With Just Two Weeks Before Election Day, CBS Only Network to Report on Midterms

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on October 22, 2014

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-Read the excerpt below from a Curtis Houck post at Media Research Center.
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

election-2014On Tuesday, just two weeks before the midterm elections, ABC and NBC made no mention of the upcoming midterm elections, which include numerous Senate races that will decide whether Republicans or Democrats control the U.S. Senate.

ABC’s Good Morning AmericaABC World News Tonight with David Muir, NBC’s Today, and NBC Nightly News made no mention of the midterm elections in their evening newscasts while the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley ran not one but two segments on the topic during its Tuesday night broadcast. … Instead of mentioning the midterms, ABC World News Tonight with David Muir found it important to inform viewers that the band Led Zeppelin is being sued by an artist claiming the music from their song “Stairway to Heaven” was stolen.

In addition, ABC’s evening news program devoted a full segment to reporting on a recent guest from CBS’s The Price Is Right who spun a dollar on the program’s wheel (giving him $1,000) and then another (giving him an addition $25,000) before winning his showcase prize package at the episode’s conclusion. (from newsbusters.org)

From Media Research Center:

In less than two weeks, voters head to the polls in midterm elections that seem certain to yield strong Republican gains, if not outright control of the U.S. Senate. Such a political sea change is big news, but a new Media Research Center study finds that, in contrast to their enthusiastic coverage of the 2006 midterms when Democrats made big gains, the Big Three broadcast evening newscasts are all but ignoring this year’s political contests.

MRC analysts studied every election story on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts from September 1 through October 20 in both 2006 (the midterm election in George W. Bush’s second term) and 2014 (the equivalent election under President Barack Obama). Even in a changing media landscape, Big Three evening newscasts are a principal news source for more than 23 million viewers, beating all of their broadcast and cable competition.

Our analysts found that, when Democrats were feeling good about their election prospects eight years ago, the CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, and ABC’s World News aired a combined 159 campaign stories (91 full reports and another 68 stories that mentioned the campaign). But during the same time period this year, those same newscasts have offered a paltry 25 stories (16 full reports and 9 mentions), a six-to-one disparity.

Amazingly, since September 1 ABC’s newly-renamed World News Tonight has yet to feature a single mention of this year’s campaign, let alone a full story. In contrast, eight years ago ABC’s World News aired 36 stories that discussed that year’s midterm campaign, including a weekly Thursday night feature that then-anchor Charlie Gibson promised would look at the “critical races.”

Back then, the elections were a major news topic; this year, a regular viewer of ABC’s evening newscast would have no indication that any were even taking place.

CBS and NBC have scarcely been more comprehensive. In 2006, CBS aired a total of 58 evening news stories that discussed the campaign, while NBC Nightly News aired 65 stories. This year, those numbers have fallen to just 14 and 11 as of October 20, declines of 76% and 83%, respectively.

Questions

1. What type of bias do ABC and NBC exhibit by not reporting on the midterm elections two weeks before election day?

2. Why do you think ABC and NBC did not provide viewers with reports on the upcoming elections? (Are the upcoming elections newsworthy?) Explain your answers.


Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.
























Answer(s)

1.  By not reporting on the midterm elections two weeks before election day, ABC and NBC exhibit bias by omission and story selection.

2.  Opinion questions. Answers vary.

For 2014 Election resources, go to: studentnewsdaily.com/election-resources-for-teachers