Of the total time Fox News devoted to unfiltered campaign clips between September 5 and September 9, 78 percent was of the Republican candidates and their surrogates, with 22 percent devoted to the Democrats. Moreover, all three cable networks devoted more airtime (significantly more in the cases of Fox News and MSNBC) to, and broadcast a significantly greater number of, clips of the Republican candidates and their surrogates campaigning than of the Democratic candidates and their surrogates on both Fridays after the two national conventions.
Over the five-day period from September 5 through September 9, Fox News spent far more time airing unfiltered clips -- that is, clips of the candidates talking at campaign events uninterrupted by journalists' voice-overs -- of the Republican presidential ticket and its surrogates than of the Democratic presidential ticket and its surrogates, also airing a far greater number of Republican clips. Moreover, all three cable networks devoted more airtime (significantly more in the cases of Fox News and MSNBC) to, and broadcast a significantly greater number of clips of, the Republican candidates and their surrogates campaigning than of the Democratic candidates and their surrogates on both Fridays after the two national conventions.
Of the total time Fox News devoted to unfiltered campaign clips between September 5 and September 9, 78 percent was of the Republican candidates and their surrogates, with 22 percent devoted to the Democrats. Moreover, of the total number of these clips aired on Fox News, 81 percent were of Republicans.
During the five-day period, 47 percent of the time that Fox News devoted to unfiltered clips was spent on clips of Gov. Sarah Palin, 29 percent on clips of Sen. John McCain, 22 percent on clips of Sen. Barack Obama, and no time on clips of Sen. Joe Biden. Similarly, 47 percent of Fox News' clips were of McCain, 25 percent were of Palin, and 19 percent were of Obama.
On Friday, September 5, all three cable networks -- MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News -- devoted more time to airing unfiltered clips of the McCain-Palin campaign than of the Obama-Biden campaign, with Fox News and MSNBC skewing significantly in favor of the Republicans. Fox News devoted 81 percent of its unfiltered clip time to Republicans and MSNBC 64 percent. CNN devoted 53 percent of the total clip time length to the Republicans.
Of the total number of clips run on the three cable channels on September 5, 93 percent on Fox News, 77 percent on CNN, and 68 percent on MSNBC were of Republicans.
While the fact that September 5 was the day after the Republican convention might be cited by the cable networks as justification for the disparate coverage, on the previous Friday, the day after the Democratic National Convention, the cable networks' coverage of candidates also skewed heavily in favor of the Republican candidates. On August 29, of the time devoted to unfiltered clips of candidates and their surrogates, Fox News and CNN both devoted 98 percent to the Republicans, while MSNBC devoted 86 percent to them.
Moreover, on August 29, 86 percent of the unfiltered clips aired by Fox News, 85 percent of those aired by CNN, and 57 percent of the ones aired by MSNBC were of the Republicans.
For September 6-9, the rest of the period monitored, Fox News continued to have skewed coverage while the other two networks were more balanced. Fox News devoted 77 percent of its total clip time length to Republicans, while CNN and MSNBC devoted 51 and 52 percent, respectively, to Republicans.
Between September 6 and September 9, 71 percent of the total number of clips that Fox News aired were of Republicans, 53 percent of the clips that CNN aired were of Republicans, and 53 percent of the clips aired on MSNBC during this period were of Democrats.
Media Matters for America documented unfiltered and unmediated speech clips from the candidates and their surrogates aired on the three major cable news networks -- CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News -- on August 29 and from September 5 through September 9 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET. The total number of clips and the length of each clip were recorded. Only clips that were 15 seconds or longer were included in the study.
To be included in the study, the clip had to be unfiltered and unmediated by any journalist or news agency. Clips in which a journalist or anchor talked over the candidate or surrogate were not included. Clips of press conferences were included only if the candidate or surrogate was not answering questions, but making opening statements to the journalists present. Clips of interviews were not included.
For the Democratic side, the vast majority of the clips recorded were of Obama and Biden. Sen. Hillary Clinton was clipped twice, for a total time length of approximately eight minutes. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine was clipped once for 19 seconds on August 29. No other Democratic surrogates were clipped during the time period. On the Republican side, the vast majority of the clips recorded were also of the candidates, McCain and Palin. Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Gov. Palin's husband, Todd Palin, were each clipped once. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was clipped twice. The total time for these surrogates was less than two minutes. An unidentified McCain supporter was also clipped speaking at a rally for nearly two minutes on August 29.