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Bias by the Minute

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Early last year, the Media Research Center set up a new project to keep tabs on all stories on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts, categorizing each item by its topic and total airtime. Thanks to that effort, we can now precisely analyze the agenda and bias of the Big Three networks — what they covered, and what they failed to cover, in 2015.

The results show a network news agenda heavy on crime, terrorism and weather, but light on Democratic scandals, ObamaCare’s failings, the out-of-control national debt, sanctuary cities and Planned Parenthood’s grotesqueries.

From January 1 through December 31, 2015, MRC analysts reviewed every weekday and weekend evening newscast that wasn’t pre-empted by sports in the Washington, D.C. area. In one year, the networks churned out 13,022 news items (including both full reports and anchor briefs) totaling more than 300 hours (18,549 minutes) of coverage.

[Note: The actual amount of news in an average network newscast is less than might be expected. After subtracting commercials and promos, the typical half-hour newscast included just 18 minutes, 20 seconds of actual news reporting.]

The top five network news topics of 2015, followed by a review of stories the networks minimized or ignored last year:

■ Crime: By a wide margin, TV news put crime at the top of their 2015 news agenda, with reports about crime consuming one out of every six minutes (17 percent, or 52 hours) of broadcast evening news airtime last year.

The crime story that most fascinated the networks last year: allegations of misconduct against police officers. Allegations against police officers consumed well over 13 hours of airtime (795 minutes) on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts in 2015, or more than one-fourth of all crime stories. In contrast, while incidents portraying the police in a bad light were highly promoted, those same networks offered just 109 minutes — less than one-seventh the airtime — to cases where police officers died in the line of duty, such as the 42 officers who were shot to death last year.

The biggest individual crime stories were: the Charleston church shooting in June (3 hours, 8 minutes); the manhunt for the two escaped prisoners in upstate New York (2 hours, 58 minutes); the death in police custody of Baltimore’s Freddie Gray and the ensuing protests and riots (2 hours, 15 minutes); and the mass shooting at an Oregon college in early October (1 hour, 29 minutes).

After the shootings in Charleston and Oregon (as well as after the ISIS-inspired terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California — see below), the networks emphasized liberal demands for more restrictions and regulations of gun ownership. In all, the networks spent 2 hours, 46 minutes covering the campaign for expanded gun control, or the equivalent of more than nine full newscasts.


Source: Mike Ciandella and Rich Noyes, http://www.newsbusters.org