Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is receiving significantly more favorable coverage on NBC, ABC and CBS’ evening newscasts than Hillary Clinton got four years ago, and President Trump is covered more negatively than either of them, according to a new study.
The Media Research Center reviewed all “NBC Nightly News,” ABC’s “World News Tonight” and CBS’ “Evening News” coverage of President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden from Aug. 1 through Sept. 15, comparing the findings to coverage from the same time frame in 2016.
“Four years ago, the liberal networks pounded Republican nominee Donald Trump with bad press, yet he won the White House anyway. Now, ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts are giving Trump the same hostile treatment, but they’ve significantly softened their approach to Trump’s Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden,” MRC research director Rich Noyes wrote.
The study found that Trump has received 379 minutes of coverage in 2020 compared to 408 minutes in 2016, with both cycles being more than 90% negative.
Back in 2016, the same networks spent 262 minutes covering Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and 84% of it was considered negative. This time around, Biden has received significantly less coverage and only 46% of it has been negative, according to the MRC.
“Not only is Biden facing much less negative coverage than the President, he has received only one-sixth as much negative coverage as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received during the early weeks of the 2016 general election when she was Trump’s opponent,” Noyes wrote.
“Compared to Clinton four years ago, Biden’s press has been completely toothless: just 15 negative statements vs. 19 positive statements, for an overall score of 54% positive. Even though their election preference was pretty clear four years ago, the networks still managed to air six times more negative statements about Clinton in 2016 than they have about Biden during the same period in 2020,” Noyes continued. “Compared to Trump this year, the disparity is enormous: the 389 negative statements about the President are 25 times more than the 15 we recorded about Biden.”
Noyes then noted that from Aug. 1 through Sept. 15, ABC, NBC and CBS spent over 50 minutes covering Clinton’s health in 2016 but have spent only five minutes, 23 seconds on Biden’s health this year.
“So what’s next? From September 16 through Election Day 2016, Clinton’s press improved significantly… while Trump’s barely changed… with nearly all of the scrutiny going to the Republican,” Noyes wrote. “Given that history, it seems unlikely that the networks will suddenly begin to seriously scrutinize Joe Biden during the final weeks of this year’s campaign.”