearly partisan slants in the way they cover candidates to higher office. And going back at least to the early 20th Century, that bias has tended, at least generally speaking, to favor candidates professing a progressive agenda.
This election season, however, appears to be have reached new levels of slanted coverage, one media watchdog says, with a report showing negative news coverage of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump outweighing positive coverage by a whopping 11-to-1 margin.
According to the report, produced by the conservative Media Research Center, of all news coverage focusing on Donald Trump on the three major non-cable television networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) during their evening news shows from July 29th through October 20th, roughly 91% of mentions of the GOP nominee were in a negative context. Only 9% of news stories on Trump carried by those three networks were positive towards the Republican nominee.
While some may attribute the highly negative coverage of Trump to his low favorability ratings – the lowest for any major party presidential nominee since the inception of polling – the MRC report notes that coverage of Hillary Clinton, who nearly ties Trump in low favorability levels, was far gentler.
While the three major TV networks dedicated more than 440 minutes dissecting Trump’s personal controversies, such as his tax returns and past statements on women, only 185 minutes worth of coverage were used to discuss Clinton’s personal issues, including her email scandal and questions over her health.
And despite an official FBI investigation into her use of a private internet server to handle classified government materials, the three TV networks spent just 40 minutes combined discussing the matter, less than half the time used covering Trump’s comments on women and only slightly more than the 33 minutes of primetime coverage on his tax returns and 32 minutes covering covering allegations Trump had flip-flopped on immigration.